You can’t help but get the feeling that a Premier League season of such unpredictability and attraction came to somewhat of an abrupt and, uncharacteristically of the British media, uncovered end.
As Vincent Kompany lifted Manchester City’s second Premier League title in three years, the eyes of the media turned reluctantly away from events at Anfield after Brendan Rodgers’ Liverpool side, who endeared the nation’s footballing morals with their attractive style of play, let slip what once appeared an undisputed grip on the title.
It was bizarre that, in a season which had seen nine managerial sackings (a Premier League record) and two teams net over 100 goals, fans were left slightly disappointed from what promised to be such a tense run-in for the title.
This past season pivoted around two main stories – the resurgence of Liverpool and the demise of Manchester United. Look at the stats and you’ll see that Manchester City was the best side in the league – on paper and, arguably, where it counts – on the pitch. However, it was the manner in which Liverpool operated which warranted the discernment of the media. There was something fresh about them, something exciting. They were English – and they were good.
This was the reason why Manchester City’s title triumph was eclipsed – Liverpool was the nation’s favourite. It’s testament to Brendan Rodgers how he has earned the backing of the nation, when it’s fair to say that Liverpool isn’t renowned for having a lot of chums knocking about.
Advocating the use of English talent has earned Rodgers many brownie points as well as three on a Saturday. In fact, if the Premier League table was constructed upon goals only scored by Englishman, the complexion of the title race would have swayed well in Liverpool’s favour.
Poignant speaking points from the table include the placement of Manchester City and the composition of the top four. Manchester City has been much criticised in recent years for the manner in which the club has invested their new found affluence.
After spending over £640 million since the Sheikh Mansour takeover in the summer of 2008 and buying 54 players (at the time of writing), success has come concurrently to the Etihad Stadium. However, of those 54 players only 14 have been English, with many people speculating that the acquisition of some Englishmen was purely to meet squad requirements.
A fall from 1st position in the actual standings to 18th in the English table outlines the reasons behind why City’s triumphant season has gone under the radar compared to previous seasons.
There has been a lack of respect for them as a team dominated by the foreign talents of Kompany, Yaya Toure, Silva and Aguero have taken the league by storm with their power and clinical nature. Yet City’s neglection for English talent this season is reflected in the table, where they have depreciated from being champions to being relegated.
Other mentions for a decreased performance with the absence of foreign talent are Newcastle, who, renowned for the influx of Frenchman in their side, slumped nine places from their actual position to 19th in the league.
Tottenham also wouldn’t have coped well without players such as Adebayor, Eriksen and Soldado as they would have dropped nine places to 15th. Other sliders are London clubs Arsenal and Chelsea who slid down seven places and six places, respectively.
In terms of highest movers, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer would’ve been a much happier man on the last day of the season, as his Cardiff side took 8th spot in the league, moving up 12 places from their harsh reality of a 20th place finish.
West Ham’s position reflects Sam Allardyce’s faith in English strength with players such as Carroll, Nolan and Noble contributing to an improvement of eight places to 5th place in the league.
Yet the attention of the English goal scorers table has to sway towards the teams at the top. Liverpool’s attacking, high pressure values came to fruition, as a team spearheaded by the English talent of talent of Sterling, Sturridge and Gerrard earned the backing of the nation. Likewise, Southampton’s ever-refreshing ethos of giving home grown talent a chance was as successful as ever, with Shaw and Lallana having prominent seasons for the Saints.
Though the 2013/2014 season was one of despair for Manchester United, Rooney appeared to find some of his street striker roots again as he fired home 17 league goals, which would’ve meant a promotion of four places to 3rd for United. Similar to their Merseyside neighbours, Everton earned the plaudits last season for their exciting development under the management of Roberto Martinez, where English talent of Barkley, Jagielka and Baines would’ve seen the Toffees coast to a 4th place finish.
It’s no coincidence that the top four contributors to the England squad composed the top four of the English goal scorers league table; making up 15/23 players of Hodgson’s squad.
The nation becomes divided in the loaf of a Premier League season, yet when it comes to the national side, we merge to appreciate the clubs fostering the talent of native players; the table virtually reflects the levels of respect each team has from the nation, corresponding to the position in the standings.
So as the Liverpool, Southampton, Everton and Manchester United players head to Brazil this summer we can say thanks to Brendan Rodgers, Mauricio Pochettino, Roberto Martinez and, er, David Moyes, for their advocating of English talent.
And as the World Cup dawns ever closer, let’s forge together to cheer on Roy’s Boys and leave club allegiances behind, because, let’s face it, bedlam will occur for which ever player scores the winner in the final.
For more articles and opinions, follow me @_AdamPowers