With the Premier League season now drawing its curtains for a few months, we can reflect on what has been another highly entertaining year of football.
Whether it be Manchester City’s excellence or late relegation drama, there is no denying that English football offers some of the most competitive matches in European football. The quality might not be the best, but there is always an upset on the cards.
Here are five things from the final Premier League weekend and main themes from the season:
Farewell to Michael Carrick
Michael Carrick made his very last start for Manchester United as he is set to join José Mourinho’s backroom staff from next season onwards. Arguably one of the most underrated players in the Premier League and for his country, Carrick received a wonderful reception from both sets of fans for his last 83 minutes of professional football.
With 316 games under his belt for the Red Devils, Carrick has won every single trophy there is to win in club football – it is quite the decorated list. Many have claimed he was the protagonist in United’s rejuvenated state from 2006 onwards. From when he was bought, Sir Alex Ferguson found another level and took his beloved club to unprecedented success with the English midfielder operating alongside Paul Scholes.
As shown against Watford, Carrick showed unequivocal calmness that has been missing from United’s midfielder this season. A sense of identity through his passing into the wider channels and allow the team to play on the front foot. He might think that he is past his sell-by date, but fans of the Red Devils will be wishing he could stay on for another year. Based upon that showing, there was no reason he couldn’t chip in for 10 games per-season.
Carrick’s had a wonderful career and he is likely to emulate similar success throughout his years coaching. Manchester United are very lucky to possess a coach who has seen it all under Ferguson and can start to instil that same professionalism and work ethic into this current generation.
Riyad Mahrez will be highly sought after
In what was a highly engaging game between Tottenham and Leicester, which ended 5-4 to the home side, Riyad Mahrez once again stood out due to his immense array of talent.
Two assists and one goal in Leicester’s four goals scored, the Algerian international consistently proves why he is ready for the next step up in his career. A move that, in truth, should have happened 12 months ago if Manchester City didn’t leave it until it was too late to find a replacement.
The Foxes’ management will be expecting bids to arrive this summer, but they are not short of money to be forced into selling Mahrez. Only when their needs are satisfied economically will they alleviate the player’s duties at Leicester and allow him to progress to the next level.
Mahrez ends the season with 12 goals and 10 assists in the Premier League alone, which is a fantastic record given he is at a team that struggled for several months throughout the season.
There will be a whole host of clubs ready to sign him this summer, but it all depends on whether that team can close the deal with Leicester City. Mahrez deserves his move to a team playing in Europe. It’s time for the Algerian to spread his wings.
Fitting end to the Premier League
43 goals scored in 10 games to round off another Premier League season, it is now what is expected of England’s top division across the globe. It is why so many football neutrals tune in to the most competitive league in the world in the hope they will be entertained. They are seldom disappointed.
Somehow or another, the Premier League continues to become more unpredictable with each year that passes by. It truly is a division in which last place can beat first place; there are very few rules as to what teams can and cannot achieve, emphasised by Leicester City’s immense title winning season.
Liverpool have surprised many with their European triumphs so far, while Manchester City have been the outstanding team of the division with breaking record after record and playing sumptuous football while doing so. At the other end of the table, West Brom, Stoke and Swansea – three Premier League veterans right now – have been relegated to the Championship after poor recruitment and complacency.
You never know what next season will bring to fans of the Premier League, but one thing is for certain: it’ll make you sit on the edge of your seat.
Winners and losers of this season
Apart from the obvious winner of Pep Guardiola’s team along with the three losers going down to the Championship, there are some teams, players and managers that standout in particular.
Sean Dyche and Burnley are both winners from this season as they claimed a European spot for next year’s Europa League. An unbelievable achievement given the lack of spending last summer and also being one of the clubs tipped for a tough relegation battle. The Clarets might not be everyone’s cup of tea, but they know how to pick up points home and away, and their fans will be ecstatic with how successful this season has been.
Rafa Benitez is another winner. A manager that has been promised the world and given pennies in the transfer window, yet has, somehow, led Newcastle United to a 10th-place finish. A quite remarkable achievement and one that will have other teams on alert to see whether they can lure the Spaniard to pastures new.
Chelsea are the overall biggest losers of this season. Having put up absolutely no fight to retain their title, the wheels came off for Antonio Conte, who has looked as if he’s been on a beach since January. It’s clear that the Italian wants to leave this summer, and will, but that quite clearly resonated with the players who were not playing anywhere near their potential for the remainder of the season. Without Champions League football, the Blues will find it difficult to attract world-class talent.
Hats off to Manchester City
Guardiola’s men have enthralled everyone with their stunning football from start to finish this season. To have only dropped 14 points all year is truly mind-boggling and a team, quite obviously, worthy of being champions of England.
Not only did they break the all-time record for points recorded in the Premier League, City managed to register the best goal difference the division has ever seen; the most away points; the most wins in a season; the most away wins; and the best winning points margin between themselves and second place.
It has been a year of glorious football and a shattering of records for City, whose fans will hope they go on to dominate English football for years to come.
Also published on Medium.