>Didn’t they do well

>My quick review of the Premier League

In no particular order and off the top of my head

Arsenal

Took a lot of criticism of late but they are 10pts short yet 100m cheaper. And for entertainment they are as good as United no question. There are some questions about the back four’s temperament and they undoubtedly missed players during the African Nations Cup (still held at the wrong time) and when injuries came to Sagna, Eduardo and Van Persie. Still a highly fluent team and with a few additions at centre back and midfield to replace the leaving Flamini and Gilberto (look for Toure to move into midfield) as well as an extra striker, They will be up there again.

Aston Villa

I do like Martin O’Neill and few wouldn’t want him as their manager. Developed a solid team, full of pace and power, Villa are a top 6 team every year. They will miss Mellberg, an unsung hero in the Premier League and a class act. Barry looks to be leaving but I think they will handle that fine. Replacing him and Mellberg and getting a better centre forward than Carew, possibly Crouch are the priorities. Ashley Young and Gabriel Agbonlahor are the future of the club.

Birmingham City

More like Bollocks City. Not only are Birmingham a poor team, they blew their chances early in the team by not investing to stay in the team. And the reason they didn’t invest was simply the Carson Leung disaster that ran for 6 months over the summer and led to the resignation of Steve Bruce, the doggedly successful manager. With their support and Alex McLeish, they should have a decent chance to come back up especially as few of their players should be picked off by Premier League teams. £5m for James McFadden. That’s the worst buy of the season.

Blackburn Rovers

How long will Mark Hughes stay must be the question now. When one of the top 4 jobs comes up, especially the United job, he must be a favourite. 7th place with such a small budget. Consistently top 10 and getting the best out of failing or under-appreciated players. Santa Cruz was maybe the bargain of the season. But how much further can he take Rovers? The answer is not much further and like Shearer moving to Newcastle, Hughes will move on in a season or two max. With his international experience as a player (Barcelona, Man U, Bayern Munich, Chelsea) and as Wales manager, he has the brain and insider knowledge to be a great manager.

Chelsea

A season of potential chaos was saved by a stabilising force. That being the team. No more Shevchenko, no more Mourinho politics, Ballack playing for his money. If you look at the team, very little has actually changed and the excellent players have come to the fore. Drogba, Essein, Carvalho and Joe Cole have all played consistently and even Lampard and Terry turned up, usually to intimidate the referee but importantly, they did it well. Next season depends on who leaves. They are an ageing side as well. It will be interesting to how much support Roman gives over the summer especially considered the club is still insolvent.

Derby

Like Watford before them under Taylor, they came up via the playoffs and they strived to stay up with actually spending any money. Like Watford, it just isn’t possible and certainly not so for a team that inexplicably fired a good manager in Billy Davies for non-footballing reasons. Derby added Paul Jewell, an equally tough competitor as manager but no one could save that squad, a team that with a slow defence and lacking a goalscorer from the drop. My only embarrassment is the only win came against Newcastle.

Everton

Typical Everton season unfortunately. Moyes is a class manager, no doubts and this season attempted to add some real pace and threat up front with Yakubu. He was a succes and the youngster Vaughan and Abichebe are typical products of Everton’s prodigious academy. Everton inexplicably faded away at the end of the season, strange considering they are such a physically strong team.

Fulham

Great job here from Hodgson. I thought Fulham were as dead as Oasis with an uncreative and stuttering team. Hodgson took over from Lawrie ‘if they ain’t Irish’ Sanchez and made Lawrie’s same players work for him. The return of Jimmy Bullard, a dynamic player smoothed Fulham’s attacking play. Next season though, who knows.

Liverpool

Well they were better than last year and finished the season positively. They still finished a distant fourth and rightly so. Torres is a class act and should have played all season. Babel, after starting the season like the super jumbo, improved greatly. Skretel reminds you of Vidic. But to challenge United they have to make the most of all the squad. Benetiz favours rotation, yet seems to rotate awkwardly. Crouch should have played more and will leave. In manpower Liverpool aren’t so far away from the best but Benetiz’s tactics simply bore the living shit out of you so much you just don’t care anymore. What happened to the Liverpool of old?

Manchester City

Something is huge at Eastlands and by the end of the season, it’s obvious; Thakin’s delusional ego. So here is the masterplan; Employ world recognised manager; bring in class players on the cheap like Elano, Coruka and Petrov; bring through excellent youngsters in Johnson and Hart; beat city rivals (and league champions) home and away; bring back hope after many miserable years of dreary football; finish comfortably in the top 10 after ne season; fire manager. Brilliant. I wonder why United, Everton, Arsenal and Liverpool are top teams. Obviously nothing to do with a consistent man at the helm. No way! It’s the delusional idiot at the top. The idea that Scolari, a man who values trust will come to Man City is a ridiculous as Ronaldinho doing the same.

