At Xmas we did our half term report on the 20 Premiership sides. I wanted to wait till the European Finals were finished to grade each club’s domestic campaigns for 2020-2021.
Feel free to use whatever criteria you wish.
I will be judging the whole 9 months, not since Xmas just because it makes an Ugly painting prettier. I also don’t believe in pointless stats like, if set piece goals didn’t count or if all games ended after 75 mins, etc ….
Sheffield United – F
If It was simply a case of second season syndrome I would be more forgiving in my grade, especially considering they were in League One a few years ago.
Since Chris Wilder left though, their President has given the indication that things were going on behind the scenes that instead of challenging adversity simply added to it.
At one point they were rivalling Derby for lowest points tally ever.
West Brom – E
As usual West Brom’s strategy was that if relegation were to happen, they would be fine financially. It means that Bilic decided to stick to the ethos that brought him to the dance…. attack.
His employers did what most owners do when they get promoted, panic. So they brought in Big Sam who had never been relegated before. Renowned for his ability to quickly organise a defence, you could tell in his first few press conferences, Big Sam had taken a look at his squad on the training pitch and decided that he couldn’t improve them.
They played better attacking football but only when they were cut adrift, so had no choice but to be on the offensive.
Fulham – E
There was a quick turnaround between the play off final and new season. Given the lack of investment, Parker’s reputation was enhanced for even getting his squad competitive.
Then though, as soon as they got into a position to move out of the bottom three, they choked every time.
Burnley – B
Is there a club in the top flight who owe their success to one manager more than Sean Dyche?
The Clarets didn’t get their first win till November yet never panicked when other clubs would have.
I think Palace would be a perfect step up for him because Steve Parrish would equally give him time and space to stamp his ethos around the club. The moment Dyche leaves Turf Moor, they will go down.
Story of a season of two halves. Southampton were challenging for Europe at Xmas with Ralph Hasenhuttl praised for his brave high pressing style. That tactic meant his players were tired as they couldn’t maintain their tempo. Their end of season form will be used against him if he doesn’t start the next campaign well.
Brighton – D
Grade is not reflected on position in the table but how Brighton are approaching the top flight.
The Seagulls at least try to play an entertaining brand of football, which is why they brought in Graham Potter. He’s equally at a club who gives him the time to improve as a coach.
The amount of times I wrote that if only Brighton could take their chances (or keep Welbeck fit). Surely a natural finisher in the next part of the puzzle?
So if you’re a Brighton fan you see Prem football and are entertained most weeks. You can’t ask for much more?
Palace – D
No club is in a period of transition more this summer than the Eagles. They are looking for a new manager while approx. a dozen players are out of contract.
Roy Hodgson had a unique system where everyone knew their roles. He relied on an experienced back 4 and midfield to defend, then had pace on the counter attack.
A new boss means a fresh identity.
Wolves – D
They simply didn’t kick on from previous years.
Many feel that so many games in the last campaign caught up to a small squad with zero pre-season, hence a couple of long-term injuries.
I just felt it had gone stale at Wolves, making it a smart time for Nuno Santo to leave. They were no longer great to watch and players not adjusting well to switching from a back 3, the project just needs freshening up.
The Toon Army won’t like me writing this, but their grievance is with Mike Ashley not Steve Bruce. The Manager gets paid to meet the criteria set by his employer and that’s what Bruce has done.
His job specification was to be better than three other clubs. He’s finished 12th, 17 points clear of 17th. Blame the man who sets the criteria, not the man who follows it.
Aston Villa- C
A great summer saw them buy Martinez who’s gone on to be one of the keepers of the year.
A great start to the season saw them reach December challenging for Europe, with Jack Grealish one of the most entertaining talents in the division.
Villa went off the boil in the middle with it not being a coincidence that that was when Grealish got injured. When he returned, they beat Spurs and Chelsea?
Everton – D
For most of the season they would have been a higher score, but in the end 10th place is not enough for a team who at one stage had aspirations to challenge the top 4.
It’s strange to think that a team who won at the Emirates, Anfield, The Lane, drew at Old Trafford, beat Chelsea, etc, but also lost at Goodison to Leeds, Newcastle, Sheffield United, Fulham, Burnley, etc.
