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Football News: Premier League Season Review

Premier League Season Review
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Premier League Season Review

 

*Transfer prices I will take from transfermarkt.co.uk for ease of reference, though that means they will not be 100% accurate.

 

20. Huddersfield Town

Ins:
Terence Kongolo from Monaco £18m
Adama Diakhaby from Monaco £9m
Ramadan Sobhi from Stoke City £5.85m
Florent Hadergjonaj from FC Ingolstadt £4.5m
Juninho Bacuna from FC Groningen £2.25m
Isaac Mbenza from Montpellier (loan) fee £2.25m
Jonas Lossl from 1.FSV Mainz 05 £2.25m
Karlan Grant from Charlton Athletic £1.53m
Erik Durm from Borussia Dortmund free transfer
Ben Hamer from Leicester City free transfer
Jason Puncheon from Crystal Palace loan

Outs:
Tom Ince to Stoke City £10.08m
Ramadan Sobhi to Al Ahly (loan) fee £720,000
Michael Hefele to Nottingham Forest £297,000
Robert Green to Chelsea free transfer
Jordy Hiwula to Coventry City free transfer
Tareiq Holmes-Dennis to Bristol Rovers free transfer
Ryan Schofield to Notts County loan
Sean Scannell to Bradford City free transfer
Scott Malone to Derby County ?
Collin Quaner to Ipswich Town loan
Jack Payne to Bradford City loan
Rajiv van La Parra to Middlesbrough loan
Joel Coleman to Shrewsbury Town loan
Dean Whitehead retired

A goal difference of -54 and just 16 points scored tells a lot of the story. However there is more to it than a team which was just not good enough. Recruitment was a mess, though they lost no one of value to the team, they struggled to offload players they wanted rid of and their recruitment consisted in large part of just standing still. Three of the players recruited spent last season, or part of it, on loan at the Terriers, in Kongolo, Hadergjonaj and Lossl, so those were not signings taking the club forward.

Added to that, those players simply did not suit the style of play the club were looking to implement, as they tried to move away from the tactics that got them promotion in the first place. The transition from high press to trying to play controlled passing football has not gone well, in large part because of poor recruitment. Kongolo is horrible on the ball, to be kind to him, Hadergjonaj has woeful delivery, Bacuna lacks consistency on the ball and Lossl and Hamer, particularly Hamer are truly dreadful keepers. In fact Hamer is worse than having no keeper at all he is that bad.

The tactical change was not the only thing handled badly. Wagner made a mistake agreeing to stay on in the summer, it was clear there was no more he could do with this club and he should have left on a high point. Siewert was brought in far too late to be able to rescue the situation, if he is even capable of that. The fact that he was even more set on trying to play out from the back, no matter how much the team was unsuited, suggests he might struggle to do much.

Rating: F

 


19. Fulham

Ins:
Jean Michel Seri from OGC Nice £27m
Andre Zambo Anguissa from Olympique Marseille for £22.37m
Aleksandar Mitrovic from Newcastle United for £18.18m
Alfie Mawson from Swansea City for £15.17m
Joe Bryan from Bristol City for £6.03m
Fabri from Besiktas for £5.4m
Maxime Le Marchand from OGC Nice for £3.6m
Ryan Babel from Besiktas for £1.8m
Havard Nordtveit from TSG Hoffenheim (loan) fee £900,000
Andre Schurrle from Borussia Dortmund (loan) fee £360,000
Lazar Markovic from Liverpool free transfer
Luciano Vietto from Atletico Madrid loan
Sergio Rico from Sevilla loan
Timothy Fosu-Mensah from Manchester United loan
Calum Chambers from Arsenal loan

Outs:
David Button to Brighton & Hove Albion £4.05m
Ryan Fredericks to West Ham United free transfer
George Williams to Forest Green Rovers free transfer
Stefan Johansson to West Bromwich Albion loan
Tayo Edun to Ipswich Town loan
Rui Fonte to LOSC Lille loan
Aboubakar Kamara to Yeni Malatyaspor loan
Cauley Woodrow to Barnsley ?
Marcelo Djalo to Extremadura loan

They were lucky to get 26 points due to the utter mess they made of things. The recruitment was appalling, with no decent keeper nor a decent right back brought in despite a huge spend on lots of players. Their recruitment was a mess, with only Mitrovic, Babel and possibly Chambers that can be seen as successes, though Le Marchand was at least not a huge flop. Seri was as bad as he had looked when I saw him for Nice, when I thought I must be missing something as he was being tracked by Barcelona. It turned out he just was another of the players that show how poor Barca's scouting has been in recent years.

They spent all season with centre-backs at right back despite bringing in a huge number of players. The planning at the club must be almost totally non-existent. Certainly there coaching changes suggest it is all just reactionary work, rather than anticipatory. They should have known Fredericks was leaving at least a year ago, but nothing was done to prepare, instead they just threw money at the problem. That is no recipe for long term success, but it does seem to be Shahid Khan's plan.

