Wonderful story, but one you would never want to actually watch back. While Leicester’s rise is incredible, it’s worth noting that it simply wouldn’t be allowed to happen if the Premier League was any good. It is an embarrassment that the league has been this poor for so long yet has shown no signs of improving – you could count the number of watchable games on one hand.
Liverpool’s jump to a title challenge from seventh in 2013/14 should have been the warning sign that everyone needed to step up their game, but the stature of the club may have clouded things a bit. There can be no such excuses this time around – Leicester are a nothing club that prior to this success had just three league cups to their name. That anyone still has the nerve to claim straight-faced that the Premier League is better than La Liga should be considered a failing of the human race.
There are some silver linings though. Leicester obviously surpassed expectations but the other low and mid-table clubs actually put out a pretty strong showing. In recent years you could throw a dart at any team in the lower half of the table and a decent case could be made that they deserved to go down, but good managerial appointments and increased financial might saw a marked improvement. While Aston Villa were truly abject, many of the other teams involved in the relegation battle probably would have been pretty comfortable in previous seasons despite being poor.
Also, with the appointments of Pep Guardiola, Jurgen Klopp, Antonio Conte and Jose Mourinho, the Premier League now boasts some of the world’s best managers going into 2016/17. If given the opportunity to shape their squads accordingly, this terrible period may finally be behind us.
Player of the Season
The fact Leicester’s play was developed around a gameplan means you could give this to several players. Jamie Vardy’s goals drew attention early on and by the end of the season everyone was talking about N’Golo Kante covering the midfield, but the one winning the most praise in the middle of the season was probably the best. Riyad Mahrez was arguably the player least tailored to Leicester’s organised structure, yet the Algerian was the biggest key to them winning. With Leicester grinding out most matches rather than crushing opponents, his sprinkle of technical quality into a willing but limited team was often the difference between one point and three.
Young Player of the Season
Dele Alli stepped out of League One but didn’t look out of his depth in Tottenham’s midfield. However, while Alli was the best newcomer, Harry Kane was probably the better performer, cementing his place when he could have easily faded away after last year and finishing as the league’s top scorer.
Goal of the Season
Not much competition here. Dele Alli‘s goal against Crystal Palace was head and shoulders above the rest.
Manager of the Season
Claudio Ranieri obviously. His strategy was basically a simpler Atletico Madrid knock-off but dragging that out of those players is a special achievement.
Disappointment of the Season
It would be easy to give this to Mourinho specifically after his manoeuvrings appeared to derail a title defence early on, but Guus Hiddink didn’t exactly fair that much better. That Chelsea only bothered to turn up once all season to rain on Spurs’ parade as the season drew to a close is pretty pathetic. They obviously had little to play for after such a poor start but that’s ultimately a year of their lives they are never getting back.
Team of the Season
Honourable mentions: Kasper Schmeichel, Danny Rose, Mesut Ozil