We’re nearly a third of the way into the Premier League season. Now is a good time to look back at what’s happened so far, and perhaps offer a few insights into who’s done well and who’s already looking at a long hard slog til the end of the year. First, let’s look at the disappointments.
Earlier in the season, I predicted that QPR would struggle. A huge turnover in player numbers (30 out, 20 in) meant there was no team culture and group mentality at the club. Though he has previously done well in galvanising teams, it all proved too much for Mark Hughes, and 3 games ago he was sacked and Harry Redknapp was brought in. 3 draws later, and it’s looking like QPR will need a miracle to stay in the Premier League next season
Martin O’Neill is one of the most respected managers in English football. Sunderland had a decent squad and then made a few big money signings (Adam Johnson and Stephen Fletcher). It wouldn’t have been crazy at the start of the season to think that with a bit of luck, they could have been challenging for Europa League spots. Instead, they are 3rd from bottom and O’Neill is feeling the heat.
Last years surprise package were always going to struggle to repeat the trick. This year, they have never really got going. Injuries to key players have shown that the quality in their squad is pretty shallow, and Toon fans have gone back to disliking manager Alan Pardew. No wonder really, last year they were jostling for 4th, and this year they are 14th.
Most Fulham fans would be happy with a nice cosy mid-table finish with maybe a cup run thrown in. The signing of Dimitar Berbatov gave them a frisson of excitement, and it looked like he might have been the player who pushed The Cottagers into the European qualification slots. Since then however, their form has dipped horribly, winning only 3 of their last 12 games and none of their last 6. It’s starting to look like relegation form.
Coming Next: The Sides with Room For Improvement
Mark Cruise is a soccer writer for Rantsports. Follow him on Twitter: @chiefhairyman