Rating: F

 


18. Cardiff City

Ins:
Emiliano Sala from FC Nantes £15.3m
Josh Murphy from Norwich City £10.26m
Bobby Reid from Bristol City £10.22m
Alex Smithies from QPR £3.6m
Greg Cunningham from Preston North End £3.6m
Leandro Bacuna from Reading £3.11m
Quivi Fowler from FC Dordrecht free transfer
Harry Arter from Bournemouth loan
Oumar Niasse from Everton loan
Victor Camarasa from Real Betis loan

Outs:
Anthony Pilkington to Wigan Athletic free
Ibrahim Meite to Crawley Town free
Ben Wilson to Bradford City free
Matty Kennedy to St Johnstone free
Lee Camp to Birmingham City free
Jack McKay to Chesterfield loan
Gary Madine to Sheffield United loan
Omar Bogle to Birmingham City then Portsmouth loan
Rhys Healey to MK Dons loan
Stuart O'Keefe to Plymouth Argyle loan
Lee Tomlin to Peterborough United loan
Greg Halford released
Chris Konopka released
Frederic Gounongbe released

Even without the tragic loss of Sala in January their recruitment was badly flawed, like their manager. They wasted their money on dross like Murphy, who were clearly not capable of stepping up to Premier League level, and so ended up with a team that was no better than the one that kicked and scrapped its way to promotion. Unfortunately, with Warnock in charge, their only tactic, of trying to kick the opposition into submission was never going to work at the Premier League's level.

Once again he was found out as an outmoded dinosaur whose only resort is nastiness (and bigotry). The better quality of teams in the Premier League had a few frights against his clodhoppers but eventually good football won out and he was returned back down, sadly though it looks like his retirement is yet to come and the Championship will have to suffer his vileness for another season.

Having said all that, thuggery did enable the Bluebirds to outperform the ability of their players and very nearly avoid relegation. It just did not make for enjoyable watching.

Rating: D

 


17. Brighton & Hove Albion

Ins:
Alireza Jahanbakhsh from AZ Alkmaar £17.1m
Yves Bissouma from LOSC LIlle £15.21m
Bernardo from RB Leipzig £9m
Alexis Mac Allister from Argentino Juniors £7.2m
Martin Montoya from Valencia £6.3m
Florin Andone from Deportivo La Coruna £5.4m
David Button from Fulham £4.05m
Dan Burn from Wigan Athletic £2.97m
Percy Tau from Mamelodi Sundowns £2.88m
Jan Mlakar from NK Maribor £2.7m
Tudor Baluta from FC Vlitorul £2.61m
Peter Gwargis from Jonkoping £1.35m
Billy Arce from Independiente £774,000
Leon Balogun from 1.FSV Mainz 05 free transfer
Jason Steele from Sunderland free transfer
Leo Ostigard from Molde FK ?

Outs:
Sam Baldock to Reading £3.51m
Connor Goldson to Rangers £3.06m
Oliver Norwood to Sheffield United £1.98m
Mathias Normann to Rostov £1.53m
Jamie Murphy to Rangers £1.08m
Jiri Skalak to Millwall £900,000
Tudor Baluta to FC Vlitorul loan
Dan Burn to Wigan Athletic loan
Uwe Hunemeier to SC Paderborn free transfer
Steven Alzate to Swindon Town loan
Alexis Mac Allister to Argentinos Juniors loan
Tyler Hornby-Forbes to Newport County free transfer
Christian Walton to Wigan Athletic loan
Tim Krul to Norwich City free transfer
Niki Maenpaa to Bristol City free transfer
Tomer Hemed to QPR loan
Billy Arce to Extramadura then CS Emelec loan
Markus Suttner to Fortuna Dusseldorf loan
Ezequiel Schelotto to Chievo Verona loan
Percy Tau to Saint Gilloise loan
Richie Towell to Rotherham United loan
Rohan Ince released
Liam Rosenior retired
Jan Mlakar to NK Maribor loan
Steve Sidwell retired

Reached an FA Cup semi final and survived in the Premier League but that is not seen as good enough and manager Chris Hughton was sacked. An odd decision, as it seems to have been motivated by a desire for change, rather than because Hughton was not seen as good enough, but change is why they struggled for survival. The team is transitioning from a Championship one to a Premier League one and are making huge numbers of transfers to do so. Stability is difficult to maintain when you undergoing such a transformation, so to remove the man at the top is a dangerous course.

Personally I thought a good cup run and survival is about all they could ask of their team and was a good season. I know Hughton does have his faults, he can be far too focused on just trying to avoid defeat whenever things start to go wrong. He will immediately revert to a deep-lying defensive system when on a bad run, rather than standing by the slightly more forward thinking tactics that had put them high up the league in the early stages.

Added to that, he has been far too loyal to a defensive pairing that are simply not good enough in the top flight. While Dunk is a decent enough defender, certainly good enough to be a rotation/back up option for a team at Brighton's level, Duffy is an average Championship defender on his best days. He should have been replaced a long time ago and Duffy's errors, poor positional play, turning circle of a supertanker and speed of a dying tortoise have cost the Seagulls badly at times. Added to that, Duffy's attempts to play out from the back are terrible.

The other major problem is a lack of firepower. Too much has been heaped on Glenn Murray's shoulders and he needs help. Murray is at the age where he can no longer play every game and have an impact, he should be playing against opponents who he can cause the most problems too and used as an impact sub the rest of the time. However Brighton have little in the way of option but to play him.

