Is the Balance of Power Shfting
With Leicester City looking as if they may well become surprise title winners there are many who are seeing this as a welcome change for English football.
After seasons of the same old clubs qualifying for the Champions League and being able to buy the all the best players, Leicester, Spurs and West Ham are all attempting to crash the party.
Players from those clubs will pack out Roy Hodgson’s Euro 2016 squad but will this season turn out to be a blip with normal service resuming again in 2016-17?
Not Just Leicester
Leicester’s amazing story this season has almost put the achievements of other ‘smaller’ clubs in the shade. Most pundits thought that Leicester would fade away as the season went on but they have been at the top of the league for most of the season.
Spurs are theother main challengers for the title and West Ham are still an outside bet for a Champions League place with only a month of the season to go. There has been a ‘perfect storm’ of events for this to happen so surely it won’t be repeated?
No-one could have predicted quite how badly defending champions Chelsea started the season and it is only the arrival of Guus Hiddink that seems to have saved them from an embarrassing relegation battle.
Manchester City have not been consistent this term and Pep Guardiola will be hoping that their end of term performances will be a thing of the past when he takes over the reins in the summer. Across Manchester Louis Van Gaal looks likely to be leaving a club who have looked uninterested for large parts of the season.
Arsenal are the only ‘big four’ club that have looked anywhere near challenging for the title and Wenger must be kicking himself that he could not get the best out of his players when the usual rivals were all failing.
Why the Shift in the Balance of Power?
There is a new breed of coaches and managers who are bringing exciting players and tactics to clubs that may have thought their only duty was to make it to the all-important 40 points each season. Flores at Watford, Ranieri at Leicester and Pochettino at Spurs have all brought the best out of sides without a plethora of international stars.
These clubs also have no fear of the big four. It was noticeable when Alex Ferguson left Manchester United how teams suddenly went to Old Trafford believing that they might have a chance. This is now being replicated all over the league and has been a major reason for the change in fortunes of the bigger clubs.
Slaven Bilic believes that what we have seen this season will become permanent thanks to the new television deal starting next year. Clubs throughout the league will be able to buy the very best players and that will have a positive effect.
Where most fans would welcome a more open league it is also highly likely that Arsenal, Chelsea and the two Manchester clubs will spend a lot of money this summer to make sure that their seats at the top table are returned.
What is more likely to happen is that there will not be such a gulf between the top four and the rest of the league but the ‘big’ clubs will return to power. There have only been four different winners of the Premier League since 1995 and although that is going to change this season there probably won’t be a deluge of new clubs picking up the trophy in the next few campaigns.
Leicester have shown that the seemingly impossible is possible and hopefully that will mean more clubs believing that they can win the league as well. But it is fair to say that we shouldn’t write off the big boys quite yet.