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    The Most Underachieving Teams In Premier League History



    Given the amount of money spent in the summer, Manchester United have not performed up to standard so far this season and are already 9 points off leaders Chelsea. Surprise champions from last season Leicester City also find themselves looking nervously over their shoulders at the Premier League trap door. Both teams have plenty of time to put their seasons back on track but if they fail to do so, they may find themselves somewhere in this list of sides who didn't live up to their potential.


    Chelsea: 2015-16
    After winning the league at a canter only 7 months previously, Jose Mourinho was dismissed as Chelsea manager in December 2015 with the club languishing in 16th place, only 1 point above the relegation zone. They had lost 9 of their 16 games,the same amount of losses as they had suffered in the 2 previous seasons combined. Mourinho of course can’t take all the blame for the incredible slump: key players, particularly the likes of Eden Hazard, Diego Costa and Branislav Ivanovic weren’t performing anywhere near the levels they had reached in 2014-15. By May, Chelsea had managed to regain a little pride under interim boss Gus Hiddink by finishing 10th. Despite this, it may well be the case that had this capitulation not taken place at the same time as Leicester’s incredible title-winning campaign, it would be remembered as one of the most shocking falls from grace by any team in Premier League history.


    Manchester United: 2013-14
    It was never going to be an easy job taking over from the most successful manager in Premier League history, but David Moyes’ side were well off the pace from the start. Fans tend to be a little more sympathetic to the former Everton gaffer after seeing how United have fared after his dismissal in April 2014. He inherited a squad which was on the wrong side of 30 in several important areas of the pitch, particularly at centre back where Rio Ferdinand and Nemanja Vidic struggled with persistent injuries and a lack of form. However, before Chelsea’s previously mentioned campaign, this United side presided over one of the worst title defences of any Premier League Champion. What made this campaign even more humbling was the humiliating defeats to rivals Liverpool (3-0 at Old Trafford) and Manchester City (4-1 at the Etihad) as well as losses at home to Everton, West Brom, Newcastle and Sunderland.


    Everton: 2014-16
    Roberto Martinez’ new look 2013-14 Everton side had fans and neutrals alike believing that the good times were coming back to Goodison Park. Everton finished 5th on 72 points which would have been enough for Champions League football in all but 3 of the seasons where 4 places have been up for grabs. But over the next 2 seasons, with arguably a stronger squad, Everton finished 11th. European commitments may have been a reason for this in 2014-15 but by 2015-16 there were no excuses. With top international players like Romelu Lukaku, Ross Barkley, Kevin Mirallas, John Stones, Seamus Coleman and Leighton Baines, this Everton side looked a force to be reckoned with on paper. However, a relatively decent showing in the domestic cups (FA Cup and League Cup semi-finals), couldn’t mask how much this squad was falling short of expectations.


    Liverpool: 2009-13
    For 4 consecutive seasons, a Liverpool side containing the likes of Fernando Torres, Steven Gerrard, Jamie Carragher, Maxi Rodriguez, Luis Suarez and Pepe Reina finished outside of the top 5. After only being pipped to the title in 2008-09 by European Champions Manchester United, there were high hopes for a side spearheaded by Gerrard, Alonso and Torres. The loss of Xabi Alonso to Real Madrid in the summer of 2009 may explain Liverpool’s sudden drop. Alberto Aquilani, signed in 2009, would have been the solution had it not been for a series of long term injuries. By 2011, Torres’ head was turned by the opportunity to join Chelsea and with the money from that sale, Liverpool signed Luis Suarez and Andy Carroll for around £60 million. Suarez went on to be a major hit but Carroll, only half a season into his Premier League career, never lived up to the hefty price tag. The consistently average finishes by this evidently talented team show the dangers of dropping out of the Champions League for more than one season.


    Leeds United: 2002-04

    Champions League Semi Finalists to relegation in the space of 2 seasons. That was the sad state of affairs that Leeds United endured thanks in no small part to a financial meltdown. Finishing in the Champions League places in 2002 was essential given the wages and transfer fees spent under David O’Leary, but Leeds were pipped to 4th spot by Newcastle. Rio Ferdinand was sold to Manchester United in 2002 and was then followed out by Jonathan Woodgate, Robbie Fowler, Robbie Keane and Lee Bowyer. In 2003, after narrowly avoiding relegation by finishing 15th, Harry Kewell and Olivier Dacourt were both sold to combat the rising debts but were insufficiently replaced. It may seem harsh to brand Leeds as ‘underachievers’ but the squad relegated in 2004 still contained players such as Mark Viduka, Lucas Radebe, Danny Mills and Ian Harte as well as England internationals Paul Robinson and Alan Smith. Capable youngsters such as Jermaine Pennant and James Milner were also part of a squad which was hardly relegation fodder.



    Newcastle United: 2008-09
    Newcastle’s relegation in 2009 was much more of a surprise than the one in 2016. A team which had finished 12th the season before and consistently challenged for European places only 3 years earlier found themselves languishing around the trap door all season. Kevin Keegan’s resignation in September 2008 led to Chris Hughton taking over as caretaker manager. He was then replaced by local legend and Premier League record goalscorer Alan Shearer who gained only 1 victory as manager after being appointed in March. Regardless of Newcastle’s stature as a recognised Premier League side, the shock behind this relegation lay in the apparent ability that was at the Magpies’ disposal. Kevin Nolan and Michael Owen in particular were established premier league players, as were Obafemi Martins, Nicky Butt and Fabricio Coloccini. This squad should never have been anywhere near the relegation zone as this was proven by their subsequent 102 point promotion winning campaign the following year. 
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    Item Reviewed: The Most Underachieving Teams In Premier League History Rating: 5 Reviewed By: George Kelsey
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