KARACHI: The Premier League season is over for another year with Chelsea sitting proudly on top of the table with their third league trophy in six years. The west London club managed to stave off Manchester United’s bid for their 19th title by one point.
And they did it in fine style, hammering Wigan 8-0 and having their striker Didier Drogba claim the Golden Boot. Bigger than Chelsea’s win was the fact that Manchester United managed to finish second despite looking a shadow of the team that dominated the previous season. The loss of Cristiano Ronaldo exposed a weakness in the creativity section that not even Antonio Valencia could fill.
Still, they kept in contention thanks to Wayne Rooney but failed to have luck go their way at important junctures. While the top three remained predictable, there were enough stories emerging off the field which continued to see football dominate both the front and back pages of the papers. Chelsea were at the forefront of the shenanigans with captain John Terry and Ashley Cole both getting up to nocturnal activities with dire consequences.
Terry broke a sacred rule when he decided to offer Wayne Bridge’s ex-girlfriend Vanessa Perroncel more than just a shoulder to cry on. This led to the moment of the season when Bridge and his Manchester City team-mates came down to play Chelsea in February. As the players walked down the line to shake hands, all cameras were poised on the two former friends. As the moment came nearer, tension grew, those watching in high definition could see the tension in Terry’s eyes.
As he offered his hand, Bridge took a quick glance, before bypassing him in what was the ultimate snub of the year. While Terry managed to resurrect his life, Cole saw the back of his wife Cheryl, voted the sexiest woman in the world. Back on the pitch, Birmingham City showed brilliant consistency during the middle of the season, going on a 12-match unbeaten run as well as getting new owners. This saw the two Davids, Gold and Sullivan, leave the midlands and take over boyhood club West Ham, who managed to escape relegation in the nick of time.
But it was a tough job for manager Gianfranco Zola, who not only had to deal with the fans’ frustrations, but also with the two Davids constant back-biting of their own players and staff. He was duly sacked at the end of the season. At the bottom, the Premiership said goodbye to Hull, Burnley and Portsmouth, who were all admirable in their plight, but did not have the staying power. But it was the demise of Portsmouth which shocked the country, especially as they had won the FA Cup just two years ago.
But this season also saw them become the first top-flight club to go into administration. Perhaps the biggest surprise was seeing the demise of Liverpool, last year’s runners- up who finished seventh this time. Their spot in the Champions League will most likely be taken by Tottenham Hotspur, who grabbed fourth spot with some inspired performances including wins over Arsenal, Chelsea and Manchester City, who could only finish fifth despite spending millions in the close season. Zohaib Rashid is a London-based freelance journalist.
Published in the Express Tribune, May 13th, 2010.