Well, what an extraordinary Premier League season it turned out to be. There were massive highs and lows, controversy, managerial changes, huge transfers and thrilling action. We look back at the 2015/16 season and everything that made it so special.
Leicester City – the most remarkable story in the history of football
How did a team like Leicester, rated 5000/1 by the bookies at the outset, claim the title?
Utterly amazing. A blip? A complete fluke never to the repeated in our lifetimes? We shall see.
The facts speak for themselves – Leicester lost only three times and also had the best home and away records in the division. Their 23 league wins are a club top-flight record.
— Leicester City (@LCFC) May 16, 2016
You can’t say Leicester did not deserve it. And it was based on old-fashioned values of effort and teamwork. No prima donnas at the Foxes. Just a wonderful ethic, two players in Jamie Vardy and Riyad Mahrez scoring for fun, two big hard-as-nails, unforgiving defenders in Wes Morgan and Robert Huff, a reliable goalkeeper in Kasper Schmeichal, and around them some very fine players, all willing to run their socks off and support their colleagues.
It is how the best managers always build a team – the spine of goalkeeper, centre-halves, centre midfield and striker.
Liverpool and Chelsea both improved after managerial changes and will be dangerous next season
Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp has improved the Reds enormously in the little time he has been in charge and if they win the upcoming Europa League final, giving them entry to the group stages of next season’s Champions League, then a good season will have been salvaged from the bad.
Klopp can then really start changing Liverpool in his own vision, starting with a tough pre-season and with significant new signings including the possibility of German World Cup winner Mario Gotze.
At Chelsea new manager Antonio Conte has a big job to turn round the meltdown.
Chelsea’s implosion from champions to also-rans was about as difficult to pick as Leicester’s success.
Hard to fathom how a team with brilliant creative players can go from heroes to villains in the space of a few months – at war with their own manager Jose Mourinho.
Great manager, great players … yet somehow they fall out. Mourinho goes, Chelsea improve a little but not much, and the blood-letting is on-going.
The rumour machine has Diego Costa leaving along with Thibaut Courtois and possibly Nemanja Matic.
The will he go or will he stay situation around legendary captain John Terry is utterly disgraceful – what a way to treat someone who has done so much for your club. He has been offered a new contract of sorts. At full time in the final match against Leicester, the emotional defender addressed the crowd and told them “he wants to stay at the club” and was working for a resolution.
Conte will have plenty of money to spend – every team will be similarly flush given the lucrative TV deal – but will he spend it wisely?
Equally odd has been the up and down season at Manchester City where cohesion and trust seemed to disintegrate.
Despite winning the League Cup for a second time in three years and going further in the Champions League than ever before, City’s expensively assembled squad underachieved in the league.
To be fair to departing manager Manuel Pellegrini his three years produced the best win percentage of any Premier League manager barring Sir Alex Ferguson and Jose Mourinho and as the only City boss to have never finished below United.
However the announcement mid-season that Pep Guardiola would be replacing him appeared to destabilise the side.
Yaya Toure, their most influential performer, let go by Guardiola at Barcelona, seemed to pretty much give up. David Silva and Vincent Kompany were continually injured. Jesus Navas was a regular but never seems to have any end product. Wilfried Bony rarely got game time and when he did rarely delivered. Eliaquim Mangala was found wanting at centre-back. Raheem Sterling saw his progress stall. Making up for all this were terrific performances from Joe Hart, Fernando, Fernandinho, and particularly Kevin De Bruyne and Sergio Aguera. But it was not enough.
Can Guardiola get it sorted? He will surely improve City, there will be big signings, but it might take the better part of next season to get it right.
Manchester Utd frustrate fans and pundits alike under Van Gaal
Manchester United have had by their standards a dismal season.
The lack of shots on target, the passing for passing’s sake, the seeming ban on players beating opponents one on one, the boring football, all have infuriated the diehards.
Only Anthony Martial, Chris Smalling and David de Gea have stepped up to the plate.
Albeit to be fair to much criticised manager Louis van Gaal he has given youth loads of opportunities, being rewarded by Marcus Rashford and others. This is not a level which the fans will tolerate for another season.
Arsenal miss golden chance for Premier League title, but still pip Tottenham Hotspur to second place
Given Chelsea’s demise, this was the year Arsenal were supposed to claim the title, but it wasn’t to be.
The perennial problems remain – far too many injuries, the lack of an absolutely top class centre forward and the vulnerability at central defence. Arsenal are just too easy for those who have worked out how to beat them.
Harry them all over the pitch, rough them up, don’t let their most gifted players play, get pace in behind. A hugely talented squad will still often find a way to win, but there are too many off days.
Nevertheless the Gunners were runners up to Leicester so they must be doing something right.
So that simply leaves Tottenham who had such a great season, very unlucky to miss out on the title.
Find another striker to back up Harry Kane, winner of the golden boot with 25 goals, the first Englishman to do so since Kevin Phillips in 2000, and 2016/17 could be Spurs year.
Mauricio Pochettino has a squad who work so hard together and in Deli Alli and Christian Eriksen have players who can unlock rivals.
Can the side be kept together and bolstered by canny signings? Will all the concentration on stadium rebuilding detract from achievements on the field?
The heart says it would be wonderful if Tottenham can go that one step further. The head says that with the big spenders determined to rule once more it may prove difficult for the White Hart Lane side.
It is going to be a fascinating close season. Who will be the big signings? Who is next to fall off the managerial merry-go-round?
And it all starts again on August 13.
Football – the nation’s passion.