The Full English: The Endless Summer

Summer is upon us, and that means no EPL action until August.’s Shane Evans laments this state of affairs, but also brings you his report card for the season that was in this week’s edition of “The Full English.”
By Shane Evans

The summer is here. I can’t say I’m happy. All we have left is the FA Cup and then it’s almost three whole months of MLS before the English Premier League returns. Not a terrible thing, as football is football, and things in this country are improving, but I can guarantee by mid-July, this guy will be in pain.

Luckily, to hold us over, we have endless transfer rumors, pointless pre-season friendly tours, and a whole load of Rafa Benitez claiming this and that. And of course, your favorite weekly columns, “The Full English” and “Fish & Chip Shots.” Whether you agree with what I write or not, you’re reading, and that makes it all worth it!

A bit of bad news though, I might be slowing things down a bit. Probably one tour de force a week, if that. I can’t be writing about nothing, since nothing will be going on, so a bit of a break might be in order, a summer holiday, if you will. It’s not set in stone, so don’t be cursing my name just yet, more of a ‘wait-and-see’ approach.

But that is then, we are in the now, and there is some unfinished business to attend to. Obviously, there is no Bacon this week, given the dearth of matches on the horizon. The season is over, and we all just have to accept that. What we’ll do instead is take a look back, team by team, and hand out some grades. Simple, right? I’ll also throw in a song per team, one that directly identifies with the personality of the squad in question (effectively stealing John Buccigross’ idea). That’ll be the bulk of this potentially shorter TFE.

Following that, I’ll give out a few team awards (most improved, underrated, overrated, useless). Things will wrap up with the usual Leicester update, and the Black Pudding of the Year, which as you read, I have yet to pick.

Sound good to everyone? Excellent. Let’s get started…

The Menu (as in What’s Good, What’s Alright, and What Should Be Avoided At All Costs)

(4th place, 20 wins,12 draws, 6 losses, 72 points)

The Gooners had a mixed bag of a season. They went trophyless yet again, and underachieved for most of the season, but boy did they show promise. The way they came on late in the year was something special. Losing only one match in 2009 will certainly get things going in the right direction for next season. Provided Arsene Wenger makes good on his word and stays, they should improve even more next year.

Song: “Golden Age” - TV On The Radio

The age of miracles.
The age of sound.
Well there's a Golden Age.
Comin' round, comin'round, comin' round!

Season Grade: B

Aston Villa (6th place, 17 wins, 11 draws, 10 losses, 62 points)

This season for Martin O’Neill and the Villans was a tale of two halves. They were the surprise team to start the year and were playing some excellent, competitive football in the campaign’s opening months. Then the league caught on, and they got tired, sufficiently slipping from Champions League contention to settling for a spot in everyone’s favorite new tournament, the Europa League. If you’re a Villa fan, you have much to be happy about, and next season should be better.

Song: “This Time” - The Verve

Lookin' back on my life
You know that all I see
Are things I could've changed
I could have done
No time for sad lament
A wasted life is bitter spent

Season Grade: B

Blackburn Rovers
(15th place, 10 wins, 11 draws, 17 losses, 41 points)

Things looked good after Sam Allardyce took over for the debacle that was the Paul Ince era, but still left much room for improvement. The Rovers allowed the third most goals this season, and were practically swiss cheese in the back. That is, full of holes. At the other end, the play lacked creativity and rarely looked threatening, against any team. ‘Big Sam’ has his work cut out this summer.

Song: “Writing To Reach You” - Travis

Every day I wake up and it's Sunday
Whatever's in my head won't go away
The radio is playing all the usual
What's a Wonderwall anyway?

Season Grade: D+

Bolton Wanderers
(13th place, 11 wins, 8 draws, 19 losses, 41 points)

Kevin Davies and Matthew Taylor practically carried the wandering Wanderers this season, scoring more than half of their goals (22 of 41). Esteemed gaffer Gary Megson seemed to lose the plot as the season went on, and Bolton dipped after the new year, seemingly content with their mid-table position. More of the same next term.

Song: “Just” - Radiohead

You do it to yourself, you do
and that's what really hurts
You do it to yourself, just you
you and no-one else
You do it to yourself
You do it to yourself

Season Grade: C-

Chelsea (3rd place, 25 wins, 8 draws, 5 losses, 83 points)

Another strong season from the Blues, could have been so much better if Guus Hiddink took over a month or two sooner. Luiz Felipe Scolari was the big name who was supposed to lead Chelsea to the promised land, but wasn’t able to beat any team in the ‘Big Four.’ Hiddink took over and fixed things, and for now, the Blues will have to be happy with a potential FA Cup consolation prize.

