Well, that was quite a Premier League season that just finished. Here’s my short verdict on each team:
- Leicester – a little bit of Thai money, Italian tactics, and an English core produced a fairy tale; Champions League and Hollywood now beckon
- Arsenal – the jubilation at finishing above Spurs risks masking the shame of finishing ten points behind Leicester. Wenger won’t win another league title at Arsenal but he’s probably safe in his job for another season
- Tottenham – a subdued and flat end to an otherwise thrilling season. If Pochettino stays, the future looks bright at Spurs
- Manchester City – “when is Pep coming?” “Is he here yet?” A season of waiting, every bit as tragi-comic as Waiting for Godot
- Manchester United – “probably not a team I’d have enjoyed playing in” said Paul Scholes. Nobody looked like they enjoyed playing in it and the supporters don’t seem to much enjoy watching it. Van Gaal should be evacuated, permanently
- Southampton – maintaining standards is harder than setting them but Koeman has managed it; a well-run club making sustainable progress
- West Ham – bye, bye Upton Park and a final season there with plenty of highlights (and the sad lowlight of the incident with Manchester United’s bus). Bilic is an excellent and underrated manager
- Liverpool – Klopp has been good but not as magnificent as his cheerleaders in the press would have us believe. Liverpool were 10th when he took over and they finished 8th. Progress, but only a little. A major summer overhaul is required.
- Stoke City – actually scored surprisingly few goals (41) considering the attacking talent they have. Much easier on the eye than before but sometimes easier to play against too
- Chelsea – oh dear, a season that those of us who are not Chelsea fans might describe as a special one
- Everton – underwhelming, with the whole appearing lesser than the sum of its parts
- Swansea – up and down but never remotely in danger of actually going down so a steady enough season, but difficult to see them improving much upon next season
- Watford – a sartorially elegant manager aiming at an elegant style of play. Like fashion, it looks great when it works but the occasional disaster is always lurking
- West Brom – too good to go down, not good enough to go much further up
- Crystal Palace – much Pardew about nothing (unless they win the FA Cup at the weekend)
- Bournemouth – survived relatively comfortably but can’t afford to get too comfortable (or, I suspect, to be able to strengthen much)
- Sunderland – Big Sam got some big results when it really mattered. Jermain Defoe remains an excellent Premier League striker and at 33 still plays with the energy of an 18 year old
- Newcastle – a decline that’s been long in the making. Benitez staying gives them a reasonable chance of bouncing straight back but if they don’t then they could yet fall a lot further
- Norwich City – “where are you?” Delia Smith once famously asked the fans. Back in the Championship is now the answer. They will be competitive though and I expect to see them back in the big time before too long
- Aston Villa – they scored only 27 goals and conceded 76. They amassed just 17 points all season; a hapless effort from start to finish (every Fantasy League manager kept an eye on who Villa were playing each weekend and made sure at least one opposition striker was in the team).
Speaking of Fantasy League, I just won manager of the month for May after a season that admittedly has been more Newcastle than Leicester. Leicester’s late charge to avoid the drop in 2014/15 serves as an inspiration for my fantasy league efforts next season.
I bet Jamie Vardy will be more expensive though. I wish I’d put a bet on Leicester this season at 5000/1. Odds are they’ll be a shorter price in August but it will still be a long shot for them to retain the title.