Football Season Review

Champions: Manchester City

Manchester City are celebrating winning a second league title in three seasons and can congratulate themselves on a job very well done. There was a clear change in discourse in the summer as the much more senile and less abrasive Manuel Pellegrini took over from Roberto Mancini in the dugout. The Chilean had impressed in the previous season with his Malaga side and the recruitment drive during the close season was focused on the Spanish market with the likes of Jesus Navas, Alvargo Negredo and Martin Demichelis all coming in. Yet, the most influential signing proved to be that of Fernandinho, who lined up with Yaya Toure in midfield to set up the best partnership in this department in the division. The start was impressive as the team swept aside Newcastle 4:0 by playing some brilliant attacking football but a shock loss at Cardiff in the next game raised concerns about the away form of the side. These concerns persisted in the weeks after and the team would contrive to lose four games on the road by mid-November, losing touch with the leaders. However, their displays at home were a sight to behold and they showed some absolutely devastating attacking football. They destroyed Manchester United 4:1 and served up a mauling to Tottenham, getting six goals past them. That win signalled a brilliant run of results into early February as they dropped a mere two points in a run of 12 games. They continued their perfect home form by obliterating Arsenal and then getting the better of Liverpool at the end of 2013. The form of Negredo and Sergio Aguero up front was brilliant but Toure was proving a massive influence from midfield as well with his powerful surges. The team also booked a final in the League Cup and the sounds emanating from within were that City are going for the quadruple, having progressed past the Champions League groups for a first time since entering the competition a few years ago. All seemed rosy but the loss of Aguero and, later, Fernandinho to injuries started to have an impact. Chelsea stopped their brilliant winning run by winning 1:0 at the Etihad in early February and that properly opened up the title race. The team suddenly started to look vulnerable again and Barcelona dismantled them 2:0 to end their hopes of European glory. The Sky Blues still bounced back to win over Sunderland in the final of the League Cup and claimed their first trophy of the season. Yet, a shock FA Cup exit to Wigan raised concerns about the team as a whole once again. Negredo was nowhere near his autumn form in the vital stage of the season while the constant injuries that Aguero was suffering from kept him from being at his best as well. But David Silva emerged as a key player in the last couple of months of the season. He inspired the team to a superb 2:0 win at Hull in mid-March, despite City playing with ten men for 80 minutes, and a dominant 3:0 win at Old Trafford ten days later put them in control of what was a very tight title race. However, it looked like all was lost after a damaging run over a few days that saw a late 3:2 loss away at Liverpool and a shock 2:2 draw with Sunderland at home. Everyone was certain that City’s chance was gone but Liverpool’s late collapse opened the door for them and a hard-fought 3:2 win at Everton a week before the end of the season practically sealed the title. Everyone expected the team to get the trophy but getting it in the first season under a manager with no experience in English football before is no mean feat and this team is only going to get stronger next year.

Player of the Season: Yaya Toure