Rating: C-

 


16. Southampton

Ins:
Jannik Vestergaard from Borussia Moenchengladbach for £22.5m
Mohamed Elyonoussi from FC Basel for £16.2m
Angus Gunn from Manchester City for £10.17m
Stuart Armstrong from Celtic for £7.16m
Danny Ings from Liverpool loan

Outs:
Manolo Gabbiadini to Sampdoria for £10.8m
Dusan Tadic to Ajax £10.26m
Cedric Soares to Inter Milan (loan) fee £450,000
Jeremy Pied to LOSC Lille free transfer
Florin Gardos to CS Universitatea Craiova free transfer
Jake Hesketh to MK Dons loan
Ryan Seager to Telstar loan then Yeovil Town free transfer
Steven Davis to Rangers loan
Sam McQueen to Middlesbrough loan
Guido Carrillo to Leganes loan
Jordy Clasie to Feyenoord loan
Harrison Reed to Blackburn Rovers loan
Wesley Hoedt to Celta de Vigo loan
Sofiane Boufal to Celta de Vigo loan
Josh Sims to Reading loan
Jake Hesketh to Burton Albion loan
Stuart Taylor retired

The first half of the season they struggled badly under Mark Hughes, who should have been replaced in the summer, but was given until December before being replaced by Hasenhuttl. It took Hasenhuttl a while to really get going, bringing the players up to speed in his system and style of play and that saw them deep in relegation trouble early on. However, once Hasenhuttl was established there was little danger of them going down and looked like a team capable of moving forwards in next season.

However there are a few issues, players they really need off the wage bill will be coming back from loan and need to be moved on in the summer. The squad, as a whole, is still lacking creative players, though the high press Hasenhuttl favours does make that less of a problem than it could have been. Despite their lowly finishing position, they do look to be in a strong place for the future, with a team that boasts energy, movement and can score goals.

Rating: C-

 


15. Burnley

Ins:
Ben Gibson from Middlesbrough £15.21m
Matej Vydra from Derby County £10.98m
Joe Hart from Manchester City £3.51m
Peter Crouch from Stoke City free transfer

Outs:
Sam Vokes to Stoke City £7.2m
Scott Arfield to Rangers free transfer
Dean Marney to Fleetwood Town free transfer
Chris Long to Fleetwood Town free transfer
Tom Anderson to Doncaster Rovers free transfer
Aiden O'Neill to Central Coast Mariners loan
Jonathan Walters to Ipswich Town loan then retired
Nakhi Wells to QPR loan

After a slow start, in large part due to the early start in the Europa League, the Clarets eventually refound their feet and form by returning to basics. Dyche had been trying to get them to play more football, get more control of the ball and pass it around, holding onto possession, rather than the quick back to front football he had been playing previously. The players at his disposal were just unable to make the change from the overly physical approach to a more silky version of the game.

A return to basics, with two big men up top to receive the long ball from the back, the ultra physical approach and quick back to front game saw results improve once more. It was not pretty but it was effective, with Barnes particularly good at throwing his weight around making fouls while somehow winning free kicks for doing so they had a good base to build from. They do still lack quality and creativity though, which will hold them back if they do not manage to fix it.

Their big miss is a goalscorer, none of their forwards are prolific and they do not score enough goals, which can cost them as their defensive system is based on throwing bodies in front of everything, which can lead to lucky breaks for the opposition. If they do concede, they find it very difficult to get 2 goals for a win. That is something they really need to address.

Rating: E+

 


14. Bournemouth

Ins:
Jefferson Lerma from Levante for £25.2m
Dominic Solanke from Liverpool for £19.08m
Diego Rice from Leganes for £13.5m
Chris Mepham from Brentford for £12.24m
David Brooks from Sheffield United for £10.17m
Nathaniel Clyne from Liverpool loan

Outs:
Benik Afobe to Wolverhampton Wanderers for £10.26m
Lewis Grabban to Nottingham Forest for £6.12m
Max Gradel to Toulouse for £1.8m
Ryan Allsop to Wycombe Wanderers free transfer
Adam Federici to Stoke City free transfer
Baily Cargill to MK Dons free transfer
Mihai Dobre to Yeovil Town loan
Brad Smith to Seattle Sounders loan
Aaron Ramsdale to AFC Wimbledon loan
Tyrone Mings to Aston Villa loan
Connor Mahoney to Birmingham City loan
Jermain Defoe to Rangers loan
Harry Arter to Cardiff City loan
Marc Pugh to Hull City loan
Emerson Hyndman to Hibernian loan
Rhoys Wiggins retired

A change in recruitment helped a lot, with summer signings Lerma and Brooks making a significant improvement to the team. Howe, who admits his weakness in that field, handed over control and it helped a lot. However he has not admitted his other weakness, that of defensive organisation, which is why his team is so inconsistent.

The Cherries can get forward and score goals but they struggle to stop them going in at the other end as they are almost shambolic in their organisation. Howe does not seem to know how to work on his defence or how to improve matters and it is holding them back and stopping them progressing as a club to challenge in the top half as they really should be with the investment made in the team.

