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Premier League season review

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Phil McNulty | 10:36 UK time, Monday, 17 May 2010

So the Premier League ended pretty much as I predicted - with Liverpool as champions give or take the odd seven places and 23 points.

Best to get that one out of the way first. And in my defence, I will use that as a perfect example of the Premier League's unpredictability that gave this season an intriguing slant to surpass many others of recent memory.

Chelsea were one of the prime pre-season contenders to be champions and ended as domestic double winners - but it was not achieved without some surprise slips along the way which characterised the nature of this campaign.

How will those who played in the Premier League gauge the success of their seasons?

As well as trying to answer that question, I've given them some marks for added interest based on their pre-season expectations.

ancelotti_blog_getty.jpgChelsea's Italian manager Carlo Ancelotti has adapted seamlessly to English football - photo: Getty

CHELSEA - CHAMPIONS

Carlo Ancelotti's first season in charge ended with the Premier League and the FA Cup in the Stamford Bridge trophy room - a piece of history and a fitting reflection on an introduction to England that has brought many admirers of the Italian's dignity and expertise.

The size of the shadow cast over England's big clubs by the Champions League was emphasised at Ancelotti's after-match briefing at Wembley following the FA Cup Final win against Portsmouth.

It went something like this: "Well done for doing the double Carlo - but you do realise Roman Abramovich won't be happy until you win the Champions League."

There is something in that. Ancelotti, as ever, was sanguine but the Champions League exit against Inter Milan, and more pointedly against Jose Mourinho, was a blot on his season and he will be intent on putting that right next term.

Chelsea ended as champions because they were such a potent goal threat, eclipsing the 100 mark for the first time in the top flight since Tottenham in 1963, and then held their nerve in the final three games of the season in emphatic style after losing at White Hart Lane.

Didier Drogba and Frank Lampard were irresistible in front of goal, even in a season that was not Lampard's best in terms of all-round performances, and this ultimately made the difference.

Ancelotti cannot rest on his place in history, however. A top-class goalkeeper is needed to put pressure on Petr Cech and another central defender would not go amiss to turn up the heat on John Terry, Ricardo Carvalho and Alex.

Strangely, a team that won the double is in need of a bit of work and defeats such as the one at Wigan Athletic hinted at growing vulnerability.

But Chelsea rule the domestic game once more and Abramovich now appears in the mood to reward Ancelotti with an A-list signing. And yes, Roman still wants that Champions League.

SEASON'S MARK - A-

MANCHESTER UNITED - 2nd

I said before the start of the season that I felt a fourth Premier League title would prove beyond Manchester United. It did - but only just.

Sir Alex Ferguson's side somehow stayed in contention until the season's final day, but a campaign that brought only the Carling Cup has to be viewed as a disappointment when measured in terms of both performances and silverware. It was a tribute to United's built-in resilience rather than the quality they displayed that they ran Chelsea so close.

wayne_blog_getty.jpgRooney scored a remarkable 34 goals for Man Utd - photo: Getty

With Cristiano Ronaldo gone and Carlos Tevez moving to Manchester City, United were always going to rely even more on Wayne Rooney. They came to rely on him too heavily, as was proved when he played when only half-fit as United went out of the Champions League against Bayern Munich at Old Trafford in the quarter-final then missed the decisive home defeat by Chelsea.

Ferguson will be delighted by the progress of Nani and Antonio Valencia, but this was offset by minus marks such as the decline of Michael Carrick and Dimitar Berbatov's failure to deliver regularly, although I felt some of the criticism aimed at the Bulgarian was unduly harsh.

United were also undermined by the regular absences of Rio Ferdinand, and once again we have to ask how much more Ferguson can dredge out of the old reliables such as Gary Neville, Ryan Giggs and Paul Scholes.

If Ferguson, as he says, has the large portion of the £80m received from Real Madrid for Ronaldo still at his disposal, then some world-class attacking support for Rooney and more bolstering of central defence (besides Fulham rookie Chris Smalling) will be needed.

And with keeper Edwin van der Sar 40 in October and the once great hope Ben Foster seemingly bound for Birmingham, Ferguson also needs a quality keeper. Hugo Lloris of Lyon and CSKA Moscow's Igor Akinfeev are live contenders.

SEASON'S MARK - C

ARSENAL - 3rd

I suggested at the start of the season that the cups may be Arsenal's best bet. Not the Champions League - they were never good enough to win that.

I reckoned without Arsene Wenger's virtual disregard for the Carling Cup and FA Cup, strange indeed for a superb manager who might just feel in need of a piece of silverware after five barren years.

Arsenal's fans took grave exception to my claim that Wenger was somewhat deluded about the strength of his side, but their performances against Manchester United and Chelsea, their true title rivals, said it all. I will not retract those criticisms.

Thomas Vermaelen was a fine central defensive signing and Robin van Persie's long spell out of action was a serious setback, but once again Arsenal ended the season unfulfilled.

It looked for a time as though the failings of others might let them sneak in and snatch the title, but this was beyond them and Wenger now needs to address continuing problems because every season without a trophy will bring more questions.

"Arsene knows" is a familiar mantra from Arsenal's supporters, but what Arsene clearly did not know, or chose to ignore, was that having a sub-standard goalkeeper will eventually cost you if you want to win titles. Manuel Almunia and Lukasz Fabianski prove the point. They must be replaced with someone better.

Arsenal need another powerful defender and more of a presence in midfield, but the main concern at the moment appears to be the threat of losing Cesc Fabregas. If that happens, then Wenger will have an uphill struggle to recapture former glories.

I take no pleasure in being proved right about Arsenal - just not good enough.

SEASON'S MARK - C-

TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR - 4th

The season Spurs finally made the breakthrough and won a place in the Champions League. It was a superb feat of management by Harry Redknapp, who assembled a squad of many qualities to deservedly finish fourth.

Spurs showed all their best facets when they went to Manchester City in what was effectively a fourth-place play off and won far more convincingly than the 1-0 scoreline suggested.

Redknapp built his success on a strong spine in the shape of reborn goalkeeper Heurelho Gomes, a variety of central defensive partnerships based on Sebastien Bassong, Michael Dawson and the outstanding Ledley King and a midfield that had character and creation with Wilson Palacios and Luka Modric at its heart.

Gareth Bale proved the biggest revelation when switched from an uncertain left-back to an unstoppable left-sided midfield player, a maker and taker of goals, especially in the crucial wins against Arsenal and Chelsea.

You can guarantee Redknapp will be back in the market ahead of the Champions League campaign, and no praise is too high for the manner in which he took Spurs from the bottom of the Premier League into the top four in 18 remarkable months.

SEASON'S MARK - B+

MANCHESTER CITY - 5th

Strange campaign that saw progress in terms of their Premier League placing but also a tinge of disappointment that such lavish spending by the Abu Dhabi money men did not earn a place in the Champions League.

Mark Hughes was allowed to spend on an unprecedented scale for this club in the summer and the results were mixed. Carlos Tevez was an unqualified success, an outstanding and consistent performer, but the outlay of £42m on Roque Santa Cruz and Joleon Lescott proved highly questionable.

Kolo Toure and Emmanuel Adebayor were mixed at best, but such is the danger of deciding to rebuild a team at vast expense in almost one fell swoop.

It still seemed unduly harsh when Hughes was dispensed with, and his successor Roberto Mancini is yet to convince, despite assurances from the Eastlands hierarachy that he is a long-haul appointment.

City struggled in moments of real pressure, losing vital home games in the closing stages of the season to Everton, Manchester United (who beat them in stoppage time on three occasions this season) and most vitally against Spurs when they seemed burdened by the weight of expectation.

The addition of Adam Johnson in the last transfer window marked a fine start to the Mancini rebuild but xxpect the revolving door to be spinning at top speed again this summer.

Once City's supporters set aside the failure to reach the Champions League, they can at least rest assured that the club's fiercely ambitious rulers will finance any serious target to reach their eventual goal.

SEASON'S MARK - C

ASTON VILLA - 6th

Reaching the Carling Cup final and the FA Cup semi-final, only to fall victim of poor refereeing on both occasions, and maintaining their Premier League placing represented a step forward by Villa.

But again, as with Manchester City, there will also be a tinge of disappointment that they could not make the leap into the top four in a season when Liverpool's awful form created such an obvious vacancy.

Martin O'Neill moulded a team in his traditional style, with width, pace and power - but is there a one-dimensional aspect to this Villa team? I would suggest so on the evidence of what I saw from them this season.

