Manchester City are managed by one of the finest coaches of his or any generation but sit laughably far off the pace.
Aston Villa are 10th. Sir Alex Ferguson is the only person who uses the manager’s parking space at Carrington.
The year, dear reader, is not 2020 but 2005, and Stuart Pearce has indeed thrown on David James in the closing stages of the final game of the season against Middlesbrough with European qualification on the line in a substitution only remembered as ludicrous because Robbie Fowler missed a stoppage-time penalty. Yet of all the parallels between now and 15 years ago, perhaps the most striking is the renaissance of David Moyes.
Taking Everton to 4th that campaign with a negative goal difference, one fewer defeat than 15th-placed Blackburn and the sale of two of his most important players in the summer and winter was arguably his crowning managerial achievement.
It checked all the boxes: a finish of 17th the previous campaign; a top scorer on 11 goals; defeats by an aggregate of 10-1 at Anfield, Highbury, Old Trafford and Stamford Bridge but home wins against Liverpool and Manchester United; a seasonal net spend of -£24m; an organised and focused team sourced from the Football League with a sprinkling of technical continental excellence, honest pros all fed on a strict diet of the basics and other such tired cliches.
Moyes built a genuinely wonderful team at Goodison Park, one he felt was a single player away from title contention. But that fantasy almost destroyed him. Everton finished between 5th and 8th in his final seven seasons, the Scot tapping away patiently at the glass ceiling above him before finally being invited in by Manchester United, who proceeded to sack a man who had finished 7th four times in the Premier League for being 7th.
A reputation was tarnished when it ought to have been reinforced. For better or worse, Moyes took teams to a certain level. It was on them to decide whether that was where they wanted to be or if they should gamble for something more.
There are, as ever, exceptions to the rule. Sunderland almost ruined Moyes and sent him to the Pardew purgatory. But their downward spiral since suggests he was merely the captain of a ship that had been threatening to capsize for years.
A late appointment, the loss of some key first-team players and haphazard recruitment combined to create an atmosphere that claimed the manager as a victim.