The 2017-18 English Premier League season officially came to an end last weekend, with fans witnessing a new team finishing atop the table, as Manchester City dethroned Chelsea. The Sky Blues easily edged their crosstown rivals and second-place finishers Manchester United by a whopping 19 points, but there were still a number of noteworthy items in taking a look at the league as a whole. Here are five important ones.
Six teams are head and shoulders above the rest of the league
In taking a look back at the top six teams (Manchester City, Manchester United, Tottenham, Liverpool, Chelsea and Arsenal), they are the only clubs that finished with positive goal differentials. The other 14 teams ceded more goals than they scored, which isn’t going to get the job done.
Furthermore, the seventh-place team (Burnley) amassed roughly half the number of points that first-place Manchester City garnered. While there could be a number of factors at play here (transfer budget, quality of their academy), we have to wonder if the EPL has become a two-tier league. The numbers would suggest that’s exactly what has happened.
Saving one’s team from relegation doesn’t necessarily guarantee a coach will retain their job
Sam Allardyce was hired last November after Ronald Koeman was axed by Everton management. Floundering in 15th place, and just a handful of points clear of the relegation zone, “Big Sam” took control of the team, and the Toffees finished the season comfortably in eigth place.
Similarly, David Moyes took over West Ham United in November with the team entrenched in the relegation zone. By season’s end, the Hammers took seven of the final nine possible points, and finished in 13th place, nine points out of the drop zone. While this success would ordinarily be seen as a reason to retain the manager, neither man had the backing of management, as well as the supporters’ groups, and both were sacked on Wednesday.
All three teams promoted to the EPL in 2017 will remain in the league next season
At the end of last season, Huddersfield Town, Newcastle United and Brighton and Hove Albion were promoted to the EPL. The end of the 38-game season found those three teams finishing out of the bottom three spots in the EPL table. Looking at past history, only three times in the past 25 years has this feat been achieved. It happened in 2002 (Bolton Wanderers, Blackburn Rovers, Sunderland), 2012 (Queens Park Rangers, Norwich City, Swansea City) and now in 2018.
Due to the increased quality of play between the Championship League and the EPL, promoted teams have little time to prepare for the following season, which makes it difficult on clubs. As such, the Terriers, Magpies and Seagulls deserve some credit, as they beat the odds, and will progress into their second consecutive season of EPL play.
One team’s trash is another team’s treasure
In some important Football transfer news, Mohamed Salah was signed by Chelsea in 2014 from Swiss side Basel FC for a transfer fee of $14 million. However, he rarely saw any playing time with the Blues, and was loaned out to Fiorentina in 2014. Salah went on loan to Roma in 2015, when Roma paid a loan fee of $6.5 million. After his inaugural season with Roma, Salah was named Player of the Season in Serie A, netting 14 goals and 6 assists in league play. Incredibly, after attaining similar success in the following season, Chelsea made the transfer permanent for an additional payment of $18 million. Falling into financial disrepair the following season, Roma reluctantly sold Salah to Liverpool for $62 million, which eclipsed the Reds’ previous transfer fee record.
Having moved from Serie A to the EPL, Salah never skipped a beat, becoming the Premier League’s all-time leading goal-scorer for a season with 32 league goals, (obviously) winning the Premier League Golden Boot as well. With clubs like Real Madrid reportedly offering Liverpool over $200 million for his services, one has to wonder what is going through the minds of Chelsea management, as the club tallied the least number of goals among the top six EPL teams in its 2017-2018 campaign.
The era of long-tenured managers has come to an end
Not too long ago, Sir Alex Ferguson resigned his post as manager of Manchester United in 2013 after 27 seasons. Last Sunday saw Arsene Wenger’s last game with Arsenal, after previously being at the helm for 22 years.
While there might be speculation as to whether Wenger was “encouraged” to resign his managerial spot, one thing appears to be for certain: We will likely never see another EPL manager stay in charge for anywhere near this length of time. The amount of money needed to fund a successful team mandates quick results, and continued success in subsequent seasons. Consider the case of Chelsea’s manager Antonio Conte. In his inaugural season with the Blues last season, his club took the top spot in the EPL. This season, however, was a disappointment, with the team ending the season in fifth place. They failed to qualify for the Champions League next season (settling for a Europa League spot), and are looking at their only chance of silverware being the less-coveted FA Cup, with the Final taking place against Manchester United on Saturday. While Conte continues to say he has another year left on his contract, the potential suitors for his job are meeting with owner Roman Abramovich, and it’s fair to say that Conte will be searching for a new job next week. Expect this scenario to be the new norm for EPL managers, as tight schedules and financial pressures effect a team’s success on the field, and a manager’s tenure with a club as well.