Song: “Flowers And Football Tops” - Glasvegas

No sweeping exits
No hollywood endings
Flowers and football tops
Don’t mean a thing.

Season Grade: B+

Everton (5th place, 17 wins, 12 draws, 9 losses, 63 points)

Was there a more consistent team this season than Everton? They always play hard and under the coaching David Moyes, were a force in the league all year long. Could you imagine how good they’d be if they had a true striker to score for them all year? A potential ‘Big Four’ crasher next season, without question.

Song: “Typical” - Mute Math

‘Cause I know there’s got to be another level
Somewhere closer to the other side
And I’m feeling like it’s now or never
Can I break the spell of the typical?

Season Grade: B+

Fulham (7th place, 14 wins, 11 draws, 13 losses, 53 points)

Easily the most improved team of the year, Fulham got their act together under Roy Hodgson and rode the emergence of Brede Hangeland and Clint Dempsey to a monumental 7th place, which is good for a trip to Europe next season. It’ll be difficult for them to emulate this performance (particularly their 34 goals against) next season, but it’ll be fun to see them try.

Song: “Your Smiling Face” - James Taylor

Isn't it amazing a man like me
Can feel this way
Tell me how much longer
It will grow stronger every day
Oh, how much longer

Season Grade: A-

Hull City (17th place, 8 wins, 11 draws, 19 losses, 35 points)

Similar to Aston Villa, on a much smaller scale, Hull were able to take the league by storm in the early part of the season, and even found themselves in 3rd place for a period. Yeah, that didn’t last, and down the stretch, Hull couldn’t buy a win. They stayed up in the top flight despite a last day loss and just looked miserable for the last five months of the season. They may have escaped this year, but it won’t happen again next time around, sorry Phil.

Song: “Freedom Fighters” - The Music

Dance for the freedom
Fighters of the world
Feel the walls
She's real real love
They don't love you
They love you on your way
I don't love you babe though
It's ok

Season Grade: D+

Liverpool (2nd place, 25 wins, 11 draws, 2 losses, 86 points)

A league-low two losses wasn’t enough for Liverpool to reach the EPL summit, but that doesn’t mean their season wasn’t a success. Outstanding play up and down the pitch, the Reds probably deserved the title. Unfortunately, they didn’t know how to play as the top team, drawing five out of the eight matches they played first.

Song: “I Shall Overcome” - Hard-Fi

New day dawning, I wonder what it holds for me,
Sun is shining, I don’t think that it will shine on me
I look around, nothing seems to have changed,
This dirty town, it hasn’t some how re-arranged

Season Grade: A

Manchester City
(10th place, 15 wins, 8 draws, 18 losses, 50 points)

Manchester City, oh, Manchester City. The most inconsistent team of the season, the Citizens looked dominating at times, and at others delusional. I won’t say Mark Hughes is a bad manager, but the pressure put on him by the big boys with the check books upstairs might be a bit much for the soft-spoken Welshman. Next season will be the real test, given who they may bring in this summer.

Song: “Buck Rogers” - Feeder

I think we're gonna make it
I think we're gonna save it
So don't you try and fake it
Anymore, anymore

Season Grade: C

Manchester United (1st place, 28 wins, 6 draws, 4 losses, 90 points)

The first half of the season was like United were playing in low gear, slow and steady. Then they punched it into 5th and were off from there. A late-year hiccup wasn’t enough to unseat them as champs, three time repeating champs, that is.

Song: “Rearviewmirrow” - Pearl Jam

Saw things so much clearer
Once you, once you...
Once you, once you...
Once you, once you...

Season Grade: A

(19th place, 7 wins, 11 draws, 20 losses, 32 points)

Simply not good enough. Across the board, just a poor team. They had a few bright spots (Tuncay, Brad Jones), but for the most part deserved what they got. I think a season in the Championship will do them good, and if anyone, Gareth Southgate can help them get things right and hopefully vie for immediate promotion.

Song: “Tell Me It’s Not Over” - Starsailor

Now the lights out
I discover, just a weekend
Tell me it's not over

Season Grade: D-

Newcastle United
(18th place, 7 wins, 13 draws, 18 losses, 34 points)

Is it just me, or should a team of Newcastle’s stature never get relegated. It just doesn’t look right from a neutral standpoint. Having said that, they deserve what they got, even more-so than Middlesbrough. Awful all year, few could doubt they didn’t see this coming by New Years.

Song: “Perfect Situation” - Weezer

What's the deal with my brain?
Why am I so obviously insane?
In a perfect situation
I lead love down the drain.
There's the pitch, slow and straight.
All I have to do is swing
and I'm a hero, but I'm a zero.

