THE SEASON THAT WASMay 21, 2015
After the merry, the fanfare, the tears, the joy and the heartbreaks, the curtains to the English Premier League season are coming down this weekend. What a season it has been. For nine months, football fans worldwide have been treated to a spectacle, not only in England but across Europe in other major leagues. But all that is coming to an end now; at least temporarily.
As it is the rule of life, some will be celebrating, or rather are celebrating, while others will be mourning and groaning thanks to what has been a long, tiring but exciting season. Yes, to some, this end couldn’t have come at a better time. Losing bets week in week out can’t be anyone’s cup of tea, really. But watching your team underperform and not fulfill its potential must be the real heart breaker to say the least.
Stars born, others died.
The 2014/15 English season came with its own share of thrills as always. We saw what we least expected, from the unexpected people. As it is the norm, just before the league starts, every football fan has these huge expectations when it comes to the teams they support and their favorite players.
The Manchester United fanatics for instance kept vigil all night on the transfer deadline day to see their team sign Radamel Falcao. Yes, Falcao, one of the best strikers was coming to England. The mere thought of a front four of Falcao, the already signed Angel Di Maria, Wayne Rooney and Robin Van Persie assured every one of three thing- goals, goals and more goals. This did not only excite United fans but rivals were worried. It was Falcao and Di Maria; World beaters in their past life.
As the season progressed, it became worrying. Both Radamel and Angel were not living up to expectations much to the thrill of rival fans. This was more disturbing for `El Tigre’ a proven goal scorer in the past. His star was fading by the day.
On the other end, in the North of the Capital London, at the White Hart lane, a little hero was to be born- Harry Kane. When he made his first appearance, as a substitute on the opening day of the season, for Spurs and provided an assist, no one thought much of him. However, for the 22 year old, this was the beginning of something great. Goal, after goal, after goal followed in the cup competitions and the league. Surely, no matter what you think of Spurs, you cannot take it away from the lad, he outdid himself. Scoring 30 goals as a `new comer’ isn’t just any other feat. He deservedly won back to back Player of the Month, January and February and the cream of it all, the PFA Young Player of the year.
The Top Four Battle
At the start of every season, the aim, at least for the fans, is to always win the league. However, in the dressing rooms, managers and the players are a realistic lot unlike us. Usually, the failure to be champions is atoned by finishing in the top four that comes with Champions League football and loads of money. This year, the stakes were even higher.
Failures by Manchester United last year are well documented and it was critical to see their reaction this time round. A new Manager and $200M to go with it meant one thing for the hierarchy, going all the way from 7th Heaven to the real Heaven, which is Europe’s cream de la cream. Factor in Arsenal, who always, regardless of form, squad depth or anything else you might think of, achieves a top four finish. Oh, and the little matter of Liverpool, arguably the best team last season, but won nothing. That said, with obviously Manchester City and Chelsea, these five sides were to make the top four fight a thrill. Add Tottenham Hotspurs, who’ve perfected the art of disappointing and Everton who no one really cares about, 2014/15 was to be the best season yet in regards to the top 4.
Once the football stopped being played on the papers and blogs and internet and now on the pitch, everything stopped making sense. Man United and Arsenal were hardly winning, Liverpool was nowhere to be seen, Everton was fighting off relegation as early as October and Tottenham was being, well, Tottenham- the beat Chelsea and Arsenal at home and lose to everyone else Tottenham.
But came in Southampton, the team each and every pundit thought would be relegated. Saints sold half its team to Liverpool and with a new Dutch manager of little accomplishment, that made sense. However, they would not listen to naysayers. For the better part of the season, they’ve fought and impressed. Of course they fell short in other instances, but the will and spirit could be seen. A cup win at Emirates, a fantastic league win at Old Trafford, a good draw at the Bridge. By their standards, though in the end they fell off the top four pace, they did exceptionally well.
I won’t act like I’m not enjoying it but there is absolutely nothing nice to say about Liverpool’s season. They have been sh*t. Much to our delight. End of.
With the season wearing off, Arsenal and Man united did their best to put a distance between them and fifth. It worked. Goals and ambitions even started shifting. Arsenal going to the Etihad and winning while playing well at it was fantastic for them. It got everyone worried. This was not the Arsenal of the old that would be thrashed by any other “big 4” team at will. Finally, the Wenger boys were coming of age and showing some spine. Man united on the other hand was outright lackluster. Throughout this campaign, everyone would think, that’s it, they have found some form. A six game winning streak then boom, lose three on the spin. Granted, injuries and rigidity on the management part didn’t help but that can never be an excuse.
In the end, both Man United and Arsenal could do nothing to challenge Chelsea who were the better team throughout the campaign. Not even Man City who are a shadow of last season could do anything about it. Fabregas, Matic, Terry, Costa and Hazard stood out week after week to ensure Stamford Bridge partied. The champions played exceptionally well most of the time and won without doing so when needed. Everyone will talk about the “what ifs” but they don’t really matter. Chelsea did what they had to do and became champions. Well in!
PS: With two teams (Burnley and QPR) already relegated and both Sunderland and Aston Villa ensured of their safety, the onus is on Hull City to win their remaining fixture against Manchester United and hope the team managed by the self-proclaimed “Best Manager in the League” John Carver gets nothing against West Ham at home.
Finally, Unrelated, guise, get yourselves girlfriends (or boyfriends), it will be a long summer.