Premier League Season 2014/15 Review
The 2014/15 season certainly didn’t come close to matching last year’s excitement. The title race was all but over by March, whilst the top four battle also petered out after promising much.
Tottenham and Liverpool will be in next season’s Europa League, and Southampton will join them, if Arsenal win this weekend’s FA Cup final. West Ham have also qualified after topping the Premier League’s fairplay table.
Down at the bottom, QPR and Burnley’s fates were sealed, before Hull and Newcastle fought it out on the final day. Hull perished, and Newcastle survived, just.
Silly Season Premier League Season 2014/15 Review
This is how each club fared this campaign, as we grade their exploits. Here goes!
Another season in the Champions League awaits for Arsenal, but this time they won’t have to qualify. A very poor start to the season cost the Gunners dear, with just two wins in their first eight games, and five draws. That left them already 11 points behind Chelsea, a gap that was insurmountable. Their season will be much more of a success if they were to lift the FA Cup on Saturday, and retain the trophy, for the second time in the club’s history.
STAR PLAYER- Alexis Sanchez; GRADE: B-
ASTON VILLA (17th)
When Tim Sherwood took over from Paul Lambert, Villa were in the bottom three, without a win in ten, and had scored 12 goals in 25 league matches. But Sherwood has guided the team to safety, and helped them reach the FA Cup final. He has transformed the fortunes of Christian Benteke, who has 12 goals in all competitions since the former Tottenham boss took over. Can they top off the season with their first FA Cup triumph for 58 years, and their first trophy in almost 20?
STAR PLAYER- Fabian Delph; GRADE: C-
BURNLEY (19th- RELEGATED)
The Clarets problem has been lack of goals, which has in the end cost them their Premier League status. Despite the best efforts of Danny Ings, they scored just 28 goals all season. However, they have been a breath of fresh air with their positive attitude, epitomised by manager Sean Dyche, who has won many plaudits and fans over the season. Considering the tiny budget they are on, it was a good achievement to finish just five points adrift. It will be tough in the Championship again next season, but if they keep Dyche, they won’t go far wrong.
STAR PLAYER- Danny Ings; GRADE: D
CHELSEA (1st- Champions)
Well it was a near perfect domestic campaign for the Blues, as they won the Premier League crown after five years without it. They led from start to finish, and in the end, it was a procession, as their rivals allowed Jose Mourinho to dictate it on his terms. Not a smart move. Even in the first game against Burnley, you could tell that Mourinho had solved the problems of last season. Fabregas was creating, and Costa was scoring goals. Over the season, the back four have been immense, Matic has been a powerhouse, whilst Eden Hazard has propelled his game to a whole new level. A League Cup success was an added bonus, but the owner will demand a better run in the Champions League next year.
STAR PLAYER- Eden Hazard; GRADE: A
CRYSTAL PALACE (10th)
Palace’s season started in bizarre fashion with the sacking of Tony Pulis just before the first match. Former boss Neil Warnock came in, but managed just three wins in 17 games. Old fan favourite Alan Pardew then took over, and has done an excellent job in securing the Eagles a top ten finish. He has maintained Pulis’ solid defensive structure, but the attacking play of Bolasie and Puncheon has been very impressive. Pardew has backed Glenn Murray, who has repaid him with some vital goals.
STAR PLAYER- Yannick Bolasie; GRADE: C
It has been a largely disappointing season for Everton, compared to last year. Much like Liverpool, the club would have preferred last season to have been this season, and vice versa in order for progression to be made. Some players look to be past their sell by date, but big players have gone missing, like Ross Barkley, Tim Howard and Seamus Coleman. Roberto Martinez’s side must do better, or the Spaniard’s job could be in jeopardy.
STAR PLAYER- Phil Jagielka; GRADE: C-
HULL CITY (18th)
At the end of the summer transfer window, many were saying Hull had done the best business with Abel Hernandez, Michael Dawson and Mo Diame signing. But the shocking lack of goals has sealed their fate. Back to back wins against Crystal Palace and Liverpool had given them hope of survival. But a home defeat to Burnley proved costly. Being two points adrift on the final day proved to be too much, as they were relegated, and another victim of second season syndrome.