The good news is that O'Neill's future is certain, according to owner Randy Lerner, after a rash of speculation suggesting he had grown tired of life at Villa Park.

And it will be fascinating to see how O'Neill goes about freshening up Villa for next season. One key task will be keeping hold of James Milner, who matured into an outstanding player.

The introduction of extra creativity in midfield to help Milner and Stilyan Petrov would be recommended.

In previewing Villa's season I wrote: "I expect more of the same in terms of league placings with more emphasis on success in the cups." And so it proved.

SEASON'S MARK - C

LIVERPOOL - 7th

Sadly, I must interrupt the backslapping for a prediction that was stunningly accurate to move on to one that was embarrassingly wide of the mark.

When I boldly (not to mention foolishly) announced Liverpool would win the Premier League, it was based on the flowing attacking football they played in the last three months of the previous season and with the proviso Fernando Torres and Steven Gerrard stayed fit.

Both had their injury problems, but this can in no way be used in mitigation for a dreadful campaign rich in mediocrity that allows me to label Liverpool as the season's biggest disappointment.

After going public with my backing for Liverpool, my blood started to run cold after witnessing how poor they were in defeat against Spurs and Villa in their opening three games.

Few Liverpool players emerged with great credit from the season, with goalkeeper Pepe Reina an outstanding exception. Out of the Champions League in the group stage, unable to cash in on being parachuted into the Europa League and out of the FA Cup at home to Championship side Reading, it was a time of almost unremitting misery for Liverpool supporters.

Torres was again world-class when fit, but for too long he was on the sidelines and without him Liverpool were impotent. Gerrard, the saviour so many times, found the task beyond him this season.

The sale of Xabi Alonso to Real Madrid was highlighted as the key to Liverpool's downfall. He has become one of the Anfield greats with every game he hasn't played - but there had to be more to it than that.

Manager Rafael Benitez often trots out the recurring theme of lack of money, but he has done pretty well for cash over the years and his case is weakened by his expenditure of £17m on Glen Johnson, a fine offensive player but flawed defensively, and £20m on Alonso's supposed replacement Alberto Aquilani.

When Liverpool needed a player to hit the ground running and make a statement after Alonso's departure, Benitez signed an injured, expensive luxury item with a chequered fitness record - a perception Aquilani did nothing to alter during the season.

benitez_blog_getty.jpgBenitez suffered his worst season since arriving at Anfield in 2004 - photo: Getty


Benitez once again got bogged down in tedious politicking - see his "senior sources" references at Hull after the season's final game for more evidence - and the ongoing saga of the ownership under Tom Hicks and George Gillett was a running sore.

And still it goes on into the close season, with no resolution in sight to the ownership issue, the manager being linked with a succession of vacancies and fears that the less than enticing Europa League may see Torres and Gerrard tempted elsewhere.

If that happened it would present an acid test to the Liverpool hierarchy. Do they trust Benitez's record enough to hand any more cash raised from sales? It would not be a formality.

If Benitez stays he would do well to steer clear of seeking assurances or delivering any ultimatums to Liverpool's reconstituted board. The assurance he required came in the form of a lavish five-year contract and the ultimatum should actually come the other way, from the boardroom. And it is this - a season such as the one just passed is intolerable at a club of Liverpool's stature.

SEASON'S MARK - D-

EVERTON - 8th

A season of what might have been at Goodison Park. Everton played as fluently and as well as just about any team in the Premier League from around the turn of the year, but failure to qualify for Europe after successive fifth-place finishes must be classed as a disappointment.

Manager David Moyes complained consistently that the ongoing, and acrimonious, story of Joleon Lescott's sale to Manchester City cast a shadow over Everton's opening to the season and made them slow starters.

There is some truth in this, but Moyes himself also appeared dragged down by his disappointment, and fairly obvious bitterness, at how he felt City went about their business of signing Lescott.

In City's defence, an offer of £24m was more than reasonable recompense for a player who, while excellent at Everton, was horrendously overpriced at that figure.

The price Everton paid was that wretched start that saw them lose at Burnley, Bolton and Hull and only draw at home with Stoke City, Wolves and Birmingham. Damaging results.

And in defence of Moyes, long-term injuries to crucial players such as Mikel Arteta and Phil Jagielka saw them enter the season belatedly. The upturn in form when they did was no co-incidence.

The curse even continued into the season when the giant figure of Marouane Fellaini, having developed into the country's finest midfielder according to Moyes, suffered an anke injury that requires six months on the sidelines.

The recovery, once it started and helped by the arrival of Landon Donovan on loan, was spectacular with draws away at Chelsea and Arsenal leading to victories at Goodison Park against Manchester City, Chelsea and Manchester United - the latter two after falling behind.

Moyes is unlikely to have major cash resources this summer, so his main priority will be keeping the talent he has, namely Steven Pienaar, Jack Rodwell and Mikel Arteta by getting their names on long contracts.

Once more, Everton face a vital summer because if Moyes can maintain his current squad and add a class striker to back up Louis Saha, then he is right to predict a bright future. If it goes the other way Everton will find their closest rivals moving out of reach.

SEASON'S MARK - C+

BIRMINGHAM CITY - 9th

Defied everyone, including myself, who felt they might stay up but only after a struggle. A wonderful piece of management by Alex McLeish who got everything out of a group of players who proved fiercely resolute.

McLeish showed a sure hand in the transfer market by bringing in Joe Hart on loan from Manchester City and helping him to develop into a potential regular England keeper.

He also brought the best out of Barry Ferguson on his return to England and saw his faith in two stalwarts of the Championship, Roger Johnson and Scott Dann, pay off superbly. Lee Bowyer was also a force once more, even rediscovering his old goalscoring touch from midfield.

Birmingham were not spectacular - this was not their remit this season - but they were meticulously prepared and organised down to the final detail and they cruised to safety, even lurking in contention for Europe at one stage.

McLeish must now repeat the feat, but he reportedly has money from owner Carson Yeung and his track record suggests he will use it wisely. Birmingham's new regime must back him - because if they do not the Scot's work will make him widely coveted.

SEASON'S MARK - B+

BLACKBURN ROVERS - 10th

Sam Allardyce's methods are still questioned - do not bother asking Arsene Wenger for a glowing reference - but a top-10 finish will more than satisfy Blackburn Rovers' fans.

Ewood Park was treated to some traditional no-nonsense Allardyce tactics, but he fought passionately against the charges that he has created a long ball team.

Blackburn were not prolific on their travels but the foundation of their success this season was a formidable home record, and it was refreshing to see David Dunn finally playing to his potential again at his boyhood club after long injury troubles.

Allardyce and Blackburn's cause was also helped by the rejuvenation of goalkeeper Paul Robinson. This popular character was, in my opinion, harshly criticised after a freak goal Croatia scored against England and it seemed to have a detrimental effect on his career. Good to see him playing so well again and he is not markedly worse than the goalkeepers Fabio Capello is taking to the World Cup.

Expect a few shrewd moves from Allardyce in the summer and more of the same next season.

SEASON'S MARK - C+

STOKE CITY - 11th

Once again a fine season of consolidation for Stoke City under manager Tony Pulis. No longer a surprise package after their return to the Premier League, when the bearpit atmosphere at The Britannia Stadium proved a culture shock to many, Stoke were never looking at a fight for survival this season.

Pulis and his team have been criticised in some quarters, but they have found a method that works and make no mistake, any manager who had Rory Delap's throw-ins as a potential weapon would use them just as much.

It does not need hours of investigative journalism to detect that Pulis will want James Beattie and Dave Kitson out of the door this summer, but he can rely on the backing of the Stoke board, who will be happy to show their gratitude to a manager who looks like he has made them part of the Premier League's fixtures and fittings.

SEASON'S MARK - C.

FULHAM - 12th

In some ways the story of the season. To be at Craven Cottage and see the reaction of the supporters on the night they beat Hamburg to reach the Europa League final was something special.

They may have fallen short against Atletico Madrid in the final, but Roy Hodgson was the architect of a wonderful adventure that burnished the reputation of manager and team and increased the club's profile as Shakhtar Donestsk, Juventus spectacularly, and Wolfsburg were beaten.

A reflection of their manager's sound principles, Fulham were attractive as well as tactically disciplined.

And in Bobby Zamora, they arguably possessed the Premier League's most improved player. A journeyman who fell short of his full potential for most of his career and even criticised by Fulham's own fans, a love affair ensued as he emerged as their top scorer and a contender for England's World Cup squad.

