As a less than ordinary season draws to a close, it’s time to analyse the over-achievers and under-achievers in what has a been a truly topsy-turvy season. First of all, we’ll start with the teams themselves.
Over-achieved: Leicester City
This is the most nailed on ‘over-achiever’ ever to grace the modern game. It certainly made writing this article easier. It has been a truly spectacular season for The Foxes and their faithful. Sitting proudly on top of the table with four games to go is something that can be considered an outstanding achievement, even before they’ve achieved the unthinkable to go on and win the title.
What makes it even more incredible is in the manner they’ve achieved it. Boxing Day last season, Leicester City were bottom of the table with just 10 points. That’s right, 10 points. 6 points adrift from safety. Today, they have a 5 point cushion over their nearest rival Tottenham Hotspur. Outstanding. The ‘Tinker-man’ Claudio Ranieri really has worked wonders and they all fully deserve their success this season.
Runner-up: AFC Bournemouth
The runner-up goes to AFC Bournemouth. Normally, they probably would have a better chance to win Over-Achiever of the season, if it wasn’t for Leicester’s heroics this time around. Bournemouth were made odds-on favourites to go down this season by the bookies. However, Eddie Howe’s men have not only achieved safety with a handful of games yet to play, they’ve achieved it comfortably. Not once this season have they looked out of their depth in the #Premier League, it’s almost like they’ve done it all before. Hats off to the Dean Court outfit!
Again, not much forethought was needed in deciding on the Under-achiever of the season. Chelsea cantered to the title with a confidence and arrogance that has epitomised Chelsea sides of recent years. However, with the season almost over, people seem to have forgotten all about Chelsea. They are sheepishly limping to a mediocre 10th place, behind the likes of Stoke City and Southampton. It’s quite difficult to understand how a side that ran away with the title can, with almost the same team, struggle to even break the top-half of the table. For this and for other reasons which have been speculated about, José Mourinho was relieved of his duties after a poor start. Guus Hiddink came in and steadied the ship, but this has by no means rescued what has been a disappointing campaign. The squad has fallen well below-par and in-coming manager Antonio Conte has a big job on his hands next season.
Runner-up: Manchester United
The runner-up was difficult to choose, as quite a few teams could fill this place. Aston Villa, you could say, have under-achieved but has relegation been on the cards for a number of seasons? Have Newcastle United under-achieved? But have they ever recently done what is expected of them anyway? All hard to tell, but it has to go to Manchester United.
A club as successful as Manchester United, have never once this season threatened to challenge for the title and it's looking increasingly unlikely that they’ll grace the Champions League next season if they don't pull their socks up, unless they can salvage an FA Cup victory and qualify. They've also been labeled countlessly as "boring" and lacking creativity. Something which was unheard of a few years ago. On the plus side, the future certainly looks bright with the break-through talents of Marcus Rashford and the like. But much more needs to come from this giant of English #Football next season, with Louis Van Gaal or not.
We'll continue next time with the players who have had season's to remember and the ones, who maybe wish to forget the season.