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# Looking Back
Best individual performance? Worst signing? Our writers review the 2017-18 Premier League season
Thoughts from a campaign that saw Man City blow away the competition.

End of 2017/18 Premier League Package Martin Rickett Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola is thrown up into the air by players during the Premier League trophy celebrations. Martin Rickett

Paul Fennessy

What will be your defining memory from this season?

Astonishing, barely believable record-breaking feats, whether it be individual (Mo Salah) or collective (Man City) brilliance.

What prediction do you wish you hadn’t made?

Tipping Tiemoue Bakayoko to be an instant success at Chelsea wasn’t my finest hour.

Who was your Player of the Season?

Mo Salah and Kevin De Bruyne have received enough praise, so I’ll opt for David Silva. At 32, he has looked as accomplished as ever, with his trademark incisive passing and intelligent movement routinely spreading panic among opposition defences. As strange as it may sound, he has probably been slightly underrated since joining City in 2010 — this year was just his second appearance in the PFA Team of the Season. And were it not for his emergence coinciding with Andrés Iniesta and an abundance of other remarkable Spanish attacking midfielders, the irrepressible Silva would probably be even more highly thought of.

Name the best and worst signing of the season.

There’s no justifiable answer other than the peerless attacker and likely Golden Boot winner Mo Salah for best signing. There are a few contenders for worst, but Everton bringing in Davy Klaassen for £24 million stands out. The Dutch midfielder has made just three Premier League starts since joining the Toffees and was subbed off on each of the occasions in question. Not one but two Everton managers in Ronald Koeman and Sam Allardyce clearly had grave doubts as to whether the former Ajax star was equipped for the rigours of Premier League football.

Best individual performance you witnessed this season?

Kevin De Bruyne’s display in Man City’s 4-1 victory over Tottenham back in December was a joy to behold. Gary Neville has justifiably described the Belgian international as a hybrid of Paul Scholes and David Beckham and the Spurs game was probably the best and most high-profile instance in which his brilliance was patently clear. Honourable mention too for Ederson, whose distribution in the same game was sublime and key to City’s success in launching attacks.

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

With an attack as formidable as the defence was dodgy, Liverpool were practically guaranteed to be a consistently entertaining and unpredictable watch.

Name your favourite moment from this season.

Jeff Hendrick and other Burnley players giving their seats on the bench to kids as angry West Ham fans invaded the pitch was a touching moment amid otherwise ugly and chaotic scenes at London Stadium last March.

Describe the season in one sentence.

Pep Guardiola silences the sceptics.

PFA Awards 2018 - Grosvenor House Hotel Barrington Coombs Liverpool's Mohamed Salah poses with the PFA Player Of The Year Award Trophy. Barrington Coombs

Gavan Casey

What will be your defining memory from this season?

Though an utterly miserable game, there was one particularly profound moment some 50-odd minutes into West Ham’s stalemate with United on Thursday night, during which several midfield players became embroiled in a lesser-spotted game of knee tennis. I had only one viewing, and it’s possible that neither man was within an ass’s roar of the ball, but I’m willing to bet Mark Noble and Scott McTominay were at the coal face of this especially bleak exchange. Anyway, after several pings and pongs – think ‘nods and volleys’ but bereft of all joy, cohesion and purpose – the ball was plonked upon Paul Pogba in a yard of grass.

‘Finally,’ I thought. ‘Someone with a modicum of guile; a man who — to a fault — possesses within him the moral courage to get the ball down and play.’ With one fluid adjustment, Pogba swiveled, languidly extended his right peg and shinned the ball out for a West Ham throw-in.

Imagine thinking this guy hasn’t taken to the Premier League like a duck to water.

What prediction do you wish you hadn’t made?

It wasn’t a prediction, per se, but I’d no longer like to go for a pint with Eddie Howe. I would instead love to go for a pint with Eddie Howe – or even without him.

Who was your Player of the Season?

Mo Salah over Kevin De Bruyne from where I see it. Occam’s Razor.

De Bruyne had a greater impact on the title race, sure, but on a pound-for-pound basis, Salah was equally impactful: just ask the small contingent of Chelsea fans who’ll find themselves booking hotel rooms in the Başakşehir district of Istanbul next season.

This idea that Salah is ‘just a goalscorer’ is laughable when you consider he’s notched 31 of them in the league alone — many of an almost ostentatious quality — while feeding off a midfield in which Jordan Henderson is the conductor-in-chief. Salah has scored three more goals than Harry Kane having taken 25 fewer shots — or four more if you’re into woeful, aged banter.

I’ll attempt to rubber-stamp this shout with my own Bill Simmons-esque, borderline nonsensical criterion: who would you rather be unavailable for selection against the team you support: De Bruyne or Salah? Based on the frequency with which each produces ‘ah, piss off’ moments upon which games might hinge — and not discounting De Bruyne’s ability to dictate a game generally — I feel the Egyptian King inflicts more nerve damage than his Belgian counterpart.

Name the best and worst signing of the season.

Best: Mo Salah, clearly.

