Chelsea, Leicester, Leeds, Spurs and Liverpool are among our Premier League 22/23 season losers

Matt Stead
Antonio Conte, Chelsea owner Todd Boehly and James Maddison

That was an achievement in ineptitude from Chelsea and Todd Boehly, with Southampton somehow in a better way than Leicester and Liverpool and Spurs failing.

The winners are here


Todd Boehly
It is a genuine achievement to be quite so immediately bad at this club ownership lark, never mind to lower the floor for the Big Six. Chelsea had, of course, tested those waters most recently and ineptly, but ‘the Mourinho season’ which Antonio Conte once desperately sought to avoid looks like a Quadruple in comparison to the first steps the Blues have taken without their Russian oligarch stabilisers.

Money has not been the problem. Or perhaps it has. Chelsea have not struggled for funding – as was tiresomely suggested for two decades – when Roman Abramovich tired of putting a load of sportswashing on, but they have failed in terms of foresight, coherent planning, cogent thinking and essentially every facet of administration beyond handing out 10-year player contracts.

The sheer volume of mistakes made is the loudest possible cry for help from Todd Boehly, whose apparent plan to rein in his day-to-day involvement at Stamford Bridge from 50% to 20% is both a welcome show of restraint and maturity, while still not being close to enough of an admission that this has not gone well.

Learn to delegate. And maybe sign a striker. And do try not to appoint managers based solely on vibes.


It is very funny just how much they spent to be so bad: £296.3m in January and £272.5m in the summer, to be exact. In even more precise terms, those are the biggest and third biggest single transfer window spends of any club in football history. And they finished below Roy Hodgson while failing to not lose to Southampton.

Chelsea duo Mason Mount and Trevoh Chalobah clap the supporters


The lack of forward planning has rarely been starker nor as thoroughly punished as at Leicester this season.

And these were all predictable issues: the physical decline of an ageing Jamie Vardy; the departure of Kasper Schmeichel; the post-injury struggles of Wilfred Ndidi; the haphazard recruitment; the inability to shift deadwood; the disconnect between Brendan Rodgers and every other facet of the club.

Yet the off-the-shoulder runs of a 36-year-old Vardy were depended upon until the bitter end; Schmeichel was succeeded by Danny Ward, who never challenged him despite joining in 2018, who was subsequently replaced by Daniel Iversen, who most will have forgotten actually signed in January 2016, with both unsurprisingly not close to the requisite standard; Ndidi nearly collapsed under the weight of midfield expectation; Leicester have not made an objectively good first-team signing since Wesley Fofana in October 2020; six players are out of contract this summer and Jannik Vestergaard is somehow not among them.

As for Rodgers, he warned last summer about a neglected squad going stale and needing new additions, but his negative outlook tangibly pervaded the King Power mood and he lacked the coaching capacity to turn things around himself.

Leicester were late in sacking him and somehow even more delayed in replacing him. Considering calling Martin O’Neill in April just because it was comeback season was damning. Hiring Dean Smith instead even more so.

But those two post-Rodgers games were worst of all. How the Foxes did not have a contingency in place when the inevitable came to pass is baffling. Adam Sadler and Mike Stowell lost both of their games in caretaker charge – at home against Aston Villa and, worse still, Bournemouth. A draw in both of those fixtures would have kept Leicester up but they never seemed to acknowledge the immediacy of their plight.

There will be a return to what has worked in the past because there has to be. Leicester founded their phenomenal success on selling when the price was right and reinvesting those funds. The few contracted crown jewels they still possess will go, the seventh highest wage bill in the Premier League will come crashing down and the reset button will be pressed.

They can only hope their plan to return from the Championship is better than their one to stay out of it. With no new manager on the horizon, players desperate to leave and money haemorrhaging, that is no guarantee.


Dean Smith
Has a manager ever been relegated in successive Premier League campaigns after twice being appointed mid-season? Please just give it a bit of thought before taking the job next time, chief.


“The target I set is between 10th to 14th position. If we’re lucky, we are close to 10th or more. If we aren’t lucky, we are 15th,” said Leeds chairman Andrea Radrizzani, failing to account for option c) that Leeds would be awful and panicky enough to pay Sam Allardyce £500,000 to take them down from whence they came.

“I don’t have any doubt that we’ll avoid a situation similar to last season. It’s impossible,” Radrizzani added last summer. And in a way he was absolutely right: Leeds did their damnedest to escape the ignominy of drawing with Brighton and beating Brentford away in their last two games of 2021/22 by simply failing to win any of their last nine in 2022/23, all while conceding 29 goals under two different managers.

A series of increasingly misguided managerial appointments which bear no hallmarks of an overarching plan, a confused recruitment strategy and those shifting sands beneath the established and protected Premier League elite have taken Leeds here.

Perhaps it was inevitable. In January 2021, Radrizzani, the owner looking to sell Leeds, praised Leicester as “a model to follow”. In November 2016, Victor Orta, the director of football sacked by Leeds, described Southampton as “the best case” to emulate and “a worthy case study”.

Leeds copied the homework of both teams a little too closely and neither man seems likely to accompany them down to the Championship. Their only hope is that it won’t take another 16 years to return, but there is no expectation on that front.


When the single crumb of comfort for Spurs is that Arsenal had a brilliant season full of moments and memories their supporters will cherish forever but were eventually caught by Manchester City to relinquish a title they were never expected to compete for, you know things have gone well.

