Sam Parker’s Winners & Losers – Premier League 2014/15 – The Losers

Posted: May 29, 2015 in Football
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Hull Fans Relegated

With just the FA Cup Final to come, the football season is almost behind us following an exhilarating Premier League campaign that saw Chelsea emerge triumphant, Manchester United return to the Champions League and Hull City, Burnley and QPR all sink back into the Championship.

In truth the season proved something of an anti-climax in the end as the majority of issues were solved before the final day, but it was still a campaign that provided plenty of talking points.

I have plumped weighed up the nine month tournament and compiled a list of winners and losers for the 2014/15 season: Now it’s time to look at the losers of this campaign, seeing who has fallen short of expectations and who has disappointed the unwashed masses.

Brendan Rodgers

Rodgers is under big pressure after Liverpool’s decline

Brendan Rodgers

Whilst I gave the credit for Chelsea’s success to the whole of their transfer committee in the winners section, it feels that so much of Liverpool’s decline falls upon the shoulders of manager Brendan Rodgers.

While Chelsea were efficient in their pursuit of players to take them from challengers to champions, Liverpool’s scattergun approach to their summer transfer dealings was reminiscent and perhaps even eclipsed that of Spurs the previous year, an approach Rodgers himself had been heavily critical of.

One could have expected a slight dip through the loss of a player like Luis Suarez and injuries to Daniel Sturridge have certainly not helped, Liverpool’s decline from almost landing their first Premier League trophy to being well out of the race for a Champions League place is worrying, especially when barely any of his summer signings impressed in the slightest.

Only Emre Can could be said to have impressed on any form of regular basis, while Adam Lallana and Alberto Moreno have had the odd fleeting moments. Otherwise Lazar Markovic, Dejan Lovren and Rickie Lambert can go down as complete failures, though Lambert was always set to be out of his depth.

As for Mario Balotelli, some big Liverpool fans around me could not understand the signing of a player who was never going to fit into their system of play and could never come close to replicating the feats of Suarez up front. With an attitude problem widely publicised as well, it was the most curious of signings.

While the blame for those signings must go down as a group effort, the persistent decision to change formation and play players out of position has to see the finger pointed at the manager. Losing a player like Suarez is a big thing and we could have perhaps expected standards to drop slightly, but the manner in which it has been done will peeve even the most ardent Reds fan.

An excellent season that exceeded expectations last year allows Rodgers some leeway, he must move quickly to address the issues blighting the club, otherwise he will not last long into the next campaign. And stop calling wretched performances “outstanding.” It’s getting a little embarrassing for everyone.

Raheem Sterling

Sterling may be a wanted man, but has he proven up to it?

Raheem Sterling

Sticking with Liverpool and we have one of the bigger losers on an individual scale, despite talk of a big money move to bigger fish than the Merseyside club.

Shorn of Suarez and Sturridge, the other members of the famed SASAS of last season, the burden of responsibility has fallen upon the youngster and he has fallen somewhat short.

Sure, he has been one of those players who has fallen foul of Rodgers’ constant tinkering and found himself at wing-back at stages of the season, but when the pressure was on for Liverpool to make a decent fist of fighting for Champions’ League qualification and all other forwards having proven unworthy, Sterling was nowhere to be found in their slump back to sixth.

It then seems somewhat strange that he should be pushing for a move to a ‘bigger club’ when he has hardly dragged Liverpool forward himself to prove himself worthy of a grander stage. This suddenly raises questions about his attitude and while ambition is never something to be knocked, his failure to kick on from last season to prove himself as a world-class force when all others were taken away from him suggests he has ideas above his station.

Currently, he is not worth the figures being spoken about in the press and Liverpool have no requirement to sell. His popularity with the Liverpool fans has plummeted in recent weeks, so he could be in for a rocky next 12 months.

Steve Bruce Hull

Bruce has led a decent looking Hull side to relegation

Hull City

The line being repeated from Hull following their relegation was that ‘they never saw it coming’. And yet Steve Bruce has come out of it smelling of roses in the media, with it somehow having been out of his power to prevent all this.

