Saturday’s Champions League final concluded the 2016-17 football season and it had it all. From red cards to diving and world-class goals to controversial decisions – the final was a great end to another whirlwind campaign.
In the Premier League, there were plenty of ups and downs. Some clubs achieved their aims, while others disappointed and under-achieved. But while there were many of the usual features throughout a Premier League campaign, there were a number of surprises.
Here are 10 of the biggest shocks that happened during the 2016-17 season – many which won’t have been predicted!
Arsenal finishing outside of the top four
It was the first time in 21 years that Arsene Wenger’s side finished outside of the top four – confirming they will be without Champions League football next season. With the talent they have available and the budget within use, fans predicted a much better season from Arsenal.
Dimitri Payet’s departure
It all seemed to come out of nowhere. West Ham’s dramatic fall from grace after such a strong 2015-16 campaign left them fighting in the relegation zone in October and Payet was simply not happy. He informed the club he wanted to leave and he subsequently completed a transfer to Marseille for £25 million in January after refusing to take part in squad training.
Sam Allardyce’s England sacking
His appointment as England manager was shocking enough but when Allardyce was caught on camera discussing illegalities following his first match in charge of England, he became the shortest serving manager in the nation’s history. His CV boasted some excellent relegation battles but few would have seen him rise to become England manager and to then fall straight back down to the depths of the Premier League – where he subsequently took over as Crystal Palace boss for the remainder of the season.
Paul Pogba’s £89 million move
Manchester United have always grabbed the headlines in the transfer window when making marque signings but Paul Pogba’s whopping £89 million move from Juventus still came as a shock. He broke records to jump ship from Italy and re-join the club which let him loose following his graduation from their academy. It was a shame he couldn’t live up to expectations though, as Pogba failed to bring much impact on the United team.
Arsene Wenger’s contract extension
After a season of turmoil and disappointment, many fans were in uproar when Arsenal announced Wenger would be continuing in his position as manager for another two years. Although it was not a huge shock at the end of the season, not many would have predicted Wenger would continue in his post at Christmas.
Jermaine Defoe’s England selection
The Sunderland striker has been in great form this season despite his side suffering relegation from the Premier League. Defoe finished the season with an impressive tally of 15 league goals and he was deservedly rewarded for his efforts with a re-call to the England squad for their World Cup qualifier in March. It was the first time in four Defoe had played for England and he marked his return with a goal during the 2-0 victory over Lithuania. Fairy tale stuff!
Oscar joining Shanghai SIPG
The January transfer window brought up plenty of fresh rumours and shocking links but one that did eventually go through was Oscar’s ridiculous £52 million move to the Chinese Super League. Why such a talented Brazilian would chose to jump ship and move to China was utterly unanswerable but his 400k-a-week wages may have helped his decision…
N’Golo Kante picking up PFA Player of the Year
The Frenchman was absolutely superb for Leicester during their title-winning season in 2015-16 and Chelsea did some superb work to secure his services for this year. However, his influence on that Leicester side was not quite realised until he had left and he was the driving force behind Chelsea’s successful Premier League campaign. Back-to-back winner’s medals for a player who was relatively unspoken about prior to 2015 is some achievement and he capped it off by picking up the PFA Player of the Year award in humble style.
Claudio Ranieri’s sacking
Ranieri’s sacking was arguably the most shocking decision in 2016-17. Despite guiding bottom-half club Leicester to Premier League glory last season and taking them most of the way towards their Champions League quarter-final this season, the Italian was given the chop ungracefully. Reports of a player revolt made the decision even more shocking and the whole footballing world stood behind Ranieri to show their support against an awful sacking.
Manchester United missing out on the top four
After spending millions in the summer and welcoming new boss Jose Mourinho, Manchester United were tipped as one of the favourites to win the Premier League. Instead, they barely competed with the top four and were content with a sixth place finish in the league table. Fans will be happy enough though, as the club’s victories in the League Cup and Europa League final delivered silverware and Champions League football for next season.