With Brighton at the top and Chelsea at the bottom, the F365 Expectations Table proves that money doesn’t necessarily buy happiness in the Premier League.
It’s not that expectations weren’t reasonably high on the Sussex coast at the start of the season. After all, Brighton had ended the last season by winning at Arsenal and Spurs, before demolishing Manchester United at The Amex. But few would have expected the extraordinary season that Brighton have ended up enjoying.
The sudden departure of Graham Potter and his backroom staff should have torpedoed their season, but instead they brought in Roberto De Zerbi and, after a short interregnum during which he got his feet under the table, carried on very much as before, if anything playing even more expansive football than under Potter, and with an extra sharpness in attack.
Brighton end the season as the Premier League’s poster boys for defying the Premier League’s tendency to stratify based on financial income. The steady flow of highly talented young players from all around the world remains the envy of other clubs, with this season having thrown Moises Caicedo, Alexis Mac Allister, Evan Ferguson, Kaoru Mitoma, Julio Enciso and others into a spotlight that would have been unimaginable just a couple of years ago.
Brighton ended the season in sixth, having also come within inches of reaching the FA Cup final. This is, by some distance, the best team that the club has ever had.
It remains to be seen which of these players will be picked off by bigger clubs during the summer and Southampton – see below, quite a long way below – offer a cautionary tale of how easy it can be for the good times to turn sour at a medium-sized club punching above its weight, but Brighton supporters have been living in the present and, having earned European football for the first time in the club’s history and with the team attracting plaudits from just about all corners of the game, who can blame them?
After missing out on the final Champions League place at the end of last season, we might have expected another summer of rancour and self-loathing from Arsenal. After all, it’s hardly as though they hadn’t been there before.
But this time around, something felt different. The constituent parts looked like better fits, and the mood around The Emirates Stadium felt happier before the season started. It would be stretching things to say that Arsenal’s 2022/23 season was beyond anybody’s wildest dreams, but jumping from fifth to second felt like a bigger deal than the last time this happened in 2016.
And while dismissive supporters of rivals have been trying to derail their end of season with sustained discussion of ‘bottling’ and ‘choking’, Arsenal supporters witnessed what they witnessed. They know fully well that a young team is maturing nicely, that Bukayo Saka and Gabriel Martinelli are developing just fine, that Martin Odegaard was one of the best midfielders in the entire division, that their team was only off the top of the Premier League table for a few days between the middle of August and the end of March, and that the Manchester City turbo-powered steamroller was lurking in the distance throughout and always likely to flatten them in the end.
There might be tiny hints of regret that they didn’t go deeper in the domestic cups or Europe, but Arsenal supporters have little to complain about at the end of their league season.
3) Manchester City
Champions again thanks to a record-breaking striker and on the cusp of a treble that would cement their team as one of the greatest. They’ve played beautiful football at times, with the integration of Erling Haaland adding an extra dimension that opponents have been singularly unable to deal with. They’re the best team in England, and probably the best in Europe, and such is the level of their success now that a serious conversation is starting about whether the Premier League is now set to become a monopoly, in the same way that Ligue Un is for PSG and the Bundesliga is for Bayern Munich.
And this team is clearly and obviously not Haaland alone. Kevin De Bruyne is an extraordinary football, blessed with spacial awareness that seems to act as a sixth sense, while Bernardo Silva has impressed, Jack Grealish has taken giant steps in his development into becoming the player they spent £100m on, and Ilkay Gundogan has chipped in with important goals at very important times. The list goes on.
That level of depth is what all that money gets you, and it may well be that depth which ultimately ground Arsenal down to win the Premier League title with room to spare.
But the very existence of the 115 asterisks as a result of the charges brought against the club by the Premier League cannot simply be waved away as a ‘conspiracy’ against the club. And for all the excellence of their football at points throughout this season, it remains the case that they didn’t quite make 90 points. But this latter point is obvious nit-pickery, while the former is unlikely to be formally decided for some time and taps into a subject far too great to be done any justice here.
On ground level, Manchester City supporters will be pleased to have retained the Premier League and they may yet end up thrilled beyond reason, should they end up with a double or treble.
4) Newcastle United
With Champions League football returning to Tyneside for the first time in 20 years and the team coming together nicely, Newcastle United’s huge progress over the course of this season has been one of the Premier League’s most striking sub-plots. But expectations were already growing for them at the start of this season, because the story of their 2023/24 season really starts halfway through last season, with the appointment of Eddie Howe and the flurry of January transfer window activity which saw them claw their way comfortably from the Premier League’s relegation zone and towards the middle of the table.