If there is a downside to Fulham's season, it is that Hodgson's success may lead him to be courted by other clubs. So much of Fulham's future success could depend on whether he stays - but foundations are in place for further good times at Craven Cottage.

SEASON'S MARK - B+

SUNDERLAND - 13th

Up and down first season at the Stadium of Light for Steve Bruce. Up at the start, swooping down during a bad spell in the middle and then on an upward curve to end in 13th place that just about borders on respectability given his transfer market outlay.

Bruce can take heart from consolidating Sunderland's position in the Premier League and in pulling off one of the signings of the season in Darren Bent, who once again showed his prowess with 25 goals.

I have always been an admirer of Bent and he simply did what he has always done - scored goals. Will he edge Emile Heskey out of England's World Cup squad? Probably not, but he is in a different league to his Aston Villa counterpart as a goalscorer.

Solid start for Bruce, but he will want more next season and will be allowed some more of owner Ellis Short's cash to do it.

SEASON'S MARK - C

BOLTON - 14th

Gary Megson's losing battle to convince Bolton's fans of his worth ended after a 2-2 draw against Hull City just before New Year and in stepped Owen Coyle, leaving supporters of nearby Burnley screaming betrayal.

I portrayed this as a sideways move by Coyle at the time and I have not particularly changed that view. He will always move around mid-table at best at the Reebok, which is satisfactory of course, but I remain convinced he would have eventually attracted a bigger club had he continued his fine work at Turf Moor.

What I will never deny is that Bolton have themselves a very fine manager, as proved by their survival and the signs of tweaks to their style that makes them more pleasing on the eye.

Can Coyle build on this to take Bolton even further up the table? This is the question - and if he does then there is every chance he may get another chance to move on sooner rather than later.

SEASON'S MARK - C-

WOLVES - 15th

Great to see one of the fine old English footballing institutions return to the Premier League - and then stay there under the stewardship of Mick McCarthy, ably assisted by chairman Steve Morgan and players who bought into the effort and application demanded by their manager.

Kevin Doyle proved a class act and a shrewd signing by McCarthy, and they thoroughly deserved to retain their Premier League status. Any visit to Molineux tells you that you are in a top-flight environment.

McCarthy will hope Morgan allows him further room for manouevre this summer to freshing things up. The Premier League is never the poorer for the presence of Wolverhampton Wanderers.

And now to a bone of contention that raised the hackles of the Wolves fans when I tackled this thorny subject back in December. I will never support the playing of an obviously weakened team, without any real prior warning to supporters, against the Premier League's elite teams as early as December. What signal does it send out before the season even reaches its halfway mark?

McCarthy will say, and Wolves' survival supports him, that he has been vindicated and that is fair comment. It is something that simply refuses to sit easily with me so relatively early in the season.

I may concede the point later in the season if clubs have cup priorities and there is little or nothing riding on the game - and I do also think it is a nonsense that Wolves were fined £25,000 and others escaped for coming close to similar offences.

This gripe aside, however, McCarthy and his players deserve rich praise emerging unscathed from their return to the Premier League.

SEASON'S MARK - C

WIGAN ATHLETIC - 16th

At the start of the season I stated that if new Wigan manager Roberto Martinez kept them up it could be regarded as a job well done.

Martinez stuck firmly to the principles he applied to Swansea City, namely an attractive passing game and a refusal to alter from that style.

It resulted in thrashings of the size of the 9-1 loss at Spurs and the 8-0 beating at Chelsea when the Londoners clinched the title - but also brought some of the best days Wigan have enjoyed in the Premier League.

Chelsea and Liverpool lost at the DW, but most dramatically of all Arsenal conceded a two-goal lead in the last 10 minutes as Wigan scored three times to effectively secure their safety and end the Gunners' title chances.

Martinez continues to mature along with his team and the same applies next season. Stay up and it is a job well done.

SEASON'S MARK - C-

WEST HAM UNITED - 17th

Miserable season of poor performances on the pitch, a change of ownership, the breakdown of the relationship between the club's power brokers and Gianfranco Zola, then safety followed by the manager's eventual sacking.

West Ham's loyal followers will hope a period of stability follows the appointment of David Gold and David Sullivan's own man as manager - the latter's early scathing public criticism of the team suggested Zola was on borrowed time from almost their first day in charge.

Don't bank on it though, not with every player in the squad appearing to be up for sale apart from the inspirational Scott Parker.

West Ham needs a breath of fresh air after this stifling and pressurised season that saw them fear for their safety. It is up to Gold and Sullivan to provide it.

SEASON'S MARK - D

BURNLEY - 18th

In all my travels this season - 9,000 miles in England alone before Christmas until I finally stopped counting - Turf Moor provided two highlights that will make them sadly missed next season.

Anyone sitting in the James Hargreaves Stand as it literally shook at the moment of impact when Robbie Blake's shot hit the back of Manchester United keeper Ben Foster's net will never forget it - for reasons of sheer footballing euphoria and fears for personal safety.

Burnley's first home game in the Premier League, and victory against the champions, gave all in this Lancashire town hope they could stay up. And another ear-splitting night when Arsenal were deservedly held gave weight to that feeling.

Sadly for Burnley, the departure of Owen Coyle to Bolton killed those hopes stone dead. The Scot was the adhesive that held it all together and once he left, accompanied by much bitterness from supporters who called him "God" after they won promotion, it all came apart.

Brian Laws looked to be an appointment made with the Championship in mind and that is where they have ended up. The galvanising effect Coyle had on Burnley's players could not be repeated.

A brief interlude with moments of glory for a warm club with superb support. On a purely personal note, I will miss those nights at a packed Turf Moor.

SEASON'S MARK - D

HULL CITY - 19th

One of my tips for relegation and they delivered in style. A shambolic season as they staggered on from an appalling conclusion to the previous campaign under Phil Brown.

Looked doomed pretty much from the start of the season, accompanied by off-the-field problems as chairman Paul Duffen was replaced by the returning Adam Pearson.

Brown was eventually placed on gardening leave in a move that smacked of a sudden realisation Hull City were going down - and the fact that his replacement Iain Dowie flew under the flag of a "football management consultant" just about summed up a confused season at The KC Stadium.

Will need to sort out financial and football matters swiftly or they will not be back in the Premier League for a very long time.

SEASON'S MARK - F

PORTSMOUTH - 20th

Where do we start with this dysfunctional club mired in financial crisis and heading back to the Championship with few clues to who will manage and play for Portsmouth next season?

Avram Grant deserves credit for restoring a semblance of respectability on the field with some spirited displays in the Premier League and a run to the FA Cup Final, which they lost to Chelsea.

But this is all overshadowed by Pompey's dire financial position that saw them slip into administration and flirt with extinction. Grant's constant complaints about harsh treatment by the authorities will find plenty of deaf ears to fall upon.

A sorry tale of financial mismanagement off the field - and not much better on it as they prepare for a new, and you suspect long, life in the lower leagues.

SEASON'S MARK - F

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Comments

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  • Comment number 1.

    Fair comment Phil. We might all have our own opinions but most of it I would agree with: especially Liverpool where there must have been such high expectations. And Arsenal..well yes indeed!

  • Comment number 2.

    Spurs easily the best :)

  • Comment number 3.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 4.

    Villa finish 6th just 6 points off CL football, reach the final and semi final of the cups respectively and are given just a C, Everton finish 8th with 2 poor cup runs yet are given a C+?


    Not sure your marking adds up that well Phil!

    UTV



  • Comment number 5.

    What utter nonsense.

    How can you grade Arsenal C when they finished IN THE TOP 4 ahead of Liverpool WHO FINISHED 7TH, who were also graded C?

    So Man City are graded B+ when they have spent £200m and don't even finish in the top 4?

    I can't even be bothered to go on...

  • Comment number 6.

    TheGunnerTB

    Learn to read how it's done, the grade for the team is at the end.lol Typical Gooner, more mouth then sense!!

  • Comment number 7.

    To TheGunnerTB (post 5)

    You have read the gradings incorrectly, the grade is at the bottom of each teams report, ie Arsenal C- and Liverpool D- so not the same grade as you have claimed and Man City got C.

    Having said that I agree the grades are rubbish, they are supposed to be awarded based on seasons expectations and most had Arsenal written off at the beginning of the season and expected them to fall out of the top 4 so to have finished 3rd is probably exceeded most pundits expectations and certainly deserve a higher grade than Man City who spent a bucket full of cash and could only finish 5th

  • Comment number 8.

