So we headed in to our first Premier league season since 2004-05 with £4m in the kitty, the aim of avoiding relegation and a defence which was barely Championship quality. This is where I would have to strengthen first. For me it would be one of two men, James Tomkins, West Ham, or Ashley Williams, Swansea. Both would cost the whole of my £4m, and I chose the solid Tomkins. I had decided to play the 4-5-1 original formation, to try to stifle the vastly superior teams that we would travel to over the oncoming season. To use this effectively, I decided to bring in another CM, who can also play as a DM. Nigel Reo-Coker was available on a free transfer, and as a decent player with top flight experience who can play both the necessary roles that I needed.
After a mixed pre-season, we started at home to Liverpool and away to Man United. 0 points from 2 games, I assumed. That was helped by a 3rd minute Borini goal putting us 1 down. However, the Southampton youth production line rolled off another gem as England Under 19 international Calum Chambers equalised on the stroke of half time. Zambian Emmanuel Mayuka then sent me in to disbelief with an 81st minute goal to put us 2-1 up, but in the 89th minute, Luis Suarez robbed us. Next, we got trounced 6-2 by Man United, with Mayuka getting our goals. We then went 5 league games unbeaten, winning against Sunderland, West Brom, Swansea and Norwich, and drawing at Reading. Next, we lost 2-0 to Arsenal and Chelsea, before suffering a 5-1 trouncing by Everton.Already looking a quality player, Mayuka grabbed a 90+2 minute equaliser at home to Man City, after the original 90+4 Aguero had given the Champions an early lead. We returned to losing ways with a 2-1 defeat to Newcastle and a 3-0 demolition by Wigan. WIGAN??!! Chambers found the net again to beat Aston Villa and Morgan Schneiderlin scored 3 penalties in 2 games to overcome West Ham and Stoke, with Lallana and Mayuka also contributing. We lost to QPR and then drew 1-1 with Spurs, as an 89th minute Lallana goal cancelling out Bale’s (obviously) earlier goal. We then beat Fulham, lost to Liverpool and drew with Sunderland over the festive period.
We then welcomed Man United to St Mary’s, and looked unnaturally in control, and Schneiderlin gave us a half time lead. After the break, we were even more in the driving seat as Puncheon, J-Rod and Tomkins made it 4-0. We were brought back down to earth with draws with Swansea and West Brom, before thrashing relegation fodder Reading 4-1. 3 unexpected draws boosted morale in the camp (Chelsea, City and Everton), although a 3-0 defeat to Chelsea shattered that. We went on to win only 2 of the last 8 games, with the particular highlight a Puncheon hat-trick against West Ham. 3 draws and 3 defeats in those last 8, including a 4-1 hammering at Spurs on the last day saw us fall to 10th. Incredibly for a top half side, we only won 4 games since the turn of the year.
In the Capital One Cup, a rotated squad struggled through the 2nd round with a 90+1 minute Sam Hoskins goal against Doncaster. We exited the competition in round 3 to Blackburn, which, although disappointing at the time, wasn’t the end of the world.
In the FA cup, we did it the hard way, going to replays in every round we played in. The 3rd round saw a weakened team only draw with Charlton, meaning that I had to play a stronger team in the replay, a 3-1 win. We went to extra time against Norwich in R4, after 1-1 and 2-2 draws, eventually going through 3-2 to face Chelsea. Nathaniel Clyne’s late goal sent us to a replay, which ended in a thrilling yet disappointing 4-3 extra time loss.
I will put up the table later but a quick summary is: City champions; Chelsea, United, Spurs in the CL; Reading, West Ham, Sunderland relegated.
The team of the year, photo to come later, is effectively my preferred team, except Schneiderlin and Chambers would be in for Davis and Puncheon.
As I mentioned, I will put up screen shots of results, transfers, team of the year and the table as separate posts as I don’t know how to include them in this. As always, any comments welcome, any of your tales, tips, suggestions or questions.