We’re at the halfway point of the 2015-16 campaign and already much has happened. James Cartwright takes a look at some of English football’s most disappointing sides this term.
Premier League champions Chelsea are an obvious candidate as the most disappointing side in English football this season. Many expected the Blues to march to another title under Jose Mourinho, but a number of factors has caused them to go into crisis mode.
The season began on a sour note when a spat between Mourinho and team doctor Eva Carneiro saw the Gilbratan-born doctor dismissed from the club. After that, results went against Chelsea and the players lacked any desire to retain their title. Some of last season’s best players in Eden Hazard, Cesc Fabregas and Diego Costa have all been woefully below par, with the only shining light being Brazilian midfielder Willian.
Everything came to head recently when Chelsea lost 2-1 at league-leaders Leicester City. It was representative of how far Chelsea had fallen since last season, and the only resort for owner Roman Abramovich was to sack Mourinho. The appointment of Guus Hiddink until the end of the season may soften the blow, however there’s probably too much work to be done to ensure this isn’t an overall disappointing campaign.
After just missing out on the play-offs last season, this was meant to be the year that Wolves would be one of the leading teams in the Championship. However, half-way through the season, they are languishing in mid-table and are only slipping down further as each game goes by.
The biggest reason for their failure to challenge this season has been the loss of Bakary Sako to Crystal Palace and Nouha Dicko to injury. They, along with Benik Afobe, were perhaps the best trio in the Championship last season with their eye-catching attacking play. Afobe now plays up front with very little support, and it has caused Wolves to become one of the most unimaginative sides in the league.
The summer also saw Wolves let Richard Stearman leave to Fulham; the 28-year-old won the Fans’ Player of the Year award, but that didn’t seem enough to convince them to keep him. Wolves’ 32 goals conceded this season have only increased the point that this move was drastic error.
If results continue to go against Wolves, they could find themselves in a relegation battle, and manager Kenny Jackett could be looking for a job elsewhere.
Under Lee Johnson, Barnsley looked like possible play-off contenders heading into the season, however a run of awful form has seen them dragged into a relegation battle.
The Tykes made some exciting signings in the summer with Brentford’s Alfie Mawson, Scottish Cup Final goalscorer Marley Watkins and striker Simeon Jackson all joining on a free transfer.
They did start the season in reasonable fashion, recording impressive victories over Burton Albion, Millwall, Swindon and Gillingham. But everything went wrong when they went on a horrendous losing-streak of eight games between the beginning of October and the middle of November.
There has been some suggestions that they may get themselves out of trouble in the end with important wins at Oldham Athletic and Colchester United. They will just need to improve their home form if they are to avoid a return to fourth-tier football.
After the disappointment of relegation the previous season, everything seemed rosy for the O’s early on when they made a blistering start to the season with six wins from six in August.
Since then, they have dipped in form and have won just two of a possible 16 games. They are now in 10th and face a real battle to even make the play-offs. Judging by the strength of their direct rivals Bristol Rovers, Mansfield and Wycombe, it’s hard to see them squeezing themselves in.
The answer for them could be to dismiss manager Ian Hendon, who has failed to invigorate the players once everything went wrong.