10 present day facts football fans wouldn't have imagined 5 years ago
Football is an amazing game, but sometimes its hard to comprehend the facts and results associated it with the game, no matter how hard you try.Sometimes the game brings you surprises that are pleasant while sometimes there are some that are really hard to take. For instance not many would have expected Steven Gerrard to slip and let slip Liverpools title hopes last season and not many would have expected David Moyes to be the manager of Manchester United 5 years ago.So here are 10 such facts that football fans did not see happening five years ago.
#1 Manchester United finishing outside a Champions League Spot
Manchester United were the dominating force of the Premier League under Sir Alex Ferguson. In fact the Red Devils won 13 Premier League titles and had never finished below 3rd place in the Premier League during Ferguson’s entire managerial career.
So five years back when United had once again won the League title, it was impossible to believe that they would go on to finish as low as seventh in the league, during their first season under a different manager.
What makes this embarrassing is that United were the defending champions coming into the season and then had their worst Premier League season.
United have their worst start to a league season this time around and they have looked very unconvincing so far.
Who would have thought this would happen?
#2 Dortmund winning Bundesliga twice and reaching UCL final
Borussia Dortmund were in severe financial crisis a decade back and were able to stay in the Bundesliga thanks to the financial assistance from Bayern Munich.
Dortmund appointed Jurgen Klopp as their manager in the in 2008 and the German managed to help the club finish a respectable 6th that year.
Klopp took some time to build his side and in his second season they finished a place higher than in the previous season. But it was in the 2010-11 season that they took the league by surprise and started to become a force to reckon with.
They won the league in 2010-11 with two games to spare and then followed this up with a domestic double in their very next season.
Even though the German side lost some of their best players every year, Klopp’s men still managed to perform outstandingly well and even reached the final of the UEFA Champions league in 2012-13 season, where they lost to Bayern Munich.
Dortmund have been struggling a bit in the league this season but their performance in the Champions League have shown that it is still too early to write them off.
#3 Pep Guardiola leaving Barcelona
Pep Guardiola took over the role of Barcelona manager in 2008 and in his very first season the Spaniard took them to a whole new level. The Catalan club completed the first treble by a Spanish side and they were the team to beat in Europe. Such was the quality of the Barcelona side Guardiola moulded.
Guardiola would go on to win a hat-trick of league titles and another Champions League title, in addition to several other trophies at Barcelona. And at this point of time it seemed like he was there to stay at Barcelona for a long time considering how young the Spaniard was.
Guardiola went trophy less at Barcelona in his fourth season at the club and towards the end of the season he announced that he would step down from his post, stating tiredness as a factor. His decision to leave Barcelona was surprising but what was even more surprising was the fact that the Spaniard decided to take a year off from coaching.
Half-way through his year off, Guardiola announced his return to coaching and this time with Bayern Munich. And at one point of time it looked like he would be leaving a long lasting legacy at Barcelona similar to the one Sir Alex Ferguson left at Manchester United.
#4 Cesc Fabregas at Chelsea
Back in 2009, Cesc Fabregas was the captain of Arsenal and one of their most influential players on and off the pitch. The Spaniard was a crowd favourite at the Emirates and the fans thought that this relationship was to last for years to come.
Two years later Fabregas moved to Spain to rejoin his childhood club Barcelona and declared that he would only leave Arsenal for the Catalan club as it was his dream to play for them.
Although the transfer broke the many Arsenal hearts, they loved the Spaniard for his services to the club, but three years later, Fabregas was deemed surplus to needs at Barcelona and he was in search of a new club.
Arsenal had the opportunity to sign the player, but Arsene Wenger turned down the chance and Fabregas moved to cross town rivals Chelsea to play under Jose Mourinho. Something that no one would have foreseen earlier.
#5 Gareth Bale becoming the Worlds most expensive signing
Back in 2009, Real Madrid captured Cristiano Ronaldo from Manchester United and the Portuguese was then, the most expensive player in the world. Meanwhile, Gareth Bale was a left-back who was struggling for game time at Tottenham Hotspur due to the good performances of Assou-Ekotto. The Welshman even had the honour of going 24 Spurs games without a victory.
Harry Redknapp was the Tottenham manager then and he then pulled off something that would change the career of Bale and have a huge impact on the footballing world in the coming years.
Redknapp moved Bale from the left-back position to the left wing position and by the end of the season Bale was transformed into a winger and Tottenham qualified for the Champions League for the first time.
Bale would go on to produce one of his finest performances in the Champions League against defending champions Inter Milan in the very next season.
Today, Gareth Bale plays for Real Madrid, having made his move to the Bernabeu in 2013, thereby becoming the most expensive player in the World. Bale would go on to make Real Madrid legacy in his first season as he was the one who scored the winning goals in the finals of both cups Real Madrid won last season.
The Welshman went from being an unwanted left-back who was on the verge of being sold, to the most expensive player in a matter of five years.
#6 Balotelli joining Liverpool
Mario Balotelli was a prodigy during his time at Internazionale and the Italian was part of the Inter side that won the treble under Jose Mourinho and played several games for them at a very young age.
The Italian soon followed his former manager Roberto Mancini to England with Manchester City and became a first team regular for the Citizens. But the controversy followed the Italian everywhere he went and he made more headlines for his off the field antics than his performance on the pitch.
City would lose patience with Balotelli later on and as a result he was sold to AC Milan where he was a sure starter and established himself as a fan favourite.
Balotelli had his ups and downs at Milan, but it looked like he had finally found a place where he could settle down and live up to the promise he had shown earlier on in his career.
But after just a year and a half at Milan, he made a surprise move to Premier League side Liverpool even though Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers had earlier said that the club were not interested in signing Balotelli.
