Phil McNulty's Premier League end-of-season report and manager ratings
|Phil McNulty's predicted 2017-18 Premier League positions at a glance|
|Position||Club||Position (cont.)||Club (cont.)|
|3||Man Utd||13||Crystal Palace|
Manchester City - 1st
Brilliant football. Brilliant season. Their final margin of victory of 19 points and the record-breaking 100-point haul was an accurate measure of their superiority over the rest of the league. Pep Guardiola's team produced some of the purest, finest performances the Premier League has ever seen.
McNulty's pre-season prediction: Champions - City's attacking riches are already in place and look for Gabriel Jesus to emerge as a Premier League superstar this season. This makes them champions.
Managerial mark: Pep Guardiola 9/10
Manchester United - 2nd
Manchester United's season has not exactly been pleasing on the eye but equally their achievement has been perhaps downplayed given City's brilliance and the all-action styles of Jurgen Klopp's Liverpool and Mauricio Pochettino's Tottenham - worth pointing out those two never looked like finishing above them. Disappointment comes with never mounting any sort of title challenge given expenditure.
McNulty's pre-season prediction: 3rd - United and Mourinho will be under pressure to offer a serious title challenge and I expect them to do so.
Managerial mark: Jose Mourinho 7/10
Tottenham - 3rd
Disappointment that no title challenge materialised - Spurs are not alone there - and should be even bigger disappointment that there is still no trophy after four seasons under their excellent manager Mauricio Pochettino. The Champions League last-16 exit to Juventus was a bitter pill to swallow but they are back for more next season. No-one can deny this team is progressing under Pochettino - but until they win something, questions will always hang over them. New home next season and still moving in the right direction.
McNulty's pre-season prediction: 6th - Spurs have proved an outstanding team over the past two seasons but have yet to win a trophy… I will not be surprised in the slightest if Spurs defy this current placing but one or two questions to be answered at this stage of the summer.
Managerial mark: Mauricio Pochettino 7/10
Liverpool - 4th
Thrilling side under Jurgen Klopp and achieved the rare feat of looking even better once Philippe Coutinho was sold to Barcelona for £142m in January. Magnificent going forward and the relatively unheralded £34m deal to sign the world-class and record-shattering Mohamed Salah is one of the great bargains. The future is bright at Anfield - and Klopp's personal mark will go up if Liverpool win the Champions League.
McNulty's pre-season prediction: 4th - Mohamed Salah's arrival from Roma offers even more pace and movement to an attack rich in those qualities.
Managerial mark: Jurgen Klopp 7/10 (9/10 if Liverpool win the Champions League)
Chelsea - 5th
Poor follow-up to an outstanding Premier League title-winning season. The sales of Diego Costa and Nemanja Matic proved to be folly and Antonio Conte was not the same driven figure of his first season, seemingly at odds with Chelsea's hierarchy - never a good idea. FA Cup win may salvage something but huge disappointment summed up by the final-day collapse at Newcastle. More change on the way.
McNulty's pre-season prediction: 2nd - No title but a very good shout for a cup.
Managerial mark: Antonio Conte 5/10
Arsenal - 6th
The end of an era and rightly so. For all his brilliance, Arsene Wenger's Arsenal had become stale, and an embarrassing away record since the turn of the year, slightly salvaged by the narrow final-day win at Huddersfield, says it all. The club needs the winds of change to blow through - but never forget what Wenger has brought to the Gunners.
McNulty's pre-season prediction: 5th - Arsene Wenger has signed a new two-year deal and the French manager will want to make a fast start to ensure there is a feel-good mood around Arsenal.
Managerial mark: Arsene Wenger 5/10
Burnley - 7th
Magnificent achievement by Sean Dyche and his players. One of the stories of the Premier League season to see this great old club reach the Europa League - European nights at Turf Moor will be special. No praise too high for Dyche, his management team and Burnley's squad.
McNulty's pre-season prediction: 17th - Could be some suffering along the way but I think Burnley will stay up.
Managerial mark: Sean Dyche 8/10
Everton - 8th
The most joyless season in Everton's recent memory with barely anything other than unrelenting misery - all this after the biggest spending spree in the club's history at £150m.
Ronald Koeman was sacked in October and while Sam Allardyce has done what he does, the grim, attritional style has only led to open rebellion among some sections of supporters - it is hard to see him surviving. Goalkeeper Jordan Pickford the shining light.
McNulty's pre-season prediction: 7th - Do not expect them to finish any lower than last season (7th) but may need a couple more transfer windows to infiltrate the top six.
Managerial mark: Ronald Koeman 3/10, Sam Allardyce 5/10
Leicester - 9th
Another top-10 finish but simply too many poor performances, first under Craig Shakespeare and then Claude Puel. Puel looks likely to pay the price but once again stories of Leicester players being unhappy with the manager's methods. Any chance of them taking responsibility? May be time the finger was actually pointed at them for once.
McNulty's pre-season prediction: 9th - Leicester City looked much more like the side that won the Premier League after Craig Shakespeare took command from sacked Claudio Ranieri - but will full command be different to temporary charge for a talented coach?
Managerial mark: Craig Shakespeare 3/10, Claude Puel 5/10
Newcastle - 10th
Rafael Benitez has guided Newcastle United to the comfort of mid-table safety without any serious financial support from owner Mike Ashley and against the backdrop of the usual (non-fulfilled) takeover talk on Tyneside. Not the greatest squad in the Premier League but manager and players can reflect on the season with real satisfaction.
