Every Premier League Team's Biggest Regret as the Final Stretch Looms
As we enter the final stretch of the Premier League season, teams are beginning to look back at their campaigns and formulate the "what if?" questions.
For Tottenham Hotspur fans, firing Andre Villas-Boas seems a poor choice in hindsight, Crystal Palace could have arguably done with sacking Ian Holloway sooner, and Aston Villa will look back on some torrid home form and groan with despair.
What is your club's biggest regret of the 2013-14 season?
Arsenal: Not Signing a Striker
As the season has worn on, Arsenal's lightweight nature up front has really hit home.
The depth beyond Olivier Giroud is astonishingly poor, with Nicklas Bendtner not committed to the cause (or his own physical shape!) and Yaya Sanogo as raw as they come. Olivier Giroud's strong form has died off, and his lack of pace has become a real issue, too.
Arsene Wenger didn't have to sign Julian Draxler for €40 million, but he did have to sign someone to keep the title challenge alive. Injuries haven't helped, but control what you can.
Aston Villa: Shocking Home Form
Aston Villa sit 10th and that's perhaps the best they can hope for, because it's pretty obvious they're not one of the nine strongest clubs in the league.
But it could have been more. The club could have troubled Newcastle United and Southampton this season if their home form had been anything better than woeful for the majority of the season.
Recent victories over Norwich and Chelsea have shined a bad record; before that, Paul Lambert's club had won only three of his 15 games at Villa Park this season.
Cardiff City: Everything Vincent Tan-Related
For Cardiff City, the 2013-14 season represents a cacophony of errors most fans will not want to look back on.
Vincent Tan has been at the centre of it all, and should the club suffer relegation, he will be rounded upon in a fierce manner by loyal supporters who waited so long to taste Premier League action.
There's a strong feeling the owner has ruined the Bluebirds' EPL fantasy.
Chelsea: Not Signing That Striker
There are very few things for Jose Mourinho to regret this season, with his club odds-on favorite to win the Premier League title after losing the fewest amount of games (four) in the division so far.
But if Chelsea do slip up in the title race and lose out to one of their rivals, the question of why he tried to negotiate the season without a "proper" striker will be levied at him time and time again.
After all, he sent his best front man out on loan at the beginning of the season.
Crystal Palace: Not Sacking Ian Holloway Earlier
Crystal Palace fans are not convinced the club will stay up, but every neutral has them riding to safety in the safe arms of Tony Pulis and his staff.
Whether they achieve their goal of staying up or not, one thing will remain true: The club perhaps should have replaced Ian Holloway (four points from nine matches) with Pulis earlier in the season.
With more time the Welshman would have them on even more points (24 from 19 matches), leading to a potential scraping to safety if things go south from here or an even higher finish (prize money) if they continue current trajectory.
Everton: Lack of Striking Depth
Everton's top-four chase is pretty much done at this point, and you can't help but feel a lack of action in bringing in a (capable) backup striker to Romelu Lukaku is a key reason as to why.
Back in February the Toffees played superbly at White Hart Lane but lost 1-0 to Tottenham with Steven Naismith as an auxiliary No. 9. Lacina Traore sat on the bench unfit from a winter in Russia, and he's now torn his hamstring and probably won't play again this season.
Arouna Kone's ACL tear was a nightmare, but better precautions than Traore should have been taken.
Fulham: Flying Through Managers at a Rate of Knots
Fulham have been stuck in the bottom three for most of the Premier League season, and while some chairmen flinch and move to change things, Shahid Khan has taken that to a whole new level.
The Cottagers are on their third manager in Felix Magath, with the second installment (Rene Meulensteen) lasting just 74 days at the helm.
The players must be as confused as the fans are.
Hull City: Not Signing Shane Long Sooner
Hull City were close to a £5 million deal for Shane Long last summer, but West Bromwich Albion pulled out of the deal at the last second.
The Tigers finally snared their man in January, though, and the Irishman has performed very well since moving north.
His partnership with Nikica Jelavic—also a January acquisition—has made Hull a serious contender in the league, and Steve Bruce has done superbly to guide them this far.
Liverpool: Assessing the Full-Back Monstrosity
Jon Flanagan has been brilliant at both left- and right-back in recent months, truly locking down one of the berths in Brendan Rodgers' formation.
The other options, including Aly Cissokho, Glen Johnson and Jose Enrique, however, have been uninspiring to say the very, very least.
The Reds defence has been a concern all season, and with Johnson and Cissokho, the line was porous. No doubt it'll be fixed this summer, but if Rodgers' men miss the title this year, this is a big factor in play.
Manchester United: Hiring David Moyes
The 2013-14 season has been abysmal for Manchester United fans, with a 3-0 home loss to Liverpool last weekend crowning a new low for the club.
They sit in seventh place with just 48 points, well off the pace for UEFA Champions League football and can only conceivably regain it by winning this year's edition in unlikely fashion.