So optimism was high before the start of this season and Howe’s team has delivered, but few were expecting the club to ascend as high as a Champions League place, although the end of the season came with a tiny bit of a flat note, just one win from their last five league matches leaving them in fourth rather than third place in the table, while hopes of ending a decades-long run without a major trophy ended to League One opposition in the FA Cup and with a tepid performance in the EFL Cup final against Manchester United and a 2-0 defeat from a match that they never looked like controlling.
A win in that game would likely have seen Newcastle leap a couple of places in this table, but that run without a major trophy continues for another season, though hopes will remain high that even more oil money will continue that upward trajectory into a third successive season and possibly even end a seven-decade long trophy drought.
Even with the club being watched by the Premier League with a gimlet eye over the possibility of them ‘pulling a City’, resulting in them having to be somewhat careful over FFP and what money comes into the club, a continuance of that uplift seems likely, and they’re already surely well ahead of schedule.
5) Aston Villa
It’s probably fair to say that expectations at Aston Villa had not been high prior to the start of the season. Having finished the previous season in 14th and with few signs that Steven Gerrard was the managerial prodigy that some had expected (or blindly hoped) that he would be, the club started the season with one eye looking over their own shoulders at the relegation places. And so it proved.
By the time Gerrard was sacked more or less as the referee blew the final whistle on a dismal 3-0 loss at Fulham, relegation was looking like a distinct possibility, with two wins from their first 11 matches of the season.
Enter stage left, Unai Emery. Unfairly vilified for being unable to restore Arsenal to former glories as the successor to Arsene Wenger, Emery had been just getting on with the job of making Villarreal excellent when Villa came a-calling, and his influence has turned out to be transformative.
Villa were in 17th when Gerrard was sacked. When the music stopped, they were in seventh and back playing European football for the first time since 2010. The low expectations engendered by the previous manager’s mixed performance already feel like a distant memory. Emery’s reimagining of the team has given Aston Villa supporters something to be truly optimistic about for the first time in years.
Having spent the last few seasons bouncing between the Premier League and Championship in a state of something approaching blissful abandon, expectations for Fulham this season were not particularly high, but Marco Silva managed to get Aleksandar Mitrovic finally scoring goals in the Premier League, and that was enough to get them into the top half of the table, where they stayed all season with little question of them ever getting dragged anywhere close to a relegation battle.
Indeed, in fact about the most complimentary thing that can be said about Fulham’s 2022/23 season is that, of the three newly promoted clubs, they looked the least like a newly promoted club throughout this season. While Forest and Bournemouth both had lengthy periods when it felt like they could get sucked straight back from whence they came, this was never the case this season at Craven Cottage.
Having lost Christian Eriksen to Manchester United at the end of last season, there were fears that Brentford could be due a serious bout of second-season syndrome after finishing 13th in their first season of top-flight football in more than 70 years. Such concerns turned out to be misplaced.
The first that supporters saw of their team at home was a 4-0 demolition of United, and although that peak obviously couldn’t be maintained, the signs of growth were obvious throughout. Brentford never dipped below 11th place all season, and spent much of it hovering on the fringes of the European places, with their ninth-place finish their highest final league position since 1938.
The Ivan Toney situation is a disappointment in several different respects and it is clear that Brentford will miss him throughout the first half of next season, but the way in which Thomas Frank’s team played through that potential end-of-season disruption hinted that they may be okay without him. They ended their season with five wins from their last six games, including victories against Spurs, Chelsea and Manchester City.
Indeed, Brentford end the season as the only club to have completed a home and away double against the Premier League champions. Frank remains an admirable coach, and there have been few signs of him wanting to move onto a fresh challenge. Brentford spent the 2022/23 season continuing to defy the odds.
Let’s be honest, here. When Bournemouth were promoted back into the Premier League, we all thought they were toast, didn’t we? And when they lost 9-0 at Liverpool at the end of August and sacked Scott Parker (let’s not forget that this meant that they’d conceded 16 goals in their last three matches, too), we all thought they were burnt toast, didn’t we? And when they appointed a caretaker into the position and made him permanent manager because of a decent run of form, we all thought they were a piece of charcoal in the shape of a slice of bread, didn’t we? Yet here we are at the end of the season, and Bournemouth are 14th, five points clear of the relegation places even after losing their last four games of the season.
