Premier League season review: Swansea, Tottenham, West Brom, West Ham
Premier League: 12th
Europa League: Final 32
FA Cup: Fifth round
League Cup: Third round
Despite the controversial departure of Danish icon and manager Michael Laudrup midway through the season, the significant demands of Europa League football, reports of bust-ups between influential members of the playing staff and becoming embroiled in an unwelcome relegation battle, Welsh outfit Swansea City finished the Premier League campaign in a similar position to their last couple of seasons – which were deemed successful.
While there were points where Swansea’s place in the top-flight looked seriously at threat, Garry Monk’s men ended up in twelfth place – nine points clear of the relegation zone and with the best goal difference from the sides place ninth and below.
Although there were high hopes for the Swans this term following their League Cup success in 2013, Laudrup’s side seemed unable to cope with the added pressure of playing European football. While Swansea performed relatively well in the Europa League and progressed past the group stage, it was clear that Premier League safety was the number one priority and Laudrup was dismissed as a consequence.
The temporary appointment of Monk was a risky one and one which appeared to have backfired following a shaky start, but three wins from the final four league fixtures secured both survival and Monk’s job.
Player of the season: Wilfried Bony arrived in Wales with a high price-tag and with high hopes. Fortunately for the Swans, the Ivorian forward adapted to his surroundings relatively quickly and finished the season with an impressive 16 Premier League goals. Bony’s contribution helped to secure safety for Swansea.
Best moment of the season: An impressive 3-0 Europa League group-stage victory in Valencia springs to mind, while progression through to the knockout rounds of the competition can also be considered a significant success and a moment to cherish. It may be some time before the Swans are involved in European football again.
Worst moment of the season: Swansea’s form from mid-December through to almost the end of March was severely disappointing. At one stage, the Welsh side had managed to win just two games in seventeen in the Premier League – which saw Laudrup’s abrupt departure and left their top-flight status under threat.
Premier League: 6th
Europa League: Final 16
FA Cup: Third round
League Cup: Fifth round
While the departure of Gareth Bale last summer was a blow, there was a sense of optimism surrounding White Hart Lane at the beginning of the campaign thanks to the influx of talented players to arrive in North London as the Bale cash was reinvested.
But a 6-0 thrashing at the Etihad and an embarrassing 5-0 home loss at the hands of Liverpool within the space of three weeks saw Portuguese boss Andre Villas-Boas axed by Daniel Levy. His replacement, Tim Sherwood, steadied the ship somewhat, though Spurs also suffered huge defeats against supposed rivals City, Chelsea and Liverpool under the Englishman and a failure to convincingly challenge for the fourth and final Champions League spot has also seen Sherwood depart the club in recent days.
Losing a player of Bale’s immense quality was always likely to trouble Spurs, but the inconsistency of their summer signings and their inability to gel made the cracks even more visible. £30m Erik Lamela has hardly featured, while Roberto Soldado has been a major disappointment.
Levy’s next managerial appointment will be absolutely crucial and one which could make or break the club’s future chances of challenging for the Champions League places.
Player of the season: Christian Eriksen is perhaps the only one of Spurs’ summer signings to have settled and made a difference to the side. The attacking midfielder has chipped in with 10 goals this term and both his vision and creativity suggest that he will play a fundamental role in Tottenham’s midfield over the coming years.
Best moment of the season: Four wins and clean sheets from their first five Premier League games saw Villas-Boas’ Spurs climb to second place in the table and it looked as though the North London club would finally fulfil their promise. But, domestically, it all went downhill from there.
Worst moment of the season: Three defeats against bitter rivals Arsenal will have hurt, though two losses by another rival - West Ham - will have too. The 6-0 and 5-1 defeats to Manchester City, conceding nine goals without reply over two games against Liverpool and a 4-0 hammering against Chelsea were all low points, any of which could be considered the worst moment of the campaign.
West Bromwich Albion
Premier League: 17th
FA Cup: Third round
League Cup: Third round
Having secured a highly-impressive eighth place finish and 49 Premier League points in the 2012-2013 season, it appeared as though West Brom had found a real gem in manager Steve Clarke. However it soon became apparent that the Baggies would struggle to match their efforts from the previous campaign this time round.
Clarke was axed in December following a dismal run of form, though his replacement Pepe Mel hardly managed to extract any better from his squad. In the end, the club just about did enough to secure their top-flight status for another season.
Along with bottom side Cardiff City, West Brom won the least Premier League games during the season with just seven victories to their name, and only four of those wins came on home turf. However, the Baggies were comfortably the division’s draw specialists, with 15 stalemates helping to keep them up.
With Mel having departed the club at the end of the campaign, it remains to be seen which direction West Brom will take in the summer and how that will impact on next season.
Player of the season: Ben Foster has been the pick of the bunch for West Brom this term. His reasonably impressive performances between the sticks have resulted in the goalkeeper being picked by Roy Hodgson for England’s squad for the upcoming World Cup in Brazil.
Best moment of the season: A 2-1 win at Old Trafford in September – the Baggies’ first win at Old Trafford in over 35 years – was a moment to savour for supporters. The result took West Brom into the top-half of the table, though they never looked like consolidating such a lofty position.
Worst moment of the season: West Brom went into the game against Crystal Palace in February level on points with the London outfit, but a disappointing 3-1 defeat at the hands of Tony Pulis’ men was a real low point in the season and saw the Baggies slip into the relegation zone.
West Ham United
Premier League: 13th
FA Cup: Third round
League Cup: Semi-final
This has been a very strange season for West Ham and one which may yet result in manager Sam Allardyce being shown the door. At one point, the Hammers looked dead and buried in terms of their Premier League future, yet win after win in the League Cup suggested that there was enough in the squad to collect better results in the top-flight.
An outstanding February saw Big Sam’s side climb into the top half of the table and despite suffering five defeats in their final six league games, the twelve points collected in that month ultimately secured West Ham safety in the Premier League.
Allardyce is often criticised for his style of play and it remains to be seen whether he will survive the calls from disgruntled supporters for him to be sacked. But the Englishman has proved time and time again that he has the ability to guide teams to survival at the very minimum.
With a move to the Olympic Stadium on the horizon, the Hammers simply must remain in the Premier League in the near future.
Player of the season: Despite collecting two silly red cards during the season, skipper Kevin Nolan has once again played a key role in helping West Ham to safety. The midfielder scored more goals and collected more assists in the Premier League than any of his teammates this term.
Best moment of the season: The whole of February was mightily impressive from the Hammers and Sam Allardyce was duly named the Manager of the Month for securing four crucial victories which catapulted West Ham up the table. This was the month when safety was effectively secured by the London club.
Worst moment of the season: While progressing into the latter stages of the FA Cup was hardly a priority, the embarrassing 5-0 defeat at the hands of Championship side Nottingham Forest demonstrated how stretched West Ham’s squad was and how poorly they were playing at the time. Allardyce was lucky to keep his job.
See what the expert tipsters are tipping on OLBG