A Season Of Success For English Football
The UEFA Champions League final last night brought the curtain down on the domestic football season in Europe, as fans look ahead to two months of international football in order to fill the void. Of course, it’s going to take a while for some to come down off of the incredible high that was the season that has just been, especially in the realms of the English game. Teams up and down both the Premier League and the Football League were able to produce some incredible moments and performances, and we think it’s time to take a look at them.
This story can’t simply be told by looking at one league, either, because it’s bigger than that. It all started back at the 2018 FIFA World Cup, when Gareth Southgate and the Three Lions inspired a nation – more so than they’d done ever since 1990. Getting to the semi finals was beyond the wildest dreams of most fans heading into the tournament, but coming out of it, nobody was denying the fact that the English are now one of the best teams on the world stage once again. After that, it was time for the domestic game to step up to that level.
In terms of drama, there have probably been more entertaining seasons from start to finish in the Premier League. Still, even with that being the case, there was a lot to love this season. Manchester City and Liverpool finishing on 98 and 97 points respectively tells you all that you need to know regarding just how good they were playing, and whilst the rest of the top six didn’t exactly cover themselves in glory, they weren’t the only ones outside of the top two that made some noise.
Wolverhampton Wanderers wound up being one of the biggest success stories of the season, which some people may have seen coming, but others didn’t. They look like legitimate top six contenders in the making, and it’ll be interesting to see how they perform in the Europa League after securing their passage into the competition. Then you’ve got the likes of Leicester City, Everton, Watford and West Ham United, all of whom have pretty realistic ambitions when it comes to pushing on towards bigger and better things next season. The groundwork has been laid, and now, they just need to ensure they have strong showings in the summer transfer window.
The second tier of English football has one of the biggest financial prizes in all of sports. If that doesn’t tell you something about how great the division is, then nothing will. Norwich City and Sheffield United were able to defy the odds and secure promotion to the top flight, and they did so via the top two automatic promotion spots. That, in itself, is impressive, because there was an array of other teams that were predicted to do better than them at the start of the campaign. Can they maintain their momentum heading into next season? Only time will tell.
In the play-offs, we saw a star-studded line up of Leeds United, West Bromwich Albion, Derby County and Aston Villa battling it out for the one final promotion spot. Villa and Derby made it through to Wembley, with Dean Smith’s Villa side being the ones to secure their place back in the big time. Those three clubs could do some real damage in the Premier League if they can suitably prepare themselves during the transfer window, and it should be pretty interesting to see whether or not the bookmakers trust in the idea of all three staying up.
The Premier League has had to sit by and watch La Liga dominate this competition for a few years now, but that will seemingly no longer be the case after an utterly remarkable season of action. Manchester United’s comeback win over Paris Saint-Germain seems like it happened a year ago now, but it’s worth noting that they were able to get the job done despite still having a pretty poor season all in all. Manchester City were also able to progress into the last eight, before being knocked out by another Premier League side.
That team, of course, was Tottenham Hotspur. Pochettino’s men showcased the kind of heart and determination that we all know lies within every single English football club, and in doing so, they made it all the way through to the final. In the final they came face to face with Liverpool, who continue to have a long lasting romance with the European Cup. They secured their sixth title in the competition last night, and while the game itself wasn’t great, it was such a huge statement from Jurgen Klopp’s men after they lost the previous year’s final to Real Madrid in Kiev.
All four European finalists this season were from England, and that kind of tells you all that you need to know. Chelsea and Arsenal came into the season knowing that the Europa League was going to be one of their best avenues back into the Champions League, and as a result, they took it very seriously. They both had a few setbacks along the way, but for the most part, they were able to breeze into the Europa League final in Baku. That meant, obviously, that the two London rivals would be squaring off for the right to call themselves the champions of the competition.
After an odd final it was the Blues who came away with their arm raised, leaving Arsenal to face the reality of another season in the Europa League. Even with that being the case, though, it’d be foolish for anyone to overlook the fact that both the UCL and UEL finals were all-English affairs. They may not have been the best adverts for the game in England, but just think about how many players will now look towards a spell in the Premier League and really, really consider it. Things are looking up, and the Europa League has a big part to play in that.
People don’t have to believe that this has been the greatest season of English football in the history of the game, because in the end, it’s all pretty subjective. With that being said, there is no way whatsoever of doubting just how well the Premier League sides have been able to represent on the biggest stages. It hasn’t always been easy and it hasn’t always been the best to watch, but we can safely say that people are going to be talking about the last few months of football in England (and Europe) for a very long time.