This site uses cookies to improve your experience and to provide services and advertising. By continuing to browse, you agree to the use of cookies described in our Cookies Policy. You may change your settings at any time but this may impact on the functionality of the site. To learn more see our Cookies Policy.
OK
Dublin: 18 °C Thursday 16 August, 2018
Advertisement

Best player? Worst signing? Our writers review the 2016-17 Premier League season

Has Mourinho done a good job at United? The most enjoyable team to watch? Here’s what we think.

Paul Fennessy

Tottenham Hotspur v Everton - Premier League - White Hart Lane Source: Adam Davy

What will be your defining memory from this season?

Chelsea’s emphatic 4-0 win over Man United at Stamford Bridge. That game set the tone for the season. Kante starred, Pogba floundered, United were completely ill-equipped and Chelsea ruthlessly capitalised. It was two teams that were the antithesis of one another — Chelsea a fully functioning unit achieving their maximum potential, while United in stark contrast were a team of hapless underachieving individuals.

What prediction do you wish you hadn’t made?

Tipping Bournemouth and Burnley to get relegated weren’t the wisest calls I’ve ever made. I also predicted Hull would go down, so at least I got one right.

Who was your Player of the Season?

I’ll say Eden Hazard edges N’Golo Kante. Both have been integral to Chelsea’s title challenge. What gives it to Hazard is that players like him are incredibly rare. There are a couple of exceptional defensive midfielders you could put into Chelsea’s team and they arguably would still be good enough to win the title. Hazard, though, is one of the few players in the Premier League capable of regularly dribbling past players and most importantly, providing match-winning moments on a consistent basis.

Name the best and worst signing of the season.

N’Golo Kante is without a doubt the best — it’s no coincidence that Chelsea have improved hugely, while Leicester have suffered after the Frenchman switched clubs during the summer. Aside from him, Marcos Alonso for £23million from Fiorentina turned out to be another season-defining purchase and represented excellent value to boot.

As for the worst signing? There are a fair few contenders. On the evidence so far, Tottenham appear to have seriously overpaid for Moussa Sissoko, who cost £30million from Newcastle. And while Claudio Bravo cost just over half that from Barcelona (£17.1m), City have actually weakened their team by choosing him over Joe Hart. Until he won them the title the other week, Michy Batshuayi would have been a strong contender. He cost Chelsea €40 million (€7 million more than City paid up front for Gabriel Jesus) and prior to the West Brom game, he had scored one goal in 17 Premier League appearances. Even for a back-up striker with limited game time, that’s pretty appalling.

Best individual performance you witnessed this season?

Diego Costa was a little inconsistent at times this season, particularly post-January, but the talented attacker was exceptional in Chelsea’s 3-1 win away at Man City at the Etihad, mercilessly bullying the hosts’ vulnerable backline for 85 minutes until his substitution. That was only the start of December, but even then, it felt as if it would be hard to stop their title march.

Which team did you most enjoy watching (aside from the club you support)?

Man City may have been seriously flawed but their style of football is laudable and their games were usually enjoyable to watch as a result. Their willingness to play football coupled with their defensive shakiness ensured this was the case, while their Champions League matches against the likes of Barcelona, Celtic and Monaco were especially thrilling.

Has Mourinho done a good job at United? Why?

No. Granted, the record books will show that United won one (possibly two) cup(s) this season, but the Europa League and the League Cup are second-tier competitions where a significant portion of the teams competing aren’t even especially pushed about winning. The reality is that for all the millions spent, there hasn’t been a substantial improvement from the Louis van Gaal era, both in terms of the style of football and the results. The team still lacks balance and badly needs a player capable of dictating the play in midfield.

Describe the season in one sentence.

Chelsea reap the benefits of no European football.

Paul Hosford

Britain Soccer Premier League Source: Rui Vieira

What will be your defining memory from this season?

