Premier League 2014 Team Review – Part 3
Southampton lost their chairman, manager and five leading players at the same time but have continued to surpass expectations to establish themselves in the Premier League whilst also actually producing young British talent. The brilliant choice of Ronald Koeman as manager, and allowing him to invest a decent portion of the money made from the sales freely has been a master class. Their best players could be one of the new arrivals (Pelle, Tadic Alderweireld or Mané) or equally Morgan Schneiderlin, who the saints were clever enough not to sell. Their worst player by far was Pablo Osvaldo who began the year by being suspended following a touchline incident against Newcastle and was then loaned out after a training ground fight with Jose Fonte. Where will they be a year from now? They could be fighting for a European spot and deserve to be more than many as they continue to be a solid team with no fear to play good football no matter who the opposition might be.
Stoke City were steered to their first ever top ten finish in the Premier League by manager Mark Hughes and have continued to pick up notable results this season, including wins over Manchester City and Arsenal and. With one of the most respected chairmen in the game, the future appears promising. Their best player has been controversial defender Ryan Shawcross and their worst has been Marc Wilson. The Republic of Ireland defender continues to polarise opinion but the one person who matters, Hughes, seems to rate him highly. Where will they be a year from now? Stoke are determined to end up finishing higher than last season and they might just manage that.
Swansea City managed to steer clear of the relegation zone despite reaching the Last 32 of the Europa league, which proved to be a casualty to their domestic form. Garry Monk has rejuvenated the flair and flow to Swansea’s football with a transformed attack that includes summer signing Jefferson Montero, while also attempting to improve Swansea’s defensive structure. Their best player has been Wilfried Bony. Swansea have an apex predator in their arsenal with his ability to score goals only outdone by his striking presence and his never-ending stamina. The Ivorian international has scored more Premier League goals in this calendar year than any other player with 20 goals, two more than Manchester City’s Sergio Aguero. Where they will be a year from now? Monk needs to put an end to their stuttering form and get a run together. Swansea will also need to be less reliant on Wilfried Bony and find goals from other aspects of the field especially considering he will be leaving them to play in the African Cup of Nations. A poor second half to the season could see the club in another battle for relegation.
Tottenham Hotspur’s previous manager, Tim Sherwood talked his way out of the Tottenham Hotspur job, but many of his moans are now shared by the fans. Mauricio Pochettino has come in and will need plenty of time to reshape what has become a startlingly average squad. Their best player has been the surprising Harry Kane. He may not have made a big impact in the early part of the year, but Walthamstow-born Kane has done brilliantly to force his way into Pochettino’s side and will be aiming for full England recognition in 2015. Their worst is the inconsistent Erik Lamela who apart from a rabona goal has so far offered almost no comeback on his record £30 million fee despite Tottenham’s best efforts to help him settle in England. Where will they be a year by from now? Many fans hope Tottenham will be in the hands of new owners this time next year but it doesn’t seem too likely, and nor does a top four finish.
West Brom miraculously survived relegation last season considering all of the drama that unfolded but the appointment of Alan Irvine as head coach did little to silence the sceptics and it appears there will be another relegation battle to look forward to. Whoever will take the recently sacked manager’s place will have his work cut out to say the least. Their best player has been forward, Saido Berahino. The England under-21 has now emerged as one of the most coveted young forwards in the Premier League and is rated at over £20 million. Their worst, well anyone out of Brown Ideye, Jason Davidson and Sebastian Blanco. Where will they be a year from now? Albion supporters will clearly hope to still be a Premier League club and stability is what the club needs at this moment but with the sacking of the manager this doesn’t seem much of a possibility.
West Ham’s end of 2014 could not be much more of a contrast to the start. Manager Sam Allardyce looked to be heading for the sack in January, but has turned things around amazingly and finishes the year with West Ham dreaming of European qualification. Their best player has been Diafra Sakho even if Goalkeeper Adrian performed heroics in the second half of last season to help West Ham pull away from relegation trouble, but striker Sakho’s impact has been incredible so far this term. Their worst, Matt Jarvis arrived for what was a record £10 million fee in 2012, but has fallen out of favour in 2014 and will struggle to win his place back. Where will they be a year from now? Not quite in the Olympic Stadium, but looking forward to one of the most significant steps in the club’s history. Allardyce will also hope to have been rewarded with a new contract.
Premier League 2014 Team Review – Part 1