The Good, the Bad and the Ugly: Season Finale

Now that the season is over, everybody and their nan have been handing out awards left, right and centre. N’Golo Kante intercepted the two proper, big ones to go with his second Premier League winner’s medal. Several publications also came up with lists of their own awards, which sounds more self-aggrandising every time you read it. But we’re not like the others. We’re just going to stick to what works for us, which is pointing and laughing. Except this time, we’ll point for longer and laugh a lot harder as we take a look at the entire season’s events.

The Good

Chelsea and Conte: Antonio Conte arrived in England with nightmares of Simone Zaza’s “penalty” still haunting him. What he saw when he entered the dressing room gave him sleepless nights, which at least got rid of the wannabe ballerino. The last guy in charge of the team had lit the dressing room on fire, left broken pieces of crockery everywhere and not bothered to pick up some very expensive toys that had rolled under the furniture. ‘Mamma mia’ doesn’t quite describe the reaction, but those were, presumably, the Italian’s first words in Cobham. He then went to work, pulled a few all-nighters and put together a team with an identity that would go on to win the title, creating a new record for the most number of wins in a season. He deserves the Manager of the Season award, if only for turning perennial loanee Victor Moses into a competent fullback.

Spurs and Pochettino: The only team relentlessly pursuing Chelsea till the end, Spurs had the best stats amongst all 20 teams, except the one that really matters – points on the board. Still, Pochettino deserves huge credit for taking over a team of also-rans, has-beens and never-really-weres, trimming the fat and carving out a young, all-running, all-pressing side. They might not have won the title, but they won the hearts of the neutrals. And that’s what really counts. Right?

Harry Kane: Oh, he’s real, alright. With a name straight out of a comic book and a goal-scoring record that even fictional strikers couldn’t live up to, England’s number one striker won the Golden Boot award for the second consecutive season. Who knew, the boy from Sixth Sense who could see dead people would be such a deadeye in front of goal.

N’Golo Kante: Intercepting, tackling, passing, handing out ‘Kante was here’ cards to opponents all over the pitch.

Manchester United: Entered Europe through the back-door. Stop giggling. That means you.

Liverpool: A chance to win it for the sixth time next season. I said, stop giggling!

Swansea and Crystal Palace: The survivors of a fascinating relegation battle that ended Sunderland’s decade long stay in the top flight. Will they turn to Roy Keane to get them back up again? I’d pay good money to see how that unfolds.

Sam Allardyce: Firefighter extraordinaire, Big Sam doesn’t mess around. His CV remains free of the stigma of relegation as he retires from chewing gum on the sideline and laughing at opposition players’ theatrics. I wish I could say he went out with his head held high, but that funny business with England (and that pint of wine) put paid to that. Oh, well.

Watford: They’ve picked up Marco Silva from the sinking dinghy called Hull City and that is enough to get them a place in this section.

Eddie Howe: Probably the best young British manager in the league and Arsene Wenger’s heir apparent, once the Frenchman decides he’s seen enough planes with banners flying over his head.

The Bad

Sunderland and Moyes: We all know rats are the first to jump off a sinking ship. In this case, it was the rat who chewed through the ship’s bottom and fled when the water level started rising. Some newly promoted club might be willing to take a punt on him next season to aid their relega… err, survival.

Middlesbrough: Bad for them but good news for the rest of us who were on the verge of slipping into a coma just by watching them play.

Jose Mourinho: He might have won ‘The Treble’ but this was far from a vintage Mourinho season. His troops have taken more damage through friendly fire than a team full of noobs in a Counter Strike game and his new recruits haven’t really set the world alight. But hey, there’s no problem that another £200M spending spree won’t solve.

Arsenal: A large chunk of their fanbase consisting of spreadsheet warriors and net-spend enthusiasts must be sweating at the prospect of losing out on the Champions League money.

Manchester City and Guardiola: An underwhelming season by any standards, especially the lofty ones set by Senor Pep himself. They made it into the Champions League, but that wasn’t why they hired the Spaniard. He might be looking at the first sacking of his career if he doesn’t deliver tangible results next season.

Hull City: So near, yet so far. Had they gone for Silva earlier, they might have been in the ‘Good’ section.

John Terry: Gently eased out the door at Chelsea, although with much fanfare and a guard of honour. Yes, it’s the 26th minute substitution and subsequent brouhaha that lands him a place on this list.

Santi Cazorla: Remember him? He could have dragged the Gunners into fourth place, you know.

West Ham United: Moving to a taxpayer-funded stadium hasn’t turned out too well for them, has it? Next season will tell us if this was a one-off or whether the hard-working public really has put a curse on their new home.

Claudio Ranieri: Football died when he was sacked, according to some. But after that unbelievable season the last time out, the only way was down.

The Ugly

Bob Bradley’s Reign of Error: The first American to manage in the Premier League lasted as long as toilet paper in a truck-stop. This was the appointment that should never have been made.

Moutivation: See what I did there? Mourinho’s quirky methods of man management might be a hit with his old boys, but they seem to have left the likes of Shaw, Smalling and Jones dazed and confused. When he’s not busy parking the bus, he sure likes to throw his players under it. If that doesn’t motivate them to do better, nothing will.

Barton’s Bets: How low can you go? Let’s ask Joseph Barton, who placed bets against his own teams, against his own teammates all the while playing alongside them and secretly hoping for them to cock up so he could cash in on that accumulator.

Thompson and Merson: The rebels without a cause and without an iota of sense, whose rant about foreign managers in general and Marco Silva in particular, is now the stuff of legend. “What’s he know about the Premier League? What’s he know?” Jesus.