This year has been absolutely spoiled for interesting or insane stories in the soccer world. It was genuinely difficult to pick just ten. So here we are, with 2015 drawing rapidly to a close. Which of the amazing stories this year had us speculating and arguing from January to December? Well…
10) MLS and the Possible Player Strike
While it felt like it was so long ago, we came very close to a player strike that would have completely derailed the 2015 MLS season and more than likely would have had drastic effects on the state of American soccer. Players wanted free agency and owners weren’t willing to agree to that. In the end, players got free agency (well a form of free agency) and at least enough money for rookies to be able to get some decent housing in New York City. Even though many say the owners won (and they did), the players got their main issue and the season started on time.
9) Jurgen Klinsmann and the US Men’s Team
This year was a bit of a disaster for the US Men’s Team. Not only did they fail to make the Gold Cup Final, which is considered the bare minimum usually, they lost to Mexico in the CONCACAF Cup. It wasn’t as though the team was playing excellently and just failing to get results either. They have looked poor or worse at times, and much of this has been put on Klinsmann. His constant reworking of the team, and selection has many people debating whether it is time to look for a new head coach for the team. It should be interesting in 2016 with the Copa America and the Olympics testing every level of the national set up.
8) US Women’s National Team
While it is of no surprise that the Women’s World Cup got coverage, the amount of coverage and viewership that it got, especially in the United States, was both astounding and promising. When the United States Women’s National team absolutely trounced Japan in the Women’s World Cup Final (5-2), the media went crazy. Unfortunately, so did the fans, with some racism and other ugliness rearing its head on social media. Then came the announcement that Abby Wambach was retiring, and the victory tour along with it. Without a doubt, the US women’s team has been one of the biggest stories of 2015.
7) Out-of-Work World Class Managers
One of the biggest stories in 2015 has been the availability of Carlo Ancelotti, Jurgen Klopp, and, recently, Jose Mourinho. While different circumstances had seen all three of these managers out of a job, their availability has been seen as a sword of Damocles for any struggling manager. The stories linking one of these managers to any club punching below its weight were ever-present in 2015. It is of no surprise that Ancelotti and Klopp are now off the market, to Bayern Munich (at the end of the season) and Liverpool respectively, and Mourinho is expected to not be unemployed for long.
6) Liverpool’s Managerial Rollercoaster
Brendan Rodgers went from winning Manager of the Season to getting sack in a matter of a year (winning the award in 2014 and getting sacked in 2015). His Liverpool side went from challenging for the Premier League title to barely being able to score an average of a goal per game. The issues that Liverpool faced were of constant analysis, and stories of losing the dressing room filled the newspapers. When Rodgers did eventually get the sack, there was the question of who would replace him. Both Jurgen Klopp and Carlo Ancelotti were available and reportedly willing. Then Klopp, one of the most (if not the most) charismatic managers in the world, was announced as the new Liverpool manager. Almost instantly, the press fell in love with the big German, and almost every word out of his mouth has made it into the news since.
5) Where Will Pep Go Next?
Another story that dominated the headlines of 2015 was the job status of Pep Guardiola. The most coveted manager in world soccer had been dropping hints that his time in Munich may be up the entire season, until it was officially confirmed recently. Now, the question that will continue to surface is where will he go next? While it is almost certainly Manchester City, that will not stop the media from keeping the speculation alive until it is confirmed.
4) Van Gaal: Will He Stay and Should He Go?
World class one season, rubbish the next. While many have been unconvinced by Louis van Gaal for a little while now, even his staunchest support in Manchester are starting to wonder about the Dutchman’s ability to turn around the Red Devils’ pitiful form. With the recently let go Jose Mourinho on the market, many have begun clamoring for van Gaal’s sacking. Recent reports, however, show that the Manchester United board may be willing to let him see out 2015 and beyond.
3) Mourinho and Chelsea’s Demise
Where did it all go wrong for the Special One? We’ve all been asking ourselves that question since Chelsea convincingly won the Premier League in the 2014/2015 season. Something seems rotten at Stamford Bridge, and the sacking of Jose Mourinho doesn’t seem to have fully fixed the issues. While some of the legal woes and backroom issues have gone quiet, the defending champions continue to play without heart or passion. Without a doubt, the shocking downfall of this club has been a headline maker all year.
2) Leicester Ascendant
Leicester seemed like relegation certainties in 2014. Languishing at the bottom of the table, something changed in the East Midlands club in 2015. Whatever it was saw them rocket up out of the drop zone. Many thought the run was over when the club decided to sack Nigel Pearson, but the rise accelerated under new manager Claudio Ranieri. They now sit at the top of the Premier League. From the bottom of the table to the top in one year.
1) FIFA’s Legal Woes
Could it have possibly been anything else? This story dominated the headlines throughout the year, with a final twist in the saga seeing Dark Lord Sepp Blatter dethroned. While this can only be good news for FIFA, many are apprehensive to see where they go next. Definitely a story to keep your eye on in 2016. Since it’s the holidays, enjoy this video of comedian John Oliver keeping his promise to the world for if FIFA got rid of Blatter.