EPL End of Year Reports…Part One
Published by Ian John on May 4, 2010
It’s that time of the year again, when students all over the world take the brown envelopes back to their parents/guardians filled with their teachers comments on how their year at school has progressed and how they have developed as a human being, or not as the case may be. So in the spirit of good nature and with tongue firmly in cheek, we are going to grade the yearly performances of each of the Premiership teams, starting with the top five this season:
CHELSEA (Carlo Ancelotti)
It’s been an excellent year for Carlo. He began the year as arguably the third choice for the title behind more established front-runners from last season and with great weight of expectation on his shoulders. He has responded magnificently to the challenge and fully deserves the credits his hard work has brought him. There have been one or two slip ups from those under his control, many of whom should know far better than trying to flog training ground trips, text messaging pictures of their rudey bits, or bonking other players girlfriends, but on the whole he has managed to cope with their ego-driven idiocy supremely well. Carlo could end the season with the ultimate prizes in English soccer, the Premier League and FA Cup and that would be a fitting reward for his efforts. OVERALL SEASON GRADE : A-
AREAS TO IMPROVE?
If Chelsea are to continue their progress then Carlo needs to work at the squad. It’s ancient. At the end of each game the dressing room is no longer filled with beer and lads mags, but empty steradent cans and pairs of incontinence knickers. There are now mobility scooter spaces in the club car park. Then of course there is the directive from the owner. The Champions League. Next season it must be targeted with ruthless efficiency.
MANCHESTER UNITED (Sir Alex Ferguson)
It’s been the usual year of consistency for Sir Alex and his team and we have come to expect nothing less. Not even the loss of head boy at the end of last season put them out of their stride and indeed many argue it facilitated the major improvement we saw from Wayne Rooney this season. However despite being in the title race until the final week, there is still a feeling of disappointment from this season. United haven’t quite achieved what they are truly capable of and the balance in the team isn’t quite right at the moment, but they are not far off at all. OVERALL SEASON GRADE : B
AREAS TO IMPROVE?
Sir Alex has several areas to address in pre-season. The goalkeeping situation, the future of Ferdinand & Vidic, a lack of creative midfielder, a partner for Rooney and the futures at Old Trafford of players like Owen, Hargreaves (That’s two players, not one) and Berbatov. Plus the core of players, Neville, Giggs, Scholes etc is not getting any younger. Then of course, there was the defeat to Bayern in the Champions League…
ARSENAL : (Arsene Wenger)
So often this year Arsenal left us open mouthed in wonder at their free flowing football. While injuries have played a part in their season tailing off somewhat during the second half of the year particularly, there is also the real concern that for all their creative play and attacking brilliance, Arsenal have an achilles heel in the way they defend and their goalkeeper. These areas have cost them dearly at crucial times this season otherwise Arsenal could well be celebrating an exceptional year of achievement. A good start for this young team, but they are still some way short of the best. OVERALL SEASON GRADE : B
AREAS TO IMPROVE
Easy. Arsenal need a reliable goalkeeper. They need a much better way of defending, they need to work harder to close down the opposition when in possession and finally they need a better striker to lead the line alongside Robin Van Persie. That and the injury curse to leave them alone next season. If they can address these issues then they’ll be back and strong again next year.
TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR : (Harry Redknapp)
Harry’s transformed the fortunes of Spurs since taking over when they were bottom of the Premier League pile. Now they stand just two games from a Champions League place. A fantastic achievement. Spurs have shown the ability to match the top sides in the league at times this season, but crucially it hasn’t been consistent enough. They have a talented young squad and now that even the dissenters from earlier in the season are playing well for the team, in Pavlyuchenko and Bentley, it looks like being an exciting last two weeks of the year!. OVERALL SEASON GRADE : B+
AREAS TO IMPROVE
Consistency is a key area for Spurs, especially against the bigger sides. Their record against them has to improve if they are to realistically claim a regular place in the top four. The squad is very strong and has great depth but you can’t help but feel just one or two top quality, world class stars, could push this team to even greater performances.
MANCHESTER CITY : (Roberto Mancini)
Roberto took over from Mark Hughes when he was dismissed for failing to meet the expectations of the new owners. Roberto’s done a decent job since then and City are in contention for that crucial fourth spot with a huge home game against Spurs on Wednesday night being the defining game of their season. It’s still perhaps a bit unfair to judge Roberto so far as he hasn’t had a full season but given the money they’ve spent, City will be happy to be in contention for the Champions League, though the signing of Patrick Vieira was a puzzling one. OVERALL SEASON GRADE : B
AREAS TO IMPROVE
City need less players, but more quality. Mancini needs to sell the ‘squad men’ and bring in the 3 or 4 top class world stars City need to make them bonafide contenders in the EPL and in the Champions League year in and year out. The money is there to do so, the question is can Mancini persuade the players to join him at Eastlands?
Series continued tomorrow…