With only the play-off final left to play, the next campaign will already be on the minds of many following a gruelling 46 game season which has seen Newcastle and Brighton promoted to the Premier League while Blackburn Rovers lost out in the relegation dogfight dropping down by virtue of goal difference, joining Wigan and Rotherham in League One next season. As ever there’s been clubs who have surpassed expectations and others that have simply failed to deliver. I give my verdict on each club in a four part piece. Links to each part can be found at the bottom of each article.
Ipswich Town – 16th – Grade: B+
For me Mick McCarthy continues to do a fine job at Portman Road. Each season the challenge becomes greater for Ipswich, having to compete with clubs with far greater spending power. So to never really look in danger of dropping down into the relegation zone is again credit to the management there. I’m sure the fans will be wanting more out of the club but I do think realistically the play-offs are becoming too much to ask for when it comes to Ipswich’s squad and budget. They find ways of picking up points and if they are to really kick on then they’re simply going to have to find the resources to help Mick McCarthy out. You’d probably expect the season Ipswich have just had but it stills doesn’t deserve any criticism in my view.
Leeds United – 7th – Grade: B+
Garry Monk has taken Leeds forwards, there is no doubt about that. The sheer disappointment of missing out on the play-offs in poor fashion towards the last set of weeks is testament to that and that’s why I have not awarded a higher grade. Monk has been shrewd in the market and you can clearly see his philosophy is rubbing off on the side. Getting the best out of Chris Wood really gave them a chance. It’s not to be forgotten that the club only won 1 out of their first 6 matches but they never put a series of losses together which showed the ability of the squad. You’d of course say there is room for improvement in areas but Monk’s first full season bodes well.
credit dom fellowes
Newcastle United – 1st – Grade: A
They did the job they were largely expected to and that results in an ‘A’ grade because this division is not easy to get out of. They didn’t deserve the Championship title but they were always looking on course for promotion even when they threw up a poor defeat from time to time. Benitez made some very sensible moves in the transfer market, they probably couldn’t believe their luck with the large sales of Sissoko and Wijnaldum but crucially they made the right moves. I don’t think Newcastle were overly convincing at times but they had enough to get other the line with a comfortable margin in the end. This was the expectancy from everyone but it still requires a lot of hard work and they are fortunate to possess an excellent manager.
Norwich City – 8th – Grade: D
Norwich are one of the clubs you look at who are ready made for promotion. Alex Neil had already achieved this previously so you would expect the Canaries to be sitting in the play-offs come the end of the season as a minimum so to miss out is a really poor effort. In terms of recruitment I liked the business they made signing Nelson Oliveira and Alex Pritchard, adding to an already solid squad. Having a goalscorer in the Premier League was always a struggle but Cameron Jerome seems to flourish in the Championship. They had too many off days including a loss to Rotherham which contribute to costing Alex Neil his job. Results over the whole season have not been good enough and to not mount a serious challenge for the play-offs falls well below expectations.
credit the stadium guide
Nottingham Forest – 21st – Grade: E
Surviving on the last day was not what Nottingham Forest fans would’ve had in mind at the start of the season. The downwards spiral continues though at the City Ground under Fawaz Al Hasawi, it all started with the sale of Oliver Burke and a complete lack of replacements. It’s clear that the hierarchy are a shambles and that is making life difficult for the management and players. With Lansbury sold in January the tricky trees were up against it, goals flew in constantly in their own net which again makes it hard to record victories. There were certainly a few highlights across the board but they were far too few and far between. I think with the fact the whole club is a mess this scenario was never too far away but to leave it to the last day with some talent in the squad represents a torrid campaign. Big changes needed.
credit Matt Churchill
Preston North End – 11th – B+
Serious play-off contenders at one point, you have to give credit to Simon Grayson once more as he continues to get the best out of the club. Deepdale seems a horrible place to go and grind out a win and that is what Preston are, a tough side to play against. They aren’t blessed with a large budget or a squad full of genuine talent but to get to where they are they have became a really compact unit. 5 defeats in their last 6 shouldn’t tarnish a successful season.
Do you agree with your clubs grade? Let us know in the comments below!
Part 1 Here
Part 2 Here
Part 4 Here