We’re halfway through the Premier League season. 20 clubs (and their supporters) are feeling varying levels of anxiety and exuberance heading into 2020.
If you’re a Liverpool supporter, you want to make love to the world. If you support Watford, you just want to listen to Candle in the Wind and cry.
As we’re about to flip the calendar into 2020, here is a ranking of all 20 clubs’ supporters current level of satisfaction.
Nothing but sadness and despair
20. West Ham – Hammers supporters deserve better than this. The club has ambition, bringing in a top tier manager in Manuel Pellegrini and making purchases like Sebastien Haller. They’re top 20 in global revenue among clubs. Yet West Ham sit a point above relegation with underlying numbers suggesting they’re one of the two worst teams in England.
19. Watford – A couple of years ago, Watford was a team on the rise. Now, despite a slight uptick in form, they’re almost assuredly dropping down to the Championship. The change managers like I change underwear. Just a mess.
18. Aston Villa – It wasn’t supposed to be this way. The Villans spent Fulham-like money to bolster their squad coming up to the EPL. But injuries and under-performing talent has Villas trip up to the Premier League looking like a short one.
Sssshhhh don’t tell anyone, but we’re just happy to be here for now
17. Norwich – So much hope to start the season. Daniel Farke plays an exciting brand of soccer. They just don’t have the talent to sync with the style. Except against Man City. At least they get to enjoy Teemu Pukki for 6 more months until some smart top tier club snatches him up to provide frontline depth.
16. Brighton – Tabbed by many as possible relegation fodder, Brighton sit comfortable in that amorphous ether of not-being-relegated-but-not-being-mid-table-either. For their supporters, that’s good enough for now.
Wait, we don’t suck! (Sigh of relief)
15. Newcastle – Before the season, Magpie supporters might’ve held the 20th spot on this list. They lost world class manager Rafa Benitez for amiable doof Steve Bruce. Ownership / Mike Ashley issues never have a resolution in sight. Offseason signature signing Joelinton (who Rafa didn’t want) kinda sucks. The club deserves so much better. And yet…they’re not putrid this season! That alone relieves a little bit of anxiety for club supporters.
14. Southampton – It wasn’t too long ago that Southampton were humiliated by Leicester 9-0. Relegation seemed certain. But credit to the Saints for rebounding. That takes real strength of character. Danny Ings has been on fire. Liverpool are buying Red Bull Salzburg players now instead of raiding the Saints roster. Things are looking up.
13. Burnley – “Hey, we’re tied with Arsenal in the table!” If you told 100 Burnley supporters in August that at the halfway, they’d be level on points with the Gunners, 99 of them would’ve considered that a major win.
Wait, shouldn’t we be better?
12. Bournemouth – Manager Eddie Howe makes almost every “next manager odds” list for any major club hiring. So why are Bournemouth under-performing many pundits’ expectations? Injuries have been an issue. But the Cherries should be better than 16th.
Genuine sadness glossed over by false hope of improvement that isn’t around the corner
11. Arsenal – The whole Mikel Arteta thing isn’t going to work. Arsenal’s organizational rut runs deep. And deep down, Gunners fans know it.
Genuine sadness but with actual hope of improvement that may be around the corner
10. Everton – Unlike Arsenal, Everton have enough talent in the right places to be competitive. They just didn’t have the right manager to make it click. With the hiring of Carlo Ancelotti, now they (maybe) do. Toffee supporters will enjoy their club’s march up to 9th place. Merry Christmas, Everton!
8. Manchester United – Schizophrenia: A mental disorder involving a breakdown in the relation between thought, emotion, and behavior, leading to faulty perception, inappropriate actions and feelings, withdrawal from reality and personal relationships into fantasy and delusion, and a sense of mental fragmentation. That’s kind of the week-to-week description of the Ole Gunnar Solskjær rollercoaster ride, isn’t it? United have talent for sure. But not the same level of talent their supporters think they have. They beat teams in the top 6 and lose to bottom feeders. One week you’re convincing yourself you’re going to make the top 4. The next you turn your phone off because you’re obnoxious Liverpool supporter friends are sending you needling texts.
What is this “soul” you speak of?
8. Manchester City – Deep down in the recesses of their soul, City supporters know the following to be true: 1) Pep won’t be their manager by the end of 2020, 2) a $1B roster got them 2 EPLs, no UCLs, and all the Carabao Cups they could ever dream of, 3) their owner suppresses human and women’s rights, 4) the current run is coming to an end and Leicester, Chelsea, and Tottenham are all on the rise, and 5) they’ll never, ever have what Liverpool shares with their supporters.
Deep sigh of relief, for now
7. Tottenham – It’s got to be a weird time to be a Spurs supporter. Six months ago you were 90 minutes away from hoisting Europe’s top honor. Your squad has all world talent. For whatever reason they tuned out their highly regarded manager. Now, you have Jose Mourinho. The team is playing better. But you can’t unsee the Mourinho experience that just happened at Man U a year ago. You know that’s lurking around the corner. It’s there. It’s going to happen. Then what.
Enjoying the moment and taking it day-by-day
6. Crystal Palace – Many “pundits” including me thought Roy Hodgson was a leading sack candidate at the start of the season. Palace are solidly mid-table and likely won’t sniff relegation the rest of the way. If Palace could find the means to acquire one or two more quality attackers, they could actually make some noise.
5. Sheffield United – Five might be too low. Sheffield supporters have to be ecstatic. They have a badass logo and nickname. Their team is legit. While Norwich and Villa stumble, Sheffield could viably challenge for a top 6 spot. Chris Wilder is earning plaudits all around. The Blades are this year’s Wolves.
4. Chelsea – This young squad is exceeding all legitimate expectations. Frank Lampard came in with question marks but is seemingly making all of the right decisions. Sure, there have been some highs and lows. But with a squad this young, that’s to be expected. Chelsea supporters know this team has a bright future.
3. Leicester – Might’ve been #2 if not for a recent dip in form and regression to the mean. Still, the supporter base is solid. They have the right manager who is committed for the long-term (until City hire him). There are talented young pieces all around. And a Champions League spot seems all but a given now.
Complete and utter euphoria
2. Wolves – They say the best, most happiest and exciting time of being in a band is right when you’re about to break big. That’s kind of what the Wolves feel right now. They could make some noise in the Europa League. After a bumpy start, they are making noise domestically. A top 4 finish is a real possibility. They play appealing soccer. And to think, they were just in the Championship no more than 18 months ago! It’s a fun time to be a Wolves supporter.
1. Liverpool – Could it be anyone else? No sports team in the world has a connection with its fans like Liverpool. The next 5 months will be a victory march to their first Premier League trophy. They just won the FIFA Club World Cup. They’re contenders again for the Champions League. Over the past month they’ve started blowing opponents off the pitch. Their stars are likable. Their style is a joy to watch. It doesn’t get better than this.