Home Football Premier League Season Grades 2015/16 – Club by Club
0

Premier League Season Grades 2015/16 – Club by Club

0
0

Well, that’s that then. It’s all over for another year. After nine football-crammed months, the 2015/16 Premier League season has come to a close. How will we all cope for those four gruelling and empty weeks before Euro 2016 kicks off in France? Well, don’t worry. It’s a month to look forward to the festival of international football and England’s inevitable heart-breaking penalty woe. But also a time to reflect on what’s been – undeniably – the most insane Premier League season ever.

And you can start with our run-down of how each and every club fared this year. We’ve had the league’s managers hand in their seasons, got out our big red pen and got marking. Here’s how your club (and the rest of them) got on.

And no arguing about grades, alright? Teacher’s word is FINAL.

 

Premier League Team Shirts      Arsenal: B-

Arsenal wouldn’t be Arsenal without their season petering out into predictable nothingness. Without the fillip of an FA Cup win to paper over the cracks and with their European efforts a trademark disappointment, this year’s league performance can be summed up with the kind of Gallic shrug that Arsene Wenger’s been demonstrating recently at the small but vocal section of fans calling for his head. Under-performing players, inflexible tactics, a reluctance to invest – it’s the same old mistakes being made time and time again. That said, they did pip Spurs to 2nd on the final day… And playmaker Mesut Özil gets top marks after a stellar season. Star pupil.

 

Premier League Team Shirts      Aston Villa: F-

Oh dear, oh dear, oh dear… It’s been a season so catastrophically bad for Villa that the fans have been revolting. But not as revolting as the performances of the players. The club went from bad to worse to appalling to amusingly awful all the way to unbelievably terrible. No heart, no spirit, no points. We’re labouring the point here admittedly, but it’s a point worth labouring. It was drubbing after drubbing after drubbing. They finished rock bottom and even cancelled their end of season Player of the Season awards. Expelled.

 

Premier League Team Shirts      Bournemouth: B+

Eddie Howe’s plucky outsiders have had some deceptively big investment, but they’ve also had an injury list longer than Arsene Wenger’s coat. The south coast club might not have pulled up any trees this season, but they’ve stayed up. And with some style. Anyone cramming into Bournemouth’s titchy Dean Court Vitality Stadium this year will have been treated to some tidy football and games chock full of goals. They might start eight players you’re not really sure you’ve ever heard of before, but they’ll give you a game. Now we just have to wait to see if the dreaded ‘Second Season Syndrome’ hits The Cherries. Promising first year at big school.

 

Premier League Team Shirts      Chelsea: F

2015/16 will deservedly be remembered as the season of the shock winners. While we’d never try and take anything away from the amazing achievement of Leicester City, it’s worth remembering that this was also the season of the shock losers. And no club disappointed more than the bookies’ ante-post favourites, Chelsea. With the exception of Willian and, in flashes, the burgeoning talent of Bertrand Traoré and Ruben Loftus-Cheek, the squad phoned in their season. While their manager bullied a physio and hit the self-destruct button. Detention.

 

Premier League Team Shirts      Crystal Palace: D+

Just as Alan Pardew hit peak smugness after a good run at the start of the season, he pulled his usual routine – one that Newcastle, Charlton and Reading fans will know all too well – and conspired to take his team on a 750 game winless run. The rot was eventually stopped just in time to avoid relegation but returning hero Pards has some Eagles fans starting to wonder if he’s the man for the job. An FA Cup final appearance has softened the blow and, no doubt, a win would see another eight year contract wafted under his nose and a statue of him smirking erected outside Selhurst Park. Cause for concern.

 

Premier League Team Shirts      Everton: E-

Ask any football fan before the start of the season which blue-shirted underdog they’d fancy to spring a surprise and they’ll have said Everton. But what could have been such a great season for The Toffees, with the big boys all pulling up lame, turned out to be a borderline disastrous one. And one that saw tiki-taka fan Roberto Martinez’s three year spell in charge at Goodison Park come to an end. Everton have one of the league’s best strikers in Romelu Lukaku, but a defence that simply can’t defend. Which is Martinez’s way. He took Everton from David Moyes’ gritty overachievers to an Arsenal Lite version of his Wigan Athletic team. Big improvements needed next term.

