Man Utd and Chelsea poo-stained seasons help make Premier League 23/24 a classic

Steven Chicken
Big six managers Pep Guardiola, Mikel Arteta, Erik ten Hag, Mauricio Pochettino, Jurgen Klopp and Ange Postecoglou.
The big six managers all have business to complete this week.

Club executives and pundits often like to talk about ‘transitional seasons’ as if football does not exist in a perpetual state of flux. Periods of uninterrupted success are so vanishingly rare as to be completely remarkable when they do come around.

But it’s rare for an entire division to be going through a transitional season, as we are seeing in the Premier League right now. And by God, it’s been fun to watch.

All 20 Premier League sides are enjoyably hard to pin down

Arsenal are not the finished article, but are firmly on the rise (even before an astonishing 5-0 win v Chelsea), to the extent that they have caught up a Manchester City that, while still extremely capable, has fallen away from its usual lofty heights. Liverpool, meanwhile, are improved from last year, but are losing the iconic manager who built them back into legitimate title challengers.

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In Tottenham, Aston Villa, West Ham, Newcastle, Fulham, Wolves, and Brighton, we have a clutch of ambitious, upwardly mobile teams who remain in various stages of adolescence. You could predict any of those sides’ next result to be a four-nil win, a four-nil loss, or a four-all draw, and nobody would laugh. It is gloriously, brilliantly unpredictable.

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Manchester United and Chelsea have new investment and big hopes for the future, yet at this stage they are both just a bit crap, with every encouraging forward step followed by a step back. Into a puddle. With banana skins at the bottom. Covered in dog poo. Unless you happen to be a fan of those sides – in which case you have taken your opportunity to laugh at others over the years and now it’s just your turn – their capacity for self-destruction is unendingly funny.

The bottom three, sadly, have largely been a waste of space, but seeing Luton in the Premier League has been a joy nonetheless. And alongside Burnley, they still both have a shot at survival thanks to the silliness of the PSR situations affecting Everton and Nottingham Forest, both of whom have responded to their punishments for over-spending in superbly barmy fashion. Pant-wetting has not made for such great box office since 1999 smash The Green Mile.

Bournemouth, Brentford and Crystal Palace are perhaps the only three teams that are kind of just…there. When was the last time that happened? Remember those years of stagnation, not so long ago when the top four was the top four, and much of the rest of the league felt like interchangeable parts?

READ MORE: Chelsea the kings of Barclays peaks and troughs as a proud Palace record comes under threat

Enjoy the Premier League chaos while it lasts

There is an awful lot to dislike about the Premier League, if you are that way inclined, and fans of most of the 20 teams involved will have complaints about wanting their teams to just be a bit more capable, a bit more professional, a little bit sharper about how they go about things.

That may come in the next few years; there is a sense of chess pieces being organised into place for a more coherent, strategic game.

Manchester United and Chelsea may actually start applying some intelligence to their spending, Liverpool might get their choice of manager just right, that upper-mid-table pack of interesting sides will splinter into different, less interesting directions as they set themselves into more identifiable trajectories.

But if the Premier League Years is still running in 2044…this season review will be one you go out of your way to watch. We’ll take this chaos over boring old capability, thank you very much.