It being the first without Aston Villa. The fact that Villa are now in the Championship has resulted in my football consumption dipping massively. Being a foreign fan, you’d think I’d have appreciated the TV coverage since 92-93, but like Joni Mitchell says – you don’t know what you got til it’s gone.

What prediction do you wish you hadn’t made? 

I did tell my brother at great lengths last summer that Aaron Ramsey would move to Barcelona this summer after a dominant season this year. That turned out to be fairly misguided.

Who was your Player of the Season?

N’Golo Kante. Two league-winning sides built around him in two years. Decent.

Name the best and worst signing of the season.

Best: Kante aside, it’s Fernando Llrorente. His three goals in Swansea’s last four games dragged Paul Clement’s side to safety and he’ll finish with at least 14 league goals. Whatever anyone else did, El Rey León saved his club around £60 million.

Worst: Claudio Bravo – a goalkeeper who doesn’t save shots.

Best individual performance you witnessed this season?

Spurs fans won’t like me saying this, having already given Aaron Ramsey the kiss of death, but Dele Alli absolutely smashed Southampton at St Mary’s earlier this year. His season has been marked by fine individual performances, marking him as the most talented English midfielder since Gerrard and Lampard.

Which team did you most enjoy watching (aside from the club you support)?

At their flowing, Manè-inspired best, Liverpool. Other than that, Spurs.

Has Mourinho done a good job at United? Why?

Tough one. Obviously he could finish the season with two trophies and by very few yardsticks is that a failure. But this is a rare yardstick.

Blessed with a giant war chest with which to take on Pep, Klopp and Conte, he has merely fashioned a Manchester United side that’s difficult to beat. Call it an unbeaten streak all you want, but any United fan who says drawing at home with Everton, West Brom or Bournemouth is good enough is deluded.

But this is the new Mourinho model. The foundation is built and in the next two years his side will challenge for the title while being utterly dour. Then he’ll fall out with everyone from the chairman to the ball boys and be off to the next club.

Describe the season in one sentence.

Given it was the most star studded array of players and managers ever, it was a bit of a let down, wasn’t it?

Jackie Cahill

Watford v Liverpool - Premier League - Vicarage Road Source: John Walton

What will be your defining memory from this season?

Kevin De Bruyne’s miss for Manchester City against Chelsea. At 1-0 up, a critical moment in the season. Chelsea went on to win 3-1 and never looked back.

What prediction do you wish you hadn’t made? 

I tipped Everton’s Irish pair Seamus Coleman and James McCarthy to have big seasons. McCarthy’s never got going for various reasons and Coleman was playing really well before that horrific leg break against Wales. Liverpool having a crack at the title was all going to plan until Christmas. Other than that, I don’t think I was too far off the mark!

Who was your Player of the Season?

N’Golo Kanté. A freak of nature and one of the main reasons, along with Costa and Hazard, why Chelsea have regained the title.

Name the best and worst signing of the season.

I’m going to stick by my original predictions at the start of the season. Sadio Mané was excellent for Liverpool and, ultimately, his performances before injury helped Liverpool into a position where top 4 is in their grasp ahead of the season’s final weekend.

I did say that Brad Guzan was an abysmal signing for Middlesbrough and when you have their fans calling for him to be sent off after conceding a penalty, well that says it all really.

Best individual performance you witnessed this season?

Just when Liverpool needed him most, Phillipe Coutinho produced a masterclass at the London Stadium last Sunday against West Ham. Two goals, an assist for Daniel Sturridge and an excellent display in the number 8 role. Liverpool simply must keep hold of the little Brazilian in the summer.

Which team did you most enjoy watching (aside from the club you support)?

Tottenham. Played some great stuff throughout the campaign but came up short again. Blips cost them along the way, however, and they were very flat when I watched Liverpool beat them 2-0 at Anfield.

Has Mourinho done a good job at United? Why?

If he gets them into the Champions League at the end of the season, it can be considered a reasonable campaign. Trophies still matter, believe it or not. But considering the outlay at the start of the season and his declaration that United would be challenging for the title, he’s fallen well short in that regard.

