Transfers, fixtures, general ennui: a reason to be miserable for every Premier League club

Date published: Thursday 7th July 2022 1:29 - Dave Tickner

Klopp slammed over Mane exit

We tried to lift everyone’s mood in these troubled times by coming up with a reason for every Premier League club to be cheerful.

If you don’t believe us, you can go and read them all here. See? We’re not liars, actually.

But obviously, all that positivity felt a bit weird so we’ve cleansed our palate by coming up with a reason for misery and despair for everyone as well. Lovely. Much more our kind of thing. Anyway, here they are.


Sure, last season as a whole went better than expected but the way it ended – and the identity of the club that benefited – still rankles. Nagging feeling that summer recruitment, while looking solid enough, isn’t quite as good as Arsenal’s emotionally volatile and extremely online fanbase currently believes, setting themselves up for another fall.


Aston Villa
Growing fears that Steven Gerrard might not be as good a manager as Villa fans hoped and we thought. Back end of last season was violently underwhelming and, while dodgy late-season form doesn’t necessarily bleed into the following season it remains a worry because their only two wins in the last 11 games of 2021/22 were against teams who are no longer with us.


No new deal for Christian Eriksen. It was always a long shot, but still. It would be reductive to put their comfortable survival last season entirely down to the Great Dane, but they did win seven of the 10 matches he started after a run of one point from eight games had threatened to drag them into the relegation equation. Given promoted clubs increasingly seem to find the second season somewhat tougher, it’s not hard to imagine a failure to secure the early points they got in the bag last season leading to “You fear for Brentford, you really do” before October is out.


Face Manchester City, Arsenal and Liverpool within the first four games of the season, amplifying the importance of (probable) results that actually shouldn’t really matter that much in the grand scheme but are sub-optimal all bunched together early doors when you’re already odds-on for relegation before a ball is kicked.


Even Manchester City have backtracked on the whole “evolving beyond strikers” lunacy these days, yet Brighton appear determined to keep the flag flying and secure another season of lukewarm xG banter from, well, me. Scoring 13 goals in the final five games of last season might have been a terrible idea, giving a misleading sense of a problem at long last solved. At least three of the sides they played in that run of games had the flip-flops on, and one of the others was Manchester United.


Shiny new signings and overdue returns: a reason to be cheerful for every Premier League club


Could find themselves reduced to the latest Ronaldo FC at any moment, and time spent on that is time that really could be better spent on the other more glaringly obvious holes in the squad that the new regime really could do with filling. Have been through a lot in recent months but currently seem in very real danger of standing still while all around them are sprinting.


Crystal Palace
What if it doesn’t matter how fun they are or how much better the football is under Patrick Vieira and they are doomed never to finish above 12th whatever they do? What then?


As things stand, Everton have weakened a squad that was lucky to finish as high as 16th last season. As the last few years have shown us all again and again and again until we really should have learned our lesson, the faux-reassuring thought that “At least things can’t get any worse!” is usually followed by things getting much worse.


Aleksandar Mitrovic’s Premier League goalscoring record.


Thoroughly unconvincing survivors last season. Have already lost one key player and likely to lose another. Have made some interesting signings, but they are predominantly made up of Jesse Marsch’s former players and thus appear to be signings that rely heavily on the survival and success of a manager who, with the best will in the world, is clearly going to be sacked a fortnight before the World Cup break.

Jesse Marsch after a match

No new signings at all despite last season’s disappointments, and the sense that, while losing key players most summers is pretty standard fare for Leicester, this summer’s likely exit of Youri Tielemans already has the air of lengthy and draining saga that also further delays and bottlenecks arrivals in a squad in urgent need of some fresh faces.


The way last season ended is an inevitable buzzkill and the departure of Sadio Mane, while not unexpected, creates a further sense of uncertainty. For all that Liverpool have moved quickly to source a replacement, Darwin Nunez feels like a bit of a gamble. A worthwhile one, but still. With Erling Haaland rocking up at the Etihad the harsh but undeniable reality is that Liverpool will have to improve again to keep up with the absurd pace set by City. At the moment, have they even stood still?


Manchester City
Unlikely that Liverpool will be able to push them as close this time and thus City will probably win the league by 15+ points. How unspeakably dreary.


Manchester United
Pretty much absolutely everything really. The fact they have become the precise club they once so righteously mocked Liverpool for being must be hard to take.


The return of pressure after the carefree and really quite excellent end to last season. Awkward questions about the owners aren’t going to go away, with Newcastle fans now facing the quandary that the better the team performs the louder the opprobrium will get; potentially tough to take for a fanbase used to receiving warm and enthusiastic neutral support. Compared to most of the others anyway.


Nottingham Forest
A whole new generation of football fans are going to be calling them Notts Forest.


Absolutely stunk the place out at the end of last season, taking just five points from their last 12 games and have not been handed the kindest of starts to try and turn that form around at the start of the new season. Saints start the season at Spurs, and also face Manchester United and Chelsea before August is out.


It’s all going nicely right now, but it all still feels so fragile doesn’t it? It can’t really be any other way where flighty and combustible Antonio Conte is concerned. He could f*** it all off at a moment’s notice for any one of a hundred entirely plausible Spursy reasons and several thousand implausible ones. This season feels like it can only end with glory and silverware or in painful recriminations and a club back at square one looking for another new manager. And remember when deciding which of those outcomes seems the likelier that we are talking about Tottenham here.


West Ham
Can a small squad defy gravity again when combining European and domestic commitments in yet another Uniquely Challenging Season? Win their Europa Conference play-off and the Hammers face playing 25 games in 14 weeks before the World Cup break.


Slipped from a European challenge to mid-table irrelevance in a seven-game winless run to end the season, and face a trappy sort of start to the new campaign. Face all of last season’s top four within the first 10 games of the season, as well as an ever more dangerous Newcastle, But also – and worst of all in many ways – two of the promoted sides in the first five games when you are obviously expected to beat them but they haven’t yet been ground down by relentless defeats and might turn you over if you are yourselves in the grip of a lengthening malaise.

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