Premier League 2019/20 Grades – Part Two
***Check out Part One of our Grades here***
Premier League Position: 2nd
Season timeline: Flying Walker. Ambush at Norwich. Goalie Walker. We Need to Talk about Kevin. UEFA! FFP!! CFCB!!! CAS!!!!
High point: Kevin De Bruyne’s master-class at Arsenal in December.
Low point: Home and away defeats to Wolves? Hapless loss at Old Trafford? FA Cup semi defeat? All those seem alright in comparison to Pep Guardiola’s club branded hoodie. And you thought that cardigan was bad. Yeeeeesh.
The manager: There might have been some defensive problems and failure to take chances in league games, but Guardiola can’t escape criticism this season, particularly his team’s lack of desire in the league. You get the feeling winning the Champions League in August is almost mandatory.
What does the future hold: The Champions League still awaits, and City hold a 2-1 advantage over Real Madrid in the Last 16, and have potential meetings with Bayern Munich and Juventus if they’re to make the final. They look to have signed Nathan Ake from relegated Bournemouth and Ferran Torres from Valencia as they aim to rebuild.
Grade: 7/10. City scored the most goals in the league, kept the most clean sheets, and had the best goal difference, showing they’re still arguably the best team in the country. But that doesn’t in any way overshadow the glaring problems in the side.
Premier League Position: 3rd
Season timeline: Ole’s still at the wheel. Win at the Etihad. Ooh Greenwood. Why is Ole still at the wheel? It’s Pogba’s fault. Bruno Fernandes. Oh De Gea. Lingard!!
High point: Outplaying Manchester City in December.
Low point: Utter haplessness at home to Burnley in January.
The manager: Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has had his fair share of criticism this season, and surely nobody would say he has proved critics wrong. But the Norwegian has still got them to third place, and – the bar isn’t high – he hasn’t lost the dressing room.
What does the future hold: There’s hardly any gain saying that United need additions to help what seemed like a spent squad in the latter stages of the season. Also, a need to be a more proactive front-footed team can’t be overstated if they’re to challenge the top two.
Grade: 7/10. Finishing third, after everything seemed to be going downwards in January, is commendable. Yet, it’s not outlandish to suggest that if Leicester hadn’t collapsed, they could easily have finished out of the top four.
Premier League Position: 13th
Season timeline: Did. Anything. Happen. At. Newcastle?
High point: Matty Longstaff’s moment against Manchester United in October.
Low point: Everything else, other than Allan Saint-Maximin.
The manager: There’s the feeling that Steve Bruce will never be a darling to Newcastle fans, no matter, but he did do a good job to steer them clear of trouble. But that’s part of the problem with Bruce, he doesn’t really do anything beyond making sure a team are not in too much, however dreary and soporific everything might seem.
What does the future hold: Lingering uncertainty over a potential takeover from a country that’s the poster boy for human rights continues, and it’s hard to tell who’ll be in charge when September, both on the pitch and off it.
Grade: 5/10. Definition of a quiet student that doesn’t do above average.
Premier League Position: 20th
Season timeline: Bold Defeat at Anfield. Teemu Pukki. Seeing off Manchester City. All. Downhill. From. There.
High point: Throwing Manchester City off their game in September.
Low point: A drubbing at home to West Ham that confirmed the inevitable.
The manager: Survival was always unlikely for Daniel Farke and Norwich, and despite not quite making a fist of it in the top-flight, the chances of him leaving are incredibly slim.
What does the future hold: Relegation brings the chance to actually win more games and enjoy football, and perhaps give them another crack at the Premier League (’s money).
Grade: 4/10. Some decent individuals that will likely be picked off by top-flight vultures, as well as some decent showings, but Norwich looked hapless for most of the season. Get us out of here, please.
Premier League Position: 9th
Season timeline: Danny Mills, who’s he? Have some overlapping centre-backs. 3-3 against United (that one). Dean Henderson. David McGoldrick.
High point: Schooling Chelsea in July, and showing – all season long – that actual coaching works.
Low point: Losing 3-0 at Newcastle. You conceded a goal to Joelinton!!!!
The manager: Chris Wilder’s rise continues, as, after two promotions in three years, his well-coached Sheffield side didn’t just manage to hold their own against the rest, but actually showed them up.
What does the future hold: First will come the inevitable questions over second season syndrome (sit down, Danny Mills!!), and how they’ll cope now the league has an idea of how they play. But you sense Wilder is a much smarter manager than to his side drop off or become predictable. First priority, however, might be getting a new first-choice goalkeeper.