    I'm not that keen on defending Sullivan, but can we get the facts straight? What he actually said was: "Other than Scott Parker, there is not a player we wouldn't sell if it was the right bid".
    That isn't quite the same as saying that every squad member (bar Parker) is up for sale. In fact he went on to say "we will be buying more than we are selling. There will be no fire-selling and we will enhance the squad, not diminish it."
    Surely Sullivan has come out with enough stupid comments the last few months, that you don't need to over-dramatise one that actually sounded quite sensible!

  • Comment number 9.

    Based on this statement:

    'I've given them some marks for added interest based on their pre-season expectations.'

    I'm confused as to how Wolves have only been given a C? Surely their pre-season expectations would have been to survive, which fair enough if they'd finished 17th may have merited a C, but to finish 15th, in my opinion, fairly comfortable survival, deserves at least a B?

  • Comment number 10.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 11.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 12.

    You ran the risk of rubbing people up the wrong way by adding grades. Liverpool's season was an unqualified disaster so it should be a U. Also, way too many Cs given out to teams who have done respectably.

  • Comment number 13.

    What a load of rubbish Phil

    1st - Chelsea get the Double and get a A- laughable

    2nd - Aston Villa have a great season and only get a C while Everton do nothing all year finish lower than last season and get a C+

    3rd - Blackburn havent made the top 10 in god knows how long they only get a C+

    4th - Wolves who everyone tipped to go down including yourself finish 15th and that only deserves a C

    What a joke, the only thing ye got right was Liverpools D- and thats from a Liverpool fan!!!

  • Comment number 14.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 15.

    Think Chelsea should be a B given how they've allowed Man U back in it.

    Also, Birmingham not being A is a travesty.

  • Comment number 16.

    Hi phil,

    Gotta say, what a negative review to one of the most exciting seasons ever!! Well done Chelsea, spurs, birmingham, Man utd and wolves for having great seasons... we fell short but the ride was excellent. Wenger knows what he's done. Phil, normally excellent D- on this occasion (i'm being slightly more generous than your good self)

  • Comment number 17.

    Maybe he should admit he and most pundits were dead wrong about Arsenal falling out of the Top Four. But that would be too hard.

    Whereas Liverpool could get an F when they were tipped for the title but couldn't reach the Champions League.

    Wolves did great to survive, but no, it's not even a B. And it goes on and on.

    These grades will not help the writer's poor reputation.

  • Comment number 18.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 19.

    Phil - good summary.

    As a United fan, I would say that C is perhaps generous to us this year, although your point about us somehow clinging on to the end does say something for Fergie. Credit to Chelsea for beating us home and away, but it did feel like they didn't have to excel for the double this year?

  • Comment number 20.

    Phil -spot on with your analysis. Chelsea's goal tally at the end of the season says it all, if you score over a 100 goals in todays PL, it takes something very special to top it. Funnily enough Man Utd nearly did !- once the 'World Cup Year' Syndrome ends SAF may well be able to get the players he really wants at OT. Liverpool seem as though they are about to 'disappear without trace' - cannot really see a way back for them, especially now they are no longer in the CL - do you expect Gerrard and Torres to still be at Anfield come September, can't see it myself unless by some miracle the Yankee duo, do one? Arsenal -well what can you say, great football, but cannot win anything -don't see much changing, even if both RVP and CF are still there next season. Spurs may well struggle to hang on to 4th place, especially with Man City breathing down their necks- although Manchini did get the chairman's 'vote of confidence' and we all know where that usually leads! Anyway, look forward to more of your bloggs next season.

  • Comment number 21.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 22.

    This article over needs a g for its woeful marking on teams

  • Comment number 23.

    good try Phil, you backed LIVERPOOL to be champions and Birmingham to be relegated! Need i say more?

  • Comment number 24.

    @ Nasri_is_the_French_Gooner, cheer up dude, what have you had for dinner? Though its evident you clearly disagree with Phil's marking, I'm sure you can keep your wits about yourself.

  • Comment number 25.

    Have to agree with TheGunnerTB, Arsenal exceeded YOUR expectations of fourth by claiming third and you award them a C-. Beating Man Utd and Chelsea to the title is always going to be a difficult task but we stayed competitive until the last few games of the season despite having a massive injury list and losing key players for large parts of the season. Give credit where its due.

  • Comment number 26.

    Interesting idea grading on 'expectations'. In particular as that's 'whos'? expectations?

    As someone pointed out, most Arsenal fans and a fair slice of the media had written them off before the start so any involvement, not matter how eventually meaningless, in the championship race and CL was welcome!

    With Liverpool by contrast, an average team over-achieved in 2008-09, and lost it's key player to Real in the summer. So why all the pre season hype? Most of the Liverpool fans I work with had only modest expectations once Alonso left, and while bitterly disappointed, were at least realistic.

    Utd, I said this at the start of the season, and I take back not one word, are an ageing side, shorn of it's best players over a five year period, and with only average replacements. Their success this year owed more to a dismally poor EPL, and the defeatist attitude of their opponents (hello, but far from alone, Wolves) than it did their own ability. Their failure to win any of the big prizes shocked me not one little bit.

    Chelsea, while having a fine season in the end summed it all up by having not the express train ride to the title some were predicting, but rather a roller-coaster as they made it look a lot harder than it actually was. The spine of the team, Lampard and Terry, usually so dependable, had too many off days for comfort, and while prodigious in attack, leaked too many soft goals. Not as many as Arsenal's sieve like defence, but hey there you go! As an attacking force though, Chelsea under Ancelloti have been a joy to watch this season and deserve top marks.

    Spurs under Redknapp had an excellent season, but the hype does depress. They lost key battles heavily at times, and still look like a team that can throw away games they really (really) shouldn't at the drop of a hat. The first team is top quality, but beyond that............well, they may find the CL heavy going unless Redknapps erm' 'dealings' can bring in new faces, and quality new faces at that.

    Manchester City, well City fans are usually split between rash optimists and rash pessimists, guess who were proved right in the end? ;) The blue half of Manchester spent big, but not wisely. much gloating took place over the double transfer from Arsenal of Toure and Adebayor, but by the end of the season the City fans I work with were hoping to God Arsenal would take them back! Lescott couldn't live with his price tag, Barry, once it was obvious nothing was coming City's way, simply switched off. An ominous portent for City if they can't get proven quality through the door for next season.

  • Comment number 27.

    Although Portsmouth have been in financial turmoil this season and yes it has been calamitous. On the football side of things their season has not been a complete atrocity and I think that should really be commended. For Avram Grant to take an already relegated side of players who are all going to be sold off at the end of the season to the FA Cup Final is a phenominal achievement. OK so they're financially screwed, I'd still say well done to the people who weren't involved in absolutely wrecking the club.

    As for Liverpool, I think a D minus grade is far too kind. What a shocking season they've had. They nearly didn't qualify for the Europa League (if Portsmouth hadn't been in administration). Rafa Benitez seems to be happy to sit on his five year contract. No-one plays with any urgency. A few years ago when Rafa's managerial ability was being questioned, the results and beautiful football were flooding in. Now, with him in a secure position he seems happy to sit on his laurels. He should have been offered a 1 year rolling contract to keep him on his toes.

    Also, how could Fulham only get a B+. Have you seen how thin the Fulham squad is? Bobby Zamora was dying on the pitch in the Europa League final but he still contributed to Fulham's goal with a brilliant turn. Roy Hodgson's got so much out of his players, Fulham must surely get an 'A' for their season.

    A short word about Everton. What David Moyes is still doing there is a brilliant achievement. To get Landon Donovan for 10 weeks and get those sorts of performances out of him was a great move. It reminds me of Man U getting Henrik Larsson for about that amount of time. At the start of the season their injury list was longer than my arm and without the finances to increase their strength in depth 8th is a notable achievement.

  • Comment number 28.

    Why do i get the feeling that if Utd had got 3 pts at Blackburn and won the league they'd have been given an A. Utd did very well to force the league to the final day considering the season they had, losing Tevez and Ronaldo who have gone on to be clinical at other teams plus there MEGA MEGA defensive issues... For that both Chelsea and Utd should have been given a B, Chelsea should have been well clear by Feb/March. The only team to be given an A should be Spurs and potentially Fulham for the scalps they have taken on the road to the final. Pompy should also be given something more than an F, how is it the managers and players fault thats what happened and dispite all that they made it to Wembley. Oh and Liverpool were tipped for the tittle... After there season they should be given a seperate grading system altogether...

  • Comment number 29.

    You give Utd a C and Liverpool a D and expect to be taken seriously?