Manchester United

Champions and deservedly so but funnily enough I think this side should get better. While they have often beaten good teams handily, I also believe they can be far more fluent and therefore dominant. Rooney had an average season; they still lack a striker. A lot rested on the form of Ronaldo and the defence. Rio Ferdinand came of age, Evra proved his class and players like Scholes, Carrick, Anderson and Park kept the midfield ticking over. The midfield will improve though and needs to. After all, despite being in disarray, Barcelona out-passed and out-played United at ease at times. It seems negative. I prefer to think of it as positive criticism. United are still on the cusp of being a truly great team.

Sunderland

A good season for Sunderland. They stayed up fairly comfortably and that would be their aim. And they did so with long term injuries to some of their best players. They remain a tough team but require greater quality in central defence and upfront to move into the top ten.

West Ham

An unassuming time for the Hammers. I can’t remember a lot of it. But there they are, comfortably in mid-table. Dean Ashton is a class player, big, strong and with good touch. Without him, the team is pretty stagnant. The youth system continues to bring through players and Robert Green is an above average keeper but it’s difficult to see the Hammers moving anywhere upwards.

Reading

I like Reading. Relegation would always be a risk but it didn’t have to be so. They’ve had a shocking 2008. Coppell had them playing attractive football and stuck to his principles which is admirable. Ultimately the lack of real talent in the team and the failure of the chairman to strength the squad led to this sad demise. They should be a candidate for coming straight back up.

Boro

I am surprised here. I didn’t rate Southgate, his team, the club or his chairman. History indicates he picks a bad manager, putting too much faith in friends. I was convinced Boro would struggle and Southgate would get fired. Then sale of Woodgate was another death nail. However Boro have always had strength at the back, Downing and Tuncay in midfield look creative and Alves upfront is starting to fulfil his potential. They need greater depth and talent in the middle (especially now Rochemback has left) but they should remain comfortably middle table come next season’s end. And Southgate has impressed me. Not least with his honesty.

Spurs

Ahh Spurs. That big club. After shafting Martin Jol with pointless signings and then firing him, the board brought over Junade Ramos of Seville. Ramos brought in Woodgate from Boro to tighten the defence and put an emphasis on a defence which somehow fell apart over the summer. Without Ledley King, they looked very vulnerable but I would point out that Zokora and Chimbonda has the concentration of toddlers. Spurs won the League Cup over Chelsea but it’s been disappointing even after Ramos arrived. With Berbatov very likely to leave, I am not sure the arrival of Modric at £16m will greatly improve the team. More is needed to push them into the top6.

Portsmouth

Good old Harry will presumably spend the summer trying to buy 11 more strikers. Portsmouth have spent well. Harry can pick a player and no doubt will do this summer. They should win the FA Cup this weekend, bringing silverware to Fratton Park for the first time in decades. That’s impressive. That has been their season. Finding a class replacement for the ageing and maybe departing Sol Campbell is unlikely to lead to an improve even if they bring in Peter Crouch.

Bolton

Gary Megson, Championship manager. Well now he is a Premier League boss and I didn’t think I would be saying that. After losing Big Sam and appointing Sammy ‘obviously gonna be fired’ Lee, they looked certs for relegation. And few would have cried. Their style of play has been appalling for years. But Megson pulled them through, making the team more creative yet still stingy at the back. They even had a great run in the UEFA Cup. In short, a very good season.

Newcastle United

I’ll keep it short. A season saved by King Kev. I am still not convinced he is the man, slightly more convinced than Keegan seems to be. His recent comments about playing for 5th, while realistic, hardly invites quality players to the club and must make Martins and Owen wonder why they should remain. My special worry is over Martins, a class player. This season was even more traumatic than under Souness. I hated Souness. We were useless. But under Sam, we weren’t useless but appallingly horrible to watch. Standing in the cold, watching that complete rubbish just isn’t fun. Losing to Derby was pathetic. I could handle Roeder; we tried and scored. It’s isn’t that difficult especially with the quality of players at our disposable. Interestingly, Keegan is playing the same players but they look confident and creative upfront, determined in midfield and thrifty in defence. I liked it. Beye and Faye were excellent signings, Geremi, Enrique, Barton and Viduka are growers and Owen came back into form. With a class central defender, 2 midfielders and one striker as well as holding on to Martins and Owen, they are a top 10 for sure.

Wigan

I knew I had forgotten someone. What a difference a decent manager makes. I am not fan of Steve Bruce but cannot fault his success here. This is a team that stayed up with Titus Bramble leading the defence. Wigan are a desperately poor team yet have a few bright lights in Valencia and dare I say it…Heskey. Sure he is no Messi but he scored vital goals and put himself about as usual. Wigan will never be a top 10 team but with Bruce at the helm, they will be stay in the Premier League. As surprised as I am to say this, Bruce, one day will have a big job.

1. Btw, Messi is the best young player in the world. He could lead any team.
2. Keane, Bruce, Hughes and Mcleish; 4 ex-Ferguson stars, four excellent managers.

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