6th to 10th Place
6th Place. Manchester United. 6.5 out of 10. United’s league mark warrants a six and a half although for an overall season they achieved more like a 9 with 3 trophies, the Community Shield, the League Cup and the Europa Cup. In the league Jose Mourinho built a wall from the goalkeeper forwards so that not too many goals went past De Gea in goal. Mourinho is slowly building a superb outfit here and the signings of Ibrahimovic and Pogba look like shrewd business in retrospect with Zlatan scoring like a ten year old in the playground before injury sadly destroyed his season. However Ibrahimovic was certainly bought for the short term, Pogba and Mikhataryan for the longer term. So why did it go wrong in the league where United missed out on a top 4 Champions League spot? Simple, they drew too many games over the season. They were adept at not losing with only 5 league defeats, exactly the same as Champions Chelsea but they drew a gigantic 15 matches in the 38 game campaign. Far too many. Only Middlesbrough who were relegated came anywhere close on that score, drawing 13 of their matches. United conceded only 29 goals though which was four less than Chelsea so something is going right, but at the other end of the pitch they only scored 54 goals with Ibrahimovic leading the scoring. That was still less goals than… wait for it.. Bournemouth. So something needs to be adjusted from the midfield to the penalty area. Rooney was hung out to dry, Mikhitaryan was a bystander in the Premiership at least and Rashford spent the majority of the time on the bench. That may change next season if Ibrahimovic doesn’t come back from his horrific injury and Rooney sets off for pastures new. All in all a more than ok Premiership campaign and Jose let the brake off at the end of the season to allow for all his strengths to go into the Europa League which United won to guarantee Champions League football next season. Mourinho put all his egs in one basket but it worked. He is slowly building something very special here, after all he is The Special One.
7th place. Everton. 6 out of 10. Mmmm. It wasn’t quite a revolution for Everton this season as they were out on their own. Unfortunately they were in 7th place on their own. Miles away from 6th placed United they were 8 points behind the Old Trafford crew but a whopping great 15 points ahead of 8th placed Southampton. Inconsistent at times they at least have Romelu Lukaku scoring like Russell Brand at a nightclub. He finished as second place in the Golden Boot Awards with 25 goals and would have won it if it weren’t for Harry Kane scoring for fun with 7 goals in the last 4 days of the Premiership season. Everton need to keep hold of Lukaku. If they lose him in the summer then expect 7th place next season too. As for Ross Barkley who seems to want to go, well let him leave, take the money and spend it on two or three new acquisitions. Manager Ronald Koeman was at least blooding the youngsters at the end of Everton’s season and that can only bode well with Everton’s superb youth policy. Everton fans may be disappointed by Koeman’s first outing but give him time and Koeman could come up smelling of roses. Could Wayne Rooney come back into the fray too? Stranger things have happened.
8th place. Southampton. 6 out of 10. You know things aren’t going too badly for Southampton following a disappointing season when they still managed to finish in 8th place. Their transfer policy is second to none, they run a tight ship and the way they enter the transfer market via their superb computer program is beyond comparison. All in all though 2016/2017 was a bit of a party pooper. Only 12 wins from 38 games isn’t enough. The defence seem relatively stable but they need to score more goals. Gabbiadini was probably the best signing of the winter transfer season and he looks a fantastic buy but they require strength in depth behind the front man. They scored only four more goals than relegated Hull City and a goal difference of minus 7 will set alarm bells ringing. The fans don’t seem happy with the manager and only 1 win in the last 8 games of the campaign will have a few Saints fans twitching. There are more pluses than negatives and overall the future also looks bright for the Saints.
9th place. Bournemouth. 8 out of 10. This was a season in which Bournemouth really punched above their weight securing a super 9th place and almost overhauling their South Coast rivals Southampton in the process. Yes, ok the defence was a bit lardy conceding a huge total of 67 goals but at the other end Bournemouth defied the odds and upset the apple cart on more that one occasion with some glorious results in the process. They scored 55 goals which was more than Manchester United could manage over the season and that says it all. Joshua King was outstanding with 15 goals to his name and every game for Bournemouth must have been a treat for the fans with goals galore. Manager Eddie Howe is becoming hot property and for next season Bournemouth need to consolidate without Arsenal loanee Jack Wilshere. Can Bournemouth pull another rabbit out of the hat next season. Don’t put it past them.
10th place. West Bromwich Albion. 6 and a half out of 10. Seven defeats in the last eight games of the season will look dreadful but the truth was that manager Tony Pulis has performed miracles in the first half of the season and West Brom never looked in trouble of joining the relegation battle at any point over the year. Pulis brought solidity and strength to a team who have always lacked it in the premiership, in a way it was like he never left Stoke City. He’s a fantastic manager and will no doubt lay claim to the Wales national team at some duration. For now he is the Captain of a pretty steady ship although he needs to stop losing 7 games out of 8 at the end of a season. Still a pretty handy season all in all.