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 2024/25 campaign…
Reigning Premier League champions Arsenal are quiet in the summer window, bringing in 33-year-old Lorenzo Insigne on a free transfer alongside Afonso Sousa from Porto (£12.75m) and AC Milan goalkeeper Gianluigi Donnarumma (£30..5m). In February, 20-year-old Anier Rivas arrives on a free.
Arsenal’s departures include Granit Xhaka to Southampton for £13m and Thiago Almada to Chelsea for £22m.
Up in Manchester, Jose Mourinho is busy plotting Man United’s return to dominance after a season that saw them massively underachieve compared to previous years. However, just three players arrive at Old Trafford in the summer, the biggest one being the £40m capture of AC Milan wonderkid Mohsine Gavioli. The other two are just youngsters who go straight in to the U18s.
Manchester City, still desperate to overtake United as the strongest force in the city, spend £209m across both transfer windows. AC Milan centre-half Augusto Martinez signs for a whopping £75m while Julian Brandt (£52m) and Ruben Dias (£39.5m) are the other high profile arrivals at the Etihad. Out the door goes a handful of youngsters and no one of particular importance. City clearly make a statement early on in 24/25.
Tottenham, as they continue their long-running bid to fully establish themselves as a top four club (they’re failing so far), throw £70m at five new faces; Bordeaux’s Franck Robert is the most expensive arrival at just £22.5m while Almamy Traore joins from Monaco for £18.25m. Serge Aurier is sold to Roma for just £6m, Stefan de Vrij is loaned to Benfica for the season and, after 226 Premier League appearances, centre-half Inigo Martinez leaves New White Hart Lane for Bilbao in a £3.6m switch.
Chelsea also go big in the transfer market. £190m is spent on six players. Yvan Berthier is their most expensive signing as he joins from Saint-Etienne in January for £72m. Former Real Madrid hopeful Achraf signs from AC Milan for £30m. After just 13 Premier League appearance in two seasons, Shkodran Mustafi leaves Stamford Bridge for Villarreal for just £6.5m and Lucas Digne is sold to Bordeaux for £12.5m.
Over at Liverpool, the biggest name coming in to Anfield is Barcelona’s N’Golo Kante who returns to the Premier League in a £10m deal. The biggest name leaving the Reds is a shock one as Lautaro Martinez is allowed to sign for Monaco for just £48.5m – the striker had netted 59 goals in 146 first team appearances during his four seasons at Anfield.
Elsewhere, Victor Wanyama returns to Southampton 10 years after leaving for Tottenham in a £1.4m switch from FC Metz. After leaving Spurs he spent three years in China and then four seasons at Everton before his single year in France. Saints also bring in Marcus Rashford on a free transfer after the 27-year-old’s release from Man United and a 33-year-old free agent Pascal Gross.
It didn’t take long for Mourinho’s United to return to the top as they completely dominate the season, losing just three games and winning the title by a huge eight points. All that without much investment in the transfer windows, too.
Man City are forced to settle for second once again while Arsenal concede their title with a third placed finish. Chelsea beat Spurs to fourth for second consecutive season and Liverpool are sixth again.
Leicester continue their prominence in the top eight and although Bournemouth are two places worse off than the previous season, they still impress everyone with yet another good season in the top ten.
West Ham finish 10th for a fourth consecutive season. Mid-table mediocrity at its best.
Everton, Newcastle and Southampton are all left disappointed and have to settle for a finish in the bottom half of the table despite hefty investment in the windows.
Ipswich are the only newly-promoted side to survive relegation as Sunderland and Leeds join Middlesbrough in the bottom three.
The title race was over pretty quickly. United had to face Arsenal, Chelsea and Liverpool in their opening four games of the season and won two of them as the Gunners record a 2-1 victory at Old Trafford. Then Mourinho’s men go on a 21 game unbeaten streak, 19 of which were wins. That run is ended by a shock 2-0 defeat away at Stoke in February and United only lose again on the final day, but the title is obviously all wrapped up weeks before Leicester record a 1-0 win.
It was the race for fourth and the relegation battle that had to provide much of the entertainment instead, and both failed to disappoint.
Spurs looked dead and buried in their hopes of taking fourth when they went seven games without a win between November and December, a run that included three consecutive defeats to Man United, Liverpool and Chelsea respectively. But they rallied to lose just once between the end of January and the beginning of May, including a 1-0 win over Chelsea, before Southampton stopped them in their tracks with a 1-0 victory at St. Mary’s.
That defeat handed Chelsea the initiative once again. The Blues had a stop-start season and only drew two games throughout, either winning or losing the rest of their fixtures. Back-t0-back defeats to Spurs and Man City in April looked to have ended their top four hopes but on the same weekend Spurs lost to Southampton, the Blues ground out a 1-0 home win over Stoke to give them another five point advantage over Spurs going in to the final two weekends. Both teams won their remaining games.
Down at the bottom and while Leeds were comfortably relegated, Sunderland, Middlesbrough, Ipswich and Crystal Palace all played out a battle to stay in the Premier League.
In the end, Ipswich can consider themselves extremely lucky. They lost all four of their remaining league fixtures, a run-in that included a trip to Anfield sandwiched between home games against Man United and Chelsea. They were expected to drop.
