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.
The R's are on the decline and so it's no real surprise to see them finish in 18th. The squad seems to be taking a hit as the spending power reduces year on year so targeting the play-offs would have been a long shot for Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink and his side. The club had a worrying flirt with the relegation zone even with Ian Holloway reinstated as manager after Hasselbaink was sacked. Their season never really took off and results were hard to come by. Finishing two points clear in the end highlights that being in charge at Loftus Road is not an easy task, they don't have a whole host of talent and could be described as a solid squad of players. Holloway did enough before 7 defeats in their last 8 made it a miserable end of the season. I feel the consistency in results is to be expected and their season isn't a great shock.
The play-off final separates the Royals from potentially being in the Premier League next season as well as the difference between being awarded an A+ over an A. Another side that no one would have expected to be up there and when you look across the whole campaign, they seem to have stuck around throughout making their accomplishments all the more spectacular. In an odd situation, they never get talked about and go about their business quietly, it's almost like you forget they could get promoted. Jaap Stam has got them winning football matches with a consistency and a bounce back ability when defeated. As shown in their play-off semi-final triumph they are a gritty side who will test the opposition and now you feel they must grab their opportunity at Wembley with both hands.
I feel sorry Rotherham, they're up against it every year with no budget in comparison to their competitors so it was only a matter of time before relegation occurred. However to get 23 points is shocking and despite the low budget you felt it was inevitable with the transfers that they made. Their Championship status was well over before the season finished and not a single away was recorded which is truly horrific stuff. They might have collected more points but with the inevitable happening, you don't want to be overly critical.
Sheffield Wednesday - 4th - Grade: C+
To reach the play-offs is what was expected as a minimum from Sheffield Wednesday so objective met in many ways. Then it's down to the two, one off games that is the play-offs and once again they have come unstuck, this time cruelly from a penalty shootout so for that alone it can't be considered an overly poor season however I do feel the Owls aren't getting into first gear with the potential that they have. An awful lot of money is being spent by the club and they aren't getting the return they would expect. Key points were made by pundits after the play-off defeat which I felt were spot on, there are too many individuals and not a collective group to push on and get promoted, the fact they weren't close to challenging the top two has to be a disappointment but how easily things could have looked if the shootout had gone their way...
Champions of League One, naturally many would have expected them to be the most successful promoted team but really it was an awful campaign from the Latics. To finish 9 points adrift in the end shows they made some poor decisions on and off the pitch. After Gary Caldwell got the chop, appointing Warren Joyce in hindsight was the wrong decision. Their squad was capable of surviving in my view and having top scorer Will Grigg on seven goals was a key reason for their downfall so I don't think they recruited well enough in certain areas. They'll have to bounce back again at the first time of asking.
A lot of unknown optimism was around when Wolves were starting to splash some cash on some unknown quantities with an unknown manager in charge. This of course meant neutrals weren't fully sure what to expect. They did however have a rebuilding project to do if they were to ambitiously look towards the play-offs. They were far off all season and I think that makes for disappointing reading at Molineux. With a decent squad they could have improved and have installed some good players but they need to rectify their home form in my opinion. An ordinary season at best.
Do you agree with your clubs grade? Let us know in the comments below!