Over the past two seasons, Bruce has spent over £60million on transfers, far more than any other club outside of the top seven, while at least Southampton had the incoming fees to offset their outlay. Given what Mark Hughes and Garry Monk have achieved on minimal transfer budgets, Hull really should have been looking at potentially breaking the top half.

Players like Tom Huddlestone, Michael Dawson, Mohamed Elmohamady and Nikica Jelavic, among others, are all more than good enough to play in the top flight, so you wonder exactly what has gone wrong at Hull to warrant them facing a year in the Championship next year.

Sure they have had the odd bit of bad luck with injuries and the late suspension of Jake Livermore due to a failed drugs test hardly helped matters, but to have failed to so much as score in 17 of their 38 league games is well worthy of relegation.

One suspects that their squad is good enough to bounce back quickly as it stands, but who knows how many of them will remain come the start of next season? Too many players have been coasting along at Hull and something needs changing if they are to make their return to the second tier a temporary visit.

John Carver

Fan-turned-manager John Carver has been just one miserable aspect of Newcastle’s season

Newcastle United

I covered Newcastle’s problems more in depth a week ago, but while they managed to secure survival eventually, one suspects more luck than judgement was involved.

Since Alan Pardew left the club for Crystal Palace, the Magpies have been in free-fall, with a comfortable position in the top half of the table quickly turning into a last day scrape to secure their top flight status, all led by John Carver, a man who just looked so out of his depth.

If I had been writing this in March, I probably would have ignored Newcastle in both sections of this piece, as it would simply have just been another year of treading water, too far away from either end of the table to really warrant a mention.

Yet a run of nine defeats in ten games ensured they had to battle for survival, with a combination of poor ownership, poor management and lack-lustre playing staff ensuring that this is a club in real need of a cleanse if things are to get any better in the near future.

Roberto Martinez

Martinez’ failure to improve his squad has seen Everton slide down the table

Everton

A really disappointing season of decline for Merseyside’s second club, with Everton going from knocking on the door of Champions League qualification, to a bottom half finish.

The ill-effects of the Europa League could be to blame, but more of the focus must shift to the fact that Everton failed to really improve their squad to consolidate their European places, with most of their business over the summer merely being to secure loan players on permanent deals.

The main one of course being Romelu Lukaku who Everton smashed their club record to bring in, though it took far too long into the summer to seal the deal to bring him back into the fold.

Lukaku hasn’t had as bad of a second season as some would have you believe, but with the Toffees spending nearly their entire budget on the Belgian forward, they had nothing left to add any supporting cast to aid a squad that did seem light on numbers.

Standing still will always ensure that you cannot move forward, and with so many clubs having improved their options, it should have come as little surprise that Everton have slipped back in the league standing.

Vincent Kompany

Vincent Kompany has been a disappointment in City’s failed title bid

Vincent Kompany

There has been plenty of criticism levelled at Manchester City as their title defence proved somewhat limp, with the decline of a number of players over the course of 12 months having been somewhat startling.

Yaya Toure has not matched his outstanding form of last year, but given he was still significantly better than many in his position and had to contend with the death of a younger brother, we’ll cut him some slack.

Vincent Kompany on the other hand has no excuse, so it is a real puzzle that he has gone from the league’s undoubted finest centre-back to a complete liability at the back. He was the complete defender last season, yet this season you have watched City matches and just expected mistakes to happen from the captain.

With the only real alternatives being the hapless expensive mistake that is Eliaquim Mangala, Kompany has largely kept his place, but he is now behind Martin Demichelis as City’s most reliable central defender – a fact that shows how far his standards have fallen.

Radamel Falcao

The rare sight of Falcao celebrating a goal

Radamel Falcao

What the hell happened here then? One of the world’s most formidable strikers finally made the move to the Premier League, but instead of ‘El Tigre’, we got a tame house cat, incapable of matching wits with the Premier League defenders.

Yes, he came off the back of a major knee ligament injury, with a £10m loan fee, plus his massive wages constitutes a major mistake on the part of Manchester United, with Falcao contributing just four goal to their league total and often barely looking so much as a shadow of his former self.