Rating: E

 


13. Newcastle United

Ins:
Miguel Almiron from Atlanta United for £21.6m
Yoshinori Muto from 1.FSV Mainz 05 for £9.63m
Mikel Merino from Borussia Dortmund for £6.3m
Federico Fernandez from Swansea City for £6.03m
Fabian Schar from Deportivo La Coruna for £3.6m
Martin Dubravka from Sparta Prague £3.6m
Jose Salomon Rondon from West Bromwich Albion (loan) fee £1.98m
Antonio Barreca from Monaco (loan) fee £1.04m
Sung-yong Ki from Swansea City free transfer

Outs:
Aleksandar Mitrovic to Fulham for £18.18m
Mikel Merino to Real Sociedad for £10.8m
Chancel Mbemba to Porto for £4.19m
Matz Sels to Racing Strasbourg for £3.6m
Adam Armstrong to Blackburn Rovers for £1.71m
Ivan Toney to Peterborough United for £648,000
Jamie Sterry to Crewe Alexandra loan
Massadio Haidara to Lens free transfer
Stuart Findlay to Kilmarnock free transfer
Jacob Murphy to West Bromwich Albion loan
Jack Colback to Nottingham Forest loan
Dwight Gayle to West Bromwich Albion loan
Achraf Lazaar to Sheffield Wednesday loan
Rolando Aarons to Slovan Liberec then Sheffield Wednesday loan
Henri Saivet to Bursaspor loan
Jesus Gamez released
Curtis Good released

It took the lifting of the ridiculous spending restrictions placed on the club to turn things around and bring it to safety, though the emergence of Sean Longstaff was a huge part of the recovery. The catalyst, which lifted the club's morale at a time when it was really enmeshed in a relegation dogfight, was the signing of Almiron for a club-record fee. The whole team grew in confidence with his threat in behind Rondon causing problems for opponents.

In the end survival was achieved fairly comfortably with eyes on moving up the table in the final stages, rather than looking over their shoulder in fear of dropping out of the Premier League. The question is, where do they go from here?

Rating: D

 


12. Crystal Palace

Ins:
Cheikhou Kouyate from West Ham United for £9.63m
Michy Batshuayi from Chelsea (loan) fee £1.04m
Vicente Guaita from Getafe free transfer
Bakary Sako from West Bromwich Albion free transfer
Max Meyer from Schalke 04 free transfer
Jordan Ayew from Swansea City loan then permanent for £?
Lucas Perri from Sao Paulo loan

Outs:
Alexander Sorloth to KAA Gent (loan) fee £315,000
Jordan Mutch to Vancouver Whitecaps loan then Gyeongnam free transfer
Damien Delaney to Cork City free transfer
Yohan Cabaye to Al-Nasr free transfer
Dion Henry to Maidstone United loan
Jonathan Williams to Charlton Athletic free transfer
Sullay Kalkai to NAC Breda free transfer
Ryan Inniss to Dundee loan
Jason Puncheon to Huddersfield Town loan
Jaroslav Jach to Caykur Rizespor then Sheriff Tiraspol loan
Bakary Sako released
Chung-yong Lee released
Diego Cavalieri released

I do wonder how much longer Palace can continue to thrive in the Premier League with such a poor transfer policy. Can they continue to get lucky enough to unearth a gem like Wan-Bissaka regularly to supplement their older, mostly failed, signings? It seems unlikely that another youngster of that quality will emerge, so they will have to improve their recruitment policy and find players who can actually improve the team.

If they carry on down the road they are going, they will find this season is their peak, rather than a base to anchor future steps forward on. They place far too much reliance on a small number of players right now, in particular Zaha, with little other plan of attack than give it to him and let him run with the ball, get into a dangerous area and throw himself to the ground in the hope of winning a decision.

They are well organised at the back and the addition of Batshuayi did finally give them a goal threat, but they need to find a long term solution to putting the ball in the back of the net regularly if they are not to end up getting dragged back into the relegation dogfight next season. This season was at least one to be happy about for their fans, finishing in a safe mid-table position well clear of hated rivals Brighton.

Rating: C+

 


11. Watford

Ins:
Gerard Deulofeu from Barcelona for £11.7m
Adam Masina from Bologna for £4.5m
Ben Foster from West Bromwich Albion for £2.52m
Filip Stuparevic from Vozdovac for £2.03m
Ken Sema from Ostersund for £2.03m
Marc Navarro from Espanyol for £1.8m
Ben Wilmot from Stevenage for £1.53m
Domingos Quina from West Ham United for £990,000
Kwasi Sibo from Banants Yerevan free transfer

Outs:
Richarlison to Everton for £35.28m
Nordin Amrabat to Al-Nassr for £7.65m
Mauro Zarate to Boca Juniors for £2.07m
Stefano Okaka to Udinese (loan) fee £450,000
Valber Huerta to CD Universidad Catolica for £396,000
Marvin Zeegelaar to Udinese (loan) fee £270,000
Ben Wilmot to Udinese (loan) fee £270,000
Dodi Lukebakio to Fortuna Dusseldorf (loan) fee £270,000
Brice Dja Djedje to Ankaragucu free transfer
Filip Stuparevic to Vozdovac loan
Jorge Segura to Atlas Guadalajara loan
Obbi Oulare to Standard Liege loan
Tommie Hoban to Aberdeen loan
Jerome Sinclair to Sunderland then Oxford United loan
Daniel Bachmann to Kilmarnock loan
Dimitri Foulquier to Getafe loan
Costel Pantilimon to Nottingham Forest £?
Younes Kaboul released

Eleventh feels like a letdown when they were flying so high at one point, but, as usual, they faded. For once they had some stability with the manager, Javi Gracia, staying for another season, even their transfer movement was less than usual. It certainly seemed to improve matters, though they fell at the final hurdle and ended up with nothing to show for all their hard work.