Were this an expectations league table for managers, Gary O’Neil would have been pushing hard for a Champions League place, but the Cherries’ final spot is perhaps more a reflection upon how low those expectations were than anything else. Yet without doing anything spectacular they just got on with the job. When three critical matches against Leicester, Southampton and Leeds came up in the latter stages of the season, they simply won them and pushed themselves clear of the relegation places.
The biggest kerfuffle at the club after the departure of Scott Parker turned out to be the sale of the club to Bill Foley in December, and the early signs have been that this is working out okay, too. On the pitch Bournemouth did enough, and that was more than most had tipped them for at the start of the season.
9) Manchester United
If Manchester United ended last season up in the air and with the most positive thing that could be said being that at least things couldn’t be as bad again, then they more than exceeded their target.
They’ll be back in the Champions League again next season and might yet piss on City’s chips in the FA Cup final, while their transfer activity hasn’t been as laughably bad as in many recent years. Yet the season ends with the feeling that things might have been a touch better.
When on their game, Manchester United had it in them to look like potential title challengers in passing, but they also had a tendency to suddenly and dramatically self-combust. Their 7-0 Premier League defeat at Anfield was a generationally bad performance and result, and they conceded six at home to City in the league too, while their capitulation to Sevilla in the Europa League was all the stranger for how brightly they’d started the first leg of the tie.
And yet, and yet. They won the EFL Cup, while the performances of new signings such as Casemiro, Eriksen and Lisandro Martinez offered United supporters something approaching a vision of what the team could become under Erik Ten Hag. More of the flotsam and jetsam of transfer windows past will be jettisoned during the summer and United will have a different ownership structure soon, even if we don’t currently know for certain what that will look like.
As such, Manchester United head into the summer in a better place than they were a year earlier, but still in something of an uncertain place.
10) Nottingham Forest
Back in the Premier League for the first time this century, Nottingham Forest supporters had no idea what to expect from their team once back because barely anyone had ever seen such a high-profile football club in this sort of position before. Forest’s dependence on loan signings in the Championship had left the team needing a gutting during the summer and that’s precisely what happened, with an almost completely new team starting this time around.
Unsurprisingly, it took them a while to start looking like an actual team and by the middle of October knives were starting to be sharpened for Steve Cooper following a run of five straight defeats during which they conceded 18 goals.
But Forest’s owner Angelos Marinakis, a man with a reputation for having a fairly short fuse with managers, held his cool, Cooper held onto his job (even signing a lengthy contract extension, a mutual show of loyalty from both parties), and eventually Forest started to pull clear of the relegation positions. That run near the start of the season and the other one, during which they failed to win in 11 games between the start of February and the end of April, tested the patience of supporters, but a tumultuous win against Arsenal in their final home game guaranteed another go at the Premier League, and with a manager of Cooper’s ability now being given the time and opportunity to build a squad truly of his own and the potential to build a team around Taiwo Awoniyi, Morgan Gibbs-White and Brennan Johnson, there is optimism that Forest can improve further during the summer.
This was a season of two halves for Liverpool, with what made them so difficult to read being that these two halves were almost completely intertwined. Throughout the autumn and winter, they frequently looked no better than a mid-table team, and sometimes several degrees worse. There were many lows to choose from during this period, defeats at home to Leeds United and away to Bournemouth which were as poor as anything seen from a Liverpool team under Jurgen Klopp, or successive defeats to Brighton and Brentford which felt like signifiers of the extent to which Liverpool were suddenly falling short of ‘smaller’ clubs with more modern ways of doing things.
Furthermore, this season ends with some of the issues of last summer having not been resolved. Their central midfield looks no closer to being fully formed than it has all season, while the gap left by the departure of Sadio Mane for Munich has not been completely filled and their mid-season collapse left the Champions League places too far from view to be able to catch when their form returned.
And while there was the dizzying high of sticking seven goals past Manchester United without reply and the end-of-season unbeaten run which pushed them from a mid-table position to a somewhat more respectable looking fifth, last season had ended with the club losing the Champions League final and missing out on the Premier League title only on the last day of the season, and it’s difficult to paint this season as anything but a disappointment compared to that.
Liverpool’s end of the season is a definite improvement on where were were for much of the autumn and winter, but that isn’t saying much at all.
