Friday, 5 June 2015

Expectation v Results

Now we know the outcome of the F.A. Cup, I just thought I’d give my own opinion – albeit a still slightly delayed one - on how I felt all 20 Premier League teams faired against the anticipations of their fans and owners.

Massively overachieved!

Not only did they lose one of their most potent goal-scorers (to us) half-way-through the season; not only did they finish just 4-points off a Europa placing…but they did so by playing attractive, attacking and threatening football. Kudos to Garry Monk and his players. If they continue that AND add quality to their squad next season then they should be there or there abouts at least next season.

Some might question why I’m giving a team (even Stoke) a ‘Massively overachieved’ rating for finishing 9th / mid-table…but they only finished 2 points behind the afore mentioned ‘Swans’! Perhaps they didn’t play quite the attractive-style of football the Welsh side often produced last season but ask any regular watcher of Mark Hughes’ Potters side and they’ll tell you that it was far more attractive than-that of seasons gone by; particular towards the final third of the season. They’re apparently ‘turning heads’ in the transfer market for next season too with regards to possibly bigger-than-expected names coming in and I think a lot of that has to do with their improvement in style and finishing place…not to mention a fine end-of-season 6-1 home drubbing of Liverpool.

Struggled for the most part under Caretaker Manager Keith Millen; had a wobble again in-losing 4 of their last 6 games but they were both solid and dangerous for large parts of the second half of the season under former Newcastle Manager Alan Pardew. And for a team that spends very little on new players they often worry the hell out of a lot of top sides, particularly on their own patch with an often vocal ‘12th man’ in the stands. A finishing position of 10th – just 6 points behind Stoke – and safe for a good time before the end of the season has to be applauded.

Slightly overachieved.

I can’t seemed to put anyone into this category…

Did about what was expected.

High quality squad that was strengthened even further in the summer; they were always going to be challenging for the league. And so they did; they won it and just as we did the previous season they added the League Cup to their 2014 / 15 cabinet. As about expected really.

Last season they finishing 4th and won the F.A. Cup; this season they finished 3rd and retained the F.A. Cup. Some money spent in the summer to ‘keep up with the Joneses’ and they did just that.

Having spent a FANTASY FOOTBALL AMOUNT of money in the summer; a 4th-place finish (just) and with no trophy nearly sent them into the “Slightly underachieved” section. But I have to bare in mind that they have gone through their second managerial transition in 2 seasons since Sir Bacon Face left and that they are in a state of ‘rebuild’. The egomaniac from Holland wanted a top-4 finish for his new team and that’s exactly what he got.

Some may be very surprised that I have put the South-coast team into this category but at the start of the season I had very little doubt that DESPITE the many departures of very good players in the summer; the new manager and incoming players would be enough to counteract those loses. I had them as an above mid-table team pushing for a Europa place and that’s exactly where they found themselves. I should have put a bet on…

Some quality players in a team that was never going to ‘rip up trees’; probably breathed a sigh of relief when they secured Premier League status in late April / early May. Eventually finished 9-points clear of ‘the drop’.

I understand that people got very exited and heaped praise-a-plenty on Leicester for their last 9 games that went: W W W W L W W D W. They did look doomed in March and 22 points from a possible 27 was a TREMENDOUS feat that saved their Premier League bacon. BUT…at the start of the season was it totally unexpected that they might well be a newly-promoted side that would-indeed just about survive? Didn’t a lot of non-Leicester people give them a chance in August? I think they did. And that’s exactly what happened…they just about survived by 6 points and so get into the ‘as expected’ category for me.

Always a relegation candidate and didn’t disappoint this time…albeit going to the last game of the season before the final nail was driven in.

Most fans’ second favourite team last season in many ways; plucky ol’ Burnley at times played with a quite-frightening, counter-attacking quality full of energetic ‘never say die’ attitude throughout. But it’s quality that more often than not counts in the end and the side from Lancashire simply didn’t spend enough in the summer where it counted. Perhaps they didn’t have the luck either at times but it was no surprise to see them sink back down at their first attempt back in the top flight.

Slightly underachieved.

Harsh critics and suspicious minds might baulk at the idea of not putting our very own football club into my lowest category of ‘Massive underachievers’…and some would most likely call me bias for not doing so. BUT…I say to you, members of the jury, that finishing Premier League ‘runners up’ and just 8 points behind a team rightly applauded for their achievements - but who also had no spending restrictions imposed on them - is not ALL bad. Woeful in both domestic cups but an unfair (again!) draw in the Champions League balance that high-finishing place in the league. For me, at least, we quite-rightly sit in the slight underachievers column after an underwhelming season for the most part; despite being the league’s top scorers and finishing with a very strong 6 wins from 6.

Will the real Spurs please stand up…or at least get going! From the outside this is a team jam-packed with supposedly talented players in all departments but who, for the most part, just don’t…turn…up! Supposedly a talented manager too but who also doesn’t seem to get the most out of his collection of players. Where WOULD they have been without an outstanding season from Harry Kane?! Mid-table at best, I would suggest, and most definitely in the next category below.

Bit of a surprise these; I expected much better. Almost put them in the next category down but for a team that I expected to be in a Europa League finishing place I suppose 13 points below that line isn’t TOO far off when you consider that they were worrying floundering near the bottom of the division for most of the first half of the season. Not a club to spend LOADS in the transfer window but certainly a team packed with talented players who should have done far better.

Similar to Everton in many ways – should be putting up a better fight for a 5th to 7th-place finish. Perhaps not quite the quality The Toffees possess but certainly ‘should do better’ and they will hope to do so with a new manager and in their last season at Upton Park.

For a big’ish club with a big support it’s slightly surprising that these are often on the lips of so many when asked at the start of the season ‘who might go down’. But that’s where they have been for a while now; fighting for their Premier League lives. Perhaps, then, they should be in the ‘…about what was expected’ category but these should be getting their act together by now and they brought in enough reasonable quality last summer to have done better.

If they hadn’t had reached the F.A. Cup final – ultimately losing 4-0 to Arsenal – then these would have been ‘nailed on’ as ‘Massive underachievers’. Similar to Sunderland in that they are a big’ish club with a big fan base; they have a sprinkling of good players throughout the team and so a 17th-place finish just 3 points above ‘the drop’ is just not acceptable for the Villa Park faithful. Took a moral-boosting change of manager to survive…

Massively underachieved.


So some of their signings perhaps didn’t work out; some of them may have gotten injured and some of their established starts may well have been on the treatment table for large parts of the season also. Still no excuse. To go from almost Champions last season to a woeful 6th place and a whopping 25 points behind the eventual winners this time is, well…pretty woeful. They now have another one of their star forwards wanting to leave too and Brendan Rodgers will be breathing a sigh of relief to have kept his job at a club with such high expectations.


Similar to both Sunderland and Aston Villa…but even MORE so! They have players who should have performed FAR better and they have a regular, very high crowd at home behind them. Changed their manager half-way-through and it got even worse for the North East men - they were dropping like a stone and how they survived is a miracle. These have been a joke of a club in the last few years…


Speaking of jokes…here’s another one! A massive amount of money spent on MASSIVELY underperforming players. The project take-over from a few seasons ago has failed to spark into life and QPR have, once again, failed to retain their Premier League status. Woeful.

Thanks as always for taking the time to read. Off on holiday now (with no laptop) and so it’ll be W/C 15th June onwards before another piece.

No time to comment on the departed Boyata or departing Milner; no time to talk about our possibly scuppered plans to sign De Bruyne or Sterling and CERTAINLY no time to comment on the FIFA fiasco; where more and more “revelations” seem to be coming out by the hour!

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