Although they didn’t manage to beat Manchester United, Leicester finally secured the Premier League title following Tottenham’s draw against Chelsea. Claudio Ranieri’s men completed one of the greatest sporting achievements in history by winning the title in such devastating fashion. Bookmakers had the Foxes at 5000/1 to win their first Premier League title with reports suggesting that lucky punters have taken over £25m due to their success on the pitch.
Some fans believe that Ranieri has created something that will last at Leicester, an influx of Champions League money should help the club compete in the transfer market and keep a hold off star players such as Jamie Vardy and Riyad Mahrez. However, other people believe that it has been a one off season and that Leicester will not retain their crown next season.
Using Football Manager 16, we attempt to gain an insight into how the Foxes will perform and see how the Premier League table could take shape next season…
20th – Brighton and Hove Albion (22 points)
Although the Championship title race is yet to be decided and the play-offs also decide who gets promoted into England’s top division, for research purposes, we swapped the current top three Championship teams with the current bottom three Premier League teams. This means that Brighton and Hove Albion secured a return to the Premier League. It was not a happy return for the Seasiders who were unable able to survive and finished bottom of the table after picking up just five wins.
19th – Southampton (29 points)
Surprisingly, it was Southampton who also fell victim to relegation. The Saints have been one of the top performing teams in league during Ronald Koeman’s tenure but struggled to gain any kind of form. Despite spending heavily to recruit the likes of Javi Manquillo and Franco Vazquez, Koeman lost his job in November to be replaced by Brendan Rodgers. The former Liverpool boss was unable to save his side from the drop and also lost his job after just 163 days in charge.
18th – Newcastle (32 points)
After guiding Newcastle to safety during his short-spell with the Magpies, Rafael Benitez was offered the Arsenal job after the Gunners finally decided to remove Arsene Wenger. Newcastle appointed Gary Monk but spend very little during the transfer window. £12m signing Jonjo Shelvey left the club for just £400k headed for Burnley and other first-team players such as Jack Colback left on loan. Ayoze Perez enjoyed a fine season scoring 16 goals in the league but it was Newcastle’s poor defence that led to the club back to the Championship. Monk left the club at the end of the season to be replaced by Rio Ferdinand who would attempt to guide the club to promotion at the first attempt.
17th – Middlesbrough (34 points)
Newly promoted Middlesbrough managed to stave off the threat of relegation at the first time of asking thanks to the form of their strikers. Shane Long was signed from Southampton and formed a deadly partnership with Jordan Rhodes. ‘Boro recorded a memorable away win against Liverpool and secured their safety with a vital win against Southampton on the penultimate game of the season.
16th – Watford (41 points)
Watford secured their place in the Premier League for next season despite two managerial changes. The Watford board decided the club needed a change as Quique Flores left his role at the start of the season to be replaced by Andre Villas-Boas. The Portuguese manager was considered a coup by many but was unable to guide the club to a top-half finish. The Hornets completed deals for Arsenal’s Kieran Gibbs, David Ospina and Joel Campbell but a lack of goals hurt the team dearly. Only Troy Deeney reached double digits for goals in the league and Villas-Boas left his position as manager after just one season.
15th – Swansea
It was out with the new and in with the old as Rodgers re-joined his former club at the start of the season. The Swans spent £15m on new talent including the £9m signing of striker Sergio Araujo to add much needed goals to the side. The Northern Irishman left his post to join Southampton and was replaced by Nigel Pearson. The former Leicester boss guided his side to safety after joining the club in a precarious position and had Araujo to thank who fired 12 goals in his debut campaign.
14th – Burnley
Burnley also survived during their first season back in the Premier League. Sean Dyche was finally given the means to spend in the transfer market after the bumper TV deal saw transfer funds become available for the club. The Clarets spent £25m on new recruits including deals for Benik Afobe, Lewis Cook, Tyler Blackett and Jonjo Shelvey. Afobe struck up a great partnership with Andre Gray and netted 24 goals between them which significantly improved Burnley’s survival chances.
13th – Everton
Following numerous protests, Roberto Martinez resigned from his role as manager in July 2016. He was to be replaced with Quique Flores who was given £20m to play with in the transfer market. Many players left the club including Ramiro Funes Mori and Muhamed Besic but Everton managed to keep hold of their prized assets apart from John Stones. Loic Remy arrived from Chelsea for just £5m and the Toffees also completed a deal for legendary Italian striker, Luca Toni. Romelu Lukaku was the star of the show yet again as the Belgian striker hit 21 goals but Everton were unable to finish in the top-half of the table. Former Norwich manager Alex Neil replaced Flores at the helm at the end of the season.
12th – Bournemouth
Bournemouth were able to build on an impressive debut season in the Premier League and continue the great work of Eddie Howe. The Cherries spend very little in the transfer market after failing to meet financial fair-play regulations during their promotion to the Premier League. Afobe left for Burnley but Calum Wilson remained at the club. The English striker, who missed most of this season through injury, finally had his chance to perform on the big stage and netted 19 goals which earned him an England call-up.
11th – West Ham
The Hammers could not replicate their fantastic form of this season upon moving to the Olympic Stadium. West Ham lost a number of players such as Andy Carroll and Diafra Sakho who moved to Norwich and Enner Valencia who moved to Bayern Munich. West Ham spent just £5m to replace their out-going stars and paid the price. Slaven Bilic was replaced by Tim Sherwood following a poor run of form and were able dealt a heavy blow as Dimitri Payet submitted an official transfer request which was turned down.