12) Crystal Palace
It turned out that Patrick Vieira: Crystal Palace Manager looked better on paper than it turned out in practice. Vieira is admirable in many ways, but a run of form which took in 11 games without a win from the start of the year was enough to drum him out of Selhurst Park – ironically, two days before what would have been his first managerial appearance at Arsenal – and Roy Hodgson was pulled from his comfy chair and Homes Under the Hammer repeats to come back and shore up their position in mid-table before they got sucked into a relegation fight for which they probably weren’t prepared.
Some chose to interpret this as an act of desperation, a reflex reaction to happier days, but Hodgson’s return did the trick. He had 10 games left to ‘save’ their season up his return and did it with room to spare. Indeed, it all ended so comfortably that he has been offered another year to try and continue this improvement. Whether that’s a good idea or not is another matter, but Palace supporters end 2022/23 in 12th, which is more or less exactly where they’ve been for the last decade, so it’s probably appropriate that they finish the season in 12th place in the F365 Expectations Table, too.
13) West Ham Unite
Apart from a poor start and that one run either side of the World Cup break when they lost five games in a row and pictures of David Moyes photoshopped as Gollum started appearing on Twitter, this has been a mixed bag of a season for West Ham United. The sixth and seventh places of the previous two seasons were always going to be a challenge to maintain, but the team’s tail-off on the pitch this season was alarming at times, and there were points when it looked like they could yet get dragged into the Premier League’s relegation event horizon. ‘MOYES OUT’ had its spells of popularity, and there were definite rumblings of discord from east London over the course of the season.
But this season could still end extremely happily for West Ham supporters. They haven’t had a major trophy since the 1980 FA Cup, and the Europa Conference League could yet deliver one. The concerns of a fairly tepid league season could yet be swept away, should they sweep Fiorentina away in Prague next week, but that shouldn’t distract from a squad that could do with a little rebuilding work, especially if, as is widely expected, Declan Rice decides that this summer is the right time to make his career switch and move on from The London Stadium.
14) Wolverhampton Wanderers
Wolves’ season was one of inconsistency, marked by the ability of Julen Lopetegui to flip the balance of that inconsistency just enough in his own favour to be able to keep his club clear of relegation. Few other teams had quite as much of a season of two halves as Wolves, that much is for certain. Until the arrival of Lopetegui, they had seemed almost doomed to relegation, unable to find their way in front of goal, but under Lopetegui they started to take shape and eventually pulled clear of the relegation places to Premier League comfort with a little room to spare.
The fly in the ointment of whether Lopetegui stays, with rumours of his dissatisfaction with the amount of money that he might have to spend this summer on further rebuilding work, is what is filling Wolves fans with trepidation as summer arrives, rather than anything much that they saw over the second half of this season.
15) Leicester City
There’s not much to choose from 15th down, with six Premier League clubs having spent much of this season running around as though their hair was on fire more than the others. Leicester City’s relegation from the Premier League is a story of both bad luck and bad judgement. On the one hand, what might have happened had either of those two fifth-placed finishes ended in Champions League football? Would this have been enough to get them just over the line? Might they have got over it this season, had they kept faith with Brendan Rodgers until the end of the season?
Of course, ifs and buts such as these only tell part of the story. Leicester finished in the top half of the Premier League for five seasons in a row before the dam burst last summer, but while the business fortunes of their owners and the tragic death of their chairman in a helicopter crash outside The King Power Stadium played a part in their sudden decline, it should also be added that transfer business was poor and management behind the scenes is believed to have been likewise, while any club that sleepwalks its way into the bottom three with James Maddison, Harvey Barnes and Youri Tielemans in their team may deserve the comeuppance that they get.
The overwhelming feeling that you take from Leicester City’s relegation is of the extent to which they took their eye off the ball. They recovered their poise following their post-title win dip to snatch the FA Cup a couple of seasons back. That, coupled with the second coming which saw them pushing hard for Champions League football for two season in a row, may now be seen as something of a last gasp rather a second coming.
Even on the last day of the season and with relegation staring them in the face, Leicester summoned up a perfectly competent performance against West Ham which served as a reminder that they should not have found themselves in this position in the first place. Shorn of the players that led to this impression in the first place, who will surely leave this summer, it’s difficult to say with much confidence what Leicester City will look like by the start of their first season back in the Championship, but it will likely be very different to the team which ended their time in the Premier League.
Seven years on from lifting the title, Leicester City’s relegation looks unnecessary, rather than anything else.
The Saints go marching into the EFL Championship having run out of steam at the exact point that they needed to start building up a head of it. On February 24, Ruben Selles was appointed as their manager until the end of the season. The Nathan Jones experiment had gone even more disastrously than those who remembered his previous spell away from Kenilworth Road at Stoke thought it might. Even in the pantomime world of the Premier League, Jones had gone a surprising distance in his efforts to publicly humiliate himself.
