For every successful team in the Premier League era, there’s been a corresponding failure. In fact, in England’s top flight, clubs don’t even have to “fail” in order to be relegated to the rubbish bin of history.
But for these five teams, fans, player and coaches will always wonder what might have been – had the ball just bounced their way.
5. Leeds United 1998-2002
The Ferguson Vs Wenger rivalry of 1998 to 2005 was plagued not by a lack of opposition talent, but a lack of quality opposition managers. David O’Leary’s tenure at Leeds sums this up perfectly.
Describing himself at the time as a ‘young, naive manager’ he couldn’t shift his young Leeds squad in to a high enough gear to win a trophy. Boasting young talented names like Jonathan Woodgate, Lee Bowyer, Rio Ferdinand and Harry Kewell, and the experience of Robbie Fowler and Nigel Martyn, Leeds financially gambled on success during this period, but ultimately failed to produce as they were rewarded wtih League One football later in the decade.
4. Aston Villa 1998-2002 and 2006-2010
As a football club, there’s not much that Aston Villa don’t have – huge fanbase, iconic stadium, historical success in Europe. But good days in the Premier League era have proven sparse. John Gregory never looked too bothered as Villa manager at the turn of the millennium. With players like Paul Merson, Dion Dublin, Gareth Southgate and young sparks in Gareth Barry, David James and the painfully wasted football talents of Stan Collymore, you have to wonder how an FA Cup final in 2000 was the peak achievement of that team.
Later in the “noughties” whenever Martin O’Neal’s Villa team ran out against the likes of Chelsea and Manchester United, there was a sneaking suspicion they might win as the squad contained Ashley Young, James Milner, Stiliyan Petrov and Gabby Agbonlahor all in their prime. But they couldn’t finish higher than sixth.
3. Liverpool 1998-2004
Okay, maybe harsh considering they technically won the treble in 2001 – not the big treble, but a treble nonetheless.
There was a sense among many fans that this Liverpool team was vastly underrated, with talents including Steven Gerrard, Emilie Heskey, Sami Hyypiä and Michael Owen. In a time when the Premier League was dominated by two teams (Manchester United and Arsenal), why did they not get closer to the league title? Is Gérard Houllier another example of the wrong manager at the right time?
2. Tottenham Hotspur 2014-Present
Maybe, just maybe, this here is a picture of “Mo Po” holding a very small, invisible trophy? No, not really, he’s just showing gratitude that he’s not Chelsea boss as he would have been sacked by now.
For a club with a stupidly tight budget and more competition than the league has ever seen, it’s not fair to direct too much criticism at Pochettino. The trouble is, as shown on this list so far, plenty of teams come and go and miss chances to make their stamp on history. The clock is ticking for the modern day Spurs. Can they win something before the players disperse and the manager moves on? Time will tell. Maybe in ten years from now they’ll be the biggest underachievers of all time, or maybe we’ll look back and mark this as at the start of a glorious run. Who knows?
1. Newcastle United 1995-96
Perhaps Temur Ketsbaia beating up the advertising boards was the whole city of Newcastle letting out its frustration of the 1995/96 season.
Yeah, it’s the big one. It’s tough because for all intents and purposes, this was a ‘one season wonder’ like Leicester City but with a different outcome. In the early 2000s Bobby Robson had a mini go at a title challenge with the Magpies but it wasn’t quite the mid-90s effort which ultimately landed Kevin Keegan the England job.
It was the first example of an attacking team that couldn’t defend and it cost them the chance to change the fortunes of Newcastle forever. No doubt they’re sick of hearing it but that was a turning point in the club’s history – and sadly, not a positive one.
A rundown of five teams in premier league history who promised so much and delivered so little