STAR PLAYER- Michael Dawson; GRADE: E
LEICESTER CITY (14th)
At the beginning of April, Leicester looked doomed. Rooted to the bottom, seven points from safety, and without a win in ten matches. Cue possibly the greatest escape in Premier League history. Seven wins from their remaining nine games ensured they would be playing top flight football next season. Nigel Pearson’s at times bizarre off the field antics didn’t affect the team on the pitch. If anything, he took the pressure off his players who responded brilliantly. Ulloa and Cambiasso have proved brilliant signings.
STAR PLAYER- Esteban Cambiasso; GRADE: C-
Liverpool have come crashing back down to earth after their title challenge last year. As expected, they badly missed Luis Suarez, but Daniel Sturridge’s injury problems has been detrimental too. The toothless trio of Lambert, Balotelli and Borini managed just four league goals between them. £117 million was spent, but none of that has been wisely spent. The Reds started the season shockingly, but then went on a fabulous 13 game unbeaten run, that gave them a chance of a top four finish. Defeats to Manchester United, Arsenal and Hull meant they would finish in the Europa League. Steven Gerrard’s final season didn’t pan out the way he wanted, and his presence is another thing Brendan Rodgers will have to cope without next season.
STAR PLAYER- Phillipe Coutinho; GRADE: C
MANCHESTER CITY (2nd)
Manuel Pellegrini’s second season has gone the same way as predecessor Roberto Mancini’s did. Both won the title in their first full season as manager. The season after, they never threatened to win it. Had it not been for the goals of Sergio Aguero, and vital saves from Joe Hart, it could have got a lot worse for City. Yaya Toure, David Silva, and captain Vincent Kompany went missing this season. And it was the same old story in Europe too. With the mass manager exodus that’s happened over the last few days, it is perhaps surprising Pellegrini hasn’t yet been shown the exit door. Is that just a matter of time, or will he be backed to revamp the squad to challenge Chelsea next season?
STAR PLAYER- Sergio Aguero; GRADE: B
MANCHESTER UNITED (4th)
After last season’s disaster under David Moyes, Louis van Gaal’s task was to ensure Champions League football. They still have to qualify, but the Dutchman has finished 4th and done the necessary. Nothing more, nothing less. It took him a while to work out his best system, his best team, and where to play certain players. Consequently, United’s style of play was criticised, and having been knocked out by Arsenal in the FA Cup, questions were starting to be asked. But a 3-0 win over Tottenham was the spark, as they then beat Liverpool away, and thumped Manchester City at Old Trafford to effectively secure a top four place. The club spent £150 million in the summer, but it was two of Moyes’ signings: Fellaini and Mata who were the stars. United will splash the cash again, but keeping David de Gea will prove very difficult.
STAR PLAYER- David de Gea; GRADE: B-
NEWCASTLE UNITED (15th)
Well how do you start with summing up Newcastle’s season. The only real positive is avoiding the drop, but only by the skin of their teeth. They got off to a woeful start, and the calls of Pardew out were loud and clear. But Pardew turned it around with five wins in six games, which has helped to save them. At the turn of the year, Pardew left for Crystal Palace, replaced by his assistant John Carver. In the remaining twenty games, Carver managed just three wins, losing eight matches in a row as they slumped into the relegation mire. Performances were at an all time low, with players accused of not trying. But they beat West Ham on the final day to survive, and there couldn’t have been a more popular saviour in Jonas Gutierrez. It was the ultimate Hollywood fairytale, with Gutierrez having come back from testicular cancer.
STAR PLAYER- Daryl Janmaat; GRADE: D-
QPR (20th- Relegated)
What an awful season it has been for Rangers. And you have to say, it was the same problems as of their Premier League relegation two years ago. The only positives were the performances of Charlie Austin, who scored 18 league goals, and Rob Green in goal. QPR’s problem hasn’t been scoring goals, but defending. They have conceded 73 goals, twenty more than Burnley and Hull. Steven Caulker looked a good signing, but he’s been poor, and Dunne and Hill looked out of their depth. And then there’s the team spirit which was lacking. Chris Ramsay is going to find it very tough in the Championship, as a big rebuilding process begins.
