Well I’ve done my team of the year, looking at individual players, now for more of an overview looking at the Premier league in general.
Firstly, to those who have won stuff this year. And I’ll start with Man U, who claimed their 13th Premier League title, and it was defiantly merited. Although I don’t feel that their squad was as good as those at Man City and Chelsea, except up front where they have RVP, Rooney and Hernandez. But they managed to win, in my opinion, for one reason, Sir Alex Ferguson. I’ll have some more about him later, but it was his ability to get the most out of his players is the reason why they won. And because he was so crucial, I think that Moyes will find it difficult to achieve much next season. Unless the board manage to go out and buy top quality players, like Lewendowski and Bale, I don’t think the squad is good enough for someone who isn’t Sir Alex to win the title next year. Meanwhile Wigan were excellent in their run to winning the FA cup. Whilst they couldn’t carry that over to the Prem, some of their players really stood up, and you can expect to see the likes of McManaman, Moloney and McCarthey still in the Prem next year. Swansea had some classy performances and managed to beat both Liverpool and Chelsea. Also worthy of a mention are Bradford who just ran out of steam against Swansea, and collapsed to that 5-0 loss.
Now to the race for Europe. First was Man City who were always comfortably second. As I said I think their squad was better than United’s, but there was a degree of complacently last summer, as they rested on the laurels somewhat. I can’t say I understand the signings of Rodwell and Sinclair, neither of whom have made an impact. And they didn’t replace Mario. Chelsea are the other team who I think will be in competition for the title next season. This year I think they made another poor choice in changing their manager unnecessarily, yet again. But as I say, next year I think they’ll be right in there in the title race. If the special one does come back, I’d put them as heavy favorites next season. The three amigos are brilliant, and if you play them behind Lukaku, or sign a Falcao, then that’d be an extremely dangerous forward line. But City may invest in top players, maybe a Cavani or Xisco, and that could really put them in contention. However, I think that it was an incredibly stupid move for City to sack Mancini. I know he wasn’t the most likable man, but he led City to their first trophy in a long time with the FA Cup, and last year he one their first ever Premier League title, poor decision to sack them, but like Chelsea they have the money that new managers can be successful.
Next was the race for fourth, between Arsenal and Spurs. Arsenal managed to get there, although Spurs really should have if you were to look at the squads. This current Arsenal team isn’t that great, and Spurs fans should be extremely disappointed they didn’t manage to finish in fourth. As for next season, Spurs will depend upon if they keep Bale. They already need 2/3 attacking players for me, and if they loose him, that’ll mean another couple will be required, and even Bale’s hefty price tag won’t cover that. As for Arsenal, they strike me as a club that isn’t going anywhere. As a fan I wouldn’t be happy with just finishing 4th every year. Because one year they’ll miss out, and that’s them screwed. I think they need a change to an ambitious young manager who wants to win thing, Martinez is a perfect fit for me.
Next season we may be seeing Liverpool challenging again. This is based on a couple of things. Firstly the form Liverpool have shown since January, Rodgers has bought well, and we’re getting a decent squad. Secondly, is my blind faith as a Liverpool fan, clearly a scientific measure. Anyway here’s a prediction for you, next season’s top four; Chelsea, Man City, Man U, Liverpool.
Next was those involved in the relegation scrap. This season saw the demise of QPR, Reading and Wigan. Reading wasn’t a surprise to anyone I’m betting, simply because they have a Championship quality squad. QPR however have a squad that should’ve been good enough if you ask me. They had Premiership winners and Champions League winners, but the managers never really managed to get them going. Too many of the players seemed content to just sit on huge wage packets and neither Hughes nor Redknapp managed to get them playing. As for Wigan, their luck always had to run out eventually. So many great escapes, I’m just happy that when it did happen, they managed to win the FA cup to go along with it.
But there were some very lucky teams out there if you ask me. Mainly Sunderland, Norwich and Stoke. The problem for these guys is, that they just didn’t have goals in the team. Once Fletcher got injured for Sunderland they really struggled, as players like Sessegnon, Johnson and McClean, didn’t step up. Norwich (excluding these last couple of games where they looked like all pressure was off) just looked lacking up front. Holt was nowhere near as dangerous without the long balls going into him that they had last year, and it was just a great patch of form at the beginning of 2013 that saved them. But with van Wolfswinkel coming in next year, I think they’ll be more of a force going forward. I don’t know why Stoke weren’t firing, their game is all about getting the ball out to the wingers and getting crosses into the box, but for some reason, the wingers (Etherington, Shea, Kightly) have made minimal impact this season. And that’s something Stoke really have to rectify if they want to still be in the Prem in a years time.
Newcastle were a weird one this year. They have a top quality first team. And last season they managed to get by without any injuries, which is why they finished 5th. But that was never going to last. And so their problem, much like Man City, was their decision, to stick with what they had rather than improve. And it cost them big time. Also I don’t think Pardew handled the injuries particularly well in his selection of players to replace those who were missing. Sissoko for instance in more of a defensive player and is not a second striker, as he was played when Cabaye was missing. Aston Villa however had one simple problem. A lack of experience. It meant that once they suffered a heavy loss to Chelsea they struggled to recover. But I think that next season a lot of these players will be much the better having been blooded this season. The main reason they stayed up though is a certain man by the name of Benteke. It’s going to be absolutely crucial to Villa to keep a hold of him, or if a massive offer comes in, buy a top quality replacement.
Now this season has had a sad end to it. We’ve seen the retirement of some of the biggest names in the game. Firstly we’ve had Sir Alex Ferguson. My personal view is that he’s the second greatest British manager ever (after Brian Clough who is a hero of mine) and, although he is Manchester United, it was a sad day when he announced his retirement. Whilst I might hate Man U (they are the dictionary definition of scum (or they should be)) you have to respect what this man has achieved and built there. I think it’s going to be an impossible task for someone to replace him, and I would’ve gone for an equally big personality who could almost guarantee success, Mourinho.
Also retiring is Jamie Carragher. A true legend at Liverpool football club, throughout football. The list of strikers who have come out to sing his praises is immense, and Henry even said he was in the best five center backs, high praise indeed. He really was the ultimate professional, and it’s going to be so hard for Liverpool to replace him. The one thing I’m disappointed about, is that he’s going into the media, and not joining the Liverpool coaching staff.
David Beckham, Paul Scholes and Michael Owen are three of England’s more successful players of the international stage. I think Scholes’ retirement would be more of a big deal, if he hadn’t already made the decision to retire once, and then come back. But he must still be remembered as an exceptional player, although he still couldn’t tackle. Beckham might not have been the best player around, but he was a model professional and an inspiration to youngsters because of his high media profile and the way he conducted himself. Finally Owen burst onto the scene with so much promise, but after he left Liverpool his career was blighted by injuries and he never lived up to his early heights. But we still have to remember how good he was, in that early part of his career, and I’ll always remember his two goals in the 2001 FA Cup final.
Finally, and probably most sadly, Stiliyan Petrov. Never a player who made headlines, but a top quality central midfielder, who sadly had to retire to continue his fight against leukemia, a fight we’re all glad to say it looks like he’s winning. He had a glittering career at Celtic and he lead Villa, both under the management of Martin O’Neil, to their most successful Premier league finishes. It’s such a shame that football has been robbed of his talents so early, but at least it looks like he will pull through.
Overall, whilst this season hasn’t been the greatest of affairs with everything being pretty much settled a few weeks before the end of the season; the 2012-2013 season has been fairly enjoyable and controversial. But next year, we should see a far tighter league, which hopefully will make it far more unpredictable than this years.