Every Premier League season we see teams who are expected to do well but end up struggling, and teams who are dead certs for relegation but end up surviving comfortably and even qualify for Europe. This list will focus on the 2012-13 season’s underachievers.
The Magpies of Newcastle United had somewhat of a return to the glory days last year with a Europa league finish and the addition of some quality players such as Yohan Cabaye, Demba Ba and Papiss Cisse and as such, expectations were high and why not?
Unfortunately for the Geordie faithful, the sale of Demba Ba, the constant injuries and too many players not re-producing last year’s form (Chieck Tiote for example) found the once high flying Newcastle United fighting for their Premier League survival and coming back down to earth with a bump.
A successful Europa league campaign may also have proven a distraction, but the fans that thought the recent bad times were finally over, are now just grateful that they have managed to secure Premier League football for next season and will hope for a marked improvement next time around. Alan Pardew’s job could depend on it.
Liverpool will finish 7th this season, and given their start to the campaign, you could be forgiven for thinking that it could have been worse, but any season where Liverpool finish behind their rivals Everton is just not good enough.
New Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers has had a tough time of it in his first season in charge of Liverpool, not least in having to deal with multiple misdemeanours featuring star player Luis Suarez, whose genius on the pitch is equalled by his madness.
Inconsistent performances have dogged the Merseyside club and a reliance solely on Suarez for goals has cost them many a point this season, although the signing of Daniel Sturridge means that things look a bit rosier going forward.
They will need to find long term replacements for players like Jamie Carragher who has retired, and Steven Gerrard, who has shown signs that maybe his career could be coming to an end, sooner rather than later if they are to get back to where they feel they belong, fighting for Champions League spots and being the superior team in Merseyside.
Queens Park Rangers’ fans must have been delighted with the arrival of Tony Fernandes and the influx of well known Premier League names coming to their team; Rob Green, Jose Bosingwa, Fabio, Andy Johnson, Junior Hoilett, Ji-Sung Park and the other players who joined later on in the season such as Chris Samba and Loic Remy. Not to mention the fact that QPR had an established name at the helm in Mark Hughes.
So it is was un-thinkable then that they would find themselves planning for Championship football next season, but even the late introduction of Harry Redknapp couldn’t save them from relegation and a very disappointing campaign, which has seen their wage bill rise and their fortunes tumble.
A key injury to Bobby Zamora early on certainly didn’t help their cause but too many overpaid stars not having the stomach for a relegation fight and the sheer amount of changes unbalancing the team chemistry seemed to have sealed their fate and left ‘Arry with the un-enviable task of slashing the wage bill to a number more befitting of their new league status.
With Martin O’ Neill in charge and the addition of some big money players such as Stephen Fletcher and Adam Johnson joining an already established squad of players, it seemed the 2012-13 season would be a solid one for Sunderland.
It started off well enough with Fletcher coming in and hitting the ground running, however goals would be hard to come by for Sunderland and it seemed that when Fletcher wasn’t scoring, Sunderland weren’t. With the team headed in the wrong direction, Martin O’ Neill left the club and Paolo Di Canio took over.
Since Di Canio’s arrival at the Stadium of Light things have improved slightly, but Sunderland still find themselves needing points to guarantee survival.
It seems to be a roller coaster ride for Aston Villa fans these days. It must was only a few seasons ago that Martin O’Neill had them chasing European football and this season they look set to scrape Premiership survival thanks to a late run of good results that have kept them just above the drop zone.
It might seem a bit harsh to have the Midlands club in this list given their lack of star names and their reliance on youth this season, but when you have a history and a fan base the size of Villa’s, then staying in the Premiership by the skin of your teeth is not good enough.
The emergence of Christian Benteke is definitely a positive however if they want to hold on to their talisman, they will need to persuade him that Villa park is a better prospect than the long list of clubs lining up to sign him.
Written by Mark U.
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