Back in early August I fired up the crystal ball and took a look at how I expected teams to finish this season in the Premier League. Now it is time to take a trip back through time and see how well/poorly I did.
The European Contenders was the most difficult as I expected Aston Villa, Everton, Manchester City, Portsmouth and Spurs to fight it out for the Europa League places. Villa and Everton are both in Europe next year, while Portsmouth and Spurs battled most of the season in the wrong half of the table. If Harry Redknapp had been at Spurs all season, maybe they would have grabbed that last Europa League spot. Fulham were the big surprise of the year, and nobody expected them to grab that last Europa League sport. Roy Hodgson did a fantastic job at Fulham this season and he got my vote for Manager of the Year.
The next group of teams I classified as mid-table teams. The mid-table candidates were those from position 10-14 who I thought would not be in any danger of being relegated but also had no realistic chance of qualifying for Europe. The teams I thought were in this group were Sunderland, West Ham,Blackburn, Fulham, and Middlesbrough.
Obviously Fulham did better than mid-table while West Ham (9th), Sunderland (16th) and Blackburn (15th) finished about where I expected then too. Blackburn’s performance was a little more erratic than I anticipated, but Big Sam did a nice job turning them around.
I expected Sunderland under Roy Keane to avoid being dragged down into the relegation battle, but it was a season of turmoil for Sunderland fans as they are now looking for their 3rd manager in less than a year. At the start of the season I did not expect Boro to get relegated. I mistakenly thought that Afonso Alves would be the reliable goal scorer that the Boro have been looking for since Mark Viduka left. Boy was I wrong on that one.
That leaves the relegation battle. I wrote in August that:
I expect that the three newly promoted clubs, West Brom, Hull City and Stoke to be relegated at the end of the reason. These are probably the weakest three times that have gotten promotion in recent memory and while I don’t expect them to be as bad as Derby were last year, I cannot see them surviving. Even through these are the weakest teams in the Premier League that does not mean that there will not be a relegation battle. I expect that he bottom six will also contain Newcastle, Bolton and Wigan.
Stoke and Hull were both surprise teams at different times of the season. James Beattie was the signing of the season and at £3 million he kept Hull in the Premier League. Hull survived by the skin of their teeth, but at the end of the day Phil Brown, did what nobody expected him to do and that was to keep Hull in the Premier League for another season.
West Brom were as bad as I expected while Newcastle United was just a horror story that got more horrific as the season progressed, I expected Shearer to keep Newcastle up, but now that they are relegated, hopefully Mike Ashley will let Shearer clean house and rebuild the club. If he doesn’t then Newcastle could do a Leeds as their debt situation is terrible.