There is otherwise nothing to console those associated with Tottenham for their contribution, however insignificant, to a disastrous campaign which has set them back a considerable way.

The only individual to emerge with credit is the same one either likely to leave this summer or certain to go the next. Daniel Levy has left himself in a position where Kane’s potential fee is at the lowest it will drop, while his importance has rarely been higher. Spurs could get money for him now but the rest of the squad has been neglected to such an extent that it would barely scratch the surface of the necessary renovations.

The Antonio Conte risk was forgivable if a) they ceded to his demands and made his signings instead of trying to operate a halfway house, b) they hadn’t already done all that born-winner b*llocks to dreadful effect with Jose Mourinho, and c) it didn’t reach the painfully obvious conclusion everyone else foresaw when he was appointed.

Taking ages to replace Conte after he had so publicly eviscerated the club was a mess only compounded by the rise of his loyal assistant, as Champions League qualification became an argument as to whether it was worth saddling whatever new manager fancies a laugh with the Europa Conference.

The club’s most popular manager in the modern era joining Chelsea as Tottenham’s own bungled permanent coach search approaches a third month is just the icing on the turd. At least Arsenal finished six places higher and 24 points clear with a comprehensible vision and path to future glory, while bottling something or other.


The impending club-wide redundancies put things in stark perspective but this will be a summer of drastic change at Southampton. With their academy director, managing director, director of football, head of recruitment and head of youth recruitment all either gone during the season or leaving, as well as an almost entirely transformed coaching staff, the evolution will be as enforced as it is necessary.

Armed with early knowledge of their fate, the building blocks have at least been put in place already. A spoken agreement with Russell Martin to become manager could mesh wonderfully with the impending appointment of respected Manchester City academy director Jason Wilcox as director of football.

But the incompetence of Southampton’s decision-making over the past 18 months or so will hardly imbue supporters with confidence that these can be steps towards something durable and significant.

They should never have started this season with Ralph Hasenhuttl in charge. They absolutely should not have replaced him with Nathan Jones. And while Ruben Selles showed signs of a spark, the likelihood was always that he would be dragged into the vortex.

And the signings have been atrocious. Having once built a reputation on unearthing young gems to develop and sell on for ludicrous profit, Southampton made that their entire purpose. Their 10 summer signings were all 25 or younger, with the 11 starts of Juan Larios, Sekou Mara and Samuel Edozie signed for almost £30m.

A pivot in January saw Mislav Orsic join and play six Premier League minutes, before Paul Onuachu channelled the spirit of Guido Carrillo by arriving for £18.6m and failing to score.

Enough sh*t was thrown at the wall to stick, as evidenced by Romeo Lavia and Carlos Alcaraz. But Southampton made their slide inexorable and their identity meaningless. The constant spectre of Premier League relegation can do strange things to a previously sensible club.


Ralph Hasenhuttl
A devastating result in the last game as for the first time this season, Southampton had finally accrued more points without Hasenhuttl (13 in 24 games) than with him (12 in 14).


Excellent and beloved mid-2000s Premier League midfielders turned managers
Scott Parker chucked it in at Bournemouth and watched his successor clear up the ungodly mess he left, with ample time to take and fail at another job in between.

Steven Gerrard slipped from his Aston Villa stepping stone and saw his predecessor take them from 16th to Europe.

Patrick Vieira stopped being able to win or even score in games and was immediately shown up by a returning septuagenarian who Steve Parish just cannot quit.

Frank Lampard won four, drew seven and lost 17 of his 29 games but did technically win two relegation battles, even if one was because Everton brought back in a player he banished to the cold, while the other was because Chelsea can f**k up as much as they want without actual fear of such consequences; he really ought to just retire.

Mikel Arteta and Michael Carrick both overachieved but ultimately bottled it.

Someone appoint Eric Djemba-Djemba so we can check something out.


Both the post-match acknowledgement from Sean Dyche that this was not an achievement to be celebrated, and the refusal of supporters to let the dust settle before resuming their rally against the owners, offer hope that Everton at least know this is not close to good enough.

The next step is the most difficult. Everton are not short of mistakes to learn from, even if they do seem to lack the people to teach them. They cannot stumble into many more seasons and emerge from the other side not through their own adequacy, but because there happened to be three even worse teams. There must be tangible, consequential change because the current approach is keeping them afloat entirely in spite of its own failings.


So unique was Liverpool’s squad in its longevity as an elite unit that issues were always going to arise when it eventually came time to move on. Jurgen Klopp had built such a well-connected machine that even a single composite part breaking off would undermine its efficiency.

Liverpool were proactive but they had walked the transfer tightrope so perfectly over the last few years that a misstep was always likely to come and have dire consequences. The reluctance to strengthen in midfield and subsequent panicked loan of Arthur Melo summed up their human fallibilities.

But the loss of Sadio Mane was transformational and Darwin Nunez understandably struggled to fill that gap while the rest of a previously settled team adjusted. As much credit as Liverpool and Klopp deserve for salvaging fifth place when a Spurs slump looked likely at one stage, this summer is crucial; at least they have the last one to look at and see what not to do.


Harry Kane
What a ridiculous waste.


Bruno Lage
Not convinced either that or the Conte-Tuchel handshake happened this season but there we are.


Cristiano Ronaldo
It’s just so much nicer without him.