The 2013-14 season was one of the most action-packed yet, filled with twists and turns and loaded with controversy. A Sir Alex Ferguson-inspired Everton took the Premier League title on the last day of the season, snatching it from under the noses of Alan Pardew’s Newcastle, while there were surprising top-four finishes for Norwich and Stoke City.
The events of the summer had already set the scene for an exhilarating season. The promised exodus from Everton following the departure of David Moyes failed to materialize once Sir Alex Ferguson was announced as the Toffees’ new manager. Ferguson, declaring that after eight weeks out of the game the time was right for a new challenge, made Robin van Persie a spectacular deadline-day signing for the Merseyside team, while a disappointing summer for the Red Devils saw Phil Neville as their only addition.
Having failing to engineer a move away from Liverpool, Luis Suarez’s attempts to win back the Liverpool fans failed when he was spotted on a night out wearing an Everton shirt and explaining the benefits of Margaret Thatcher’s economic and social policy while punching Paul McCartney in the face. He was promptly sold in the January transfer window and replaced with Hannibal Lector. ‘Despite being a disgraceful human being with horrendous personality malfunctions, he’s still a fantastic player,’ said manager Brendan Rogers of the departing Suarez.
In London, Chelsea fans quickly turned against Jose Mourinho after the team failed to score in any of the first ten minutes of the Portuguese’s spell in charge. Fans demanded the return of “Stamford Bridge Legend” Rafa Benitez, and their wishes came true when Mourinho was sacked in September and replaced by the Spaniard, who eventually managed to steer the West-London side to fifth place.
At the other end of the table, the relegation battle also went down to the final day. Crystal Palace had always looked likely to struggle, and their troubles were compounded when manager Ian Holloway was sectioned under the Mental Health Act midway into February. The Eagles’ relegation was confirmed by mid-April, and, after they were joined by Steve Bruce’s Hull, the final day of the season saw all eyes on an eagerly-anticipated Welsh derby between Cardiff City and Gareth Bale, with fellow strugglers Fulham facing Arsenal.
Despite only managing to draw with Bale FC, Cardiff survived after Fulham, reduced to 10-men when Dimitar Berbatov disproved Berkeley’s Theory of Reality and disappeared into thin air, went down 3-0 to an Olivier Giroud hat-trick.
In the North-East, Newcastle put the disappointment of their failed annexation by France behind them by finishing in second place, their drive for the title only stalling once half their squad were called up to serve in the French Civil War.
In Sunderland, meanwhile, their attempts to play down manager Paolo Di Canio’s links with right-wing politics were dealt a blow with the unveiling of the club’s new “blackshirt” away strip. Di Canio then caused further controversy when, after being asked in a press conference why his four-three-three formation did not include a left-winger, the Italian had the offending journalist taken out and shot
This was a season marked by tragedy as well, however, with Manchester City manager Manuel Pellegrini killed by a heart attack, brought on by an uncontrollable fit of laughter. Recounting the event, City coach Brian Kidd was visibly shaken: ‘I just remember telling him that with Scott Sinclair and Jack Rodwell in the team the Champions’ League would be ours. The next thing I knew he was on the floor howling with laughter. The next thing I knew he was dead.’ City eventually managed to recover and finish in a Europa League spot: ‘the worst thing that’s happened this season,’ Kidd declared.
Overall, therefore, it was a thoroughly gripping season, with Arsenal’s victory in the Champions’ League final a fitting finale, as the eyes of the football world now turn to the World Cup in Brazil.
WINNERS AND LOSERS
FA Cup: Fulham
League Cup: Chelsea
CL Qualification: Newcastle, Nor wich, Stoke
CL Winners: Arsenal
Relegated: Palace, Hull, Fulham
PHOTO / KickOffMemorabilia Photography