It couldn’t have come as any less of a surprise when Claudio Ranieri was announced as Premier League Manager of the Year.
There are now many clubs who would fancy their chances of winning the title every year, and Ranieri’s Leicester blew them all out of the water, finishing 10 points clear of second place Arsenal and 30 (thirty!) points ahead of last year’s champions Chelsea.
It’s been an unpredictable and unforgettable season, dominated by the character of Leicester City.
Just look at the investment in Ranieri’s team. The club spent a total of £26 million in last summer’s and January’s transfer windows. To put things in perspective, that’s £10 million less than Anthony Martial’s price tag for Manchester United, and less than half of what Manchester City paid for Kevin De Bruyne.
The success came from getting the best out of their resources, from the players to the sports science team and backroom staff. The focus has been there all season and the club showed a ton of character, which most teams were missing.
The goals were coming mostly from Vardy, we saw some great creative play from Mahrez, and Kante was the engine in midfield. The players managed to be in the right places at the right times, all season.
With most of the top clubs performing far from their best, many would argue this should have been the year for Arsenal – or even Spurs who were breathing down Leicester’s back for the second half of the season. It was the best opportunity Arsenal have had in a long time, but they missed that bad boy killer instinct that they need with the beautiful game they play.
Even great teams have off day, and you need a player that can pull you trough it – and I think that was the biggest thing missing from Arsenal.
Where is the class mixed with a dose of badness, like Thierry Henry, Patrick Vierra of Martin Keown? Those guys did not mess around when they saw their opportunity.
Spurs came so close but you could see that the experience killed them. When the time came to stay calm and grind it out they didn’t really have anyone lead the team forward. They looked more like they were relying on Pochettino to make all the calls, and on the field, the manager can’t always help because sometimes the pace is too quick to readjust, and half-time could be too late.
Chelsea failed to create any momentum at all, even going right back to their American tour. On top of that the club were probably over-confident after lifting the trophy last season. After being champions it was all falling apart, and it needed (and still needs) some adjusting. Next season we will need to see a lot of hard work from Conte, and it looks like it will be a tough job from the start.
Manchester City also struggled this year, and if you look at them as a team you may be looking at the best squad in the league. But it started to crack when Yaya got injured. Vincent Kompany had similar injury problems, and without these two in the team regularly, performances can start to crumble.
Liverpool is a team that was always looking to rebuild this season but with Klopp arriving I think it’s looking pretty positive and calm again. But of course the madness comes back him when his team scores. This man does not hold back his emotion so I’m always waiting to see what he does next.
Next season we should be more critical towards Liverpool because Klopp’s had some time to work with his squad and they should be ready to fight for the league.
Manchester United had a season full of ups and downs, after bringing in a stream of new players. We all know a new team needs time but expectations are incredibly high in the Premier League, not least at Man Utd. It’s a brutal league and if you don’t fix your problems immediately you’ll get punished again and again. When you think you’ve just got out of your difficult time, you get another set-back. Now there are a lot of rumours around the club and Van Gaal’s future, and it’s time they fix that so they can start the next campaign stronger.
We all look forward to seeing how every club will shape up next season. Every team will be ready for Leicester, and they will have the added luxury pressure of being the champions that everyone wants to beat.