Except for the champions and usually those saved from relegation, no one is actually happy with where they finish at the end of the season. In the 2013-2014 English Premier League, that’s especially true when it comes to Manchester United, Tottenham, Arsenal and Chelsea – all title contenders falling short of the goals they set out to achieve.
Spurs and United sacked their managers during the season while both Arsene Wenger and Jose Mourinho used their ability to weave words more than once to try and hide the failings of their work this season, making it quite easy to see through the lies.
Without a doubt. Not just in the Premier League but in all of Europe. The bottom line, the ability, the reckless spending, firing the manager at a weird timing and the mini-mutiny or sabotage carried to sack him by Ryan Giggs, the Class of ’92 and some of the players. The moment David Moyes was hired turned out to be the wrong turn for the 2013 English champions, finishing outside of European qualification for the first time since the inaugural Premier League season.
David Moyes’ name, and with that his pick by Alex Ferguson, are like one huge banner hanging over the 7th place this season. From making weird tactical decisions to not being able to change them during matches. His weird reactions and comments after matches. Manchester United became a joke during the 11 months of David Moyes at the job, and Ryan Giggs taking over didn’t turn the season into a success obviously. We will see if this was a one time thing or truly falling off for a long while because Ferguson was bigger than the club very soon.
Sometimes it’s hard to understand how things work at Tottenham. Andre Villas-Boas basically built a new team on his first season at the job, narrowly missing fourth place and the Champions League. Selling Gareth Bale caused a widespread panic, and Spurs simply built almost a completely new team, spending well over £100 million on OK players, but none of them with the impact the Welshman had on the club.
Villas Boas and Tottenham disappointed early on, but the big thrashings were the big problem. The same thing happened to Tim Sherwood, but they weren’t going to sack two managers. In the end, it was a sixth place finish, leading to the Europa League once again. Losing your best player is always difficult, but firing Andre Villas-Boas wasn’t a smart move, and might have set the club back even further.
Arsene Wenger sounds like a broken record. Each season comes that moment when all titles are out of reach (this year, they can still win the FA Cup). Fourth place again, despite finally opening the “war chest” and spending big on Mesut Ozil. But Ozil seemed to burn bright early on before withering away. Injuries and his usual mental and physical weakness, without having stars around him to make up for that.
Yes, we had the usual injuries derailing Arsenal’s season: Aaron Ramsey, Theo Walcott, Jack Wilshere and the never-healthy Diaby. But there’s a pattern and a trend. It can’t be all bad luck. Arsenal lost almost every big match they had. The football wasn’t very pretty on the eyes most of the time. Arsene Wenger used his usual spin cycle to make it seem like everything’s OK. Bottom lines matter, and Arsenal’s wasn’t a very happy one. Another fourth place finish, and getting kicked out of the title race way too soon despite leading the league more than anyone else this season.
The thing about Chelsea is that finishing third and reaching the Champions League semifinal isn’t a bad thing at all. But when you combine the expectations (second or first according to preseason predictions), the arrogance of their manager and the way one of the richest teams in the world cynically uses defensive tactics to walk away with 0-0 draws one can easily come to the conclusion that this season wasn’t a success.
Chelsea have a manager who loves to talk, and fire at the other managers for this and that reason. He loves himself. He loves defending his own players, but also lashing out at them for speaking out against him or his tactics in public; even hinting to that. Mourinho is walking away from another season without a single title and not really helping his reputation as a tactician or as a person. Not exactly what you’d call a success.