STAR PLAYER- Charlie Austin; GRADE: F
With five of last season’s top players gone in one transfer window, Southampton fans would have taken mid table this campaign. But to finish 7th, and be consistently fighting for Europe surpassed the expectations of the most optimistic supporter. Ronald Koeman has done an outstanding job. His recruitment has been first class, with Tadic, Pelle and Mane proving a real success, along with Toby Alderweireld at centre half. Arguably the best bit of business was keeping Jose Fonte and Morgan Schneiderlin. Those two, especially Fonte were an integral part in Southampton having the 2nd best defensive record in the league. The highlight was of course that 8-0 against Sunderland, but Mane’s hatrick, the fastest in Premier League history is right up there.
STAR PLAYER- Jose Fonte; GRADE: B+
STOKE CITY (9th)
Mark Hughes can reflect on another excellent season, as Stoke finished 9th for the second consecutive year. Their counter attacking play was impressive, especially away from home in wins at Manchester City and Tottenham. Charlie Adam’s goal from inside his own half will be talked about for decades, but the likes of Diouf, N’Zonzi, Shawcross and Walters have had very good seasons. The 6-1 demolition of Liverpool on the final day was a very satisfying to end. The only thing missing was a decent cup run.
STAR PLAYER- Mame Biram Diouf; GRADE: C+
The Black Cats did it again. They survived, not quite as dramatically as last year, but it was still tense. Thankfully for them, they didn’t have to do a job on the final day, after getting a point at Arsenal to stay up. Dick Advocaat came in and made them organised, whilst being bold in playing the three strikers up top. Under Gus Poyet, the problem was too many draws, a whopping 17 all season. But in the end, Sunderland have got over the line, and with Advocaat surprisingly leaving, the search is on again for a new manager. Sunderland fans will hope the new boss can provide a less stressful season.
STAR PLAYER- Sebastian Larsson; GRADE: D
SWANSEA CITY (8th)
Another of the season’s overachievers has been Swansea. Considering this was Garry Monk’s first full season as a manager, he has done a remarkable job to finish top half. What’s more, Monk lost star striker Wilfried Bony in January, but Bafitembi Gomis has stepped up to the plate. Swansea’s attractive style has again been pleasing on the eye. Ki, Shelvey and Cork do a good job in midfield, leaving Gylfi Sigurdsson to provide the creativity and contribute goals. In goal, Arsenal reject Lukasz Fabianski has been very consistent. They will want to go to the next level, and replicate Southampton’s season next year.
STAR PLAYER- Gylfi Sigurdsson; GRADE: B-
TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR (5th)
It’s difficult to rate Mauricio Pochettino’s first season at Tottenham. 5th is probably the best he could have hoped for, but have the team really improved from last season? We certainly haven’t seen Pochettino’s stamp on the team yet. He has had to adapt with the players he inherited, and has largely built a team around Harry Kane, plus Christian Eriksen. Spurs will wonder where would they be without Harry Kane? But this is a big summer for Pochettino. He needs to get his players in, before we see his trademark high pressing game at White Hart Lane. If he gets the recruitment right, Spurs may challenge for the top four. If he doesn’t, he will be sacked. Kane will probably stay, but it remains to be seen whether Hugo Lloris will.
STAR PLAYER- Harry Kane; GRADE: C+
WEST BROM (13th)
Another club where a change of boss has done the trick. Alan Irvine was sacked as head coach half way through the season. The chairman says who do I turn to to keep the team up? Yes, a man who almost guarantees that, Tony Pulis. The West Brom challenge would be easier than the Palace job last year, but he inherited a team low on confidence. But Pulis did what Pulis does. He sured up a leaky defence, and got the best out of Saido Berahino. Let’s not also underestimate the impact of January signing Darren Fletcher. His experience, leadership and quality has been invaluable.
STAR PLAYER- Saido Berahino; GRADE: C
WEST HAM (12th)
If we were reviewing the Hammers season at Christmas, we’d be putting them up there as one of the success stories of the season. In the top four, and with Sakho and Valencia building a lethal strike partnership, the good times were returning to Upton Park. But they slumped, big time. Their bubble burst, and what could have been a champagne season left a sour taste in the mouth. By the end of the season, they were the team you wanted to play, and so it proved, losing to Newcastle to allow the latter to survive. Sam Allardyce has now left, and whatever anybody says, they will miss the stability he brings. It is absolutely imperative that West Ham are a Premier League team when they move into the Olympic Stadium.
STAR PLAYER- Aaron Cresswell; GRADE: C
By Joseph Richardson