  • Comment number 30.

    I'm not going to bang on about the gradings as they are ultimately subjective and generally the mini-reviews themselves were good summaries of the past season, but as a Blackburn fan I do just want to say that for a team that even I felt were likely to be dragged into a relegation battle, to finish in the top half (and it hasn't been ALL that long, el-nino84, only a few years!), do the double over Burnley and make the semis of a cup competition is an end result that any Rovers fan would have been thrilled with at the start of the season. I'm not wild about the football being played myself but it is certainly pragmatic considering our limited financial circumstances and I think Sam has proved what he didn't get the chance to prove at Newcastle, that given a bit of time he will make a side very, very hard to beat.

  • Comment number 31.

    How on earth can Wolves get a C?

    What more do you want them to do?

    The marking does seem a tad harsh, a few too many C's for my liking. How about an A for Spurs? Don't see how there season is wildly different from Chelsea's in terms of success.

  • Comment number 32.

    You we're always asking for trouble by going with grades Phil. Hard to argue Utd were 2 grades lower than Chelsea having run them so close and just one grade better than the disasterous Liverpool, who you yourself tipped to finish higher than Utd.

    And your comment on Utd's defence is way off the mark. Haven't you noticed the excellent Jonny Evans? Despite a defensive injury crisis of unprecedented proportions Utd finished with the best defensive record in the League!

    Midfield and up-front needs some new blood but certainly not the defence.

    Otherwise a fair assessment.

  • Comment number 33.

    All this user's posts have been removed.Why?

  • Comment number 34.

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  • Comment number 35.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 36.

    Yet again BBC''s so called experts taking complete rubbish - only ever interested in Chelsea or Man U - what about the teams who have stood out this season:- Spurs, Villa, the likes of Birmingham & Wolves staying up with relative ease.

  • Comment number 37.

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  • Comment number 38.

    I think many of the gradings are a farce. Man U two grades below chelsea?
    Pompey getting an F after reaching FA Cup final?
    Arsenal a C?
    Villa should get a B!
    Liverpool should probably get an F as they did not reach or even get close to their target!
    Birmingham to get A!

    Personally every team that at least achieves their target should get a B and teams that exceed should get an A!

    Simple as that!

    And Owen Coyle move a Sideways Step? We have better stadium. Players considered for england. Better recent history. And you mean he can get a better job? Where? At Manu U? Liverpool? They dont sign any locals. Its very unlikely that someone would have come for him if he got burnley relegated. He understood that and came to a club less likely to be relegated. Phil please become a man. It takes a man to admit his mistakes!

  • Comment number 39.

    How on earth did United deserve a C!?

    When you look at the trophy haul, only winning the Carling Cup is disappointing, but we lost the league by a single point to what the media call the best Chelsea team in years, and went out of the Champions League on away goals after a controversial sending off. All this on top of the fact that we lost two of our best attacking players(one of which is arguably the best player in the world), and we played a month with 9 defenders injured. Plus you predicted we'd finish third so I'd say second can't be that bad of a result!

    Performance wise, we weren't at our best this season but if either of Chelsea's illegitimate goals were actually ruled out against us, we would have won the league. At the Bridge, we lost to a header of a free kick that never should have been given, and then at Old Trafford, the deciding goal was scored when Drogba was a good 3 yards offside. If decisions like these are the difference between an A- and a C, then this article cannot be taken seriously.

    And what do Liverpool have to do to deserve an F? They were tipped to win the title, and ended up scraping into the Europa League...

  • Comment number 40.

    Looking at Liverpool I don't see how they can possibly have got a D. Granted they weren't relegated, but tbh if you're including expectations they've had a worse season than everyone barring Pompey.

    Just comparing them to Hull puts it into perspective:

    Off the field both Hull and Liverpool have seen big financial losses, a change of chairman due to the financial situation, and have seen a huge drop in revenue for next season as a result of their on pitch failings.

    The only difference is on the field. Hull were expected by most to struggle and even our own fans would have taken 17th if offered it pre season. We fell 2 places and just 5 points short of it, hardly a massive failing, when compared to Liverpool's 23 points off the top. You could argue CL would be acceptable to their fans like 17th would be to ours, but how many red Scousers preseason would have taken 4th place and being 15 points behind Man U if they'd been offered it? I'd suggest only the ones that appreciated how important Alonso really was to them.

  • Comment number 41.

    I'm surprised at your marking of City and Arsenal, Phil. You said yourself you were marking on pre-season expectations and if I recall, this was the year Arsenal were meant to drop out of the top 4 whilst City, who have probably spent more in 2 seasons than Arsenal have in 10, were meant to replace them. Yet City get rated higher! I agree with most of your mini-summaries, however I think you may have rushed the article.

    Although I do think that Arsenal still run the risk of being knocked out of the 'Big 4' if they don't invest in key areas.

  • Comment number 42.

    @ 36. At 01:25am on 18 May 2010, 6onthetrot wrote:
    Yet again BBC''s so called experts taking complete rubbish - only ever interested in Chelsea or Man U - what about the teams who have stood out this season:- Spurs, Villa, the likes of Birmingham & Wolves staying up with relative ease.

    -------------------------------------------------------------
    I had to do a double take on this. The last time I checked Phil had reviewed all 20 PL teams and gave due praise to the teams you mention.

  • Comment number 43.

    Arsenal beat the expectations of most pundits, and yet they are expected to deliver more. Typical.

  • Comment number 44.

    Some of those grades are scandalously low, especially Villa, Birmingham and Wolves. So what are your predictions for next season Phil?

    How about this:

    1 - Cardiff Grade: D+
    2 - Wigan Grade: C-
    3 - West Brom Grade: C
    4 - Wolves Grade: C-
    ...
    18 - Man City Grade: B+
    19 - Man Utd Grade: B-
    20 - Chelsea Grade: C

  • Comment number 45.

    McNulty, I'm still scratching my head at your Liverpool for the title prediction. They sold their third best player and replaced him with an injury prone, unproven player from a lesser league (watch me get hammered for that comment, yes I realise Inter are in the CL final but I still think the PL is far superior to Serie A); in a sense, he replaced Alonso with a white elephant. So how on earth could they improve on last season? Madness, McNulty. Two of the three world class players in their squad are either injury prone or suffer from major fluctuations in form, the other being Pepe Reina, who I will agree is a star. Not to mention the erratic tactics & team selections of the manager, however this could not have been predicted at the beginning of the season.

    Add to that the tension between the manager & the club's owners and there is no way that Liverpool could have mounted a serious title challenge. My pre-season prediction was a disappointing 5th and they couldn't even achieve that.

    I think your overall rating system is quite harsh, although there is no doubt in my mind that Liverpool almost certainly deserve an "F" if United receive a "C", especially after Benitez made those guarantees. What on earth was he thinking.

    Teams like Birmingham and Tottenham (as much as it pays me to say it) are well deserving of an "A" grade.

    Also, being a Chelsea supporter I disagree with your assessment of the new players we require. A new goalkeeper? I'm happy with keeping the faith with Cech; I'm confident he'll regain his world class form. Hilario is a very able deputy and Turnball has proven he's no slouch in goals either. Another centre back? Again, no thanks. Terry is still a colossus, Alex has been great this season and Carvalho is still better than decent. Ivanovic is a natural centre back and has had a great season. There's four reasons why we don't need anyone new in that position.

    Drogba and Anelka are both in their thirties, Kalou is average and Sturridge isn't ready. Let's see a new striker. I think Aguero must surely be fairly close to a done deal, although I'm not too pleased about it. I would prefer Villa but I don't think that's going to happen with Barcelona and Real Madrid circling. I can't see Torres leaving Liverpool without Benitez doing the same, so I think both will remain at Anfield for at least one more season.

    Deco and Joe Cole are both probably on their way out. Michael Ballack is coming to the end of his career. One or two new central midfielders please. Kaka and Rafael van der Vaart would be nice, although I doubt the former will arrive. I've always been a fan of Wesley Sneijder and think we were fools not to pick him up on the cheap last season. If rumours are to be believed, David Moyes could be tempted with a large bid for Mikel Arteta. We still need a new Frank Lampard for when his time is up; I can see a striking resemblance in Darren Gibson (not that United would sell to us for a reasonable price).

    A right winger that's not Ribery would also be nice, but I'm not greedy.

  • Comment number 46.

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  • Comment number 47.