That four goals in 26 appearances equalled the total managed by Jermain Defoe, a man who only signed for Sunderland from the MLS in January. To hammer home the point, here are a number of other players who either equalled or bettered Falcao’s goal tally for the season:

Jack Colback (4), Daniel Sturridge (4 in 12 appearances), Branislav Ivanovic ( 4 from right-back), Dwight Gayle (5), Theo Walcott (5 in 14 appearances), Andy Carroll (5 in 14 appearances), Esteban Cambiasso (5), Steven Naismith (6), Ki Sung-Yueng (8), Papiss Cisse (11 in 22 appearances).

Juan Cuadrado

Cuadrado may just be questioning his decision to move to Chelsea

Juan Cuadrado

Another Colombian, another sad story, though not really of his doing. Cuadrado was linked with a number of clubs throughout Europe, but was eventually persuaded to make the switch to Chelsea and join Jose Mourinho’s impressive side, galavanting towards the title.

In return for ditching the hero status he had at Fiorentina, Cuadrado make a string of substitute appearances, playing just 331 minutes over the course of 12 games in the league.

With Mohamed Salah having gone the other way as part of the deal having made the exact some decision a year previously, Cuadrado should really have known what he was letting himself in for. He will have every avaialble finger crossed that he was merely being granted a ‘bedding in period’.

Emmanuel Adebayor

Adebayor looks set to find another new club after falling out of favour at Spurs

Emmanuel Adebayor

Another player who has really fallen from grace, with Adebayor’s supposed resurrection under Tim Sherwood at Spurs proving a short-lived affair.

Having rediscovered his scoring touch last season and joy of playing, he started again brightly this year with a goal against QPR, but they soon dried up, with his performances proving frustrating to the Tottenham faithful.

A misguided shot at the fans, constant leaves of absence on ‘compassionate grounds’ and complaints of a voodoo curse have hardly endeared him to football fans across the country, let alone in North London and it would appear that his time at White Hart Lane is at an end.

Whether anybody else will be willing to take a risk on him now at the wages he commands, is a whole other story.

Paul Lambert

Lambert has been the biggest managerial loser of the 2014/15 season

Paul Lambert

Has any manager seen their stock fall as much as Paul Lambert over the course of this season? Aston Villa seemed bereft of any fight and looking set for a first season outside of the top flight since the Premier League came into being until Lambert was finally ousted from the management seat.

The Villains repeatedly went on runs of games without scoring, let alone winning, and the football they played was some of the most turgid seen in this era of highly televised football.

When Sherwood took over, Villa looked a completely different side, playing exciting attacking football, scoring plenty of goals and reaching an FA Cup final. Their final position of 17th hardly shouts improvement too loudly in terms of results, but at least fans of the club could at least begin to care whether they were relegated or not anymore. And the rest of the country actually acknowledged Villa as a Premier League side again.

But given the failure of Lambert to command an able group of players and shape them into a footballing side, it will take an awful lot of work for the Scotsman to manage in the Premier League again in the near future.

Harry Redknapp

Will anybody else take a chance on Redknapp after his QPR tenure?

Harry Redknapp

Whilst I was with Squawka, I wrote a piece on the signing of Mauricio Isla, claiming he was a rash signing on the back of a decent World Cup with Chile, feeling that was typical of Redknapp and receiving the inevitable backlash from QPR fans, assured he was the messiah after scraping through the play-offs despite having the best squad in the Championship on paper. It wasn’t my best piece ever, but not worth the vitriol received.

Come the end of the season, Isla is being painted as one of QPR’s ‘bad eggs’ in the press and Redknapp is nowhere to be found, having left the Super Hoops in the lurch in peculiar circumstances.

It was merely hours after the January transfer window closed that Redknapp announced his retirement due to supposed concerns with his knees, leaving Chris Ramsey unable to improve a squad high on ego and low on effort.

Redknapp has a tendency to let players get complacent after his initial motivational impact, so it came as little surprise that so many mercenary players on large wages did little to help QPR fight for their top flight place.

Redknapp claims he is not done with football management just yet, but with this debacle behind him (having tried to play the ageing Rio Ferdinand and Richard Dunne as part of a back three) and his refusal to work anywhere above the Watford gap, it feels unlikely that any club with turn to the out-of-date Redknapp for the big job again.

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