Describe the season in one sentence.

Another rollercoaster ride and roll on August.

Fintan O’Toole

Everton v Middlesbrough - Premier League - Goodison Park Source: Dave Howarth

What will be your defining memory from this season?

Mourinho perfecting the art of drawing games to construct the worst unbeaten run in Premier League history.

What prediction do you wish you hadn’t made?

I wisely steered clear of such crystal ball gazing.

Who was your Player of the Season?

Eden Hazard. Back to his mesmeric best after last season’s slump, he excelled for Chelsea and his strike against Arsenal was an example of his memorable goals.

Name the best and worst signing of the season.

N’Golo Kante was best signing. It was no coincidence how brilliant his new club were and how poor his former club were. For the worst, step forward Claudio Bravo. It’s all very well for a goalkeeper being good with his feet but an ability to use his hands to make saves would be useful.

Best individual performance you witnessed this season?

Split between two players responsible for four-goal hauls – Harry Kane ripping Leicester apart on Thursday night and Romelu Lukaku destroying Bournemouth in February.

Which team did you most enjoy watching (aside from the club you support)?

Spurs, particularly in the second half of the season when they rampaged forward and had an array of players supplying goals. Drawing six of their first 11 games ultimately caught them.

Has Mourinho done a good job at United? Why?

If he wins the Europa League, he can point to the trophy cabinet additions as obvious signs of success. But that’s overshadowed by how poor the league has been, considering the vast resources at his disposal.

Describe the season in one sentence.

I’m telling you blud, listen to me fam, Wenger has got to go.

Steve O’Rourke

Manchester United v AFC Bournemouth - Premier League - Old Trafford Source: PA Wire/PA Images

What will be your defining memory from this season?

Manchester United’s ridiculously long and yet, somehow, ridiculously fruitless unbeaten run. It takes a special kind of season to remain undefeated for that long and yet barely improve your league position.

What prediction do you wish you hadn’t made?

I didn’t publicly predict anything because I was on holiday when it was being put together. I did, however, sadly lose real-life money on Leicester not being relegated.

Who was your Player of the Season?

If you don’t say N’Golo Kante, I don’t know what games you were watching.

Name the best and worst signing of the season.

For best signing, see above. Every time he was on the ball I expected something to happen. Every time he didn’t have the ball I expected him to make sure he’d rectify that as quickly as possible.

For the worst — John Stones. He gives decapitated poultry a bad name.

Best individual performance you witnessed this season?

Ander Herrera’s man-marking masterclass against Chelsea. I believe he had to be surgically removed from Eden Hazard at the end.

Which team did you most enjoy watching (aside from the club you support)?

Hard to make a case against Spurs. We’d have had a super title race if they hadn’t pulled a Mourinho with all the draws in the first quarter of the season.

Has Mourinho done a good job at United? Why?

If — and it’s a big if — he wins the Europa League, I know other United fans will point to two trophies and Champions League football but it was HORRIFIC to watch. I turned off more United games in disgust this season than in the previous 20 years because I knew exactly how they would end.

Describe the season in one sentence.

Wenger Out.

Ben Blake

Arsenal v Manchester City - Emirates FA Cup - Semi Final - Wembley Stadium Source: Adam Davy

What will be your defining memory from this season?

Bursting with emotion, Antonio Conte celebrating a world class solo goal from Eden Hazard by throwing himself into the crowd at Stamford Bridge crowd. That 3-1 win over Arsenal back in February put Chelsea 12 points clear of the chasing pack and they were never going to be caught from there.

In a season billed as the battle of the big-name managers, former Italy boss Conte was head and shoulders above the rest. The feat was even more impressive given it is his first season in English football.

What prediction do you wish you hadn’t made?