But even at that stage of the season, Southampton could still be saved. They may have been bottom of the table, but they were only three points from safety, with 15 games to play.
But things at St Mary’s were already so rancid by this time that Selles couldn’t steady the ship. Southampton had 18 points from 23 games on February 24. They ended it with 25, and really the only argument to be had about their relegation concerns at what point their decline became unarrestable.
Was it a mistake to fire Hassenhuttl? Probably. Was it a mistake to replace him with Jones? Probably. Was it a mistake to replace him with Selles? Probably. Southampton weren’t the only Premier League club this season to sack a manager without much apparent idea of how to replace them, but that they managed to do so at such a crucial point in the season is a story of its own in itself about the way in which this club has been mismanaged from the top down since changing ownership.
Saints ended up depending almost entirely on keeping their fingers crossed that James Ward-Prowse might repeatedly come up with something magical to keep their heads above water, and it says something for his talents that they ended up within three or four games of actually doing so. But the fact that he will surely be leaving the club this summer only adds to the feeling that returning to the Championship is a leap into the unknown for a club after an absence of more than a decade away.
That the full-time whistle at Goodison Park following Everton’s 1-0 win against Bournemouth should have been greeted with approximately three-and-a-half minutes of wild, relieved celebration before turning to a familiar soundtrack of ‘SACK THE BOARD’ probably tells as much as we need to know about the club’s 2022/23 season.
Narrow escapes with relegation have the capacity to be transformational, should the club concerned actually learn the lessons from such a close shave, but in the cases of both Everton and Leeds, nothing positive seemed to be learned from 2021/22. Frank Lampard, the Premier League’s Mr Does-The-Bare-Minimum-Until-He-Doesn’t-Any-More, lasted way too long after the fact that his head was wedged firmly in The Peter Principle’s glass ceiling became evident, and by the time the ejector seat eventually fired him in the direction of Stamford Bridge it looked as though the Grand Old Team’s seven-decade long unbeaten stay in the top flight might be coming to an end.
But Sean Dyche stepped in and did exactly what Lampard did last season: just enough to avoid relegation but not much more.
With FFP challenges ahead and the sale of the club not yet completed, there remains the possibility that Everton will not learn from their mistakes again, and there is little question that surviving the drop this time around was necessary for a club whose finances have become a raging bin fire, but Everton end the season in 17th in the Expectations Table because they reached the exact intersection of how badly many feared this season might be and how bad this season actually ended up being. At least, Evertonians may reflect, Goodison Park, one of the great historical homes of English football, didn’t end up taking its final bow in the top flight to a crescendo of booing. But that was about as good as Everton’s season got, and everybody knows it.
18) Leeds United
In the end, it was perhaps the supine nature of their final day of the season against Spurs that summed them up better than anything else. With their backs against the wall and a win needed to give them any chance whatsoever of avoiding relegation, and while playing against a club in the midst of a deep existential crisis themselves… they went a goal down in two minutes and ended up losing 4-1, their bearpit of a stadium reduced to cacophonous booing at the sight of a club had built itself on the tigerish fight of Marcelo Bielsa running aground in a mixed-up soup of football being played by a team whose constituent parts were simply not good enough.
Marschism built upon by Graciaism with a splat of Big Sam realpolitik dropped on top of it like a garnish of Branston’s Pickle, splatting onto the club with just four games left to play. Whoever thought that any of this was going to work?
Allardyce did at least put a little bit of backbone into Leeds United for those closing fixtures, but in the end they were too limited, too likely to implode on the pitch and wind up conceding four, five or six, and too unlikely to pull out a critical goal or two when they really needed one to be able to survive.
Relegation feels likely to cause the club problems because it’s so difficult to say what this team will even look like come the start of next season. The manager has been making noises that he could be persuaded to stay, but this doesn’t seem likely to raise the blood pressure of supporters for any reason other than anxiety, and without a director of football and most of the players that they would want to keep hold of this summer, a season that started with pretty low expectations concluded without even those having been met and nervous eyes being cast towards the future.
Yes, yes, yes, I know what you’re thinking. ‘Talk about entitlement. Eighth in the Premier League! Everton would have taken that all season long!’.
