How would the Home Nations fare in the Premier League? Football Manager tells you...
OK, before you get on at us there's two things to note first of all. First, Burnley are dismissed as the lowest-ranked team (sorry, Clarets). Secondly, each home nation's players haven't been replicated, but removed from their club teams altogether. So that's no Joe Hart in goal for Manchester City, nor Wayne Rooney available to Louis van Gaal at Manchester United. And what of Arsene's English contingent at the Emirates? Is it cause to run around in panic?
Well, actually yes...
As you can see, England have been having us on all along and would actually wipe the Premier League floor with everyone else. There's some sense amid the (admitted) madness – after all, England's players are not at all bad as individuals, and with a full season together may well be capable of achieving good things. You can forget niggly drop-outs and tired teddies for starters, not to mention the draw of playing competitive football against high-quality opposition on a weekly basis. Get the Three Lions playing together every day, with exciting talents like Raheem Sterling, Daniel Sturridge and Theo Walcott on display, and is it really that silly?
Even so, finishing eight points ahead of Man City and 11 clear of Chelsea is probably more than the biggest Three Lions fan would expect. And what's this? Arsenal finishing... ninth?! Well, well, well. Without their non-foreign legion the Gunners struggle, losing Walcott, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Jack Wilshere, Kieran Gibbs and Calum Chambers to the national team. Yet, of course, they still manage to finish ahead of Tottenham on goal difference.
- Sturridge top scores with 17 goals, followed by Danny Welbeck on 10. Wayne Rooney nets just 7 over the course of the season.
- Leighton Baines has the highest average rating with 7.46 over the 38 matches.
- Baines also tops the assist charts with 14, ahead of Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain on 11.
- England’s Premier League campaign includes a 4-1 win at Wembley against Liverpool, two victories over Chelsea and wins against Arsenal, Manchester City, Manchester United and Tottenham.
- West Ham go down, having sacked Sam Allardyce when in 13th, overlooked Tony Pulis and hired Tim Sherwood. Just saying.
Scotland! Oh, er, Scotland. Not a good season for Gordon Strachan's men, who suffer relegation despite beating Chelsea, Liverpool and Manchester United (the latter 4-0 at Hampden Park). Two bad patches of form around Christmas and early February doom the Tartan Army to the Championship, finishing above only a Sunderland side toothless without Steven Fletcher up front. Relying on Jozy Altidore and Danny Graham for goals (don't laugh), the Black Cats net just 26 in 38 games and drop without a whimper.
- Fletcher heads the scoring charts with 11; Steven Naismith behind on 7.
- Craig Gordon and Darren Fletcher are level with the highest average rating of 6.90.
- Fletcher also tops the assist charts with 7; Robert Snodgrass next with 5.
Much better news for Wales, who somehow survive despite their lowly stature in the FIFA rankings (eh, Belgium?). Their big problem in real life is never having their best players fit at the same time, but in reality a squad including the likes of Gareth Bale, Aaron Ramsey and Joe Allen is not to be sniffed at. Though their results against the big teams are less spectacular than England and Scotland’s, Wales pick up draws against Chelsea, Man City and Arsenal, and also beat Liverpool. And, after a slow start to the season, they're one of the league’s form sides by the end of it. How about that?
- Bale top scores with 12 goals, ahead of Sam Vokes on 9.
- Ramsey is the best performer with a 7.58 average rating, ahead of Bale on 7.50.
- Ramsey also tops the assist charts with 5, beating Allen who's second on 4.
- Sunderland and Stoke are relegated again, the latter only on goal difference behind Aston Villa.
It's an expected fall for Northern Ireland, though, who bow out quietly with just 28 points, net a league-low 32 goals and concede a league-high 72. Still, they're not worse than Sunderland, who even have Fletcher up front this time. It doesn't help the Green Army's cause that Kyle Lafferty is their most prolific striker with eight goals, and no one of any real quality to provide competition for him. They draw more games than anyone in the bottom six (10), but at least have a couple of Windsor Park games to remember by beating Liverpool 3-2 and Manchester United 1-0. Nonetheless, United win the league without Jonny Evans.
- Chris Brunt is their top scorer with 9 goals in 31 games, followed by Lafferty with 8 in 28.
- Chris Baird makes the most assists with 5, followed by Corry Evans and Oliver Norwood – both on 3.
- Steven Davis has the best average rating with 7.49 from 36 appearances.
Republic of Ireland
Football Manager 2015 is out now, and we're losing sleep trying to combine it with our day jobs.
Quick but necessary disclaimer: We're perfectly aware that the Republic is not one of the home nations. The only international interlopers bar England to get more than 40 points, Martin O'Neill's men get off to a good start with victories over Everton, Hull, Swansea and Stoke, as well as a draw against Man City. Roy Keane will be pleased that James McCarthy doesn't have divided loyalties – with Everton out of the picture, the midfielder is his country's best player – while Robbie Keane leads from the front with the able assistance of Shane Long.
- Robbie Keane is their top scorer with 13 goals, followed by Shane Long on 10.
- James McCarthy makes the most assists (5), with Aiden McGeady behind him on 3.
- McCarthy also tops the highest average rating chart with a 7.43 average rating.