 

Premier League Team Shirts      Leicester City: A+++

Well, now. There really isn’t much that can be said about Leicester City’s jaw-dropping season that hasn’t already been said, is there? Favourites for relegation, people scoffed at the appointment of The Tinkerman before the season started. But Claudio Ranieri went on to lead his men to the biggest shock result in living football memory. Surprise cup wins are one thing, but to take a 5,000/1 shot and win the Premier League with them? It’s fairy tale stuff. The emergence of the triumvirate of Vardy, Mahrez and Kante and a well-conditioned and gelled squad allowed Ranieri, ironically, to avoid tinkering and let his regular XI storm the league. And they never let up for a single second. Nothing short of incredible. Top of the class.

 

Premier League Team Shirts      Liverpool: C+

After an indifferent start to proceedings which saw Brendan Rodgers’ side languishing rather unimpressively down in tenth spot, the Northern Irishman was binned off in favour of the popular and toothy figure of Jürgen Klopp. Form improved somewhat and Klopp’s already halfway towards becoming a Kop legend – mostly due to his wiliness getting The Reds into the Europa League final. A summer with the German having access to the purse should see Liverpool mount a more competitive charge next season and have them bag the European slot they missed out on this year. More consistency needed.

 

Premier League Team Shirts      Manchester City: D

For a team assembled for some 800 trillion quid (or thereabouts), Man City had a bit of a shocker this term. A good Champions League run was some consolation, but Manuel Pellegrini has learned something that older men and Pele have known for some time – you can’t always rely on a semi. The little blue pill that many thought would get Man City’s blood flowing, Raheem Sterling, flopped. And a limp season followed. Still, let’s not be too hard on them, eh? Kevin de Bruyne made plenty of City fans stand up to attention with his player of the year contribution. But ultimately? They provided no stiff competition to the top two this year. Must try harder.

 

Premier League Team Shirts    Manchester Utd: C-

It’s been three years since Sir Alex Ferguson retired and left Manchester United with lofty expectations that they don’t seem capable of matching up to. And this season, the second under Louis van Gaal’s tutelage, was another ‘meh’ outing for the Red Devils. Flashes of quality shone through and the pricey acquisition of Anthony Martial turned out to be a savvy one. The main problem, though? Their almost unbelievably slow starts in games. The United of old would take an early lead, continue to dominate, extend their lead and then still push for more in the latter stages of the game. But not anymore. And it’s led to another disappointing season. Luckily for them, the rest of ‘The Big Four’ have flopped to varying degrees too. Needs to knuckle down next term.

 

Premier League Team Shirts      Newcastle Utd: F

Well, it finally happened. Newcastle got relegated. Again. Another disastrous year has put Mike Ashley’s reign even further under the microscope. He finally splashed the cash before the season started. And big. Only City spend more on players. But no defensive reinforcements were recruited and the appointment of perennial failure Steve McClaren as ‘Head Coach’ was always asking for trouble. His replacement, the ever-classy Rafa Bentiez steadied the ship and got the team firing towards the end of the season, but he was brought in too late. The indignity of having Sunderland relegate them with their win over Everton in their penultimate game just rubbed salt into the wound. See me after class.

 

Premier League Team Shirts      Norwich City: D

The East Anglian club could’ve done with some of Delia Smith’s rallying cries this season, only they’ve been pretty toothless throughout. Misfiring strikers in Mbokani, the unbelievably overrated Patrick Bamford and the goal-allergic Cameron Jerome saw that goals would be hard to come by. A disappointing season from star man Nathan Redmond, dreadful away form, a tendency to concede late on and giving Sebastian Bassong a squad number sealed their fate and sent them down. It’s not all bad news, though. Johnny Howson had a stormer. And while he may be tactically naive at this level, Alex Neil is learning and will be a better manager for the experience. Sent back a year, but good kids.

 

Premier League Team Shirts      Southampton: B+

A top six finish brings European football for a second year running and there’s no denying that Ronald Koeman is doing a fantastic job at St. Mary’s. It was a bright year for The Saints, despite that odd run that saw eight defeats in ten games during a six week spell from the end of November until the start of January. Southampton are a club on the up, getting things done the right way. They quietly go about their business and have assembled an excellent squad. Special nods go to van Dijk, Fraser Forster and Victor Wanyama. Their priority will be keeping Mr. Koeman chained to his desk over the summer. Keep up the good work next year.