Their league season seemed to fall by the wayside due to the FA Cup run, which showed that they still lack squad depth to cope with the extra games over the course of a season. It is difficult to see what more they can do without a major increase in funding, so it might always be a choice between good cup runs and a top half finish in the league.

Rating: C-

 


10. West Ham United

Ins:
Felipe Anderson from Lazio for £34.2m
Issa Diop from Toulouse for £22.5m
Andrii Yarmolenko from Borussia Dortmund for £18m
Lukasz Fabianski from Swansea City for £7.2m
Carlos Sanchez from Fiorentina for £4.01m
Lucas Perez from Arsenal for £3.96m
Fabian Balbuena from Corinthians for £3.6m
Xande Silva from Vitoria Guimaes for £1.35m
Jack Wilshere from Arsenal free transfer
Ryan Fredericks from Fulham free transfer

Outs:
Cheikhou Kouyate to Crystal Palace for £9.63m
Reece Burke to Hull City for £1.53m
Domingos Quina to Watford for £990,000
Edimilson Fernandes to Fiorentina (loan) fee £779,000
Reece Oxford to Augsburg (loan) fee £450,000
Oladapo Afolayan to Oldham Athletic loan
Josh Cullen to Charlton Athletic loan
Moses Makasi to Stevenage loan
Jordan Hugill to Middlesbrough loan
Sam Byram to Nottingham Forest loan
Sead Haksabanovic to Malaga then Norrkoping loan
Patrice Evra released
James Collins released

This season was built on the back of a very good, nay excellent transfer window, despite overpaying massively on Jack Wilshere, even though he was free! The defensive pairing of Diop and Balbuena were particularly outstanding as a pair of signings that created a fantastic partnership that the top half finish was built on. Added to that was the keeper, once much maligned as 'Flappy-handski', Fabianski has developed into a very good Premier League keeper.

Then there was Yarmolenko, after years of being linked with a Prem move he finally joined the league and was impressing until injury ended his season early. His loss did take a while for them to get over, but the fans must be getting excited for his return to this team. It is on the verge of challenging for European football with the team as it is, another good transfer window would remove the verge.

Under Pellegrino West Ham play good, attractive, fast attacking football but have a well-organised defence, the basic building blocks of a good side. This could be the start of a special period in the Hammers' history.

Rating: B-

 


9. Leicester City

Ins:
James Maddison from Norwich City for £22.5m
Ricardo Pereira from Porto for £19.8m
Caglar Soyuncu from SC Freiburg for £18.99m
Filip Benkovic from Dinamo Zagreb for £13.05m
Rachid Ghezzal from Monaco for £12.6m
Danny Ward from Liverpool for £12.6m
Jonny Evans from West Bromwich Albion for £3.6m
Youri Tielemans from Monaco loan

Outs:
Riyad Mahrez to Manchester City for £61.02m
Ahmed Musa to Al-Nassr for £14.85m
Vicente Iborra to Villareal for £9m
Islam Slimani to Fenerbahce (loan) fee £1.35m
Josh Gordon to Walsall free transfer
Ben Hamer to Huddersfield Town free transfer
Leonardo Ulloa to CF Pachuca loan
Filip Benkovic to Celtic loan
Callum Elder to Ipswich Town loan
Yohan Benalouane to Nottingham Forest for £?
Harvey Barnes to West Bromwich Albion loan
Bartosz Kapustka to OH Leuven loan
Fousseni Diabite to Sivasspor loan
Andy King to Derby County loan
George Thomas to Scunthorpe United loan
Adrien Silva to Monaco loan
Robert Huth retired

An odd season for the Foxes, they have become a victim of their own success, the fans and players seem to think they are better than they are and Puel paid the price for those expectations. Rodgers came in and initially he has improved matters, but we saw the same with each managerial change until the players decided they were bored with the man in charge. It is a sign of how well Puel did that, despite the players and fans turning on him, Leicester were in a position to challenge the top half of the table rather than the bottom.

Finishing 9th is no longer a success in the eyes of Foxes' fans and ownership, they are looking to European qualification, so it is difficult to know how to grade their season. For me, the team looks a long way off the top 6 places and then there is Wolves, who are also ahead. So I do not see their season as unsuccessful as it should be to have a need to change manager. That is why I am struggling to grade them. A top 10 finish should be a decent grade, but they changed the manager unnecessarily, in my opinion, and that has to drop their grade down.

Rating: D

 


8. Everton

Ins:
Richarlison from Watford for £35.28m
Yerry Mina from Barcelona for £27.23m
Lucas Digne from Barcelona for £18.18m
Kurt Zouma from Chelsea (loan) fee £7.11m
Andre Gomes from Barcelona (loan) fee £2.03m
Bernard from Shakhtar Donetsk free transfer

