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. Below we take a look at the 2019/20 campaign…
Jose Mourinho celebrated winning Man United a first Premier League title in five years by doing what he does best – spending as much money as possible. He does only spend £75m in the summer, with Juventus’ Marko Pjaca and left-back Ricardo Rodriguez from AC Milan the most expensive additions but Sami Khedira signs on a free. He then waits until January to spend another £85m on four new faces – Valter Barroso from Braga, Federico Bernadeschi from Juventus, River goalkeeper Augusto Batalla and right-back Leo Dubois from Nantes.
Over on the blue side of Manchester, Max Allegri spends over £100m in the summer as Gedson Fernandes, Alisson, Vincent Koziello, Vasilijie Janjicic and, to everyone’s surprise, Mohamed Elneny all rock up at the Etihad. In January, another £10m is spent as Galatasaray’s Fernando Muslera and Juan Martin Lammens from Estudiantes both join City in rather underwhelming deals. Leroy Sane is sold to Bayern in a deal that could rise to just £34.5m with add-ons while just a year after signing for the club, Emanuel Mammana is sold sold to Napoli for a £10m loss.
Liverpool experience a strange summer as Jorge Jesus doesn’t do much to convince anyone that he’s ready to turn Liverpool in to serious title challengers. Eight players are signed, but only £13m is spent as Jesus turns to free transfers and cheap deals for unknown South Americans instead of competing financially with the rest of the Premier League. As for Liverpool’s departures, PSG come calling once more and this time nab Sadio Mane and Florin Andone for a combined £115m, while they manage to convince RB Leipzig to part with £17m for Loris Karius. Every cloud.
Down in London, the three big clubs in the capital all spend cash on reinforcements. Chelsea perhaps make the most notable addition to their squad as Antonio Conte sanctions a £67m move for PSG’s Roberto Firmino, while Mauricio Pochettino takes a gamble by signing Mario Balotelli on a free.
For the rest of the Premier League, there are a number of big spenders as the clubs outside of the top six attempt to do all they can to ensure they remain in the Premier League – presumably forgetting that Sunderland’s decision to spend their way to Premier League safety ended in relegation last season.
Burnley (£63m), Bournemouth (£64m), Everton (£52m), Newcastle (£57m), Watford (£55m) and West Ham (£65m) all spend big money, too.
Jack Wilshere signs for the Hammers in a £7.25m deal, Andy Carroll returns home to Newcastle for just £4.2m, Ademola Lookman is on the move again as Watford pay Sunderland £23m for the youngster, Stoke secure a January loan deal for Real Madrid wonderkid Martin Odegaard, Virgil van Dijk is not sold to Liverpool but instead secures a £36.5m switch to Real Madrid and Bournemouth spend close to £20m on Burnley’s Robbie Brady.
The top ten transfers involving Premier League clubs are as follows…
There were also a number of strange transfers both in and out of Premier League clubs during the season…
West Ham spend a combined £40m on Tottenham duo Harry Winks and Vincent Aboubakar while they ship Shane Long off to Werder Bremen for £2.6m just a year after signing him for £6m. Wolves sign Daniel Sturridge on a free transfer after he is released by Liverpool while 31-year-old free agent Theo Walcott joins Bournemouth.
Veteran England defensive duo Chris Smalling and Gary Cahill both join Brighton on free transfers, Fabio Borini returns to the Premier League with Stoke City in a £4.1m deal and James Milner joins West Brom on loan in January.
There’s lots of movement elsewhere in Europe, as PSG continue their attempts at dominating the continent by spending £241m – Gonzalo Higuain joins the Paris revolution from Juventus in a £43m deal – and Monaco win the race for Aymeric Laporte in a £61m. In January, Real Madrid sign Sevilla’s Munir for £33m and Barcelona spend almost £30m on former Arsenal defender Ruben Sumedo from Zenit.
Man United win a second consecutive title as Jose Mourinho’s big summer spend pays off, they end the season nine points clear of runners-up Tottenham. It’s another impressive title for United, who lose just three times all season and score 82 goals in the process.
Man City slip to 3rd while Arsenal, yet again, finish fourth – their ninth 4th placed finish since the Premier League’s inception.
The big shock sees Chelsea fall out of the top four and finish 6th as Southampton end the season in 5th, just four points behind Arsenal. Leicester finish 7th and secure the final Europa League spot.
That means that Liverpool’s 8th place finish sees them miss out on European football for the following season while West Ham’s involvement in the Europa League sees them have to settle for 10th. Seemingly, Liverpool’s decision not to spend big in the transfer windows cost them dearly.
The battle for survival was arguably more interesting than the title race and it’s Blackburn, Wolves and Watford who are all relegated come the end of the campaign.
A 1-1 draw between Watford and Bournemouth on the final day had sealed the Hornets’ fate despite them taking the lead in the opening minute. Watford had to win to stay up and send Bournemouth down, but Lewis Cook’s equaliser on the stroke of half-time sealed their fate.
The biggest overachievers are deemed to be Southampton, Leicester, Newcastle and Burnley while Everton, Bournemouth, Watford and Liverpool are the obvious underachievers.
United’s charge to the title saw them open the season with a nine game unbeaten run before falling to their first league defeat of the campaign 2-1 away at Man City in November. Defeats to Arsenal in December and Tottenham in January ended long unbeaten runs as Mourinho’s men brushed almost everyone aside with ease.