One has to assume that Liverpool were desperately searching in the market for a striker and when their potential deal for Loic Remy collapsed, they snapped up Balotelli on a slashed price. So far the move hasn’t paid its dividends but Balotelli has somehow managed to keep controversies aside.
#7 Atletico Madrid winning the La Liga
Valencia won the La Liga title in 2004 and after that it was complete domination in the league by Real Madrid and Barcelona in the coming years.
In fact, in the very next season, Barcelona won the league with 84 points, with Real Madrid a close second on 80 points and third placed Villarreal was far behind on 65 points, while previous champions Valencia finished 7th.
During this period Barcelona had grown into a supreme power or the team to beat. They had set a benchmark for other clubs to reach and by the end of the 2008-09 season they completed the first treble by a Spanish side. Real Madrid also managed to elevate their game as well to keep up to the level of Barcelona.
In 2009, Real Madrid signed Cristiano Ronaldo, Kaka, Xabi Alonso and Karim Benzema in a quest to strengthen their side even more and in this scenario it was impossible to even think that the league title will go to someone other than Real Madrid or Barcelona.
Atletico Madrid in the meanwhile were slowly finishing in better positions in the league each year climbing from 11th in 2008 to 4th in 2009. But they finished 9th, 7th and 5th in the next three seasons and lost highly influential players like Fernando Torres, Diego Forlan and Sergio Aguero.
Diego Simeone took charge of the club in 2011 and under his guidance they won the Europa League in 2012. The Argentine slowly transformed the club and in the very next season the club finished a strong 3rd and qualified for the Champions League.
Atletico put in a stellar performance in the Champions League and defeated AC Milan, Barcelona and Chelsea to reach the final, where they met their cross town rivals Real Madrid.
Even though they lost the Champions League to Real, they managed to win the league title from Barcelona on the final matchday of the season - Something that even the most optimistic of fans wouldn’t have expected.
#8 Fernando Torres slump in form
Fernando Torres was the second runner up to Cristiano Ronaldo for the Ballon d’Or in 2008. Such was the talent and performance the Spaniard possessed during his Liverpool days.
He was arguably one of the best strikers in the game and a name that put fear in the minds of opposition defenders. This man made Philipp Lahm and Jens Lehmann look like mediocre players in the Euro 2008 final when he scored the winner against Germany.
By January 2011, Torres scored 81 goals for Liverpool in 142 games despite suffering several injury setbacks. The Spaniard then completed a shock move to Chelsea on transfer deadline day in the same year, a move which made him the most expensive player signed by an English club prior to the arrival of Angel Di Maria to Manchester United this season.
Big things were expected of Fernando Torres at Chelsea, but things didn’t go as planned for the Spaniard. It took Torres over 2 months to score his first goal for Chelsea and that was his only goal for them that season in 18 games.
Torres struggled to find his feet at Chelsea under different managers including Rafa Benitez,who made him a star at Liverpool and by the end of the 2013-14 season, Torres scored just 45 goals in 175 appearances for Chelsea. Chelsea finally lost patience with him and loaned him out to AC Milan and Torres has only managed 1 goal in 9 appearances for Milan.
Who would have though Fernando Torres would go from being one of the most talented strikers in the game to being the center of many internet jokes in a matter of few years?
#9 Chelsea winning the Champions League under Roberto Di Matteo
Chelsea have used the services of many quality managers during the Abrahimovic era. Claudio Ranieri was the manager in charge when the Russian took over, but Ranieri was sacked after just one season.
After Ranieri it was the Mourinho era at Stamford Bridge and under the charismatic Portuguese, Chelsea were very successful but he failed to get Abrahimovic the highly coveted Champions League Trophy.
Soon Chelsea went through different managers which included the likes of Carlos Ancelotti and Luiz Felipe Scolari. But none of them managed to win the Champions League with the blues and in 2011, Chelsea appointed Andres Villas Boas as their manager.
Villas Boas had a terrible stint as Chelsea manager and he was sacked midway through the season and former Chelsea player Roberto Di Matteo was appointed as interim manager.
When Matteo took charge of Chelsea, they were trailing Napoli 3-1 on aggregate after the first leg of the round of 16 fixture in the Champions League and was nowhere close to finishing in the Top 4 in the league.
Most people wouldn’t have expected Matteo to win their return leg against a strong Napoli side and progress to the next round, but Chelsea did it and soon won the Champions League in a dramatic final.
This was quite unexpected during Matteo’s tenure considering the fact that many big managers failed to do the same at Chelsea.
#10 Frank Lampard at Manchester City
Forget 5 years ago, 5 months back not a single soul would have imagined Frank Lampard playing for another English club other than Chelsea.
When Chelsea released the veteran at the end of last season it was clear that he wouldn’t hang up his boots. As expected Lampard followed in the footsteps of David Beckham and joined an MLS franchise. Lampard moved to New York City FC which was owned by the same group that owned Manchester City.
Soon after his move rumors started surfacing that the Englishman would be loaned to Manchester City because New York City FC would be able to participate in the MLS from the next season. This was hard to believe for football fans in general and not just Chelsea fans.
Manchester City later announced that Lampard would join on a loan deal that would end in January and he made his debut for City against Arsenal.
The inevitable soon happened as he was substituted in by Manuel Pellegrini against Chelsea, while City were trailing by a goal at home. Lampard then scored his first goal for the club after seven minutes on the pitch by hitting a volley from inside the box. This also ended Chelsea’s perfect winning streak in the season.
Lampard didn’t celebrate his goal out of respect for his old club for whom he played for over a decade, but it was extremely difficult to foresee Frank Lampard scoring a goal against Chelsea.