    Phil, well spot on about our season, we really do need some improvement in certain areas. Anyways, some Arsenal fans think we have improved from last year but what I do not understand is how. We haven't won anything for years and we always get the same promise year after year, "next year we will be stronger." Season is not rated based on what people predicted before the season kick off, but what you achieve at the end of the season. Our season should not be taken as a success because we have proved others wrong about how our season will end. I'm not being judgmental of my team, but since we have failed to win any trophy for years, the improvement is insignificant. This year would have been a year to show real character because other teams haven't been as strong as previous seasons, and yet Arsenal failed to capitalise on that. If it wasn't for the weakness of others, I think our season would have been worse.

    However, Phil, one thing I do not understand about your rating is, how in the whole world did you rate City's season better than Arsenal's? They spent lots of money and still failed to achieve 4th place. If anything, Arsenal's season is better than City's as people thought we wouldn't even make it to the top 4. City had quality in abundance in ever position and yet failed to reach 4th spot.

  • Comment number 48.

    As a Liverpool fan of many years, this was perhaps the worst team. Expectations aside, there was no pretence at any effort. It is not that previous teams did not lose, it is the way this team lost. The performances were spineless, especially if the team conceded first. There was never any hint of a comeback. Even when LFC was ahead, once the other team equalized we were in perpetual danger of being overrun. It may not be easy to point at a single player or the manager as being responsible for the state of affairs, but what is certain is that with the current set up and set of players my beloved LFC can only go further down. The D award is unnecessarily kind, believe me, and I am a Liverpool fan of many years, this LFC deserves F.

  • Comment number 49.

    What the hell is it with the BBC and their anti arsenal bias they were tipped to drop out of the top 4 but finished third despite having vpersie out for 5 months if drogba or rooney had been out for that long man u or chelsea would probably have finished out of the top 4

  • Comment number 50.

    Phil mentions that Tottenham Hotspur had a "midfield that had character and creation with Wilson Palacios and Luka Modric at its heart".
    But there's no mention of Tom Huddlestone, who happened to play more matches last season at the heart of Spurs' midfield than anyone else.
    Tom had an outstanding season for Spurs and really stepped-up to establish himself as a regular starter. He was justly rewarded with his first senior England cap and is in with a good shout of making the final 23 for South Africa.
    If I have one critisism of Huddlestone's performances during 2009-10, it's that he doesn't score the amount of goals that his talents and abilities suggest he should.

    http://www.myfootballfacts.com/TottenhamHotspurPlayersStatistics2009-10.html

  • Comment number 51.

    Phil, surely your grades must be based on your predictions at the beginning of the season as a pundit. Given C to mean that the club did as expected, and based on your comments in August the following must be a better measure.

    August Comment Actual Grade
    Arsenal 4th 3rd B
    Aston Villa Top 6 6th C
    Birmingham Season of struggle 9th A
    Blackburm Mid table comfort 10th C
    Burnley Staying up but only just 18th D
    Chelsea 2nd 1st B
    Everton Top Ten 8th C+
    Fulham Mid table security 12th C
    Hull Relegation 19th C
    Liverpool Champions 7th E
    Man City Europa League 5th C
    Man Utd 3rd 2nd B
    Portsmouth Relegation 20th C
    Stoke Staying Up again 11th B+
    Sunderland Top 10 13th D
    Tottenham Top 6 4th B
    West Ham Middle of the road 17th D
    Wigan Lower Reaches but staying up 16th C
    Wolves Fighting Birmingham for relelgation place 15th B

  • Comment number 52.

    I think its only fair that we are able to grade this past season's blogs.

    F-

  • Comment number 53.

    Relatively graceful, Phil, in your comments about our club... bur as many have said, the grading is highly debateable! I won't comment so much about our grade - others have - but how can Birmingham possibly not get an A? I mean, I dislike their club intensely, but a top-ten finish in the year after promotion is THE stand-out performance in the Premier League this year.....

  • Comment number 54.

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  • Comment number 55.

    I couldn't argue with most of those grades, Phil - but I think you're being a bit tough on Stoke giving them only a "C".

    Many would have predicted relegation for them this season, following the usual pattern of being a "surprise" club in their first season in the Premier League and relegation the second (see also: Hull). But Pulis has managed to get them not only to survive, but to improve their position.

    Given that Everton (a club and team I admire) got a C+ having taken a bit of a step back from last season, surely the same rating would be right for a team that's not only exceeded expectations but taken a real step forward in staying in the league?

  • Comment number 56.

    Brilliant!!!

    You have found a way of getting the fans of all teams together ready to back England for the World Cup!

    And how.....?

    By grading (badly) the season!

    A master plan, I think!

  • Comment number 57.

    Thanks for the F for Portsmouth. I think you are yet another media pundit who has taken the easy and safe option and jumped on the media bandwagon and 'copped' out big time focussing your efforts on the dire financial situation of the club. An F for that part is highly generous, but an F for the footballing side? Take another look!

    I can honestly say that I thought the Premier league was all about grace, glamour and over paid prima-donas, but if anything, this season has been a breath of fresh air in proving me wrong on that front. For in the face of adversity we had 11 players who took to the pitch and gave their all for the Fratton Faithful, something I will be eternally grateful for and reinstate my belief that the top flight players aren't all in it for the grace and glamour. To make an FA cup final is pure evidence that players can indeed roll their sleeves up and make a fight of it when everything else goes against a club's supporters.

  • Comment number 58.

    I really feel like writing an article of my own, after reading all the junk that you guys have written about United this season.
    I think all of you, especially the media have been very harsh on United this season.

    Phil, its is just so difficult for me to see you rate United as C.

    Before the start of the season, I always maintained as a United Supporter that we did not have a squad good enough to win trophies this time around, and I accepted that.

    But with all the problems we had, off field and on field, losing a couple of our Star players to other teams, a lot of players injured ( Rio, Owen Hargreaves, Michael Owen just to name a few in Positions where we anyways lacked a lot of options ).

    To add to that the Glazer problems and the financial problems, and we still run the season till the last day, and all you can give is a C?

    I clearly remember, in every of the Big 4 Matches, United were the better team, we were the better team when we lost to Liverpool at Anfield, we were the better team when we lost to Chelsea both the times ( not to forget 1 Goal was even offside ). We were clearly the better team over the 2 legs against Bayern.
    All this was written in your Post Match Reports on BBC Website. Its not me who wrote things like ' United were the better team and created more chances and were more dominating, though they lost' It was you guys who wrote those things.

    A lot of times when it was a So-So situation, we did not have the luck on our side. Now, I am not complaining, cos we have been lucky in the past and obviously, it has to balance itself out.

    But that does not in any way mean, we Played Badly or deserve a C for the entire season.

    Decisions went against us, some decisions went for Chelsea ( they Opened scoring in almost 5 matches this season with an offside goal, United, Wigan, just to name a few ).

    Both played equally well I believe this season, and both would have been Deserved Trophy winners.

    I have no problems with Chelsea winning, but I do have a problem with people calling United's season as disastrous.

    I had told all my friends before the start of the season ' If we do not buy any new players after the players that leave us, or the injured ones that would not recover soon, and we still manage to win something big this season, Like the Premier League or Champions League, then all other teams should die in shame '

    And I still stand by that, had we won the League ( when we lost it just by 1 point ), or had we reached the Champions League Final, I would give all other English Teams a F, forget a A,B,C or D.

    So, all I am asking for is, just a little more respect to United in all your Blogs, rather than saying things like ' The trophy has gone to the best place in England ' or whatever.

    Cos in my eyes, Both Chelsea and United were exceptional this season and both would be worthy winners.

    Congratulations to Chelsea for their Historic Double.

    And Phil, I would really like you to reply to this comment if you could, I want to know your view points on this entire blog of mine.

  • Comment number 59.

    Good lord Phil! At the start of the season, you were so short-sighted to predict that Liverpool would win the league (no more comments on that at least) and that United would finish third because they had lost two excellent players and not replaced them. You also questioned whether the Owen gamble would pay off and it didn't really.
    Given this, how on earth can United finishing 1 point behind an unweakened Chelsea side merit a C?! Surely it was a fine effort because Chelsea were worthy champs but we pushed them close. You only have to look at Liverpool to see what happens when a team loses important players and fails to maintain a previous season's momentum...

  • Comment number 60.

    I really think I should be hired as a BBC Journalist and write some articles which are unbiased and with more insight than what you guys write here.

    Because first of all, all your predictions always turn out to be disastrously wrong.
    Forget your prediction of Liverpool winning the League, that was the most disastrous, but what about others?