Chelsea’s demise is put down to sheer inconsistency, with their longest unbeaten run coming in the first six games of the season. Three consecutive defeats followed and from then, Chelsea’s season unravelled. They failed to win a single game in January and suffered hugely disappointing defeats to the likes of Brighton and Everton while they had to grind out 1-1 draws with Watford, Wolves and Burnley.
The same can be said of Liverpool, who lost three of their opening six games before going on a run of five games unbeaten. A run of two wins in eight during March and April ended their hopes of a top four finish and defeats to Southampton and Chelsea in the final three games of the season saw their Europa League chances dashed, too.
Elsewhere, Leicester going unbeaten in their first eight games of the season set them well on their way to a 7th placed finish while Southampton bounced back from a 5-0 thumping at the hands of Man United on the opening day to secure a memorable 5th placed finish.
Blackburn’s relegation is no real surprise, though. They beat Wolves 2-0 on the first day of the season but then go on a run of 10 straight defeats. Their final win of the season comes at the beginning of March against Everton before they pick up just one point from their remaining 10 fixtures.
FA Cup holders West Ham will not have been too disappointed with finishing 10th despite hopes of improving on their 8th placed finish the season before. Their run to the Europa League final, in which they lost 1-0 to Inter Milan, had caused them signifiant issues towards the end of the season as the fixtures piled up.
Here’s how the season looked as far as team records are concerned…
Paulo Dybala’s 22 goals for Man United is enough to see him win the Golden Boot, having missed out to Sergio Aguero the previous season by a single goal. After two seasons at Old Trafford, the Argentine has netted an incredible 43 goals in 73 league appearances.
Arsenal’s Andre Silva nets 20 to finish as the Gunners’ top scorer for the second season running, while Harry Kane returned to the top goal scoring charts with 19.
Kane ends the campaign with 124 Premier League goals under his belt and is once again being touted as the man to break Alan Shearer’s record of 260. He still has someway to go, but he’s getting closer.
Sergio Aguero could only manage nine Premier League goals throughout the season while Bobby Wood’s first season in the Premier League sees him net 16 for Burnley.
David De Gea wins his second consecutive Golden Glove with 17 clean sheets while Mesut Ozil and Dybala end the season level at the top of the assist charts with 12 each.
Thanks to his outstanding season, Dybala wins Premier League Player of the Year, the third Man United player to win the award in as many years, and is also voted Players’ Player of the Year. Dele Alli wins his third Young Player of the Year award in five years.
Southampton’s Nuno Santo is voted Manager of the Year for guiding Southampton very close to a top four finish, much to the outrage of Jose Mourinho.
The Premier League Team of the Year is once again dominated by Man United and Man City but owing to their fantastic seasons with Spurs, Harry Kane and Dele Alli both make the cut.
The first managerial casualty of the season comes at Brighton in November as Stefano Colantuono loses the dressing room and is replaced with Stale Stolbakken.
Everton wait until five days before Christmas to sack Phillip Cocu before amazingly replacing him with bottom club Blackburn’s Nigel Pearson in January. Blackburn bring home Tim Sherwood as Pearson’s replacement.
On Boxing Day, Stoke sack Didier Deschamps and Watford part ways with Marco Silva. Deschamps gets the Watford job while Stoke appoint Roberto Mancini.
In February West Brom and West Ham both make changes as Franscesco Guidolin and Tony Pulis are sacked. The Baggies bring in Jorge Sampaoli while West Ham nab Eddie Howe off Bournemouth.
Bournemouth react to losing a club legend by appointing former Watford boss Marco Silva mid-way through March and everyone keeps their fingers off the trigger for the remainder of the campaign.
Having gone so close to winning the title yet again, Tottenham will be desperate to finally go one better and win it while Man United will have to be on their toes if they’re to record a third consecutive title crown. Allegri’s job may be on the line at Man City if he is unable to improve on third.
Chelsea and Liverpool’s aims will be to climb back in to the top four but with so many teams spending lots of money and now battling for those Champions League spots, it’ll be harder than ever to get back in the big time. Will Liverpool decide to spend big this time, or will they continue to seek bargains in the transfer windows?
The Everton owners will no doubt be demanding a much better season in 2020/21, particularly having seen so much money be invested only to get two poor seasons back in return.
West Ham’s journey to the Europa League final will undoubtedly spur them on to try and compete for a top four spot next time out, but is Eddie Howe really the man to lift them that high? Gold and Sullivan have sold up to a local investor so there’s no more talk of a so-called ‘next level’, but surely that’s still the aim?
As for the promoted clubs, Middlesbrough, Reading and Sunderland all come up and will be desperate to ensure they can remain in the top-flight for longer than one solitary season this time.
And finally, a minute’s silence for Aston Villa fans who see their once great club finish rock bottom of the Championship and slip in to the third-tier of English football for the first time in nearly 50 years. Can they bounce back up immediately?
Premier League Champions: Man United
Champions League qualification: Man United, Tottenham, Man City and Arsenal
Europa League qualification: Southampton, Chelsea and Leicester City
Relegated to Championship: Watford, Wolves and Blackburn
Promoted to Premier League: Middlesbrough, Reading and Sunderland
Community Shield Winners: West Ham
FA Cup Winners: Man City
Carabao Cup Winners: Arsenal
UEFA Super Cup Winners: Chelsea
Club World Championship: Chelsea
Champions League Winners: Man United
Europa League Winners: Inter Milan
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