So the problem is not the quality but the mentality of your players.
Leeds – C
As expected Bielsa didn’t change his ethos for the top flight meaning Leeds were part of high scoring /entertaining games. Some fans credited him for sticking by his principles, others felt he had a duty to adapt and improve Leeds defensively.
Lots of his players were unproven at this level and surpassed expectations, such as Luke Ayling and Bamford.
Arsenal – F
For the second year running our worst League position in decades. Even our own manager admits Arsenal not being in Europe for the first time in 25 years is ‘unthinkable’.
The lowest point was our players not being motivated for a European Semi Final where they had a chance to save their season. In truth too many games where our players simply didn’t show up.
As usual the Gunners started to play well when the pressure was off.
Spurs – E
Jose’s first full season went the way many had predicted. Started the season well with Kane dropping deeper and providing lots of assists for Son.
The Spuds were rightly praised for being top of the Prem in December. As usual though once a moment of adversity hit, Jose made it worse, hence being sacked the week before a Cup Final, indicating he must have done something wrong behind the scenes.
Just about qualified for Europe but how does Daniel Levy convince Kane he can meet his ambitions in North London when they have reached a point of having to win on the final day just to qualify for the UEFA Conference?
West Ham – B
I still find it a coincidence that in a season without their unforgiving fans West Ham finish in the top 6. If fans had been in attendance, they would have grumbled about not playing the ‘West Ham way’.
It gave David Moyes the freedom to build a squad and organise them in his image, like he did at Everton. Declan Rice, Soucek and Creswell all had fantastic seasons.
In truth the Londoners bottled it in the run-in, till the last 15 mins at West Brom.
They had some ‘what if’ moments in terms of qualifying for the Champions League but Europa is still an achievement.
If Moyes is smart, he would leave now.
Leicester – B
For the second year running Leicester bottled Champions League qualification having been in the top 4 for most of the season. Rogers inability to adjust that slide is the reason I don’t want him at Arsenal.
The FA Cup Final was one of the few occasions in the run in that they didn’t choke. That day at Wembley will live forever. It makes those players immortal, a moment they can tell their grandchildren about.
Saying that it shouldn’t have been one or the other, the Foxes could have had, or should have had, both.
You close out a 1-0 win at home to a 10-man Southampton, then you’re in the top 4.
Chelsea – A
I still maintain Lampard was unlucky as he hadn’t lost the dressing room and it’s not like the top 4 was impossible.
Would Chelsea have become Champions of Europe with Frank though? Most likely not.
That will yet again justify Roman Abramovich’s nature in being happy to sack managers.
Compare that to what our owner does when things are bad – slash the wage bill.
If the Blues can sign a world class striker, they are not far away from being title contenders.
It’s crazy that they have won the Champions League without a player in double figures in terms of goal scoring.
Think Liverpool Fans are getting a bit carried away celebrating finishing in the top 4 (didn’t we have a manager who got hammered for that?)
Put it this way If City finished third would you see Pep smiling calling it a great ‘ achievement’.
While I understand injuries to their centre backs meant a title defence was unlikely, it shouldn’t be an excuse for losing at home to Burnley, Fulham, Brighton, etc.
Man United – C
2nd shows improvements but doubts remain if Ole is man to take United to that next level. Serious damage was done to his reputation in terms of how he lost the Europa League.
He gets paid a lot of money to react to situations, yet in extra time when it was clear his players were tiring, he makes zero subs ‘til the 105th minute, then the rest purely for pens.
I also felt over Xmas when the team was playing well that the chance was there to take that next step.
0-0 draws home and away to Chelsea, at Arsenal and at Anfield could have been turned into 3 points with a little ambition.
Man City – A
Of all his titles he’s won I don’t think any were won more based on Pep’s managerial abilities more than this one.
The Spaniard realised his side without a David Silva could not play the style they used to so built this Championship on his defence.
Many thought he didn’t have the ability to adapt a side defensively, especially since how he had coped since Kompany left. A 21 winning game sequence between December and Feb won the Prem for City.
A marker against their season will obviously be their first ever Champions League Final where not for the first time in Europe, Pep was accused of over-complicating his tactics.
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