    After every match you would hype up a team and call it a Team of Winners and as far as your 4th place Prediction goes, it was the worst of all time. It changed every week.

    You gave everyone an equal chance everytime they won an important game, Manchester City, Aston Villa, Tottenham, and in the middle of the season even Liverpool.
    You would take turns to praise each team and nothing was ever in perspective or based on longevity or a continuous run of successes.

    really, BBC must do something here...

  • Comment number 61.

    Absurd..

    Tottenham won nothing but 4th place in the league and they got B+, while Man Utd won Carling cup and 2nd place and they got C?

    and Man Utd did that without C Ronaldo and Tevez.

  • Comment number 62.

    @redmaverick911 : I am agree with you


    One more thing.

    Man Utd only lost 1 point from Chelsea!

  • Comment number 63.

    A "C" for United is very harsh IMO, why do they deserve that for winning the Carling Cup, getting to the Quarter-finals of the Champions League and finished JUST 1 POINT behind the champions.

    I think United would deserve a A-/B+/B

    But a C??? ridiculous.

  • Comment number 64.

    59.

    How can you say Michael Owen didn't pay off?? we paid next to nothing for him and I seem to remember a certain derby game where he prooved his worth.

    He was bought as a super sub and he's done ok in that role.

  • Comment number 65.

    Your grading system is ridiculous! Surely Liverpool deserve an F! A season which has seen them go from second best in England, potential champions at the start, to seventh best in England, potential mid-table mediocrity (Gerard and Torres permitting) next season.

    Spurs get a B+ after their best season in recent memory. Give them an A.

    Arsenal get a C for finishing third and being in the title race for a good part of the season when most had them tipped for the Europa League places.

    Pompey deserve more than Hull surely. Alright they went down, but we new they would at the start. All of their best players had been sold (mainly to Spurs). They adapted to off the field struggles and reached the F.A. Cup final somehow. Hull did none of this.

    Pathetic!

  • Comment number 66.

    I think a "D-" for Liverpool might be a little flattering to be honest. I can honestly say I have never seen such a bad Liverpool side which really annoys me as it's pretty much the same side that looked capable of being crowned champions only 12 months ago. I suspect the problems currently lie with the attitudes of certain players as well as the obvious weekly auditions for Casualty.

    http://the-fa-premier-league.blogspot.com

  • Comment number 67.

    B+ for Spurs? How can you possibly think that when we got into CL and Redknapp got manager of the season? Ridiculous. This article in general is poor.

  • Comment number 68.

    As glad as I am to see that every comment posted after mine has agreed with me on what I wrote earlier, I am not a wee bit surprised. It was for everyone to see, and I would never be naive enough to say or believe I am the only expert on the planet.

    But whats appalling is that the people who matter, like Phil himself, do not see this and end up with conclusions that are not true 1 bit.

    I am not trying to launch a scathing attack on BBC here, but its really painful as a United fan to see what they write week in and week out about us.

    You people on BBC almost make it sound as if, had we any by chance won the League or entered the Champions League Final, we would have been the worst champions of all time and stolen something that belonged to only Chelsea and no one else and we would have deprived them of their absolute birth right to win everything this season.
    Come on, get a grip.

    Phil, could you please hire me as a Football Consultant for BBC or let me write an article here?

    I think I would do a far better job...

  • Comment number 69.

    THE PUNTERS REVIEW

    Phil Mc C+ Needs to predict better, maybe a crystal ball would help.

    Dan W A Fresh new face and he's always feeding it.

    Fletch B Solid and informative.

    Motty D Not delivering, tired, out to grass asap

    Chris C A Always a decent read and is a good summariser of the week

    Phil Min B+ Insightful and avoids stating the obvious, unlike others.

    Cheesy A Knows her stuff.

    Robbo B AKA CC? Sometimes v v amusing

    MOTD D Strangely dull and tired. MOTD2 is/was much better.

    Lineker C- Needs fresh motivation, show is now tired predictable

    Hansen D+ Subs bench beckons, has used up all his cliches.

    Lawro F Miserable, needs a transfer.

    Maybe the Beeb should ask us to vote on changes, there would be some interesting feedback.

  • Comment number 70.

    Not sure I agree with your marking at all but pretty much with your comments on the first ten anyway... I scrolled down after to look at the marks. I would hate to have had you as a marker in Uni. Seems to me that Liverpool failed their season, ( D is a pass right?), miserably. To award United a C and City a C seems odd when you look at the predos at the start of season. Everyone said United would miss Tevez and Ronaldo, everyone said City spending would bring them Champions league.... United got a trophy and finsihed second, City didn't get anything......
    Regardless I agree it was a season full of surprises, but those 7:0 score lines are worrying, I think the standard has dropped, markedly. Luckily for Liverpool other teams around them had strange results or I would have been right with my lucky to finish in the top 10 predo.

  • Comment number 71.

    Some very strange season markings there. With the money spent at Man City I'd have thought a D would have been more accurate. Also Villa put the most points on the board they've had for over 15 years, which seems better than C material to me.

  • Comment number 72.

    In my view, a team that reaches it's expectation should get a C. Beating that expectation should get a B and far exceeding it an A - same goes for the opposite direction. Therefore:

    Chelsea - B
    Man Utd - C
    Arsenal - C
    Tottenham - A
    Man City - C
    A Villa - C
    Liverpool - E
    Everton - C
    Birmingham - A
    Blackburn - B
    Stoke - C
    Fulham - D
    Sunderland - D
    Bolton - C
    Wolves - B
    Wigan - D
    West Ham - E
    Burnley - C
    Hull - D
    Portsmouth - E

    Although I appreciate that any BBC sports writer that decides upon a rating of teams or players is going to struggle to succeed as it's so open to interpretation!

  • Comment number 73.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 74.

    Give over Phil - Stoke only getting a 'C'....and WOLVES?!?!?!

    Wolves didn't set the league alight - but they stayed up quite comfortably. They'd be worth a B at least.

    And for the money that Man City spent compared to Villa - you're wrong to give them equal grading.

    Phil McNulty = E

  • Comment number 75.

    This is the first time I have posted on this site although it comes as no surprise that it is a McNulty blog which pushes me to say something! As a Wolves fan I have lost count of how many times he has continued to preach to all about how Wolves have brought into question everything that the Premier League stands for. Yet again there is no reference to the 'big teams' using their squad, no reference to Fulham resting players in the final month of the season and no reference to the fact that as it turns out the 'under strength' Wolves team that played at United was made up of a number of players who consistently kept their place towards the end of the season and helped us stay up. Instead it is once again a diatribe from a man who knows so much about football that his early season prediction for the team that would win the league was so far from the mark. The BBC website has some of the best bloggers on the net for me with Messrs Fordyce, Robson and Dirs but this is the last time I will waste my time with anything written by this man.

  • Comment number 76.

    just and indication of how wierd this season has been is that all teams from 13th could have been relegated in another season. It used to 42 points for safety now it's only 35............

  • Comment number 77.

    City go from tenth to fifth and do the double over the Champions and its only a C. Looking at the season in its entirety rather than just the defeat to Spurs; it has been a productive and encouraging season which I am very optimistic about for next season. Just because fourth wasn't achieved doesn't make it a failure, yet that is the view the anti-City press seem to have.

  • Comment number 78.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 79.

    I think an F for Hull is a bit harsh considering they were expected to go down. An F for Liverpool should have been given as they were awful.

    Birmingham & Fulham deserved A+'s for their efforts and Everton were worth a B

    A bit tight I feel on the markings Phil.

    World Cup songs blog can be found here http://adampsb.blogspot.com/2010/05/world-cup-theme-songs.html

  • Comment number 80.

    "...............Rooney and more bolstering of central defence (besides Fulham rookie Chris Smalling) will be needed"

    Ahem, Phil have you seen the goals conceeded for this season? Best defence in the league bar none, despite a run where there was only 1 regular defender fit.

  • Comment number 81.

    "I will use that as a perfect example of the Premier League's unpredictability that gave this season an intriguing slant to surpass many others of recent memory."

    ---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    As unpredictable as Glasgow Rangers or Glasgow Celtic winning the Scottish title! The EPL can only be won by two teams - Chelsea or Manchester United - however much the media try and hype it up.

  • Comment number 82.

    I think that my criticism has already been covered by many others here. Your expectations are so high and I am so glad you are not a teacher. If a team does well its an A/B surely. Do Tottenham, Birmingham and Blackburn not deserve A's for 'exceeds expectations'? Man United may not have had their best season, but they are a straight A student which had an off year; surely a B+, as they were still there right at the end? What about Pompey? In school terminology, they're parents divorced and moved home several times and then they got cancer, horrendous year - they failed the exam, but surely the exam board would have taken that into account and given them a D.