 

Premier League Team Shirts      Stoke City: B-

A season that started off so promisingly for Mark Hughes’ men tailed off quite dramatically in the last third. An injury list longer than Peter Crouch’s pyjama bottoms didn’t help, but there is a distinct feeling that Stoke took their eyes off the ball a wee bit towards the end of the season and undone a fair amount of their previous good work. A usually resilient defence is now pretty leaky. The big names in the squad need to keep up their good work for a full season next year. Afellay, Arnautovic, Bojan, Shaqiri – we’re looking at you. More consistency needed next term.

 

Premier League Team Shirts      Sunderland: C

Sunderland are a lot like TV at Christmas. Every year there’s The Great Escape. It’s the annual ‘sack the manager that kept you up last year, hire a new manager, beat Newcastle and pull off a miraculous rescue mission to stay in the Premier League’ routine. So back Big Sam to get the boot early next season. This season? It wasn’t all nail-biting, teeth-clenching stuff. Occasionally, Sunderland would open teams up and it was almost always Jermain Defoe at the fulcrum of the dangerous attacks. The January acquisition of Tunisian international Wahbi Khazri also helped. Needs to stop hanging around with the wrong crowd at the back of the class next year.

 

Premier League Team Shirts      Swansea City: C-

With the insanely lucrative new TV contract kicking in next year, the priority for the ‘lesser’ teams this year was to stay up. Well, except for Leicester City, of course. Swansea avoided the drop, so their season wasn’t a huge flop. Although jettisoning Garry Monk and going from everyone’s second favourite team to bland also-runs wasn’t a whole lot of fun for fans of the Welsh club. Gylfi Sigurdsson, Lukasz Fabianski and Ashley Williams all impressed. Bafetembi Gomis, after a decent start, didn’t. Some rebuilding next year is required. Needs to focus.

 

Premier League Team Shirts      Tottenham: A

Oh, Spurs. Spurs, Spurs, Spurs. Spuuuuuuuuuurs. Every year. Spurs bottle more than the employee of the month at a bottling factory. Second virtually all year, at one point they were favorites to win the league. A settled team of brilliantly-performing players including half of the new-look England team. But the likes of Eric Dier, Danny Rose, Dele Alli and Harry Kane couldn’t stop an end-of-season collapse that allowed fierce local rivals Arsenal to pinch second place. The main problem (other than that collapse)? Too many draws. And not enough bottle. Needs to overcome those nerves to be a star pupil.

 

Premier League Team Shirts      Watford: B

Bizarrely, Watford sacked Slaviša Jokanović after he got them promotion to the Premier League. The handsome Quique Flores, his replacement, defied the odds to keep the Hornets up. So, obviously, they got rid of him again. A decent FA Cup run and relatively comfortable survival wasn’t enough to buck Watford’s enthusiasm for printing off P45s. A front pairing of Deeney and Ighalo provided the goals (at least to begin with) and – even more bizarrely than the board’s love of sacking managers – Heurelho Gomes being a rock in goal. Good work – needs more stability at home, though.

 

Premier League Team Shirts      West Brom: C

A dull club, with a dull squad, managed by a dull manager. So guess how they were this year? Yep, you got it – DULL. When Johnny Evans and Darren Fletcher are your star men, you know you’re dull. Venezuelan striker Salomón Rondón proved a nifty signing and proved capable of netting a few goals, but the never-ending Saido Berahino saga continues to drag on and on and on. And on. It’s dull. More enthusiasm needed.

 

Premier League Team Shirts      West Ham: A-

Until the end of West Ham’s season became all about their departure from ‘The Boleyn Ground’ (apparently that’s how you pronounce ‘Upton Park’ nowadays), most people were talking about what a great season they’d had. Slaven Bilić’s work this year shouldn’t be underestimated. But the headlines deservedly go to player of the year, Dmitri Payet. What a revelation the 29 year-old has proved to be. He’s the kind of player you’d call ‘mercurial’ and expect to be terrible every other game. A Hatem Ben Arfa type. Not so, though. Plaudits also go to Aaron Cresswell and Cheikhou Kouyaté. Surpassed expectations.

Steve Charnock A freelance writer who writes news stories, features, articles, reviews and lists. But *always* forgets to write his mum a birthday card. Follow him on Twitter or follow him into the pub and buy him a drink.