Barclays Premier League 2014-15 review

Barclays Premier League 2014-15 review


Photo: BuzzNigeria

Photo: BuzzNigeria

As the Premier League came to an end last week, with Chelsea reigning champion, Chris Chambers reviews and analyses the big talking points from this year’s competition.

Transfers woes

The pairing of Jose Mourinho and Roman Abramovich almost guarantees success since neither man will settle for anything less. So when Chelsea finished third in the 2013-14 season it was inevitable that their resurgence would be emphatic. They demonstrated this by sustaining a record 272 days at the summit of the 2014-15 league table and achieved a number of accolades, both individually and collectively, such as Eden Hazard’s deserved PFA Player of the Year award. The team were also far more shrewd in the transfer market; the signings of twenty-goal Diego Costa and Cesc Fábregas, who provided eighteen assists in thirty-eight games, completed the jigsaw.

In contrast, Chelsea’s rivals made some comparatively poor signings last summer. Last season’s runners-up, Liverpool, spent £133,000,000 and failed to achieve the heights of their previous campaign, finishing a mere 6th. The loss of Luis Suárez to Barcelona and Daniel Sturridge to injury were both important factors in Liverpool’s struggle. Moreover the signing of Mario Balotelli has backfired spectacularly, and Loïc Rémy failing his medical before going on to sign for Chelsea and net seven times in six starts gives a glimpse of what might have been in Merseyside.

Manchester United racked up a transfer bill of £171,000,000 for their signings, but the figure exceeds £200,000,000 when you take into account the money given to David Moyes just 12 months earlier. And for all this, United played some truly dire football at times and achieved their minimum target of Champions League football with little room to spare. You would certainly be forgiven for calling this a significant failure; United won the league only two seasons ago and with this level of investment it seems unbelievable that they finished seventeen points behind the champions. Too many of Van Gaal’s signings, most notably Luke Shaw and Ángel Di María, do not represent value for money – and it showed.

Worst Signings

Ángel Di María – Goals: 3, Assists: 10.

For £66,000,000, Manchester United could have bought Cesc Fábregas, Gylfi Sigurdsson, Loïc Rémy, Sadio Mané…the list goes on. While these players may not attract the biggest headlines, they have performed far better than the Argentinean winger. Man United fans would hope that Di María’s second season in England next year proves his hefty price tag.

Emmanuel Riviére – Goals: 1, Assists: 1.

Newcastle’s £6,000,000 striker has missed countless opportunities to find the net this season. His solitary league strike came in the Magpies penultimate game of the season – and he did his very best to miss the goal anyway! Mike Ashley is far from popular in the North East, but the idea that he does not invest was undermined last summer with this and other other big money signings like Rémy Cabella and Siem De Jong. Unfortunately for Newcastle it was all money wasted.

Best Signings

Cesc Fábregas – Goals: 3, Assists: 18.

Signed from Barcelona for around £30,000,000, Cesc Fábregas had an incredible first season at Stamford Bridge, making a colossal impact with the highest number of assists in the Premier League last season. He stayed fit for the vast majority of the campaign, and other clubs may well have passed on the opportunity to sign him, because at 28 years old his number of seasons as a top player may well be numbered. And yet, Mourinho and Chelsea have another trophy. Something to think about maybe, Arsenal?

Alexis Sanchez – Goals: 16, Assists: 8.

Sanchez was a class act for the entire 2014-15 season, giving Arsenal that extra bit of quality which they have desperately lacked in seasons gone-by. At only 26, Sanchez is still at the peak of his career and the Chilean makes the likes of Angel Di Maria look even more overpriced and overrated. More importantly for Arsenal, the signing of Sanchez did not backfire like that of Mesut Özil, who has not quite lived up to his price tag.

Sanchez has had an excellent first season at Arsenal. Photo by: premierleague.com

 

Emergence of the underdogs

Media interest in the Premier League usually centres around the top six teams and the relegation race, leaving some very well run football clubs competing on a lower budget without their due credit. Stoke and Swansea are prime examples here. The former spent just over £1,000,000 in the summer transfer window but still managed to achieve some fantastic results including a win at Manchester City and a 6-1 demolition of Liverpool on the closing day of the season. In Peter Crouch they have a player who rather typifies the club; underrated yet extremely effective. Their record points total for a Premier League season of fifty-four was well deserved and only eight less than a Liverpool team, which outspent them by £132,000,000. If that sounds impressive, Swansea also achieved a record points total of fifty-six despite a negligible transfer spend; they secured the services of Lyon striker Bafétimbi Gomis for free and also permanently re-signed Icelandic midfielder Gylfi Sigurdsson, whose seven goals and ten assists in the Premier League last season make Tottenham wish they kept hold of him.

Sack for success

This season taught trigger happy chairmen that sacking the manager may be beneficial at times. Crystal Palace, West Brom, Aston Villa and Sunderland all sacked their managers during the season, and all four witnessed a major upturn in form following some very shrewd new appointments. Newcastle and QPR also lost their managers to Crystal Palace and knee surgery respectively. However, both clubs took the cheap option mid-season and appointed inexperienced care-takers in the form of John Carver and Chris Ramsey. QPR paid the price, and Newcastle came devilishly close. And if the likes of Tony Pulis continue to perform miracles by saving seemingly doomed clubs from relegation, then expect the number of managerial casualties to rise again next season.

There is no excuse for England to flop at Euro 2016.

English talent has blossomed in the top flight this season. Young strikers Harry Kane, Charlie Austin and Danny Ings scored fifty goals between them in the League alone, whilst the likes of Ryan Bertrand, Jordan Henderson, Fraser Forster, James Ward-Prowse, Jamie Vardy and Ryan Mason all had very impressive campaigns. With the next major international tournament still another 12 months away and only just across the Channel, these players still have time to mature and develop.

The Premier League may be over for another ten weeks, but we still have the corruption circus at FIFA, as well as a summer of more transfer madness to keep us football fans entertained in the meantime.

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