  • Comment number 83.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 84.

    So United get a C for finishing second after selling their best player and deciding against investing silly money in order to give the young players they have a go (the party line). Narrowly missing out on a fourth successive title (Chelsea deserved winners), winning a trophy and producing some great performances/results (Milan, Bayern, Cityx3) as disappointments (Chelsea x2, Burnley, Blackburn)and winning a trophy (all inspite of widespread injuries).

    City get the same mark for spending huge sums of money on mainly underperforming players and missing out on the targets they brashly set themselves.Maybe they get added points for the new blue moon pre-match ritual that so intimidates the opposition. C may be a fair mark for the blues, and I'm sure it'll improve next year, but giving United a C is harsh.

  • Comment number 85.

    You are so wrong again about Coyle(again)..Sideways move? Youre having a laugh....

    It was a clear step up as indicated by the final league placings. Bolton are an established premiership club and Burnley are down....

    Have the good grace to admit your wrong!!!

  • Comment number 86.

    Phil - how utterly ridiculous that in one breath you say that "no praise is too high" in reference to the way Redknapp has turned Spurs round in a "remarkable 18 months", and then you give them a B+! So an nt feredifA 's would be too high praise then?!!?! I have no issue with people's differing opinoins, but how can you contradict yourself like that ?

  • Comment number 87.

    Why does everyone keep harping on about what a great achievement it is for Harry Redknapp and Spurs? I don't have exact figures at hand, but since Harry Redknapp took over, less than 2 years ago, I think he's spent more than any other team, bar Man City, and they only finished 4th, behind Arsenal who have probably spent about 10% of what Spurs have spent. Where's the fantastic management in that? How can they get a better grade than Man Utd and Arsenal, or even the likes of Blackburn and Stoke?

  • Comment number 88.

    As that man on "Opportunity Knocks" nearly used to say..."the marks are only for fun."

    Now obviously I could place the blame on my immediate superior for suggesting grades for each team - a sure-fire way to lose friends in a very short time.

    They are more for interest and to create some debate around the blog itself. I am actually far more interested in what you feel about my reflections on your team rather than the mark at the end.

    Feel free to criticise the grades (apparently some already have) but let's have even more debate around your team's season. Did it live up to expectations? Did it exceed expectations? Where did it go right or wrong? Let's review the whole Premier League season here.

  • Comment number 89.

    I wrote on the LFC Forums site before the season even started to say we wouldn't finish in the top 4, therefore I guess my own grade for Liverpool would be a C, because we matched my expectations.
    However, our performances in the cups was just as embarassing, so perhaps a D would be more appropriate.

    We are a team/club in real trouble, with too many journeyman players, and we are in real danger of being a Europa League or mid-table club for several years to come.

  • Comment number 90.

    How have you not scored both Spurs and Birmingham an A? Both teams would have bitten your hand off at the start of the season for the positions they finished in. Also I think Wolves and Wigan will be more than happy just to have stayed up.

  • Comment number 91.

    RE 88: I am not a great believer in what might have been or if buts.... but as you are talking about the season. I think Uniteds season was really one where I could look back with a lot of If but. Out of the champions league, by an away goal , not champions by one point. I am not actually disappointed. Given that Ferguson brought no one in last year apart from Valencia, ( I don't consider Owen) and got rid of two very talented players, I think United played better to watch football than last year, at times. I think the played some dire stuff as well. It's hard to say they were much worse than last year when last year the difference in the league was only 1 result as well. So I consider them at the same level as last year. My fear is that Ferguson is not replacing Neville Giggs and Scholes. While they still have their skill , I think the matches they influence are farther and farther apart. I think Hargreaves if he is mentally prepared, and that is a big worry, will be a new signing and will make us tougher in midfield. If they hold on to Berbatov , we will see a different more effective player in front of goal next season. Signings? I don't think they need signings, I think they need to stay injury free. Traditionally we always had 4 strikers but that has changed lately.

  • Comment number 92.

    Strange grades.

    How are Spurs and Birmingham not worthy of an A? What more do they have to do? Win the League? Even the champions are only and A-, and fair enough if this takes into account their poor European form, but if this is considered, why are Fulham only awarded a B?

    United did extremely well also with the squad they had, coping with the loss of Ronaldo and Tevez, so a C is extremely harsh.

  • Comment number 93.

    I am at a lost to understand the hero worship of Spurs and Harry Redknapp. A team loaded with internationals and big money buys gets 4th place and celebrate like they have won the Champions League, Premier League and World Cup! I think the 'race' for 4th place is having an effect on the battle for the Premier League. Teams like Spurs are happy to have 4th when with the funding they have they should be thinking of winning the league.

  • Comment number 94.

    Phil

    You predicted United to finish 3rd but they actually finished 2nd just one point behind 1st so does that not mean we should have got an A????

    You predicted Liverpool to finish 1st but they actually finished 7th so should they not have got an F instead of a D???

  • Comment number 95.

    Fair enough Phil. I was going to have a bit of a pop because I thought you said at the beggining of the season that arsenal were under threat of losing there top four place. I checked though and you didn't. Still alot of people were saying that there is a good chance we would drop out of the top four, as they seemed to have done for the last few years. Nice to prove them wrong but I hope we can prove ourselves to be genuine title contenders next year.

    Agree we need to buy a keeper. I have been sticking up for poor old Manuel becasue there are times when he has been exceptional and I feel he is not as bad as people say he is, however there have been silly little mistakes that have cost us points.

    The media are always shouting BUY BUY BUY at Wenger and at times he has shown why he has been right not to, i.e Alex Song, another candidate for most improved player don't you think? However I think the time is right to supplement our squad with a couple of buys.

    Obviously been linked with Buffon, which would be amazing, but im not sure how much truth there is in that. Getting Chamakh means i think we are ok attacking wise. For me keeping rvp fit is the most important thing. Then I think we could do with another center back, if we lose gallas we need 2. Perhaps one more central midfielder. For me Diaby, who i really rate, has been dissapointing. A bit of competition could be good.

    Can't imagine wenger buying that many players, but lets hope he gets a couple!

  • Comment number 96.

    To save myself some time I just looked at the leauge table.If we are losing R/QOTW and Robbo I hope this guff goes too.

  • Comment number 97.

    With jaydrawmer rating system it should go like this:

    Chelsea - B+
    (They were expected to be champion in the opening day, so by meeting this expectation they should get C, but a B+ should be given as they also won FA Cup)

    Man Utd - B+
    (They were expected to be at 3rd place, but they exceeded that expectation by sitting on 2nd place. So they should get B.. B+ is given as they also won Carling Cup)

    Arsenal - B
    (They were expected to be beyond 4th spot.. but they exceeded that expectation by sitting on 3rd place.. so B is fair enough)

    Tottenham - C
    (They were one of the team which was expected to replace Arsenal at 4th spot.. so C is fair enough)

    Man City - C-
    (Same as Tottenham, They were expected to replace Arsenal at 4th spot.. but they failed it so C- for them)

    A Villa - C-
    (Same as Tottenham and city, They were expected to replace Arsenal at 4th spot.. but they failed it so C- for them)

    Liverpool - F
    (They were expected to be contender to win the title or at least big 4, but they failed it.. so its an F)

    Everton - C
    (They meet the expectation)

    Birmingham - A
    (They were expected to be relegated but look where are they ended it.. so its an A)

    and so on.. (well i'm not that tidy to include all teams.. LOL)

  • Comment number 98.

    Phil please explain how birmingham didnt gain an A+. I mean fair play to all the top teams, especially chelsea, but they have money. We spent between 10- 13 mil finished in the top 10 when expectations were survival. Also many football 'experts' predicted us to go down. (although il use the term 'experts' loosley.

  • Comment number 99.

    I completely agree with your grade ratings for each of the clubs in the premiership. It has been a relatively interesting premier league season. Lots unpredictability and Chelsea deservedly come out on top! United were so close 2 getting a record 19th title but fell a bit short. Chelsea had luck on their side in some of the big matches. I expect Spurs 2 do really well in the Champions League next season
    I personally would give Spurs A+ grade!

    Lets hope we have an even exciting premiership season in 2010-2011!

  • Comment number 100.

    Phil surely Wolves deserve higher than a C, not a first season like Birmingham but still successful.

 

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