Friday 06 June 2014
In the final month of the 2013/14 season, Manchester City clinched their second Barclays Premier League title in three seasons, while Fuham, Cardiff City and Norwich City were relegated and Ryan Giggs ended his glittering player career after agreeing to work as assistant to new Manchester United manager Louis van Gaal.
Man City stood just three points behind leaders Liverpool at the start of May having played a match fewer, but their vastly superior goal difference over the Reds meant the destiny of the title lay in their hands.
A tough trip to Everton was next, and City had to plumb the depths of their reserves to go top of the table on goal difference, by coming from behind to beat Roberto Martinez's men 3-2 with a Sergio Aguero strike and a brace of goals from Dzeko. Chelsea were next up to try to maintain the chase, but their hopes of sharing the summit suffered a severe blow as they were held 0-0 at home by struggling Norwich City.
Liverpool played on the Monday night and looked bound to maintain the pressure on City when they raced into a 3-0 lead against Crystal Palace at Selhurst Park. But, in keeping with an extraordinary season, it was not to be for the Merseysiders as the Eagles staged a stunning comeback to draw 3-3 with three goals in the last 11 minutes.
The ball was firmly in City's court and they did not spurn the opportunity to take control as they used their match in hand to beat Aston Villa 4-0 thanks to another Dzeko brace and a breakaway goal at the death by Yaya Toure that took his tally for the campaign to 20 league goals, only the second midfielder after Frank Lampard to reach that mark in the Barclays Premier League.
At the other end of the table Fulham and Cardiff were relegated with one match to go after respective three-goal defeats to Stoke City and Newcastle United that meant that neither side could catch Sunderland in 17th after Sebastian Larsson's goal had earned the Black Cats three points with a 1-0 win over Manchester United at Old Trafford. Norwich's goalless draw with Chelsea meant they were not yet down but they required an unlikely sequence of events to keep them up on the final day, including a win over Arsenal.
On the last day, after 37 rounds of matches, two teams, Man City and Liverpool, remained in contention for the title with the former requiring just a point at home against West Ham United to be champions. Although Liverpool fulfilled their half of the bargain by coming from behind to beat Newcastle United 2-1, City made no mistakes as Samir Nasri and Vincent Kompany scored either side of half-time to seal a comfortable 2-0 win. It was the club’s 17th home triumph of the campaign and sparked wild celebrations at Etihad Stadium.
In winning one of the most unpredictable title races in the history of the competition (the lead changed 25 times as opposed to four times in the previous campaign) Manuel Pellegrini’s charges came to within one of Chelsea's Barclays Premier League record for goals scored in a Barclays Premier League campaign – 103 – with Liverpool scoring just one fewer than the newly crowned champions.
With 31 goals Liverpool striker Luis Suarez became only the second player to reach 30 goals in a single Barclays Premier League season without netting a penalty (along with Andy Cole, who scored 34 goals during the 1993/94 campaign). Suarez was voted Barclays Player of the Season, as well as winning the Golden Boot, while Tony Pulis's efforts in reviving Crystal Palace's fortunes by taking them from last in the Barclays Premier League to a club-record 11th earned him the Barclays Manager of the Season award. Suarez also claimed the PFA Footballer of the Year award and the FWA Footballer of the Year award, while Rodgers claimed the LMA Manager of the Year award, shortly before agreeing a new long-term deal.
All the top six clubs rounded off their campaigns with victories, with Aaron Ramsey's strike and Carl Jenkinson's first goal for Arsenal sealing a 2-0 win over Norwich, to end the Canaries' three-season stay in the top flight. The club from East Anglia elected to offer caretaker manager Neil Adams a permanent deal, as did Swansea City to head coach Garry Monk. Pepe Mel, whose West Bromwich Albion side had survived by three points despite losing four of their last five matches, did not stay and left The Hawthorns after three wins and six draws from his 17 matches in charge.
Tottenham Hotspur head coach Tim Sherwood also parted company with the club after guiding them to sixth with 13 wins and three draws from 22 BPL matches. He was replaced by Mauricio Pochettino, who resigned from Southampton after leading the south-coast club to eighth in his first full season in charge, Southampton's highest Barclays Premier League finish.
Manchester United's disappointing campaign concluded with a 1-1 draw at Southampton and a seventh-placed finish, their lowest position by four places in the history of the Barclays Premier League. The club reacted by appointing Louis van Gaal, the Netherlands head coach, as their new manager to replace interim player-manager Ryan Giggs, who became assistant to the Dutchman, calling time on his illustrious 24-year playing career at Old Trafford, after 632 Barclays Premier League appearances, 109 top-flight goals, 13 BPL titles and two UEFA Champions League winner’s medals.