That David Moyes would be able to prevent Sunderland’s 11-year run in the top flight from coming to an end. The Scot looked a beaten man from early on in the season and his downbeat attitude did little to instil belief into players and fans alike. Moyes appears to be a shadow of himself since the ill-fated Manchester United experience and you wouldn’t be confident of the Black Cats coming back up anytime soon if he sticks around.

Who was your Player of the Season?

Yes, N’Golo Kante was a deserving winner after making it back-to-back Premier League titles with two different clubs, but, at the other end of the table, there was a player just as influential. Gylfi Sigurdsson’s 13 Premier League assists for Swansea — second only to Kevin de Bruyne’s 16 in the English top flight — were vital in keeping them up, while the Icelandic attacking midfielder also chipped in with nine goals.

27-year-old Sigurdsson didn’t miss one league game all season and clocked up 422.36km over the 37 games — the highest distance run by any player in the league. Unsurprisingly, he picked up Swans Player’s Player and Fans’ Player of the Year for the second consecutive year as they narrowly avoided the drop under Paul Clement.

Name the best and worst signing of the season.

The best: He’s one for the future, but Gabriel Jesus is a real talent. With six goals and four assists in his first 10 matches, the 20-year-old Brazilian could be devastating for Manchester City next season when gets a pre-season under Pep Guardiola behind him.

Many people had written Zlatan Ibrahimovic off before he even kicked a ball for Manchester United, but the 35-year-old proved doubters wrong with 28 goals and 10 assists in all competitions before his season was cut short by a cruciate ligament injury.

Liverpool shelled out £34 million for his services last summer, but Sadio Mane was worth every penny with his displays this term. 13 goals and six assists is a more-than-respectable return and it would have been more had he not picked up a knee injury at the beginning of April.

The worst: Moussa Sissoko, a £30 million signing from relegated Newcastle United, looked an odd transfer at the time. Sure, the powerful midfielder had starred for France at Euro 2016 last summer but there were far too many lacklustre displays in a Magpies shirt and he has flopped big time this season.

It’s been a difficult first year in England for Liverpool goalkeeper Loris Karius. Brought in from Mainz by Jurgen Klopp as a potential replacement for Simon Mignolet, his Reds career got off to a bad start as he broke his hand in pre-season. Then, less than three months after breaking into the team, he was dropped for the Belgian due to several mistakes.

A club record signing from Atletico Madrid, Swansea City paid £15.5m for 24-year-old striker Borja Baston back in August. However, he has managed just one goal in 20 appearances for the Swans, leaving another Spanish centre forward, Fernando Llorente, to provide the goals that kept them up.

Best individual performance you witnessed this season?

As Arsenal’s best player this season, Alexis Sanchez was in sensational form when the Gunners made the short trip to the London Stadium to play West Ham back in December.

The Chilean ensured goalkeeper Darren Randolph and the Hammers defence had a day to forget — bagging a 14-minute hat-trick late on in their 5-1 win. It may have been offside but the stepover and cheeky finish for his third goal will live long in the memory. Sanchez is an entertainer and there will be no shortage of suitors this summer if, as expected, he does leave the club.

Which team did you most enjoy watching (aside from the club you support)?

Mauricio Pochettino has Spurs playing a brand of football that’s easy on the eye, but I enjoyed the unpredictability that matches involving Manchester City brought under Pep Guardiola. After the first month, it looked as though they’d run away with the title but then there were appalling defensive performances such as a 4-2 defeat to Leicester City and the 4-0 drubbing by Everton.

Their Champions League campaign was bags of fun too — remember the 3-3 draw with Celtic, a 4-0 loss to Barcelona and that classic 6-6 aggregate scoreline with Monaco in the last-16?

They may be suspect at the back but when the likes of Sergio Aguero, Kevin de Bruyne, David Silva, Leroy Sane, Raheem Sterling and Gabriel Jesus are fit and on form, the attacking talent at their disposal is frightening.

Has Mourinho done a good job at United? Why?

