Having just completed his ‘does anyone miss Ian Wright on the BBC at all’ survey, Andy Kay is back with Oh Kay and a look back on the 2007 / 2008 Premier League season. Derby fans should look away now, a bit like your defence did for the entire campaign.
The right team won the Premier League title, no question.
Most number of points, most goals scored, least goals conceded, outstanding player of the season in Ronaldo and the massive tactical nouse of Sir Alex Ferguson on the touchline. Fittingly, it was Ryan Giggs who lifted the trophy on the day he equalled Bobby Charlton’s 758 game appearance record for the club. What a servant he’s been.
Chelsea though should be congratulated for making the run in exciting and taking it to the final day. Their problems though were encapsulated in the 90 minutes against Bolton. A game they know they should have won, but didn’t. Just like the match a few weeks earlier against Wigan. Although they have the Champions League final to look forward to, they must be thinking ‘what if?
So too Arsene Wenger and Arsenal. His team, so full of fire and vigour for much of the season, were undone by their young legs that couldn’t quite handle the run in. Plenty of encouraging signs for next year though.
As for Liverpool, they continue to frustrate in terms of consistency but they have bought a gem in Fernando Torres. Off the pitch though they need to sort themselves out and quick. A disaster of a sideshow involving the Dubai International capital (DIC) and rowing co-owners Tom Hicks and George Gillett must be resolved in the close season.
But, and here’s the rub, even though it was the closest title race for years, it was in essence just another tear up between the big four. How sustainable, you could ask, is the Premier League as a product if, at the beginning of the season, is a 100% certainty that the Champions will always come from the same quartet?
Everton, for instance, the team in fifth, finished a whopping 22 points behind United, and 11 behind Liverpool in fourth. Portsmouth, Aston Villa, Blackburn, Spurs and Manchester City, apart from their final day debacle all did OK, but never more than that. Oh for some team to step up to the plate and offer us a little bit of variety.
At the other end of the table, Derby aside, the race to avoid the drop was as intense as ever.
Reading and Birmingham City both recorded 4 goal victories on the final day but to no avail with Roy Hodgson guiding his Fulham team to an astonishing escape by winning three consecutive Premier League away matches in succession, a feat never before achieved by the London club. The return to fitness of Jimmy Bullard was key to their survival but owner Mohamed Al Fayed knows he’ll need to dip in to his personal fortune if Fulham are to avoid the relegation dog fight next term.
As for the others, congratulations should go to Manchester United old boys Roy Keane and Steve Bruce for keeping Sunderland and Wigan up and Gareth Southgate should also enjoy his summer hols after securing safety for Middlesbrough and ending the season with that extraordinary 8 – 1 humping of Manchester City.
And what of City? A ninth place finish might be good enough for some owners but not it seems Thaksin Shinawatra who looks set to ditch Sven Goran Eriksson. The Swede though is still leading the club on their tour of Asia and will meet his boss this week sometime. City, like Arsenal, enjoyed a fantastic start to the campaign with Sven’s new signings all doing the business. But despite their historic double over United, their first since about 1834 BC, they too, both as a team and individually, tailed off badly and ended up in a shambolic state at the Riverside.
So what can we expect for next season? The champions (please see above), the Uefa Cup places to be fought out by the likes of Everton, Portsmouth, Villa and Spurs and as for relegation, probably 2 out of the 3 new boys and A.N. Other. Sound familiar?
There will be surprises though. The new Manchester City manager will be named as Pitak Silprasit, currently head coach of the Port Authrority of Thailand football club, Tony Mowbary and Avram Grant will be seen smiling on the same day, Tom Hicks and George Gillett will settle their differences with a drag race through the streets of Toxteth and the FA will realise that their demand that Fabio Capello takes England to semi final in a major competition means that they’ve paid the guy millions of pounds to win one more match than Sven. Roll on August.