Hiring David Moyes has been a poor choice influenced heavily of the principles of loyalty shown to Sir Alex Ferguson. Would you trust the Scot with £200 million in the transfer market?
Manchester City: Not Finding Vincent Kompany That Partner
Vincent Kompany has had to make do with Martin Demichelis and Joleon Lescott for partners lately. That's hardly a trophy-winning duo, is it?
Matija Nastasic is an able left centre-back and looks to have a very big future in the game, but his suspect frame and frequent injury setbacks are difficult to ignore.
Kompany needs a partner who won't single-handedly get his side thrown out of two cup competitions.
Newcastle United: Selling Yohan Cabaye Without Sourcing a Replacement
Joe Kinnear's final act as director of football at Newcastle United was to sell Yohan Cabaye and not source a replacement.
It's left the Magpies with a defensive midfield pairing of Vurnon Anita and Cheick Tiote—as defensive as they come—and the club has struggled to score or create goals.
Without Loic Remy they'd be sinking, and the 2013-14 season is over for them.
Norwich City: Not Sacking Chris Hughton Earlier
There are very few Norwich City fans who are satisfied with the state of their club at the moment, as after a summer full of investment in attacking options, the football is pretty dire.
The board will be itching for an improvement too after shelling out in excess of £20-25 million on new signings, and Chris Hughton's days could well be numbered.
The fans want him gone, and even if they scrape clear of the drop, the former Newcastle man will likely get the chop.
Southampton: Dani Osvaldo Didn't Work out
Off-field issues involving former chairman Nicola Cortese have harmed Southampton's chances of success this season, but the biggest regret has to be the plunge the club took on Dani Osvaldo.
He was both the club-record signing and the man to take Mauricio Pochettino's attacking disciples to the next level; bar one moment of absolute genius against Manchester City, he's been a complete disappointment.
Rickie Lambert's days at the Premier League level are numbered, and Saints need a diverse weapon. It was supposed to be Osvaldo, but his antics have held the club back from challenging for Europe.
Stoke City: Haven't Progressed as Much as They'd Like
Stoke City are not in danger of going down and Mark Hughes is safe in his job for another year.
The Welshman has tried to revamp the Potters' playing style and keep the ball on the deck a little more, but not all of his signings have seen good playing time and the team sometimes reverts to its previous tendencies.
Ultimately, it's difficult to levy any form of criticism at Stoke and Hughes this season. But they do seem a team stuck in transition, and perhaps they would have wanted to make a little more progress in changing their image this year.
Sunderland: Pursuing with Paolo Di Canio
Paolo Di Canio was just the right amount of crazy to keep Sunderland up late in the 2012-13 season, but he always had the feel of a short-termer.
Ellis Short let him run riot in the summer transfer market anyway, signing dozens of new players; the result was a squad failing to gel and failing to win with regularity.
If Gus Poyet keeps the Black Cats up he's a Manager of the Year nomination, but if he doesn't fans will look back to the dark days of Di Canio and wonder what would have happened had they made the switch a few months earlier.
Swansea City: Michu's Bad Injury
Swansea City have had a wholly regrettable season but for a glorious European adventure.
They played lacklustre blunt football in the league for long periods under Michael Laudrup and gave off an aura of staleness throughout. While Garry Monk has freshened things up just a little bit, the club have just 29 points and are fighting relegation.
How different would it have been, though, had Michu not sustained a bad injury at the tail end of 2013? He's not played this year and his absence leaves a gargantuan hole in the side.
Tottenham Hotspur: Sacking Andre Villas-Boas
Hindsight is a funny thing.
Most Tottenham fans who originally pined for the removal of Andre Villas-Boas are now desperately missing his influence at the club. Those who opposed the sacking in the first place are feeling somewhat vindicated right now.
Tim Sherwood will not be the manager next season after watching Spurs' season crumble in front of his own gilet. The fans would do untold things to have AVB back in charge.
West Bromwich Albion: Radical Change in Style
In sacking Steve Clarke and replacing him with Pepe Mel, West Bromwich Albion essentially swapped basic to-the-point football with possession-hungry, tempo-controlling stuff.
It's a fine trade given the improved quality of passing on show, but was midseason the right time to do it?
The club are essentially mired into the relegation scrap and harbour off-field concerns in Nicolas Anelka. The players don't like Mel's tactics, as per The Daily Mail, and the wheels look set to come off.
Could the sacking of Clarke waited?
West Ham: Not Reconciling with Ravel Morrison
Ravel Morrison is a precious talent who can win midfield battles and score goals. His temperament is much-improved and he's worked hard on his behaviour and off-field antics.
Unfortunately, none of that helps West Ham after a strange debacle ended up with the 21-year-old being sent out on loan to Queens Park Rangers.
Morrison said it was for first-team football; others believe there's an agent dispute involved somewhere. Whatever the reason, he'll likely be sold on this summer given there's just a year left on his contract.
A real shame for the Hammers.