Outs:
Davy Klaassen to Werder Bremen for £12.15m
Ramiro Funes Mori to Villareal for £8.1m
Tyias Browning to Guangzhou Evergrande for £4.14m
Henry Onyekuru to Galatasaray (loan) fee £720,000
Kevin Mirallas to Fiorentina (loan) fee £675,000
Joel Robles to Real Betis free transfer
Conor Grant to Plymouth Argyle free transfer
Wayne Rooney to DC United free transfer
Shani Tarashaj to Grasshoppers Zurish loan
Kieran Dowell to Sheffield United loan
Cuco Martina to Stoke City then Feyenoord loan
Muhamed Besic to Middlesbrough loan
Matthew Pennington to Ipswich Town loan
Ashley Williams to Stoke City loan
Oumar Niasse to Cardiff City loan
Yannick Bolasie to Aston Villa then RSC Anderlecht loan
Sandro Ramirez to Real Sociedad loan
Luke Garbutt to Oxford United loan
Mason Holgate to West Bromwich Albion loan
Nikola Vlasic to CSKA Moscow loan
Beni Baningime to Wigan Athletic loan

A season that started off brightly, dipped in the middle and then recovered for a good finish. It suggests so much good for the future, with a manager having a year to bed in and a team with the investment it has been lacking for years finally appearing. The question is whether Silva is able to fix the problems that led to the terrible dip in midseason on the back of one bad result.

If it was not for that dip, they could have actually finally been where they believe they should be, challenging for the top 4 places, which makes it difficult to rate their season as it seems better than it was due to the way it finished on a good run. There are also worries over recruitment, they will be losing Zouma and Gomes at the end of their loan spells so have to spend just to stand still, and spend more to move forward.

Overall they will probably be slightly disappointed by finishing 8th in a season the fans started off mainly talking about a top 6 finish and even potentially top 4. Personally though I believe they have done about as well as could be expected with a top half finish without ever having to fear relegation though also without ever really challenging to go much higher.

Rating: C

 


7. Wolverhampton Wanderers

Ins:
Jonny Otto from Atletico Madrid for £18.45m
Adama Traore from Middlesbrough for £18m
Rui Patricio from Sporting Club de Portugal for £16.2m
Diogo Jota from Atletico Madrid for £12.6m
Willy Boly from Porto for £10.8m
Benik Afobe from Bournemouth for £10.26m
Joao Moutinho from Monaco for £5.04m
Leo Bonatini from Al Hilal for £3.6m
Raul Jimenez from Benfica (loan) fee £2.7m
Ruben Vinagre from Monaco for £2.03m
Leander Dendoncker from RSC Anderlecht (loan) fee £1.35m

Outs:
Benik Afobe to Stoke City for £12.15m
Danny Baath to Stoke City for £3.11m
Barry Douglas to Leeds United for £3.06m
Ben Marshall to Norwich City for £1.53m
Roderick Miranda to Olympiacos (loan) fee £450,000
Prince Oniangue to SM Caen for £450,000
Ben Stevenson to Colchester United free transfer
Duckens Nazon to Sint-Truiden free transfer
Paul Gladon to Sint-Truiden loan then Groningen free transfer
Jonathan Flatt to Scunthorpe United free transfer
Jordan Graham to Oxford United then Ipswich Town loan
Harry Burgoyne to Plymouth Argyle loan
Michal Zyro to Pogon Szczecin loan
Ethan Ebanks-Landell to Rochdale loan
Ming-Yang yang to FC Jumilla loan
Dominic Iorfa to Sheffield Wednesday loan
Sylvain Deslandes to FC Jumilla loan
Ben Stevenson to FC Jumilla loan
Conor Ronan to Dunajska Streda then Walsall loan
Rafa Mir to Las Palmas loan
Phil Ofusu-Ayeh to Hansa Rostock then Wurzbach Kickers loan
Jack Ruddy to FC Jumilla then UD Sanse loan
Bright Enobakhare to Kilmarnock then Coventry City loan
Joe Mason to Portsmouth loan then released
Harry Burgoyne to Falkirk loan
Leo Bonatini to Nottingham Forest loan
Aaron Collins to Colchester United loan
Kortney Hause to Aston Villa loan
Carl Ikeme retired

A fantastic season from Wolves, admittedly with the help of a lot of investment, but you still have to invest wisely and then utilise the players brought in correctly. Once Nuno Espirito Santo got the measure of the Premier League, they always looked to be heading for a top half finish and it was just a case of how high could they go. They are certainly one of the better teams to ever be promoted and the best in the Premier League era.

What really impresses is that they do not look like a team punching above their weight that will have one good year and then slowly sink back down the table until dropping out in time. They look like a top half Prem team that is capable of pushing on and challenging the top 6 in the near future. They have a good mix of youth and experience plus an owner willing to put his money into the club. Wolves are a genuine challenger for the top 6.

Rating: A-

 


6. Manchester United

Ins:
Fred from Shakhtar Donetsk for £53.1m
Diogo Dalot from Porto for £19.8m
Lee Grant from Stoke City for £1.53m

Outs:
Daley Blind to Ajax for £14.4m
Sam Johnstone to West Bromwich Albion for £6.62m
Marouaine Fellaini to Shandong Luneng Taishan for £6.48m
Cameron Borthwick-Jackson to Scunthorpe United loan
Timothy Fosu-Mensah to Fulham loan
Axel Tuanzebe to Aston Villa loan
Joel Pereira to Vitoria Setubal then KV Kortrijk loan
James Wilson to Aberdeen loan
Michael Carrick retired

It is difficult to find anything good to come out of this season for Man Utd fans, except that Dalot looks a decent prospect and their eyes will no longer have to suffer the hideous fate of watching Fellaini pull on their shirt and throw elbows around like a man who has seen a few too many Tony Jaa movies. Even the initial optimism of 'Ole at the wheel' died down when it was realised that the good start just masked how abysmal the style of play is under him and how lacking in quality the team is.

