Having studied the top half of the table, here’s part two of our new year’s resolution’s list for Premier League clubs in 2017.
Don’t be afraid to spend
Having had such a terrific first half of the season, the temptation might be for Burnley to be conservative in the January window. They have enough points in the bag that relegation shouldn’t be a threat this season. As Sean Dyche is no doubt pointing out to his bosses though, investing when you’re strong is a key of success. Players will be more likely to want to join the Clarets now they are on the up. A couple of key additions would stand them in good stead not only for the rest of this season, but next as well.
West Ham United
Don’t neglect the squad
It’s understandable that the ‘stadium migration’ kept the West Ham board busy for most of 2016 but now that has been completed, attention must switch to revitalising the playing squad. A woeful summer’s recruitment has left Slaven Billic stuck with a squad full of deadwood like Håvard Nordtveit, Alvaro Arbeloa and Sofiane Feghouli. Proper planning prevents poor performance and all that.
Continuity is king
Watford’s policy of changing managers every season and players every few months has worked thus far but one can’t help but wonder if the Pozzo family are pushing their luck. Walter Mazzari is the Hornets third permanent manager in as many seasons whilst there were 22 transfers in and out of the club last summer alone. Some continuity in 2017 might help arrest the dip in form currently being experienced.
Replace the old guard
Similarly to Everton, Stoke find themselves relying on players whose best days are behind them. Ryan Shawcross and Glenn Whelan are the sole survivors from the Potters first Premier League campaign but both have long since peaked whilst the likes of Shay Given, Glen Johnson, Peter Crouch and Jonathan Walters are all the wrong side of thirty (or forty in Given’s case.) Stoke look like a team in need of an injection of energy. Some younger legs would offer that.
Enjoy the Sevilla tie
Leicester will be underdogs in their last sixteen Champions League clash with Sevilla when the competition resumes in February. Whatever happens, they should enjoy what remains of their Champions League campaign. It might be a lifetime before another one comes around.
Score some goals!
At time of writing, only Hull City have scored fewer Premier League goals than Middlesbrough this season. Perhaps that’s to be expected of a newly promoted club but all too often Aitor Karanka has set his team out not to lose, rather than to try and win. Defensive solidity Is all well and good but goals win games. Maybe let Jordan Rhodes have a go at getting you some, Aitor?
Keep the supporters onside
In this sanitised age of £50 a ticket matches and deathly silent all seater stadia, Selhurst Park sticks out like a sore thumb. Whilst their stadium might be crumbling, Palace’s fanatical and boisterous support offer a rare example of fans providing a twelfth man for their team. They had very little to shout about in 2016, witnessing just four home league wins, so a few Selhurst successes seems the least Palace could provide for their loyal support in the new year.
A club beset by malaise needs a radical overhaul from the very top. That means new ownership. Ellis Short’s tenure has not been a success and it seems he’s had enough. New owners won’t guarantee change but without them, the only certainty is that the Black Cats will be a Championship club before too long.
Like Sunderland, Hull are stuck in a state of limbo whilst the Allam family try and off load the club. Disputes between owners and supporters have led to a half empty K-Comm Stadium this season. Mike Phelan is effectively working with his hands tied behind his back. He needs some help from an enthusiastic new investor, preferably one with deep pockets.
Out with the new, in with the old
Remember when Swansea were widely considered one of the most sensibly run clubs in the whole of the Football League? It really wasn’t that long ago. The decision to dispense with Garry Monk now looks foolish in the extreme but it’s the abandonment of the principles that made the Swans such a unique club which is most concerning. From a club that had its supporters best intentions at heart to a mob of outside investors looking to make a quick buck in less than two years. A sorry fall from grace and one which surely result in there being no Welsh representation in the Premier League in the second half of 2017.