Tuesday, 15 May 2012

Premier League season review

1st - Manchester City, 89 pts
In retrospect it's easy to say that City should've won the league with their squad, although one should remember that not too many predicted them to do so back in August. A blistering start got them on the way, and they got home in style by winning their last 7 games to pip their inner-city rivals.
Season rating - A+

2nd - Manchester United, 89 pts
When reflecting on their season many Manchester United fans will have mixed feelings. This isn't a vintage United team, but they still managed to pick up a record number of points for 2nd and were 1 minute away from claiming a 20th title. They fought admirably, although they never managed to cover the injury to Vidic.
Season rating - B+

3rd - Arsenal, 70 pts
A strange season for Arsenal, who struggled for form at times, but also had periods of sustained excellence. Their challengers for 3rd gave them the opportunity to get the spot near the end of the season, but they still had to win it & did so in style. However a 7th trophyless season for the England's 3rd best supported team will leave mixed feelings.
Season rating - B

4th - Tottenham Hotspur, 69 pts
If offered 4th spot at the start of the season, almost every Spurs fan would've been delighted, however there's a sense of 'what if...' about their season. Frustration must also sit around their late season capitulation, allowing bitter rivals Arsenal to finish above them once again.
Season rating - B

5th - Newcastle United, 65 pts
Considering expectations at the start of the season, Newcastle were arguably the biggest overachievers this season. A series of astute signings didn't stop the team from gelling, and they got over a bad patch to finish relatively strongly. Doubts must remain over whether a repeat season is possible, but for now there's joy on Tyneside.
Season rating - A+

6th - Chelsea, 64 pts
A horror season for Chelsea in the league, who were strongly expected to challenge for the title, but finished a whopping 25 points behind the Manchester clubs. A late season revival under Di Matteo still wasn't enough to claim a Champions League spot, and in a league where other the teams in contention for the top 4 failed to find any consistency they'll be mightily disappointed to finish 6th.
Season rating - D

7th - Everton, 56 pts
A familiar season for Everton, who started slowly, but gradually built up a head of steam to claim another top-7 finish. Finishing above Liverpool will provide some satisfaction to their fans, however the feeling of stagnation rather than progress lingers about.
Season rating - B-

8th - Liverpool, 52 pts
Liverpool's American owners clearly wanted a position in Europe's elite competition next year, so finishing 17 points off 4th will be causing major concern. The struggle for any sort of consistency, coupled with an abysmal 2nd half to their season, caused their lowest finish in Premier League history. Clouds must be hanging over Dalgleish, and several members of his squad.
Season rating - D

9th - Fulham, 52 pts
Fulham were the quiet underachievers of the Premier League, staying away from the relegation scrap at the start of the season, before a strong second half took them to their highest finish in the Premier League. Their place in English football's elite looks safe for the foreseeable future, but whether they can move upwards with limited resources looks doubtful.
Season rating - A

10th - West Bromwich Albion, 47 pts
The Baggies will be very happy with a top half finish to their season. On a few occasions they genuinely sparkled with incisive attacking football, whilst they regularly did enough to claim points when their guns weren't firing. How they perform without Hodgson remains to be seen, but it looks as though they can forget worrying about the Championship & look forwards.
Season rating - B

11th - Swansea, 47 pts
The fact that Swansea recorded the 2nd highest possession statistic in the league is truly remarkable. Crucially, this allowed the Swans to keep the ball away from their own area, and look to routinely upset more illustrious opponents. Full credit must go to Brendan Rodgers & his players, who proved that lesser names can thrive when given the opportunity at the highest level.
Season rating - A+

12th - Norwich City, 47 pts
Paul Lambert seems to have a remarkable ability to judge each of his players abilities, and organise his team accordingly. Norwich play to their strengths, and won most of the matches they needed to, particularly at home. The second season blues might be a concern, but as long as Lambert stays I'll be backing Norwich to thrive.
Season rating - A

13th - Sunderland, 45 pts
Sunderland's season can be neatly split into two halves, with a remarkable improvement shown after Martin O'Neill took over the reigns in the north East. Although they slipped down the table after safety was assured, Sunderland will be content with their finishing position. Next year they'll be hoping to press onwards and claim a top 10 position.
Season rating - C+

14th - Stoke City, 45 pts
Stoke's first season in Europe may have slightly affected their league form this year, when they appeared to take a step backwards after several seasons of progress. Their unique blend of long balls & aggression continues to gather them enough points to remain competitive, but an improvement on 14th will be expected next year.
Season rating - C

15th - Wigan Athletic, 43 pts
A remarkable late season surge meant Wigan were safe from relegation going into their last game of the season, as they became only the second in Premier League history to survive after being bottom at Christmas. Late season forms often plays too much of a part in judging how a team performed, however it should also be remembered that Wigan were widely expected to struggle at the start of the season, and Martinez yet again proved himself as a competent top-level manager.
Season rating - B-

16th - Aston Villa, 38 pts
Appointing a manager with a proven track record of failure was a bizarre move to say the least, and unsurprisingly it backfired on Villa as the midlands club played some of the most turgid football of the season. Put simply, if they want to improve next season the first step they need to take is removing McLeish at the earliest available opportunity.
Season rating - D

17th - Queens Park Rangers, 37 pts
Replacing Warnock with Hughes seemed a big gamble in the middle of the season, but it finally paid off as good home form at the end of the season ensured they just stayed up. Their survival can probably be traced back to the crazy evening in London where they came back from 2-0 down to beat Liverpool 3-2 in the final stages of the march. Rangers rarely sparkled, but they achieved their primary objective of staying up.
Season rating - C

18th - Bolton Wanderers, 36th
Why Owen Coyle is still rated in some corners baffles me, as he managed to take Bolton from a position of relatively safety to the Championship within a couple of years, whilst playing some of the least attractive football in the division. Although their fans will feel aggrieved with Stoke's first goal on the final day, it's very difficult to argue that they didn't deserve to go down.
Season rating - D-

19th - Blackburn Rovers, 31 pts
There was a brief period in March when it looked as though Blackburn might escape the drop, but a terrible run of form ultimately condemned the Lancashire club to the second tier after a very disappointing campaign. It's hard to quantify how much blame should be put at Steve Kean's door, but the continual protests against him can't have helped the club. A fresh start for both parties is probably needed, otherwise Rovers could be dragged further down by the poisonous atmosphere at Ewood Park.
Season Rating - E

20th - Wolverhampton Wanderers, 25 pts
Were it not for their early season form, which saw them pick up 10 points in their first 4 games, Wolves might've challenged Sunderland's record for least points achieved in a Premiership season. As it was, it's difficult to find any bright spots in Wolves annus horribilis. The farce surrounding Macarthy's sacking and the appointment of Connor definitely stands out a low point.
Season rating - E-