So as we know already – a predictable side won the Premier league and a couple of predictable sides got relegated to the Championship. Although it is often coined as the most exciting league in the world – every year the league table looks pretty much how everybody expected to. Your Chelseas, Man Uniteds etc at the top and your Burnleys and Hulls at the bottom. Not the league you see below – this is the performance league. Who performed well above their expectations and who weren’t up to scratch? If there was such thing as a table based on how a club’s expectations – this is how it would look.
1. Birmingham City – Without a doubt the surprise package of the Premier League, the newly-promoted side managed to secure a top-half finish in their return to top-flight football.
2. Stoke City – What second season syndrome? Tony Pulis has transformed the Potters in a steady mid-table side and a force to be reckoned with their physical dominance in all areas.
3. Tottenham Hotspur – Harry Redknapp has brought something to the lane that nobody else could – Champions League football. It’s important that they keep 4th next year now though!
4. Chelsea –Carlo Ancelotti has done well to win the league in his first season. In 4 games this year they have scored 7 or more and done the double over Arsenal, Man U and Liverpool.
5. Arsenal – For a club that hasn’t won the league in 6 years, the Gunners mounted a serious title race this year before inexperience finally let them down. Wenger needs to strengthen.
6. Blackburn Rovers – Eventually managed a solid mid-table position after it looked as though they would be dragged into a relegation dogfight. Young Phil Jones has been a revelation.
7. Aston Villa – As well as a cup final and an FA Cup semi-final, O’Neill came close to bringing Champions League to Villa Park and eventually had to settle for 6th. What a position to be in!
8. Bolton Wanderers – Following Megson’s sacking, Coyle had a very simple job to do – stay up. They did and a bottom-half finish is something for Owen and his men to build on next year.
9. Fulham – Many will expect these to be higher but if we concentrate on domestic comps it was a good season for Hodgson but he expectedly had one eye on a European trophy.
10. Manchester United – Not a bad season by any means but replacing Ronaldo with Valencia and Owen proved not to be enough to regain the title. Rooney carried them at vital points.
11. Sunderland – Steve Bruce is certainly building a capable side at the Stadium of Light and mid-table is a good position for the club to build on. Bent is arguably the signing of the summer.
12. Wolves – Mick McCarthy’s side did well to beat the drop and were a resilient side throughout the season – possibly the next Stoke City? Only next season will tell…
13. Everton – David Moyes brought what was expected of him yet again to Goodison. A club like the Toffees needs to secure Europa League football next year to avoid drifting away.
14. Burnley – Even the most optimistic of fans must’ve known that relegation was a probability rather than a possibility for the club but they went down fighting – just lacking quality.
15. Wigan Athletic – Not a great first season in charge for Roberto Martinez. Occasionally looked very lacklustre up against strong sides like Spurs and Chelsea and look set to lose N’Zogbia.
16. Portsmouth – Even with the 10 points given back to them – the south coast club would have still gone down as bottom of the table. Good FA Cup run avoids their relegation here.
17. Hull City – Amazing what a turnaround we’ve seen at the club in the last 18 months. Having started last season so well they’ve slipped up. Sacking Phil Brown so late on was a mistake.
18. Man City – Spending an absolute fortune in the summer and then hardly giving the man who spent it all much of a chance to deliver proved to be a mistake by the rich owners.
19. West Ham – Apart from Scott Parker and one or two others – this is not a side that belongs in the top flight. Desperately need to strengthen and appoint a mentally tough manager.
20. Liverpool – Awful. Simply awful. Relying on Torres and Gerrard finally caught up with the club. Benitez is a very lucky man when you look at men who have lost their job this year.
Written By Stephen Rudd