Giggs' managerial tenure, which produced two wins and a draw in his four matches in charge, was marked by his willingness to give first-team debuts to promising youngsters such a Tom Lawrence and James Wilson, who scored twice in the 3-1 win over Hull City.
With Man City, Liverpool, Chelsea and Arsenal qualifying for next season's Champions League places, fifth-placed Everton and Tottenham Hotspur, in sixth, booked a place in the UEFA Europa League, along with FA Cup finalists Hull City. Steve Bruce's side will count themselves unfortunate not to have qualified as winners after taking an early 2-0 lead over Arsenal in the FA Cup final, only to lose 3-2 after Ramsey's extra-time winner, which ended the Gunners' nine-season wait for a major domestic trophy.
Arsene Wenger, currently the longest-serving manager in the Barclays Premier League, signed a new three-year deal with the north Londoners, whose midfielder Jack Wilshere scored the goal of the season as voted for by the Premier League's Facebook users for his strike against Norwich City in October.
Queens Park Rangers booked their place in next season's Barclays Premier League, bouncing back from relegation at the first attempt by overcoming Derby County in the play-off final thanks to Bobby Zamora's last-minute goal at Wembley Stadium. Harry Redknapp's charges would join champions Leicester City and Burnley in the top flight.
Leicester wasted no time in recruiting for a first BPL campaign in 11 seasons by signing defender Matthew Upson from Brighton & Hove Albion, Aston Villa winger Marc Albrighton and Charlton Athletic goalkeeper Ben Hamer on free transfers. A new deal with Barclays Premier League Under-21 starlet Tom Hopper was also agreed.
Having become only the second manager after Bryan Robson at West Brom to guide a side that was bottom of the Barclays Premier League at Christmas to safety, Sunderland manager Gustavo Poyet extended his contract with the Wearsiders. The Black Cats also began their squad rebuilding programme with winger Jordi Gomez and defender Billy Jones agreeing to join on free transfers from Wigan Athletic and West Brom respectively, while full-back Phil Bardsley swapped Sunderland for Stoke City and Craig Gardner left the Stadium of Light to join the Baggies.
Elsewhere, West Ham United signed the former Birmingham City striker Mauro Zarate from Velez Sarsfield, Arsenal goalkeeper Lukasz Fabianski joined Swansea City and Cardiff City forward Craig Bellamy announced his retirement.
Player: Luis Suarez (Liverpool)
Manager: Tony Pulis (Crystal Palace)
"We didn't start very well but the most important thing we did this year is when we finished playing our sixth game away, we had one point from 18 and I told the players we had to make a change. They believed in me and from then until now we are the team with the most points away. They always believed what I told them about how I wanted to play and how I think football should be."
Manuel Pellegrini, after his Manchester City side won the Barclays Premier League title
"It has been a wonderful campaign with a lot of growth and development. It has been incredible to see the supporters, to see the power of the club, the institution that is Liverpool. And we've made them dream, that's our job. The great thing about us is that we will improve, we will get better next season. We're a young group, we'll add more players and we'll be ready to fight again, now we've got the belief."
Brendan Rodgers, the Lierpool manager, on his side's Barclays Premier League campaign
"This is a community club based in the most densely populated area in London and has a great opportunity of pushing forward. We've got to stay in the Premier League for the next two or three years to realise what we can eventually achieve. We have to look forward and say this is the way we will go and do it."
Crystal Palace manager Tony Pulis after winning the barclays manager of the year award
"My dream was always to play for Manchester United, and although it saddens me to know I won't be pulling on a United jersey again as a player, I have been lucky enough to have fulfilled that dream playing with some of the best players in the world, working under an incredible manager in Sir Alex Ferguson, and most of all, playing for the greatest fans in world football. I have always felt and appreciated your support."
Manchester United legend Ryan Giggs announces his retirement from professional football
"I am delighted to extend my stay with Sunderland AFC, after an unbelievable season and our famous great escape. Stability is absolutely key to long-term and sustained success for any football club, and this new contract gives both the club and me that stability going forward. The prospect of creating more of those memories is one which excites me, and now I cannot wait for the next chapter in my career and the history of Sunderland AFC."
Sunderland manager Gus Poyet after signing a new contract
Barclays Premier League table on 11 May 2014.