Fred is a summation of all that is wrong with the current Red Devils side, lots of huff and puff but with all the ability of a pub league player and reads the game like he has never even seen the game before arriving in England. It takes a special kind of player to make Lukaku look like he has a silky smooth first touch by comparison, but Fred has done that and more.

It is little short of a miracle that between Mourinho and his cheerleader replacement United managed to finish in the top 6 places and qualify for Europe next season. They will need to drastically overhaul the team this summer if they are to have any chance of qualifying again next summer or they could be dragged down into the midtable battle with a large portion of the squad so lacking in ability or, in Pogba's case, effort.

Rating: E

 


5. Arsenal

Ins:
Lucas Torreira from Sampdoria for £27m
Bernd Leno from Bayer Leverkusen for £22.5m
Sokratis from Borussia Dortmund for £14.4m
Matteo Guendouzi from Lorient for £7.2m
Denis Suarez from Barcelona (loan) fee £2.25m
Stephan Lichsteiner from Juventus free transfer

Outs:
Lucas Perez to West Ham United for £3.96m
Chuba Akpom to PAOK Salonika for £900,000
Takuma Asano to Hannover 96 (loan) fee £900,000
Santi Cazorla to Villareal free transfer
Matt Macey to Plymouth Argyle loan
Jack Wilshere to West Ham United free transfer
Krystian Bielik to Charlton Athletic loan
David Ospina to Napoli loan
Calum Chambers to Fulham loan
Joel Campbell to Frosinone for £?
Emiliano Martinez to Reading loan
Per Mertesacker retired

Some excellent work in the transfer window, fixing the hole in front of the defence with the impressive Torreira and shoring up the defence with an excellent keeper and better centre backs has shown little dividend on the pitch. Somehow, despite those improvements to the playing staff defensively, new manager Unai Emery has managed to make Arsenal even more defensively woeful than they were under Wenger! They look like a team hanging on for dear life in every match they play, even when they have a lead.

Going forward they are always dangerous with Lacazette an excellent forward and Aubameyang has a knack for putting the ball in the back of the net, but they lack control in their play. If they are going to push on next season, that lack of controlled play needs to be fixed. Whether they do that by better organisation at the back or increasing their possession play in safe areas away from their defensive third does not matter, they just need to develop it to move forward as a unit.

Overall though, finishing 5th after losing a manager who has been part of the furniture at the club for such a long time is probably not a bad result. It would have been easy for them to struggle badly and drop out of the top 6 places, though the signings made should probably have been enough for them to force their way back into the top 4, it was the first year under Emery. This year was pretty much a free pass as the club transitioned over to the new regime, it will not be so easy next year.

Rating: C

 


4. Tottenham Hotspur

Ins:
N/A

Outs:
Mousa Dembele to Guangzhou R&F for £4.82m
Josh Onomah to Sheffield Wednesday loan
Georges-Kevin N'Koudou to Monaco loan
Cameron Carter-Vickers to Swansea City loan

The lack of signings cost Spurs badly as they went backwards as a team in the Premier League, very nearly missing out on a top 4 finish. Now Levy will have to loosen the purse strings to invest or risk the club dropping out of the top 4 battle in the long term, as they cannot rely on Man Utd continuing to be as bad as they were for most of this season. Even worse, the lack of investment is increasing the risk of losing Pochettino, despite the huge price tag Levy has slapped on his head when Juventus came knocking.

That may (at this time anyway) have been enough to ward off Juve, but Poch himself has publicly stated that he wants investment or he will be looking to move on. That uncertainty is never a good thing for a club, which means Levy has a job to do this summer to rebuild confidence in his leadership, something that is clearly waning. With the new stadium in place, Levy has the chance to build a team to challenge consistently for the title, rather than fold every time the pressure is on.

On Premier League performances alone, this season has to go down as a disappointment, though it was not helped by the problems getting the new stadium up and running and having to play their home games at Wembley. The loss of Dembele was a huge hit as well, as he knit the midfield together brilliantly, but his struggles to stay fit recently meant it was a good time to move on from him.

Rating: D-

 


3. Chelsea

Ins:
Kepa from Athletic Bilbao for £72m
Christian Pulisic from Borussia Dortmund for £57.6m
Jorginho from Napoli for £51.3m
Gonzalo Higuain from Juventus (loan) fee £8.1m
Robert Green from Huddersfield Town free transfer
Mateo Kovacic from Real Madrid loan

Outs:
Thibaut Courtois to Real Madrid for £31.5m
Kurt Zouma to Everton (loan) fee £7.11m
Alvaro Morata to Atletico Madrid (loan) fee £6.3m
Tiemoue Bakayoko to AC Milan (loan) fee £4.5m
Michy Batshuayi to Valencia (loan) fee £2.7m then Crystal Palace (loan) fee £1.04m
Mario Pasalic to Atalanta (loan) fee £900,000
Kenneth Omeruo to Leganes (loan) fee £720,000
Ola Aina to Torino (loan) fee £540,000
Matt Miazga to Nantes (loan) fee £270,000 then Reading loan
Christian Pulisic to Borussia Dortmund loan
Matej Delac to AC Horsens free transfer
Cesc Fabregas to Monaco free transfer
Eduardo to Vitesse Arnhem loan
Abdul Rahman Baba to Stade Reims loan
Michael Hector to Sheffield Wednesday loan
Lewis Baker to Leeds United then Reading loan
Nathan to Clube Atletico Mineiro loan
Tomas Kalas to Bristol City loan
Charly Musonda Jr to Vitesse Arnhem loan
Todd Kane to Hull City loan
Victor Moses to Fenerbahce loan
Lucas Piazon to Chievo Verona loan
Tammy Abraham to Aston Villa loan
Jamal Blackman to Leeds United loan
Wallace Oliveira released