But Boro could only muster two points from their final four games, three of which were away from the Riverside, and Sunderland couldn’t save themselves either in a run-in that included games with Man United, Liverpool, Chelsea and Arsenal.
Here’s how the season looked as far as team records are concerned…
One of West Ham’s summer signings – the £25.5m capture of Augsberg youngster Felix Bremser – goes on to claim the Premier League Golden Boot with 18 goals from 33 league appearances.
Hammers fans are seen dancing in the streets in celebration after finally seeing a striker score regularly for them.
Man City’s Pietro Pellegri comes in just behind Bremser with 16 goals, as does Ipswich’s Jhon Miranda and Harry Kane. Dybala nets 15 to take his Man United tally to an impressive 116 Premier League goals in 247 appearances. Pellegri’s City record is even more impressive, though – 76 goals in 117 league appearances.
Harry Kane’s return of 16 goals sees him take his Premier League goal haul to 213. At 31-years-old it’s fully expected that he will eventually break Alan Shearer’s record of 260, but will he?
Arsenal’s Naby Keita tops the assist charts with 13, one ahead of Spurs’ new signing Franck Robert.
David De Gea wins the fifth Golden Glove Award of his career with an impressive 18 clean sheets as United romped to the title – runner-up Jack Butland could only keep 12 clean sheets for Man City.
The Premier League Player of the Year is awarded to Man United’s Paulo Dybala for the third time in the Argentine’s career, thanks to his return of 15 goals and 10 assists from 31 league appearances.
Manager of the Year is, once again, Jose Mourinho – for the eighth time in his career. He needs just three more to match Sir Alex Ferguson’s record.
There are a number of familiar faces in the Premier League Team of the Season, but there is a welcome appearance from West Ham’s Golden Boot winner Bremser.
It’s worth noting that before the season started, Cristiano Ronaldo announced his retirement from the game. The Portuguese legend netted a career total 506 league goals in 706 league appearances for three different clubs over a 25-year career.
Lionel Messi, on the other hand, is still going strong at 37-years-old and scores 21 La Liga goals to take his career league goal haul to 498 in 671.
On August 1st t Garry Monk resigned as manager of Crystal Palace before being named as the new England manager a month later – Palace replace Monk with former Wolves boss Vedran Corluka. England, by the way, are the current World Champions. Yes, that’s right. Gareth Southgate led England to the 2022 World Cup!
Anyway, the first sacking of the season comes at the beginning of November when Tim Sherwood is relieved of his duties at Southampton and is replaced by Patrick Vieira. Everton’s Jorge Sampaoli loses the Everton dressing room and is also sacked in the same month, being replaced by Middlesbrough’s Paulo Sousa. Boro replace him with Sampaoli.
A poor run of results after Christmas leads to West Ham sacking Paul Heckingbottom and replacing him with Sunderland’s Anthony Gerrard. Sunderland appoint Alex Neil as his replacement.
In other managerial news at the end of the 24/25 season, Kasper Schmeichel is the manager of Tranmere Rovers, Joey Barton is in the Mansfield hotseat, Emmanuel Adebayor is in charge at Aston Villa, Albert Adomah is at Brighton, Francis Jeffers has popped up out of nowhere to take the top job at Cardiff, Phil Neville is at Millwall, Graziano Pelle replaced Gary Neville at Reading and Wayne Rooney is at League One Lincoln.
Once again, everyone will be looking to knock Man United off their perch. They’ve now won 26 Premier League titles and Jose Mourinho has six of them. Can Arsenal return and win it again, or can Man City finally snatch the league off their neighbours?
What about Tottenham? Can they finally beat Chelsea to fourth spot? Will Liverpool ever get back in to the Champions League via a top four finish?
West Ham – will they ever break away from the shackles of 10th, or will they succumb to mid-table mediocrity and remain there forever more?
And how will Patrick Vieira get on with management in the Premier League at Southampton?
Newly promoted sides Millwall (yes, Millwall came up as Championship champions), Burnley and West Brom will only have survival on their wish list. How many riots will there be in Stratford when Millwall visit West Ham?
The 25/26 Premier League season is going to be an interesting one.
Premier League Champions: Man United
Champions League qualification: Man United, Man City, Arsenal, Chelsea and Tottenham
Europa League qualification: Tottenham, Liverpool and Bournemouth
Relegated to Championship: Middlesbrough, Sunderland and Leeds
Promoted to Premier League: Millwall, Burnley and West Brom
Community Shield Winners: Arsenal
FA Cup Winners: Arsenal
Carabao Cup Winners: Bournemouth
UEFA Super Cup Winners: PSG
Club World Championship: Arsenal
Champions League Winners: Arsenal
Europa League Winners: Tottenham
So despite Arsenal failing to retain the Premier League, they do win a second consecutive Champions League title and add the Community Shield, FA Cup and Club World Championship to their trophy cabinet. Pep Guardiola is fast becoming a legend at the Emirates.
Bournemouth secured their place in next season’s Europa League with an emphatic 2-0 Carabao Cup final victory over Man City, but amazingly could’ve made it in to the Champions League.
That’s because the Cherries defied all odds to reach to the Europa League final but unfortunately fell to a 3-0 defeat to Tottenham in Rotterdam. It was Spurs’ third consecutive Europa League final appearance and they were finally able to lift the trophy having lost their previous two finals. Spurs finally return to the Champions League.
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