Goals galore and shoring up weaknesses helped Manchester City regain Premier League title
Where they went right: They scored goals galore, especially at home, and thrashed many of their rivals. They played some glorious, attacking football. David Silva, Sergio Aguero, Yaya Toure, Samir Nasri and Fernandinho all enjoyed excellent campaigns and Manuel Pellegrini’s low-profile management worked.
Where they went wrong: They did not often, although the home loss to Chelsea was sobering and their defence had its suspect moments. Their wretched early-season away form, marked by Joe Hart’s errors, threatened to undermine their campaign, but they repaired the damage on the road.
Transfer dealings: Alvaro Negredo was prolific until January, but the hyperactive Fernandinho proved the key buy. Even Martin Demichelis came good in the end.
Best player: Toure – Scoring 20 league goals as a central midfielder is a historic achievement. A colossus.
Where they went right: They exceeded expectations. They aimed for a top-four finish and almost became champions. They were devastatingly good going forward, playing at breathless pace and recording a century of goals. From Steven Gerrard to Luis Suarez, Daniel Sturridge to Raheem Sterling, they had stars aplenty.
Where they went wrong: During a run of 11 straight wins, it seemed that substandard defending and a small squad would not cost them. Eventually they did against Chelsea and Crystal Palace, showing they need more depth and that it borders on the impossible to win the league with that back four.
Transfer dealings: Simon Mignolet made many a fine save, but it was otherwise unimpressive. Liverpool prospered in spite of, not because of, most of their signings.
Best player: Suarez – Began the season in disgrace after biting Branislav Ivanovic and trying to engineer his own exit. Ended it as the top scorer and Footballer of the Year.
Where they went right: They were tactically superb in the big games, overcoming Liverpool and City home and away. Jose Mourinho constructed the division’s tightest defence and they were formidably hard to beat. Eden Hazard improved further, developing into one of the division’s foremost match-winners.
Where they went wrong: The title was in their grasp after only losing three of the first 29 games. Then they started slipping up against lesser lights. They scored too few goals and lacked a world-class striker at his peak.
Transfer dealings: Re-signing Nemanja Matic was a masterstroke and Willian’s work rate won him admirers. Selling Juan Mata brought in money but cost them creativity, and some funds might have been better invested in a younger goal-scorer than Samuel Eto’o.
Best player: Hazard – Became more potent. Offered invention and excellence.
Where they went right: They responded brilliantly to their opening-day loss to Aston Villa by surging to the top of the league. Their home form was excellent and, until December, they flourished on the road. Aaron Ramsey was a revelation and Per Mertesacker and Laurent Koscielny proved an excellent centre-back pairing.
Where they went wrong: The four games at City, Liverpool, Chelsea and Everton, where they capitulated, conceding 20 goals. Ran out of steam in March, partly because of injuries to key midfielders, and lacked support in attack for the valiant Olivier Giroud.
Transfer dealings: Smashed the club record for Mesut Ozil, whose form was mixed. The free Mathieu Flamini was a terrific addition, but the club really should have signed another striker.
Best player: Ramsey – Superb until Christmas. If only he had stayed fit.
Where they went right: Reinvented themselves as a stylish, progressive side who were unafraid to play the best but remained hard to beat. Defeated Chelsea, Arsenal and, twice, Manchester United. Roberto Martinez’s tactical brilliance and faith in youth were key factors.
Where they went wrong: The shocking home loss to Crystal Palace, following eight straight wins, was a killer blow in their top-four challenge. Early season draws came at a cost, too.
Transfer dealings: They used the loan system brilliantly to get Gareth Barry, Romelu Lukaku and Gerard Deulofeu. Only James McCarthy of the permanent additions made an impact, but the club can be happy they banked £27.5 million (Dh170m) for Fellaini.
Best player: Seamus Coleman – The most dynamic, attacking right-back in England. Took his game to a new level.
Where they went right: In the first half of the season, they kept clean sheets. In the second half, they scored plenty of goals. Sadly, they could not marry the two. They had a fine away record, Emmanuel Adebayor returned from the reserves with purpose and Harry Kane showed promise.
Where they went wrong: Embarrassing thrashings and defensive football ended Andre Villas-Boas’s reign. Replacement Tim Sherwood was bolder but lacked tactical nous. They were never consistent enough and a return of one point from 24 against the top four, conceding 28 goals, was dismal.
Transfer dealings: Sold Gareth Bale for a world-record £85 million but missed him. Spent £110 million and the two biggest buys, Erik Lamela and Roberto Soldado, were the gravest disappointments.
Best player: Christian Eriksen – Much the best of the newcomers, the £12 million Dane brought creativity and goals.
Where they went right: They did not. Beat Arsenal, reached the last eight of the Uefa Champions League and had a decent away record, but this has been their worst season in a quarter-century.
Where they went wrong: Appointed David Moyes, signed Marouane Fellaini, played negative and ineffective football and were a soft touch at Old Trafford. Were awful against their peers and, for the first time, lost home and away to Everton, Liverpool and City. Lacked spirit. The defence aged and the midfield was dreadful.
Transfer dealings: The catastrophic signing of the clumsy Fellaini did huge damage to Moyes. Juan Mata cost a club-record fee, but United struggled to accommodate him, Wayne Rooney and Robin van Persie in the same side.
Best player: David de Gea – Largely by default, though Adnan Januzaj showed his potential. But the former made some outstanding saves in damage-limitation exercises.
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Published: May 11, 2014 04:00 AM