With a surprisingly fantastic season last year, Birmingham City found themselves being tipped to potentially push for those Europa League positions this season. How predictions could prove so wrong! Only resting above the drop zone due to their better goal difference and with the likes of Chelsea, Liverpool and Tottenham still to play; it looks like Birmingham will be in the mix to go down right to the very end. It is fascinating how teams can be so poor in their league but then find themselves at Wembley the next week lifting the Carling Cup trophy, beating Arsenal, this triumph may prove to be Alex McLeish’s saving grace at the end of the season, if he fails to help Birmingham beat the drop.
Their Midland rivals Aston Villa have also not fared better, failing to meet their normal consistently great standards, but this is not surprising since their manager Martin O’Neil departed them only days before the start of the season, leaving Gerard Houllier to come in, with little time to impose his philosophy and prepare thoroughly for the season ahead. The fans would have been understandably anxious and pessimistic coming into the season but they would have not believed they would lay only two points above the bottom three. Villa fans can be slightly more optimistic since the big January signing of Darren Bent has seen improvements to results and with additional signings of Jean Makoun, Kyle Walker and Michael Bradley it looks like Houllier will have the resources available to keep Villa a float.
Liverpool, similarly to Aston Villa has had a very poor season to their expectations and standards. With Rafa Benitez affectively being shouted out of the job by the Liverpool faithful, the job was given to Premiership Manager of the Year Roy Hodgson who had done a marvellous job at Fulham previously. This dream move for Hodgson soon turned out to be hell, as he too was eventually heckled out by the Anfield Crowd with cries for King Kenny to return to his beloved club. Although there has been a recent resurgence in Liverpool’s fortunes with the Kenny Dalglish capturing the signings of Luis Suarez and Andy Carroll, this has not changed the fact they have lost eleven games and could not manage to maintain a foothold in the top ten until their 14th game of the season! By their standards and historical background this really has been another season to forget for Liverpool.
It seems that the flops this season come in pairs as Liverpool’s Merseyside neighbours Everton have also been bitterly lacklustre and disappointing this year. Although they lay in 9th place, prior to that they have been trying to escape the relegation zone for some weeks, even now they lay only six points clear of West Ham United of 18th place. This season suggests that David Moyes may have taken Everton as far as he could and now may need a new challenge after consistently leading Everton to fifth position in previous seasons and conquering the top four on one occasion. Now with Everton struggling to find some consistency, this may be the pivotal sign that David Moyes needs to depart Everton for a fresh challenge.
There have also been other teams that have failed to progress this year including; West Ham, Wigan Athletic and Wolverhampton Wanderers among others. But it is evident that Liverpool, Birmingham, Aston Vila and Everton are the big shockers that have really had a season that they would want to forget, and now it seems that the later part of the season can be used to plan and prepare for a much better improved next Premiership Campaign.