McNulty's pre-season prediction: 11th - If Benitez feels confident and settled then expect a comfortably mid-table finish.
Managerial mark: Rafael Benitez 7/10
Crystal Palace - 11th
Truly remarkable transformation by Roy Hodgson and redemption for the former England manager. Palace overcame seven straight Premier League losses at the start of the season to finish in genuine style as Hodgson used all his experience and expertise to get the best out of the likes of Wilfried Zaha and Ruben Loftus-Cheek.
McNulty's pre-season prediction: 13th - Palace should have enough to survive with a little to spare.
Managerial mark: Frank de Boer 0/10, Roy Hodgson 8/10
Bournemouth - 12th
The Cherries have had yet another solid season playing attractive football under manager Eddie Howe. It is a tribute to his work and the development of the club that they are now seen as an established component of the Premier League.
McNulty's pre-season prediction: 10th - Bournemouth and Howe are growing together and I expect that to be reflected in another good season of consolidation.
Managerial mark: Eddie Howe 6/10
West Ham - 13th
Season of turmoil and, on occasion, rebellion from West Ham's fans - this has been a season where the Hammers have survived and not much else. The future is uncertain for manager David Moyes and there remains much antipathy towards the club's owners and an unhappy atmosphere at London Stadium. A largely miserable season.
McNulty's pre-season prediction: 8th - Javier Hernandez, goal poacher par excellence, may yet prove to be a masterstroke while Marko Arnautovic is a talented wildcard. Cause for cautious optimism.
Managerial mark: Slaven Bilic 3/10, David Moyes 5/10
Watford - 14th
Watford's season started so brightly until it was derailed by Everton's interest in manager Marco Silva. It never quite recovered, Silva was subsequently sacked and while Javi Gracia ensured comfort, the season was something of an anti-climax after a superb opening under Silva.
McNulty's pre-season prediction: 18th - Interesting signings such as Will Hughes from Derby County and Nathaniel Chalobah from Chelsea… but I fear a season of struggle for the Hornets.
Managerial mark: Marco Silva 5/10, Javi Gracia 5/10
Brighton - 15th
Thought the Seagulls would struggle but the calm, understated and astute management of Chris Hughton, one of the game's gentlemen, brought the best out of Brighton's squad and they thoroughly deserved to secure their place in the Premier League.
McNulty's pre-season prediction: 20th - Chris Hughton has done a superb job to take Brighton up after just missing out before. This is a club with real potential who could thrive if they survive this first season back.
Managerial mark: Chris Hughton 8/10
Huddersfield - 16th
Defied logic and the odds to the delight of every neutral. If the art of outstanding management is to get everything from what you have at your disposal then David Wagner delivered a masterclass. The atmosphere at the John Smith's Stadium was also a wonderful addition to the Premier League.
McNulty's pre-season prediction: 19th - Now this is an interesting one. The Pride of Yorkshire and the great Championship story of last season - and this is a prediction made with no huge confidence. The fear is their rivals will just have too much over the course of a long season - but I will be delighted to be proved wrong.
Managerial mark: David Wagner 8/10
Southampton - 17th
Saints acted just in time by sacking Mauricio Pellegrino, a poor appointment, and bringing in Mark Hughes to provide late, very late, impetus to avoid the drop into the Championship. This was a grim season, however, as Southampton finally paid the price for being a selling club in recent seasons, the latest being Virgil van Dijk to Liverpool for £75m in January.
McNulty's pre-season prediction: 14th - Southampton seem to thrive in this environment (changing managers/selling players) but there will surely come a time when they cannot pull off this trick of succeeding surrounded by such turbulence.
Managerial mark: Mauricio Pellegrino 3/10, Mark Hughes 7/10
Swansea - 18th
Swansea City have paid the price for being a club that lost its way in recent seasons. Poor managerial appointments and failure to replace key players such as Gylfi Sigurdsson and Fernando Llorente meant that not even an early surge under Carlos Carvalhal, which fizzled out, could save them. The club's hierarchy can blame no-one but themselves.
McNulty's pre-season prediction: 16th - Can Swansea find the players to replace what the Icelander Gylfi Sigurdsson gives them?
Managerial mark: Paul Clement 3/10, Carlos Carvalhal 4/10
Stoke City - 19th
What happens when you sign poor players, allow your ageing squad to fall into total disrepair and delay sacking a manager who has clearly lost his way? You get relegated - and that is exactly what has happened to Stoke City. Did the owners, the Coates family, become complacent after years of stability? Dreadful team and dreadful transfer strategy. Stoke's fans deserve so much better.
McNulty's pre-season prediction: 15th - There was a real sense that Stoke City were running out of momentum under Mark Hughes last season. Some of the old menace had gone and they were too tame on too many occasions.
Managerial mark: Mark Hughes 2/10, Paul Lambert 3/10
West Brom - 20th
Who would have predicted relegation for the Baggies when the season started with two wins under Tony Pulis? A complete shambles and a dreadful managerial appointment in Alan Pardew exacerbated the problem - then made even worse by leaving it too late to sack him and replace him with Darren Moore, who might have pulled off an escape given more time. Complete farce of a season.
McNulty's pre-season prediction: 12th - While he is an acquired managerial taste to some, Tony Pulis keeps teams in the Premier League with the minimum of fuss. Expect the same again.
Managerial mark: Tony Pulis 3/10, Alan Pardew 1/10, Darren Moore 7/10