Manchester United – Final league position: 5th
According to Louis Van Gaal, the expectations of United fans is too high. What a load of nonsense. Man United are one of the biggest clubs in the world. They didn’t get there by finishing fifth and missing out on the Champions League for the second time in three seasons. The last major trophy United won was the Premier League title under Sir Alex Ferguson in 2013. While LVG could add another trophy to the cabinet if his side wins the FA Cup on Saturday, this is not enough for a club of United’s stature.
The style of play this season has been so poor that it has quite literally sent their fans to sleep. United have made the most backwards passes and are third for sideways passes. Goalscoring has been an issue this season. In fact, it has been so bad that the club has set a new record for the fewest goals scored in a Premier League season after netting just 49 times in 2015/16. Their previous low was 58 in 2003/4.
Anthony Martial, the 20-year-old Frenchman, finished his debut season in England as Man United’s top scorer with 11 goals. Wayne Rooney managed eight league goals which is his first season at Manchester United that he has ever finished with less than 10 league goals. Another low point is the fact that United took just 25 points away from home this season, a joint-low for them in the Premier League era. With all the money that LVG spent this season, United fans are right to feel disappointed. If he is still there next season,the fans will have to get used to the feeling of disappointment.
Chelsea – Final league position: 10th
In August 2015, BBC Sport asked 30 of their pundits to predict this season’s top four. 22 of them predicted that Chelsea would retain the title that they won by eight points last season. Nobody expected them to finish the 2015/16 season in 10th place. Chelsea won only five Premier League games at Stamford Bridge this season and they were against Arsenal and the bottom four.
Eden Hazard, last season’s PFA Player of the Year, was very poor this season. He did not score a Premier League goal until his brace against Bournemouth in April. The Belgian forward did score a crucial goal against Spurs which made Leicester this season’s Premier League champions but four Premier League goals is nowhere near enough for a player who set the league alight last season. As well as Eden Hazard severely under-performing, Jose Mourinho had a bust-up with team doctor Eva Carneiro in Chelsea’s first match, which overshadowed the whole season. Mourinho was sacked in December with Chelsea hovering one point above the relegation zone in 16th place.
The Blues lost as many times in the opening five games of the Premier League season (three) as in the whole of 2014/15. Having been knocked out of the FA Cup by Everton and the Champions League by PSG, after March they had nothing to play for. Things went very wrong for Chelsea this season but with new manager Antonio Conte coming in next season, perhaps he can propel them up the table and get them back into the top four.
Everton – Final league position: 11th
Everton finished this season in the exact same position and with the exact same points total as they did last season. The team have not progressed at all. Roberto Martinez was sacked before Everton’s last game of the season, which they went on to win 3-0 against Norwich and it was definitely time for him to go. Lukaku, Barkley and Stones are young talented players who Martinez was supposed to get the best out of. Lukaku scored 18 league goals and was 4th in the list of this season’s top Premier League goalscorers but the difference between him and the other players in the top five is that they will be playing Champions League football next season.
Since Martinez’s first season, Everton have regressed rather than improved. They have conceded from winning positions far too often this season. They were 2-0 up at home against West Ham in March and let in three goals in 12 minutes to give the three points away. The Toffees exited both the FA Cup and the League Cup at the semi-final stage this season. To make matters worse, the FA Cup semi-final defeat against Manchester United came just three days after Everton were hammered 4-0 at Anfield by their biggest rivals. Everton’s home form was also a cause for concern this season. At Goodison Park, they only collected 23 points which
Everton’s home form has also been a concern this season. At Goodison Park, they only collected 23 points which is their lowest home total in a Premier League season. By the time Roberto Martinez was sacked, the atmosphere surrounding the club was toxic. Lukaku stated in March that he wants to play in the Champions League next season, so it’s very unlikely that he’ll be playing in the blue of Everton next season. The new manager will have a lot of work to do.
Crystal Palace – Final league position: 15th
At the start of the season, Crystal Palace were targeting a place in Europe. By May, they were lucky to secure their top-flight status. Alan Pardew was the highest-placed English manager in this season’s Premier League and his team finished 15th. It could have been much higher but Crystal Palace turned their attention to the FA Cup and neglected the league. They will face Man United in the FA Cup final on Saturday, so it worked.
However, at Christmas, only an inferior goal difference to Manchester United and Spurs kept them out of the Champions League places. Things drastically changed in 2016 when five of Crystal Palace’s seven wins were in the FA Cup. Crystal Palace beat Stoke in December and did not register another Premier League victory until the 9th of April against Norwich. Their abysmal league form between December and April should be a cause for concern but for now Palace fans can look forward to the FA Cup final and a chance to add some silverware to the cabinet.
Newcastle – Final league position: 18th
From the moment Newcastle hired Steve McClaren, this was destined to be a bad season for the Magpies. Derby were among the favourites for promotion when McClaren was in charge but finished eighth despite being second in the table with 11 games remaining. Surely that would set alarm bells ringing with the Newcastle hierarchy? Apparently not. Once I heard him say that Newcastle could become one of the “top 10 clubs in Europe”, I knew he was the wrong man for the job. Newcastle survived relegation on the last day of the season. How on earth were they going to get into the top 10 in the Premier League, never mind in Europe?
Newcastle should have sacked McClaren much sooner than they did. His win ratio at Newcastle was the lowest in his career at just 22.6%. The lack of wins (six of 28 Premier League games in charge) was a big issue but so was the amount of money spent in January. Newcastle spent £29 million on Shelvey, Townsend and Henri Saviet. Townsend scored four goals, whereas Shelvey only scored once. Defender Jamaal Lascelles scored more than him (2). Saviet has only made four appearances since joining the club in January, with two of those coming from the bench.
They appointed Rafa Benitez with 10 games to go and even though the team improved, it was too little too late. Thanks to him, they ended the season without losing in their last six games. Had Newcastle appointed the Spaniard sooner, they might not be preparing for life in the Championship. To add insult to injury, local rivals Sunderland were the ones to relegate Newcastle.