The regular Premier League giants – Manchester United, Liverpool & Chelsea have failed to assert their dominance this season. Let us try to understand what went wrong with them and what we can expect from them next season.
Manchester United haven’t been the same threat since Sir Alex Ferguson left. First David Moyes failed, now Louis Van Gaal seems to be walking down the same road. The Dutchman arrived at Old Trafford with high hopes and a promise to win the title in three years, but at this moment it looks as if he might not even complete his third consecutive year. The fans have lost patience with LVG’s red devils who are prone to losses against the likes of Sunderland, Bournemouth and Norwich. Even the flashy counter attacking football during SAF’s era has been replaced by something sleep inducing. With so much negatives being highlighted, it’s not like there aren’t any positives with the current Manchester United team. United, though far behind are still the only giant among them, Liverpool and Chelsea that is fighting for the Champions League spot through Premier league. Apart from that, they are also in Europa League and FA Cup. Another positive for them is that they have a pretty talented pool of youngsters with Anthony Martial, Jesse Lingard, Borthwick-Jackson and Memphis Depay.
Next season: As of now Jose Mourinho is being touted as manager for United from next season onwards. If the deal goes through, it would not be long before Manchester United return to their glory hunting days.
Liverpool are the team that have been consistent for the last 5-6 seasons. Consistent as in consistently mediocre. Barring the 2013-14 season where the attacking prowess outweighed the defensive frailties so much that they ended up finishing second despite conceding 50 goals, Liverpool have always been out of the top 4 for the past few years and have only a Carling Cup to show. The previous season ended with a 6-1 defeat against Stoke. The decision to continue with Brendan Rodgers after the debacle proved controversial for the owners from which they soon backtracked by October and replaced him with Jurgen Klopp. However, the damage was already done when the weaknesses in squad was not addressed properly in the summer transfer window. To top it all off, the plethora of injured players derailed the backup plan of Jurgen Klopp and sent them to midtable. Right now, Liverpool are contending the Champions League spot only through the Europa League and also have Capital One cup final to look at. The silver lining for the reds is their attacking trio of Daniel Sturridge, Phillipe Coutinho and Roberto Firmino. If they can keep them fit for the remainder of the season, Anfield faithfuls can expect a silverware to be added in the trophy room.
Next season: Jurgen Klopp is the only proven winner, Liverpool could have lured with their tight transfer policy. In summer of 2016, Klopp will finally be able to assemble his own team and get a full pre-season out of them. Next season is the first time in years when we can realistically expect this sleeping red giant to wake up.
Chelsea’s season started as a shocker. From Premier League winners to battling with the relegation contenders. Chelsea started this season with minor tweaks to the squad which won them Premier League last season and Jose Mourinho at helm. Everyone expected Chelsea to cruise past teams same as last season. What happened was the exact opposite. Teams ran rampant past Chelsea, their star player Eden Hazard went on a goal drought, Cesc Fabregas lost his mojo, cracks between manager and players started to develop which led to his infamous second sacking from the club. Only Willian was the standout player throughout the Chelsea campaign. After a turbulent period, Chelsea appointed Guus Hiddink as interim manager, who has managed to bring back some stability to the blues since. Chelsea are now returning to the form which their opponents once dreaded. This comes at a much welcome time when the Champions League returns. Chelsea are also in the FA cup where a tough fixture against Manchester City awaits them. Not much to focus on the league now with top 4 out of their reach, the only way Chelsea can return to Champions league next season is to win it this season.
Next season: With Diego Simeone and Antonio Conte’s name being dropped as the next Chelsea manager, Chelsea look to become formidable again. We can bet on Roman Abramovich (Chelsea’s owner) to spend like anything, to eradicate the memories of this season from Blues’ fans when preparing for next season.
Ali Shaan Haider
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