As football fans we’re always looking back on the good times; the moments that made us laugh and cry and the moments we’ll either never forget or do our best to wipe from our memories forever.
But what about the future? What do we have to look forward to? Can we get excited about what’s to come or should we continue to yearn for yesteryear?
As part of our Premier League 25 years celebration this season, we’ve decided to boot up our copy of Football Manager 2018 and simulate 25 years into the future to see what exactly we’ve got to look forward to. And without wanting to wish our lives away, we’re in for a real treat if this is what the future holds.
With one season per article, we’re looking 25 years in to the future, starting with the current 2017/18 campaign…
Before the season even starts the big clubs make last ditch attempts to spend big on the best players.
Unsurprisingly, Manchester City are the biggest spenders as they spend an initial £41m on Juventus’ Alex Sandro and secure a deal that could be worth in the region of £42m for Inter’s Ivan Perisic.
Liverpool throw £61m at Napoli’s Elseid Hysaj, Andrea Petagna of Atalanta, Torino wing-back Antonio Barreca and 18-year-old attacking midfielder Vincent Thill from Metz.
Meanwhile, Man United bring in Daniele Rugani from Juventus for £24m and Benfica’s Jonas for £17.75m.
Arsenal are also massive spenders with £59m being spent on five players, the most significant of the bunch being Fulham wonderkid Ryan Sessegnon for a bargain price of just £2.9m. Former Everton star Gerard Deulofeu joins the Gunners for just £7m.
And Chelsea? They buy Dries Mertens from Napoli for £26.5m.
There’s more spending in January too, and the top ten most expensive transfers of the season are as follows…
In terms of obscure Premier League transfers, free agent Bacary Sagna signs for Newcastle, Man City manage to persuade Monaco to part with £33m for Elaqium Mangala, Charlie Adam joins Hoffenheim for £3.8m, James McClean completes a shock £5.25m move to Mexian outfit Cruz Azul and West Ham spend a combined £30m on Everton’s Mason Holgate and Leicester’s Matty James.
Elsewhere in Europe, there are no stand-out transfers in the summer but Barcelona surprise everyone with a £46m deal for PSG’s Angel Di Maria in January, while Ajax’s Kasper Dolberg completes a £55m switch to Bayern Munich.
The League Campaign
Chelsea go on to successfully defend their Premier League crown to win their third title in four seasons, ending the campaign four points clear of runners-up Man United and as the division’s top scorers with 72 goals…
Arsenal end the season in fourth, which they undoubtedly celebrate wildly as their bitter north London rivals Tottenham have to settle for sixth.
Newcastle, Crystal Palace and Huddersfield are all relegated comfortably. Burnley had looked dead and buried by the middle of March, having won just once in 18 Premier League games from the beginning of December, but a late surge saw them go unbeaten in their final seven games (W5, D2). Newcastle are eventually made to pay for winning just twice after the turn of the year.
The season’s overachievers are West Ham, Bournemouth, Watford and Brighton, who all finish well above where the media had predicted of them at the beginning of the season. Southampton, West Brom and Leicester are all seen as the biggest underachievers.
End of Season Awards
Harry Kane beats Olivier Giroud to the Golden Boot by a single goal as it takes only 17 for the Spurs forward to end the season as top scorer.
Dries Mertens nets 13 league goals in his first season at Stamford Bridge, Mohamed Salah fails to have the same impact as in real life by scoring just 13 times while West Ham’s Javier Hernandez nets 15 on his return to the Premier League.
Elsewhere, Juan Mata ends the season with the most assists (16) and the Golden Glove is shared between Liverpool’s Loris Karius and Chelsea’s Thibaut Courtois as they keep 17 clean sheets each.
Players’ Player of the Year went to Eden Hazard, Premier League Player of the Year was awarded to Juan Mata, Manager of the Year was obviously won by Antonio Conte and Young Player of the Year was awarded to Chelsea’s Andreas Christensen.
The Premier League Team of the Year looked pretty familiar as the likes of Philippe Coutinho, Paul Pogba, Harry Kane and Kevin De Bruyne all make the cut, but there are surprise inclusions for Man United’s Daley Blind and Watford’s Daryl Janmaat.
Unlike in the real world, Everton decide to bypass the chance to sign Sam Allardyce and instead appoint Atlanta United’s Argentine boss Gerardo Martino at the end of July.
The first Premier League casualty of the season is Mark Hughes, who loses his job at the beginning of December due to a poor league position, and is surprisingly replaced by Guus Hiddink two weeks later. All eyes on Hiddink to see how he gets on at the Bet365!
Liverpool shock everyone by parting ways with Jurgen Klopp after the players lose confidence in the German, and he is replaced by Sporting Lisbon boss Jorge Jesus in December.
A run of poor results heading in to the festive period forces Southampton into a change as they show some real character by replacing Mauricio Pellegrino with Celtic’s Brendan Rodgers.
Elsewhere, Leicester sack Claude Puel five days before Christmas but it takes until the end of March to decide caretaker Michael Appleton isn’t the man to take them forward and instead appoint Rafa Benitez, who was dismissed by Newcastle at the end of February.
The Magpies replace Benitez with former Watford boss Walter Mazzarri, while West Brom swap Tony Pulis for Francesco Guidolin and Crystal Palace sack Roy Hodgson and take a gamble on Javier Aguirre, whose previous jobs include Japan, Mexico, Atletico Madrid, Zaragoza and Espanyol.
Pep Guardiola’s failure to win a single trophy in his second season sees him leave the Etihad Stadium and be immediately replaced by Massimo Allegri.
What to expect next season?
The departure of Pep Guardiola will mean all eyes will be on what Massimo Allegri and how he fares at the Etihad. On the other side of Manchester City, Jose Mourinho will be under immense pressure to deliver a first Premier League crown for six years.
What about Arsene Wenger? He managed to steer Arsenal back where they belong – 4th – but there’s a lot of speculation surrounding his future as he goes in to the final year of his Emirates Stadium contract.
Wolves, Sunderland and Middlesbrough are promoted and there are early expectations on Wolves to have a good season given their strong squad and improved finances.
Premier League Champions: Chelsea
Champions League qualification: Chelsea, Man United, Man City and Arsenal
Europa League qualification: Liverpool, Tottenham and Leicester City
Relegated to Championship: Newcastle, Crystal Palace and Huddersfield
Promoted to Premier League: Wolves, Sunderland and Middlesbrough
Community Shield Winners: Chelsea
FA Cup Winners: Leicester City
Carabao Cup Winners: Chelsea
UEFA Super Cup Winners: Man United
Champions League Winners: Atletico Madrid
Europa League Winners: AC Milan
World Cup 2018 Winners: Uruguay