Premier League Grades – Each Team’s 2019/20 Season Rated
After 11 bruising months, the Premier League has signed off for another campaign.
It’s been a season of ups and downs for a whole host of sides, but we’ve now graded each side’s 2019/20 efforts.
Our final verdicts are in, as Part 2 looks at Man City through to Wolves…
Part 2 – Man City to Wolves
Verdict: A frustrating season for City, who missed out on a hat-trick of Premier League titles in a sign of just how competitive this league continues to be in comparison with its continental rivals. Despite stylishly sweeping plenty of teams away, City couldn’t quite keep the pace with a Liverpool side that ultimately proved relentless from pillar to post. Don’t expect Pep Guardiola to let that happen again. A fascinating title duel awaits in 2020/21.
Verdict: It’s got to be a B, mostly for Bruno Fernandes. Without his acquisition in January, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s methods would surely be subject to harsher scrutiny given Utd’s form prior to his arrival, but the Norwegian hit upon a winning formula with the Portuguese that could prove a long-term turning point in United’s fortunes. Solskjaer still has to prove he’s the right man to bring major silverware back to Old Trafford, but for now he deserves the breathing space to add more A-List talent to Utd’s ranks and make them less of a one-man band next season.
Verdict: Consolidation is Mike Ashley’s primary aim every season, and for all his critics, Steve Bruce proved to be the right fit to retain an air of stability at St James’ Park after the sainted Rafa Benitez’s departure last summer. The Magpies never looked likely relegation contenders and made a rare fist of the FA Cup this season. Should he leave later this summer, Bruce can at least walk with his head held high.
Verdict: Spending little more than £1m in the transfer market might be a sustainable way to run a football club, but sadly for the Canaries it’s also a sure-fire way to guaranteed a one-way ticket back to the Championship. Daniel Farke’s side won plenty of admirers from footballing hipsters in the first half of the season, but this team were ultimately always too naïve to stay the distance.
Verdict: Star performers in a season where so many sides underwhelmed. The Blades made a mockery of their pre-season sceptics with Chis Wilder’s astute tactics almost delivering European football to South Yorkshire. Now, Wilder needs to avoid ‘difficult second album’ syndrome. You wouldn’t bet against him mixing things up yet again next season to keep other sides on their toes.
Verdict: Southampton should get beaten 9-0 more often. The Saints sucked up that nightmare at St Mary’s to post one of their best finishes in recent memory, and in Ralph Hasenhüttl, look to have the right manager for a long-term top 10 project. Now the Austrian must make sure the board don’t make their usual mistake of selling off top talent on the cheap.
Verdict: Amazon Prime certainly picked their moment to film a warts-and-all documentary on life behind the scenes at Tottenham, but a madcap season ultimately ended on an upward curve as Jose Mourinho defied his critics to steer Spurs into the Europa League. Next season will be the litmus test. With Spurs and Jose likely to be outmuscled in the transfer market by other ‘Big Six’ rivals this summer, they may need to get creative.
Verdict: In the end, the chaos caught up with them. Watford’s revolving-door policy ultimately came back to bite them this year as too much change saw the Hornets slip back down to the Championship. Nigel Pearson’s last-minute sacking was seen as a turning point, but it was the curious re-appointment of Quique Sanchez Flores that arguably lost them valuable time in the race for survival.
Verdict: The Hammers made hard work of it, but ultimately had more than enough in reserve to pull themselves away from relegation trouble. David Moyes still has his doubters in East London, but there are signs he could be the right man to bring some much-needed stability back to the club if handed the right tools. A boring mid-table season in 2020/21? Hammers fans will moan, but that would do just fine after recent efforts.
Verdict: It’s a mark of how far they’ve travelled that a seventh-place finish for Wolves almost feels a tad disappointing, but make no mistake, Nuno’s side are here for the long haul in the annual fight for a top six finish. If Wolves can improve their consistency against teams in the bottom half, the Champions League tilt looks realistic in the next year or two.
Think we’ve marked your side too harshly?