Worst: Davy Klaassen. One of ‘those’ ones from Holland, obviously, where a Premier League club calls heads and lands on tails. 16 Dutch caps, 2016 Dutch footballer of the year, 23.6 million bob and six league appearances for Everton, who tried to loan him to Napoli in January. That’s Afonso Alves territory, really.

Best individual performance you witnessed this season?

Kevin De Bruyne’s magnus opum: Man City’s 4-1 win over Spurs back in December. He scored their second, won a penalty and sprayed passes like it was nobody’s business – a couple of which were obnoxious in their conception and execution. What impressed me equally that day, though, was the mileage he clocked up in defence: De Bruyne put in demonic work, blocking channels and nibbling at heels to the point that were a casual observer unfamiliar with him, they could have been forgiven for thinking he was a player cognisant of his limitations in possession – ‘there to do a job’.

You compare that all-round midfield display, then, to the discourse which often surrounds the even more athletic (and often wrongly-maligned) Paul Pogba: ‘Well, Mourinho didn’t buy him for his defensive qualities.’ Sure, but he can run – he just has to want to.

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

Caveat unnecessary as I’m a United fan, which makes the following admission all the more difficult to bear: City plainly played the best football, but Liverpool probably made for the most electrifying viewing experience.

Favourite moment from this season.

When Renato Sanches — with Swansea wearing all red at Stamford Bridge — coolly passed the ball to the red Carabao logo on an advertising hoarding. A reminder that there’s always someone worse off.

Describe the season in one sentence.

“As the light begins to intensify, so does my misery, and I wonder how it is possible to hurt so much when nothing is wrong.”
― Tabitha Suzuma, Forbidden

Everton v Sunderland - Carabao Cup - Third Round - Goodison Park Anthony Devlin Everton's Davy Klaassen. Anthony Devlin

Fintan O’Toole

What will be your defining memory from this season?

Kevin de Bruyne’s midfield brilliance and ability to find a way around packed defences to provide assists.

What prediction do you wish you hadn’t made?

Huddersfield to get relegated. Not alone in having them as certainties for relegation but their feat in avoiding the drop given the resources at David Wagner’s disposal is remarkable.

Who was your Player of the Season?

De Bruyne but the argument for Mo Salah is as convincing.

Name the best and worst signing of the season.

Best has to be Salah for approaching Ronaldo/Messi-esque totals of goalscoring. Worst between Davy Klaassen or Sandro Ramirez, symbols of Everton’s summer spending spree yielding a poor dividend.

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Best individual performance you witnessed this season?

David de Gea for the brilliant series of saves he produced in Man United’s 3-1 win over Arsenal in December.

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

Man City. With De Bruyne, Silva, Sane, Sterling, Aguero and Jesus, their attacking play was consistently great.

Name your favourite moment from this season.

Burnley fans joining in with Arsenal fans to sing about Arsene Wenger during his last game at the Emirates. For longevity and the volume of trophies he won, he deserved a fitting send off.

Describe the season in one sentence…

‘I’m very proud, I’m super proud, I’m the proudest man in Proudsville.’

End of 2017/18 Premier League Package Anthony Devlin Paul Pogba had a mixed season for Man United. Anthony Devlin

Gavin Quinn

What will be your defining memory from this season?

Ironically, my defining memory of the season actually comes in the form of West Brom. In a fairly anti-climatic last few weeks of the season, their story made the relegation battle that bit more interesting while the title and the top four was already decided, for the most part.

What prediction do you wish you hadn’t made?

I predicted that both Huddersfield and Brighton would go straight back down this season and I couldn’t have been more wrong. Wagner and Hughton have done an excellent job and embarrassed me a little bit too!

Who was your Player of the Season?

It just has to be Mo Salah. I know its technically not his first season in the league but for a player to come in and break records and perform like he has, he deserves it that bit more than others like De Bruyne and Kane.

Name the best and worst signing of the season.

The best is Andy Robertson to Liverpool, without a doubt. A solid, consistent full back that fits perfectly into the Jurgen Klopp mold has been a revelation both domestically and also in Europe, and brought in for the equivalent of pocket change in the modern transfer market. The worst, Tiemoue Bakayoko. The Frenchman demanded a hefty price tag coming in from Monaco and has been woeful, by no means a fit replacement for Matic in the Chelsea midfield.

Best individual performance you witnessed this season?

It all comes back to Salah, his four goals against Watford on St Patrick’s Day was the complete performance. The variety of different kind of goals he can score is amazing, he was even desperately trying to tee up Danny Ings for shots in the closing stages and, as always, was in the right position to score a rebound, almost by accident.

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

Other than Liverpool, both Tottenham and Manchester City have been the most enjoyable to watch. City have scored the most goals in a single season and Spurs’ attacking players are just a joy to watch.

Favourite moment from this season.

My moment of the season is probably Mo Salah’s goal against Manchester City that put Liverpool 4-1 ahead. It was the one time I feel where Guardiola’s side were really rocked and made look beatable. The game turned out to be a thriller.

Describe the season in one sentence.

The big six are just getting stronger while Premier League regulars are getting weaker.

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