Now the season is done and dusted it’s time for teams to reflect on how they performed. Here, we look at how teams performed relative to their expectations, giving each team an exam-style grade for how successful their season has been.
Despite disappointing in the FA cup and the Champions League, the Blues have been by far the stand out team in England. No team came close to matching them in the league, a formidable defence was coupled with a clinical attack. Only the top grade is suitable for the runaway winners of the Premier League and League Cup.
The Saints have come a long way from the team many predicted to be towards the bottom of the table last summer. After many of their biggest names left, including their manager, a huge rebuilding job was required. Koeman hit the ground running and signings such as Graziano Pelle and Dusan Tadic helped propel the club to a European qualifying place.
Leicester City: A
At one stage the Foxes were looking doomed and Nigel Pearson seemed to be heading for the exit until a phenomenal run of games turned their season around. Finishing their first season back in the Premier League in 14th place surpassed most expectations and they did it with a fast-paced attacking style which caught the eye. On this seasons showing Leicester look like they could be here to stay.
Swansea City: B+
Rookie manager Garry Monk has built on the work done by his predecessors and Swansea are now well established as a quality Premier League outfit. Finishing 8th is probably the best that could realistically be expected and they must now turn their attentions to improving further and possibly competing for a trophy.
Stoke City: B
Mark Hughes has confounded his critics this season and is well on the way to transforming Stoke into a team that plays attractive, attacking football. Stoke fans could be forgiven for thinking their side would be in a relegation scrap when Bojan suffered a season-ending injury, but the team rallied to a comfortable top half position thanks to good seasons from the likes of Charlie Adam and Mame Diouf.
Crystal Palace: B
After a slow start the appointment of Alan Pardew revitalised the side who look full of pace, power and skill. Not only have Palace managed a top half finish they have done it in style with Yannick Bolasie particularly catching the eye. If they can keep hold of their emerging stars Palace could climb even higher with a full season under “Pards”.
Even with another FA cup title this has been a pretty average season for Arsenal. There have been good signs and some great individual seasons from Sanchez and Cazorla, but the Gunners were well off the pace Chelsea set at the top of the table and exited the Champions League to a poor Monaco side. Arsenal need to build on their FA cup success and put in a serious challenge for the league next season, they aren’t far off being equipped to do so.
West Ham: C+
The Hammers had a fast start to the season, staying in European contention until December. Unfortunately 2015 wasn’t as successful and the season was finished in pretty dire form, something which can’t have been helped by constant rumours over Big Sam’s future. A comfortable mid-table finish is probably about good enough for West Ham and they have a solid foundation to build on for next season.
West Brom: C+
West Brom are another team who had a mid-season turn around. It was hardly a surprise that the appointment of Alan Irvine failed to inspire the players, fortunately the men in charge acted swiftly and the appointment of Tony Pulis rescued the Baggies season. They managed to steer clear of any relegation battle and their 13th place finish must be seen as a mild success.
Tottenham Hotspur: C
With a top four finish always the aim for Spurs they have fallen short of their ambitions, however I don’t think they will be too disappointed on the whole. Mauricio Pochettino has come in with the initial task of stabilizing a club which has really been a mess since the departure of Gareth Bale. This has been achieved and he has unearthed some young gems in Mason and Kane, if they can bring in the right players over the summer Tottenham are the best placed team to move into the Champions League places.
Manchester United: C
It’s stage one complete for Louis Van Gaal and Manchester United. Normally a fourth place finish wouldn’t be seen as a decent season for United but they have got back into the Champions League after a season away which has to have been the main target. It’s not been bad but it’s also not been great, Van Gaal has experimented with tactics which which often haven’t worked and players such as Di Maria and Falcao have disappointed, it will be interesting to see what happens next but there is no doubt they will have to find some consistency.
Aston Villa: C
Tim Sherwood has managed to rescue Villa from the snoozefest fans were witnessing under Paul Lambert, his energy and enthusiasm have seemingly rubbed off on the team and he’s given fans renewed hope. An FA cup final appearance is a good effort from the side even though they ultimately came up short.
It’s been a valiant effort from Burnley who were always likely to find the going tough as thy made the step up to Premier League football. With Sean Dyche sticking with many of the players who got the team promoted it’s hard to be critical of the Clarets. There were some memorable performances including a win over Manchester City in March, but ultimately they didn’t have enough fire power to survive.
Manchester City: D
A “D” may seem harsh for the team that finished second in the Premier League but the Blues showed an alarming decline in 2014/15. They never looked capable of winning the title ahead of Chelsea and went out of the FA cup to lower league opposition, struggles in Europe continue, even though the loss did come to Barcelona. Big signings just haven’t come off and it is worrying that they seem to rely so heavily on Toure, Silva and Aguero. It looks like Pellegrini will be around next season but his job may come under threat if performances don’t improve.
After such a promising year in 2013/14 it’s hard to figure out what has gone wrong at Everton. A drop off of 25 points has seen the Toffees fall from 5th to 11th in the table. The drop in form has been collective of the whole team with no player reaching the levels we’ve seen them perform at before, fans will have to hope that Martinez can turn things around and recapture their old form as mid table can’t be acceptable for a squad with so much talent.
The loss of Suarez has been absolutely disastrous for Liverpool resulting in a season that was looking like some sort of sick joke by the end. Their Champions League performances were woeful, struggling against Ludogorets and eventually losing out to Basel in the group stages. Goals were a huge problem with Daniel Sturridge out injured the others couldn’t consistently find the back of the net. Liverpool’s season can be pretty accurately summed up by two performances: Steven Gerrard’s brief show against United and their drubbing on the final day to Stoke.
Newcastle United: D
Newcastle stayed up by the skin of their teeth after things seemed to just keep getting worse after Alan Pardew left. John Carver never seemed to be in control sine he took over and looked dangerously out of his depth. However, it is hard to look only at results when the clubs biggest problem is the owner. Until Mike Ashley goes it’s hard to see anything changing for the Magpies.
Under Gus Poyet Sunderland were awful, the team were defending awfully and couldn’t compensate at the other end of the pitch, highlighted by an 8-0 drubbing at Southampton. Dick Advocaat’s appointment seemed to be popular with the players and the dutchman managed to keep the Black Cats in league with a game to spare, a major overhaul in playing personnel seems necessary or Sunderland will find themselves in the same mess next year.
Hull City: E
When you’ve finished below the likes of Newcastle and Sunderland you pribably deserve to go down and that’s just what’s happened for Hull City, the final nail in their coffin had to be losing 1-0 at home to an already relegated Burnley. Injuries crippled the Tigers and the season might well have turned out differently if Nikica Jelevic had managed to stay fit. Relegation only confounds the off field problems such as Jake Livermore’s substance abuse ban and the controversial name change.
Bottom of the league and most certainly bottom of the grade class, QPR failed to learn any lessons from their previous season in the top league. Charlie Austin and Matt Phillips provided brief glimpses of magic but it was not near enough to keep the London club up. The ageing, expensive squad never gelled and there were too many passengers. When Harry Redknapp jumped ship in January their doom seemed inevitable. Now with financial fair play charges looming the future looks uncertain at Loftus Road.