10th – Stoke
Stoke were left disappointed as Jack Butland chose to leave the club for Liverpool for just £10m. Mark Hughes decided to re-sign Steven N’Zonzi to partner Giannelli Imbula in the engine room. Xherdan Shaqiri was the star of the season, scoring eight goals but the Potters were not satisfied with the progress made by the Potters. Hughes was to be replaced by Paul Lambert who guided the club to a tenth place finish in the league.
9th – West Brom
Arguably the surprise package of the season, Tony Pulis’ West Brom side secured a top-half finish and managed to keep Saido Berahino at the club. The English striker enjoyed a fine campaign but it was Venezuelan team-mate, Salomon Rondon who stole the show. The powerful forward netted 15 goals in his second season with the Baggies. West Brom also managed to sign AC Milan prospect, M’Baye Niang, on a season-long loan deal and the Frenchman bagged seven goals during his temporary stay at the Hawthorns.
8th – Crystal Palace
Alan Pardew enjoyed another fine season at Selhurst Park and put the disappointment of last season behind them. The Eagles signed Danny Ward from Liverpool for around £1m and also completed a £9m deal for Chelsea’s Nathan Ake. Wilfried Zaha scored 11 goals as his side just missed out on European football. Emmanuel Adebayor finally rediscovered his goal-scoring touch and helped his side’s cause with 10 goals. The club also managed to tie Yohan Cabaye to a new contract following another stunning season in England.
7th – Leicester
Leicester were unable to fight for their Premier League crown once again and were forced to settle for a place in the Europa League. They were left heartbroken as Ranieri decided to retire from management at the start of the season meaning Frank de Boer took the reins at the King Power. The Foxes were unable to handle the pressure of the Champions League and were knocked out in the first knockout round despite progressing through the group stages. They spent just £13m in the transfer window, £7m of which was spent on Swansea’s Ki Sung-Yeung and were left behind by their rivals. Vardy scored 20 goals in all competitions but Mahrez was unable to rediscover the form that saw him named PFA Player of the Year.
6th – Chelsea
It was another season of disappointment for Chelsea who failed to reach the Champions League yet again. Guus Hiddink decided to leave his role at the start of the season and was replaced by Antonio Conte. The Italian spent more than £100m as he looked to revamp the Blues’ squad. John Stones and Chris Smalling arrived from Everton and Manchester United as well as Marouane Fellaini and Bacary Sagna. Conte used his knowledge from his time with Juventus and secured the signing of Manolo Gabbiadini for over £23m and scored 25 goals in his debut season. Chelsea could not secure a top-four finish which applied intense pressure on Conte to deliver next season.
5th – Manchester City
Pep Guardiola’s first season at Manchester City did not go to plan either. The Citizens splashed £97m on new arrivals including Ricardo Rodriguez from Wolfsburg and Adam Lallana from Liverpool. The Spaniard lasted until March 2017 as manager before the club decided enough was enough and appointed Jose Mourinho. The Portuguese could only lead his side to fifth in the league meaning City were without Champions League football for the former Chelsea manager’s first season at the Etihad.
4th – Tottenham
Tottenham could not replicate the form that saw them challenge for the title this season but managed to retain their position in the top four. Mauricio Pochettino strengthened his squad with the £25m signing of Liverpool’s Emre Can and the £15m transfer for Bayer Leverkusen’s Hakan Calhanoglu. Harry Kane was on fine form yet again with another 26 goal season under his belt. Can managed to score 12 goals as Dele Alli struggled with injuries all season. Tottenham had the smallest squad in the league and also managed to reach the quarter-finals of the Champions League were they were beaten by Bayern Munich.
3rd – Arsenal
Arsene Wenger finally left his role as Arsenal manager after 7204 days in charge of the Gunners. The Frenchman retired from management and was offered the role as Director of Football at the Emirates. Rafa Benitez was instated as manager but could not deliver a Premier League title in his first season. The Spaniard invested heavily to revamp his squad as Mauro Icardi arrived from Inter Milan for £43m. More signings followed including Arda Turan, Juan Bernat and Rafinha Alcantara which totalled Arsenal’s spending at £120m. Benitez won the Capital One Cup and reached the final of the FA Cup meaning Arsenal fans were pleased with the progress made by the side during the former Real Madrid boss’ first season in North London. Icardi was named PFA Player of the Year as he scored 24 goals in 40 appearances which also earned him the top goal-scorer award.
2nd – Liverpool
Jurgen Klopp’s first full season with Liverpool was extremely successful as he nearly led the Reds to their first Premier League title. The former Dortmund manager cleared the Liverpool squad of 26 players which saw the likes of Christian Benteke leave for just £5m to Atletico Madrid. Their biggest deal was the £20m signing of exciting Moroccan playmaker, Hakim Ziyech. Klopp also found a place for Mario Balotelli in his squad who found a new lease of life at Anfield and netted 13 goals. Roberto Firmino and Daniel Sturridge scored 26 goals between them as Klopp utilised a 4-4-2 formation extremely effectively. Brazilian forward, Philippe Coutinho, was named their player of the season after providing 17 assists for his team-mates.
1st – Manchester United
Manchester United decided to keep the faith in Louis van Gaal for just one more season and the Dutchman quickly repaid the club’s dedication to him. United were ruthless in their search for Premier League glory and finished eight points clear of their fierce rivals Liverpool. The Red Devils spent £120m in the transfer windows and bolstered their strikeforce with the £47m capture of Gonzalo Higuain. Chris Smalling was sold to Chelsea and replaced with Alessio Romagnoli from AC Milan for £41m. Higuain was in inspired form as he scored 25 goals and Memphis Depay also enjoyed a superb second season at Old Trafford. LVG also managed to add an FA Cup medal to his trophy cabinet.
Where do you think your side will finish next season?