And you’d have a point, but what makes this season’s Tottenham Hotspur capitulation feel so much different to previous years is just how all-encompassing it has felt. The reasons to be cheerful have been systematically denuded, and all that currently exists in their place may be best described as a void. The club has no manager, form throughout the second half of the season was dreadful, and those who may have been the best fit for the club to take them forward from a coaching perspective already seem to have been discarded from contention or have already turned it down.
In previous years, cries of ‘SPURSY!’ every time anything has gone wrong from the supporters of other clubs have been a little unfair, but this time, they’ve come to feel more like a self-fulfilling prophecy. If Spurs could find a way to Spurs things up they did so, and they couldn’t even find a way of blaming bad providence or other factors beyond their control for their plight. Everything that has gone wrong for Spurs this season has been self-inflicted. The edifice sometimes feels as though it’s rotting from the head down.
Domestic cup defeats to teams that they should have beaten? You got it! A lukewarm exit from the Champions League at the first point they were faced with competent opponents in the knockout stages whilst barely taking a shot on goal? Hell yeah! Almost certainly losing a player who’s not only your best striker but also someone who feels like the last vestiges of the glue holding the entire edifice together because there is frankly no justification in him staying? Sure, why not? Having a director of football who banned from the game worldwide? You’ve got to specculate to accumulate! Taking another ‘serial winner’ and having him turn them into a dour, defensive and nervy team who still couldn’t win enough matches, and then replacing him with his assistant who is clearly not up to the job, and then having to sack him too? It’s The Tottenham Way, baby! Come back Cheese Room, all is forgiven.
It’s this feeling that the club has been hollowed out to the point that only a husk remains which leaves Spurs looking so shaky come the end of this season. No-one at The Tottenham Hotspur Stadium wants Harry Kane to leave this summer, but we long ago reached the point at which no-one would blame him if he did. Rudderless and almost leaderless, the optimism of pipping Arsenal to the final Champions League place this time last year feels like a very long time ago already.
It is worth remembering that no Premier League football club – and few others in the whole of European club football – has changed quite as much as Chelsea since the start of 2022. The drastic changes made to the playing staff is only the most visible legacy of this, but those changes have been just as widespread from the very top of the club down. But at least, supporters may have consoled themselves as Roman Abramovich was sanctioned and the merchant bank moved in to arrange to sale of the club to one of a small group of billionaires with an interest in buying the club, these new owners had a lot of money and weren’t afraid to spend it.
And yet Chelsea passed through the 2022/23 season as the Premier League’s standing joke, a clown car of a football club who seemed to have pivoted towards a policy of strategising towards doing whatever they could to annoy their supporters more and more. Todd Boehly’s occasional public pronouncements – Pre-season all-star match! We’ll beat Real Madrid 3-0! – were the voice of a man who had not learned the lesson that it is better to remain silent and be considered a fool than to open one’s mouth and remove all doubt, while the decision to appoint Graham Potter, a man who if nothing else needs time to put his practices into place, was one which somehow managed to be a very good choice for the long-term future of a football club while being absolutely, definitely, the worst person they could have at this football club, at which the last two decades have bred a culture in which the ‘long-term’ has come to mean any month with more than 28 days in it.
When Potter’s position became hopelessly untenable they replaced him with Bruno Saltor for five days, and then replaced him with Frank Lampard in the hope that a manager who’d already proved himself to be out of his depth at the wrong end of the Premier League table might at least dazzle those among their supporters who only cared about his ‘Super Franky Lamps Club Ledge’ status, rather than because of any considered analysis of his abilities as a manager.
Other hits released throughout the course of the season included signing Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang because he’d had such a fruitful relationship with Thomas Tuchel at Borussia Dortmund and then sacking Tuchel a few days later, managing just four wins in the League in the whole of 2023, and an eventual finish of 12th in the Premier League, their lowest final league position in more than a quarter of a century.
And all this for the low, low price of £600m, plus the financial commitment of some very lengthy contracts. Boehly himself marked the end of the season by saying that he would be taking a ‘step back’ from operations. Whether that really means that he’s been dropped into a pool of molten magma on the secret island lair of his boss remains unconfirmed.
But the bitterest pill of all to swallow can only be to have finished at the bottom of F365 Expectations Table when the club whose manager they poached at the start of September ends it in top place. Will Mauricio Pochettino be able to sort this mess out before the start of the season, or is there a chance that he might have contracted Spurs over the course of his five years in north London? Only time will tell, but what we can say with a degree of certainly is that he’ll be really going some to do anywhere near as badly as Chelsea did this season.