Premier League Review – Grading Each Team’s 18/19 Season – Part 2
The 2018/19 Premier League season has drawn to a close and as the dust settles, we’ve marked each team’s report card.
Man City were crowned champions on the final day after the most exciting title race in history, while at the other end of the table Cardiff, Fulham and Huddersfield lost their fight for Premier League survival.
How did your team fare in our 2018/19 Premier League Review?
Part 2 looks at Leicester City through to Wolverhampton Wanderers…
Premier League Review of 2018/19
Final position: 9th
Verdict: A difficult season at the King Power given events off the field, but one that ended on a high note looking ahead to 2019/20. The appointment of Brendan Rodgers increasingly looks like the perfect fit for the Foxes given the exciting young squad the Northern Irishman has inherited.
Provided Rodgers can find some extra attacking cover this summer to take the pressure off Jamie Vardy, a tilt at dethroning the Big Six looks perfectly possible in the East Midlands next season.
Final position: 2nd
Verdict: So near yet so far for Jürgen Klopp’s relentless runners-up as an incredible 97-point haul still saw them fall just short of the title glory Reds fans have been craving for almost 30 years. One overlooked stat that makes this season’s incredible title race all the more impressive for Liverpool was the fact they finished 25 points adrift of Man City in 2017/18.
Klopp deserves huge credit, therefore, for closing that gap to one point in this campaign, even if this agonisingly near-miss takes a long time for the Reds to process. Adding extra squad depth this summer could be a gamechanger for Liverpool’s ongoing pursuit of Premier League glory.
Final position: 1st
Verdict: Another outstanding season for Pep Guardiola’s side as they became the first club to successfully retain a Premier League title since 2008/09. As that gap of a decade shows, it’s no mean feat in the modern era, and perhaps the most impressive aspect of this successful title defence was the fact that City refused to buckle under the pressure as Liverpool’s heavyweight title challenge went all the way to the wire.
City found all sorts of different ways to win this season, particularly in a testing run-in, making this year’s success all the more rewarding.
Final position: 6th
Verdict: A season in three ‘acts’ for a Utd side that seems unable to catch a break when it comes to the man in the Old Trafford hotseat. Despite his mixed managerial record, the arrival of club legend Ole Gunnar Solksjaer initially appeared to be an unlikely masterstroke after the ill-fated end to Jose Mourinho’s reign at Old Trafford as the Norwegian got an instant response from his charges.
However, an alarming slump in form to end the season will leave Utd fans with more questions than answers about the next steps for the club. A huge rebuilding job is required at Utd, but it’s hard to pinpoint exactly where they should start.
Final position: 13th
Verdict: Rafa Benítez continues to work wonders on Tyneside with Newcastle rarely looking a realistic relegation contender in this campaign – and that should continue to be the case provided the popular Spaniard can be persuaded to extend his spell in the north east.
The signing of Miguel Almirón in January proved to be the catalyst for a strong finish to the Magpies’ season. More signings like the Paraguayan will be needed to ensure Benítez can move the club forward instead of continually treading water in the Premier League.
Final position: 16th
Verdict: The Saints clearly learned lessons from their 2017/18 horror show under Mauricio Pellegrino by acting decisively this season when it became clear Mark Hughes’ short-lived spell had run out of road.
At times it was a case of trial and error for Ralph Hasenhüttl as he gradually moved his makeshift squad around to his way of thinking, but the Austrian has shown enough to suggest the Saints can finally start looking up rather than down in 2019/20. The South Coast side still looks light upfront, and that will be a key issue for Hasenhüttl to address this summer.
Final position: 4th
Verdict: An oddly disjointed domestic campaign for Mauricio Pochettino’s side, not helped by the long wait to move into their stunning 62,000-seater Tottenham Hotspur Stadium, but a mixed league season will be quickly forgotten if they can scoop a maiden Champions League trophy in Madrid on 1st June.
A lack of squad depth has been a recurring issue for Spurs for several seasons now, and this was the campaign where that shortfall really started to bite – albeit not enough to cost them their Champions League berth. After Spurs’ outstanding European run, Poch has never been in a more powerful position in North London, and this could be a pre-season where the in-demand boss finally gets to throw his weight around.
Final position: 11th
Verdict: It’s the end of a Premier League season and Watford still have the same manager who started it – just one sign of the remarkable progress made at Vicarage Road in this campaign.
The Hornets just missed out on a top half finish after a string of fearless performances across the season, although an FA Cup victory would more than make up for that mild disappointment. Could Javi Gracia be a leftfield option if any major vacancies arise this summer? He’s certainly done enough this season to put himself in the conversation.
WEST HAM UTD
Final position: 10th
Verdict: A surprisingly low-key season for a club that can usually be relied upon to throw up at least a touch of drama during the course of a standard Premier League season.
A 10th-place finish looks just about the right reward for Manuel Pellegrini’s rebuilding efforts in this campaign, with the Hammers often managing to pull off a shock Big Six result followed by a sloppy defeat within the space of three days. If Pellegrini can finally crack their consistency issues, a Europa League spot looks well within reach with further investment this summer.
Final position: 7th
Verdict: While it’s true that given their financial backing, Wolves’ rapid rise is hardly the plucky feelgood story of the year, they succeeded this season where plenty of other ambitious Premier League outfits failed in mounting the strongest charge outside the Big Six.
Wolves also achieved it by playing some of the division’s slickest football under the increasingly impressive Nuno. He may find himself a wanted man if the Midlands club continues on their upward trajectory next season. One thing’s for sure – this season will be a tough act to follow.
All image sources from PA Images
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