Provided they qualify for the Champions League via next week’s Europa League final, I’d say he’s done an adequate job in his debut season. His deflecting through player-bashing and bemoaning the fact that he has to deal with injuries got boring very quickly, while focusing solely on Europe over the past month is a gamble.

That said, two trophies and a return to Europe’s elite club competition would represent a decent campaign when you consider the club’s decline since the retirement of Alex Ferguson.

Describe the season in one sentence.

Effectively all wrapped up at both ends before this Sunday’s final round of fixtures.

Eoin O’Callaghan

Manchester City v Swansea City - Premier League - Etihad Stadium Source: Martin Rickett

What will be your defining memory from this season?

Tony Adams, without a hint of irony, saying Arsene Wenger couldn’t coach his way out of a paper bag.

Who was your Player of the Season?

As much as I like Kante, he’s not a game-winner. But at Chelsea, they don’t need another one because they have Eden Hazard. And for that reason, he gets my vote. His performances — his key contributions — in big games can’t be overstated. And so often he sets the tone. He grabbed early goals against Burnley, Southampton (twice), Everton and it’s like he’s almost making a statement for everyone else to follow suit. Obviously, he grabbed important goals in the bigger fixtures too. Which is what you want from your elite players.

Name the best and worst signing of the season.

I’m purposely going to stay away from Kante because his name is everywhere in these end-of-season wrap-ups. Some clubs did excellent business. Tottenham getting Victor Wanyama for £11m has to be up there. Ronald Koeman was very clever in landing Idrissa Gueye — a decent version of N’Golo Kante for a fraction of the cost. And, to give Man City some credit, Leroy Sane has been a standout for them. But, Liverpool did well to land Sadio Mane and he’s a perfect Premier League player in many ways. Quick, intimidating, brave. And evident how much they missed him when he wasn’t there.

Quite a competitive battle for worst signing too. Claudio Bravo is the first name that comes to mind. But how about Moussa Sissoko at Tottenham? Another example of why you shouldn’t sign a player based on their performances at a summer tournament. He’s been awful and surely on his way in the off-season.

Best individual performance you witnessed this season?

The BBC’s Conor McNamara displayed some steely determination and professionalism in the face of typical Mourinho tactics when the pair clashed after United’s home draw with West Brom: http://www.bbc.com/sport/football/39468699

Which team did you most enjoy watching (aside from the club you support)?

A bit London-centric here but Chelsea were admirable champions and you appreciated the solidity and system Conte was so quick to install there. But for sheer entertainment, it’s hard to look past Tottenham. Pochettino has done such a wonderful job in assembling a young, vibrant side. Before, you’d have wondered whether the maturity would come together. But the recruitment (for the most part) has been very smart and, subsequently, the personalities have dovetailed beautifully. There’s a terrific spine to the side and because they’ve been simmering over the last two years, there’s a great spirit also. One or two additions in the summer and they will be a force next term again.

Has Mourinho done a good job at United? Why?

He and his team have been hopeless. It’s the myth of Mourinho that allows him spend a fortune, still finish sixth in the league but persuade everyone that barely beating the likes of Rostov and Celta Vigo and potentially winning a trophy he’s heavily criticised in the past represents success. He’s bitched and moaned about fixtures, about fatigue, about everything. He crossed the line into self-parody a long time ago but it doesn’t make it any less galling to see everything he does still receive so much attention.

Describe the season in one sentence.

Sam Allardyce was England boss, resigned in shame after one game and still had time to keep Crystal Palace up.

The42 is on Instagram! Tap the button below on your phone to follow us!

Cillian Sheridan on Ireland chances: ‘Unless you’re an established player it’s going to be different’>

Judgement day for Liverpool and more Premier League talking points>

  • Share on Facebook
  • Email this article
  •  

About the author:

The42 Team

Read next:

COMMENTS (13)

This is YOUR comments community. Stay civil, stay constructive, stay on topic. Please familiarise yourself with our comments policy here before taking part.
write a comment

    Leave a commentcancel