Grade: 8/10. Arguably the best team – in terms of coaching despite resources – in the league.
Premier League Position: 11th
Season timeline: Quiet Optimism. Moussa Djenepo. Nine. Stamford Bridge. Danny Ings.
High point: Every Carl Anka piece on them for The Athletic. Okay, fine. Danny Ings terrifying defences.
Low point: You may have heard they conceded nine at home Leicester early in the season.
The manager: Many said Ralph Hasenhuttl was lucky to still be in a job after that 9-0 defeat, but how much can you blame the manager when a team ships nine? In reality, the Saints knew having Hasenhuttl was them punching above their weight, and that proved itself once again.
What does the future hold: Influential midfielder Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg is all but certain to leave. Saints have a manager that can handle such a loss, and with Danny Ings (and Che Adams) up front, shoring up that defence could make them a top-seven side.
Grade: 7/10. Despite obvious mishaps, and some loss of form, Southampton are still doing pretty well under the Alpine Klopp, next season might be the one in which they fully kick on. Plus, they’re covered by Carl Anka!
Premier League Position: 6th
Season timeline: Sign someone, will you! 2-7. Poch Out. Enter Jose. VS Ndombele. Look at Leipzig’s bench. Sixth is a trophy.
High point: Winning the North London derby (even that’s not that high).
Low point: Losing to Colchester. Come on.
The manager: You could say Jose Mourinho replacing Mauricio Pochettino is like Ibrahim Babangida replacing Muhammadu Buhari in 1985 – it all starts off with smiles, he’s even friendly to the press, and Nduka Irabor/Dele Alli has freedom (to roam) again, before it all turns sour. But post-lockdown, Spurs have been looking quite decent, and ahead of next season, perhaps football’s Emperor Palpatine has one last villainous push in him.
What does the future hold: Hodgson will probably start the season as one of the favourites to get a P45 early on, but this time – especially if signings aren’t made – he and the Eagles might call it a day.
Grade: 6/10. A steady mid-table place for the Eagles in which relegation was only really a remote possibility, and nothing more.
Premier League Position: 19th
Season timeline: Bad start. Javi, Gracias. Hello Quique. Goodbye Quique. Nigel’s rescue mission. We beat Liverpool. Later Nigel. Mission failed.
High point: Again, we beat Liverpool!
Low point: It’s Manchester City away in September. Lads keep it tight after the first 50 second… oh bollocks.
The manager: LOL.
What does the future hold: Watford do have a squad – barring an exodus – capable swinging back up to the Premier League. First, convince a manager that taking a job with the club is a good idea. Come on, Pardiola, it’s nice here.
Grade: 4/10. On paper, Watford have the kind of squad that could challenge for a top-half finish, which makes their relegation all the more disappointing.
Premier League Position: 16th
Season timeline: Good signings. Oh Roberto. Adios, Senor Pellegrini. ‘I win, that’s what I do’. Michail Antonio, baby.
High point: Michail Antonio, baby.
Low point: Signing Roberto!!
The manager: David Moyes was parachuted in for another rescue mission, and after some decent signings, he did just that. Good Old Moyesey might just be British football’s last fire-fighter.
What does the future hold: The truth is Moyes got less points now than he did in his first spell, and had the just about the same points average as Pellegrini earlier in the season. The question is; do West Ham ditch him and go for someone else they’ll sack in February 2021, or let the Scot mould a squad that suits him, then sack him in October?
Grade: 6/10. Frankly, barring the occasionally frequent mishap, West Ham are rather quiet and uneventful (on the pitch!!!).
Premier League Position: 7th
Season timeline: Bad start. Pick things up. Have some of that, Europa League. Jimenez!! Champions League? Nope.
High point: Taking Manchester City to the cleaners. TWICEEEEEE!!
Low point: Shipping five at home to Chelsea.
The manager: After a not-so-great start, things picked up for Nuno Esprito Santo and his side, and the Portuguese continues to make his case for being an elite manager.
What does the future hold: There’s the Europa League to come, and it’s not inconceivable that they win that. Else, there’s a possibility of the side not being in Europe next season. In the long-term, perhaps it’s time for Nuno to find a way to start working with a larger squad, to ease the workload off key men.
Grade: 8/10. Slightly improved on last season in the league, but there’s still the sense that they find it hard to break down sides who sit deep, which basically cost them a place in the Champions League.
Kunle Ajao121 Posts
Kunle Ajao is a football writer and columnist for spotkick. Having made a toss of himself trying to actually play the game, he knew better and got a pen instead of boots. Spends a bit of his time with the game, and thinks he's a bit like Sid Lowe. He's not