A topsy-turvey league season under new manager Maurizio Sarri was not helped by the lack of a true goalscoring forward in the side. It led to the team becoming more reliant than ever on the talents of Eden Hazard, despite the heavy investment on new players. The atmosphere around the club was not helped by a large section of the support turning on the manager as he tried to bring his own style of play to the club.

Despite that, this season has to be looked on as a success, with a third place finish giving them something to build on for next season, though it looks to be a platform that will be missing Hazard. Right now, it is not even certain that Sarri will be there to continue with the job of rebuilding! Keeping Sarri would go a long way towards ensuring that Chelsea can push on and close the gap to the top two.

If he could also get the trust and support of the crowd, winning over the doubters who keep chanting "f**k Sarri-ball", as he did in Napoli, then the future looks bright for Chelsea, even if the transfer ban remains in place. There are a lot of good young players around the club that could create a role for themselves in the first team and negate the need for another round of heavy investment.

Rating: B

 


2. Liverpool

Ins:
Alisson from AS Roma for £56.25m
Naby Keita from RB Leipzig for £54m
Fabinho from Monaco for £40.5m
Xherdan Shaqiri from Stoke City for £13.23m

Outs:
Dominic Solanke to Bournemouth for £19.08m
Danny Ward to Leicester City for £12.6m
Ragnar Klavan to Cagliari for £1.17m
Loris Karius to Besiktas (loan) fee £900,000
Marko Grujic to Hertha Berlin (loan) fee £900,000
Jon Flanagan to Rangers free transfer
Lazar Markovic to Fulham free transfer
Emre Can to Juventus free transfer
Sheyi Ojo to Stade Reims loan
Jordan Williams to Rochdale free transfer
Adam Bogdan to Hibernian loan
Danny Ings to Southampton loan
Connor Randall to Rochdale loan
Ben Woodburn to Sheffield United loan
Nathaniel Clyne to Bournemouth loan

Another step forward for Liverpool under Klopp, from top 4 last season to 2nd and oh so close to winning the Premier League with the 3rd highest points total ever recorded. The big question is whether this is a step on the road to finally getting that long awaited league trophy or whether the team has done all it can and peaked. Is it really possible that they maintain this sort of performance next season? It is asking a lot of any team to do so.

That next step is the hardest one of all, so far it is a hurdle that Liverpool have fallen at repeatedly, but this time it was more of a case of Man City clearing it more convincingly than Liverpool rather than Liverpool falling. They have to do it all again next season, knowing full well that City will be able to invest in their squad to make it potentially stronger.

Rating: A-

 


1. Manchester City

Ins:
Riyad Mahrez from Leicester City for £61.02m
Ante Palaversa from Hajduk Split for £4.32m
Philippe Sandler from PEC Zwolle for £2.25m
Ko Itakura from Kawasaki Frontale for £990,000
Daniel Arzani from Melbourne City for £801,000

Outs:
Brahim Diaz to Real Madrid for £15.3m
Angus Gunn to Southampton for £10.17m
Pablo Maffeo to VfB Stuttgart for £8.1m
Jason Denayer to Olympique Lyon for £5.85m
Joe Hart to Burnley for £3.51m
Bersant Celina to Swansea City for £3.06m
Olarenwaju Kayode to Shakhtar Donetsk for £2.7m
Arijanet Muric to NAC Breda loan
Ko Itakura to FC Groningen loan
Ante Palaversa to Hajduk Split loan
Luka Ilic to NAC Breda loan
Anthony Caceres to Melbourne City then Sydney FC loan
Daniel Arzani to Celtic loan
Marlos Moreno to Santos Laguna loan
Erik Palmer-Brown to NAC Breda loan
Jack Harrison to Leeds United loan
Patrick Roberts to Girona loan
Pablo Mari to Deportivo La Coruna loan
Mix Diskerud to Ulsan Hyundai loan
Yaya Toure released

Another stunning season for City, they have once again set a mark that no one else could match, in domestic competition anyway. It was not with the same swagger as last season, but the pressure was much higher with a genuine challenger. That did lead to a run of jittery performances with Man City going from smashing sides aside to limping through a few games at times, but there were very few times they looked like failing.

This would have been another routine walk over league title if it had not been for Liverpool, as Citeh were just far too good for the rest of the Premier League. The worry is that they have so much money they can just go out and recruit whatever they need to keep themselves at the top, even though the likes of Sane are unhappy with their playing time. The only real hope for the rest is that Pep's teams tend to fade each year, gradually getting worse and worse, which has ended up with him walking away after 3 years saying the players are no longer responding to his methods. He has been in charge for 3 years at City now....

Rating: A+

Written by Tris Burke June 01 2019 11:38:21

 

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