England’s Big 6 – Who had the best season?

Chelsea

Did Antonio Conte take a team who finished 10th to Champions, or did Jose Mourinho take a team who finished Champions down to 10th? The reality is both statements are true.

Antonio Conte has been given a lot of credit this season for taking the Chelsea side to the league title, having finished 10th the previous season. Whilst he does deserve the credit, it must not be forgotten that the year before Chelsea finished 10th, they won the league.

The core of the team remained the same. It was not a squad that should have finished 10th the previous season. Conte merely returned the side to their former glory.

As well as praising Conte, questions must be asked of the Chelsea players – such as Cesc Fabregas, Diego Costa & Eden Hazard – who had such a bad season last year, sandwiched between title winning seasons. Clearly they stopped playing for Jose Mourinho. Poor attitudes all round.

Where Conte deserves immense credit is the change of formation.

When Arsenal beat Chelsea 3-0 back in September, it looked like Chelsea were going to be Top 4 at best. He bought in his favoured 3-4-2-1 formation and the side never looked back. And where he led, other teams since followed.

The FA Cup defeat is a big black stain on their season, the performance and the defeat. Chelsea looked like they had been on holiday for 2 weeks and looked unmotivated. A side that struggled last season with motivation after winning the league, could the same happen next season?

Chelsea are deserved Champions this year, but let’s not going OTT with the praise of 10th to 1st. Chelsea never had the 10th best squad in the Premier League.

Manchester United

Much criticised throughout the season, Manchester United still ended up with two trophies.

Yes, they might have been minor ones – the League Cup and the Europa League – but they all count. Whilst other teams that finished above them – like Liverpool and Spurs – talk about progression and putting the pressure on, Manchester United had trips to Sweden and Wembley and got their hands on actual silverware.

After signing Paul Pogba for a world record fee, and spending around £150m last year and getting in Jose Mourinho, they did under perform in the Premier League. But we need to remember the Premier League is not the be all and end all.

The marketing machine of both the Premier League and Champions League make it appear that no other competitions mater and some fans buy in to that propaganda. A few years ago the media laughed Arsene Wenger out of the room when he spoke about Top 4 being like a trophy. But now the same media are happy writing off a side that has won 2 trophies whilst praising sides who won nothing, just because they finished in the Top 4.

Give me a League Cup and Europa League over finishing Top 4 any day of the week.

Arsenal

What felt like a horrible season as Arsenal finished 5th ended up in a successful one as they won the FA Cup.

Whilst the likes of Spurs, Manchester City and Liverpool finished above The Gunners in the league, the fact they all finished pot less and Arsenal won a trophy means that there is no debate to have. Arsenal had a more successful season.

Chelsea with the league title and Manchester United with their (minor) cup double were the only sides to have better seasons than Arsenal.

A football season is the league, 2 domestic cups and Europe. A chance to win 4 trophies. Arsenal won 1 out of the 4.

Plenty of problems at the club, and maybe some cracks were papered over, but Arsenal have been a club in crisis for 4 years, and have won 3 FA Cups in that time.

Would I take finishing 5th again next year if we have a day out like Saturday again? Of course.

Tottenham Hotspur

Spurs have won more trophies this season than any other side:

  • Finishing Above Arsenal Cup
  • Most Points Over Two Seasons Trophy
  • Most Points in 2017 Trophy
  • Most Improved Cup
  • Top 4 Trophy

The reality is whilst they have had a good season for Spurs – finishing 2nd for the first time in over 60 years – they finished the season without a trophy.

It is now no league title since 1961. No FA Cup since 1991. No trophy since 2009. And yet they celebrate finishing 2nd and finishing above Arsenal with a pitch invasion.

They have looked very good this season. Scored goals at will and have had a mean defence. They were the 2nd best side in the league, and finished 2nd. 2nd is first loser.

Their fans will point to a low net spend, low wages in comparison to their opponents, but it is all a little bit Arsenal isn’t it? Justifying failures with excuses.

History will not show Spurs 2016/17 as showing progression with a low spend, it will them as once again not winning a trophy.

I guess when it comes down to it, success is relative. Finishing 2nd for a team like Spurs is a success. Finishing 2nd for the likes of Arsenal, Manchester United and Chelsea is a failure.

Mauricio Pochettino has still won nothing as a manager. Something that will need to change quick otherwise he will be labelled as a fraud.

Manchester City

If you spend £500m over a 3 year period and hire one of the most successful managers this century, you should expect more than a 3rd place finish.

Manchester City were never in the title race – finishing 15 points behind the champions, Chelsea. They struggled once more in Europe, winning just 3 out of 8 games, and saw their cup hopes end by Manchester United and Arsenal respectively.

Little has been written about Manchester City’s failures over the last 3 years. A single League Cup to show for £500m investment over that time is shocking. Add in the wage bill, they have spent £1billion in 3 years for that single League Cup.

They have already spent £80m-ish this summer on a new goal keeper and an attacking midfielder, but they once again show that it is not about what you spend, but who you spend it on.

The fact they have spent over £200m to find a partner for Vincent Kompany highlights how poor they have been in the transfer market. With the money they have backing them, they can afford to make expensive mistake after expensive mistake.

A failure of a season.

Liverpool

Anyone would think Liverpool had a brilliant season this year the way the press have gone on about them. Talk about how much they have progressed. How well they have played. How they are moving forward.

But the fact is they finished 4th, 1 point ahead of crisis hit Arsenal, 17 points behind the leaders, were never in the title race and ultimately, failed to win a single trophy – they now have just a single League Cup in 11 years.

I laughed when one media outlet spoke about ‘a tremendous points haul this season’. Laughable.

We all know why the press will never criticise Liverpool (scared of boycotts) but the fact remains that this has been an unsuccessful season for them.

The great Jurgen Klopp has attempted to deflect any negativity by claiming that Top 4 is as important as a trophy – note the lack of mocking from the media in comparison to when Arsene Wenger said similar.

Liverpool have qualified for the Champions League for the 2nd time in 8 years. If they were a small side, you would praise their efforts, but they are Liverpool, and for a club like them finishing 4th should not be something they celebrate.

The press paint them as having had a successful season, but the reality is, like Spurs, no trophy means no success.

Keenos

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