Season Grade: F

(14 place, 10 wins, 11 draws, 17 losses, 41 points)

Another team who experienced a renaissance of sorts after a managerial change. The second change, that is. Paul Hart, a relative unknown, took over and did a bang up job keeping Pompey afloat. With a new boss set to come in soon, the real task will be keeping hold of the key players.

Song: “Hurry Up And Wait” - Stereophonics

So hurry up and wait
But what's worth waiting for?

Season Grade: C+

Stoke City (12th place, 12 wins 9 draws, 17 losses, 45 points)

12th place is a fantastic achievement for Tony Pulis and the Potters. Many expected them to go right down after this season, but they remained focused all year and played beyond themselves on many occasions. James Beattie deserves a ton of credit.

Song: “Empty Cans” - The Streets

The end of the something i did not want to end
Beginning of hard times to come
But something that was not meant to be is done
And this is the start of what was

Season Grade: B-

Sunderland (16th place, 9 wins, 9 draws, 20 losses, 36 points)

Barely avoiding the drop, Sunderland were another squad who had an up and down year. The dismissal of Roy Keane was an awkward time, but Ricky Sbragia did a solid job in keeping them up, and walked away gracefully after it was done. No Tyne-Wear derby next season though, which depending on your standpoint could be good or bad.

Song: “When We Escape” - Minus The Bear

You must be an illusion.
Can I see through you?
You must be an illusion.
You must be an illusion.

Season Grade: D+

Tottenham Hotspur (8th, 14 wins, 9 draws, 15 losses, 51 points)

‘Ol Harry is up to it again, as his mid-season move to Spurs proved to be a positive one for the London club. Bringing back many of the players that were part of a successful 2007/08 team, Harry got his club playing the right way and they looked quite dangerous at times. This summer will be an interesting one with regards to who he brings in and who is sent packing.

Song: “Bring It On Down” - Oasis

You're the outcast - you're the underclass
But you don't care - because you're living fast

Season Grade: B

West Bromwich Albion (20th place, 8 wins, 8 draws, 22 losses, 32 points)

Save the end of season theatrics, West Brom were the laughing stock of the league. They weren’t Derby bad, but they were pretty terrible regardless. They’re a yo-yo club however, and could be back quite quickly.

Song: “Driving South” - The Stone Roses

Driving south round midnight
Man I must have been insane
Driving south round midnight
In a howling hurricane

Season Grade: F

West Ham United (9th place, 14 wins, 9 draws, 15 losses, 51 points)

I doubted Giofranco Zola starting out the year. He proved me wrong, simple as that. With no real stars, Zola crafted a team with a winning attitude and a determination to get results, and that is just what they did. Barely missing Europe, they’ll be hungry for more in 09/10.

Song: “Shine On” - The Kooks

Shine, shine, shine on
Won't you shine, shine on

Season Grade: B+

Wigan Athletic (11th place, 12 wins, 9 draws, 17 losses, 45 points)

Flirting with the top third all season, Wigan finally gave in to the strength of the league’s better teams and experienced a slip late in the year. Also could have something to do with their inability to hold onto their best players (Emile Heskey, Wilson Palacios). Next season looks iffy.

Song: “Trade Yourself In” - Shinedown

Trade yourself in for the perfect one
No one needs to know that you feel you've been ruined
Trade yourself in for diamond eyes
Watch the stars collide as you're lifted from your burden

Season Grade: B

Team of the Year: Manchester United

They won the league, they get this award. Pretty simple.

Most Improved Team of the Year: Fulham

From the brink of relegation to the dizzying heights of 7th place, the Cottagers should be extremely proud of what they accomplished this season. I know I am.

Overrated Team of the Year: Manchester United

Contradicting my team of the year a bit, it was obvious that United were vunerable this season. Not during their long run of clean sheets, mind you, but at other points. Liverpool made that clear in their 4-1 thrashing at Old Trafford. Unfortunately, no one was able to match the overall quality displayed by the Red Devils.

Underrated Team of the Year: Wigan Athletic

Steve Bruce put together quite a squad on a limited budget and they had a great first half. Things declined a bit after January, but he did the best he could with the players he had and their season was a success all the way around. It’s a shame they’ll lose more big players this summer.

Useless Team of the Year: Newcastle United

They should have never gotten relegated. It really should be useless owner of the year, as Mike Ashley should be exiled to Madagascar because of how poorly he ran his team this year. Oh well, they'll be back next year...or the year after...or the year after that.

Leicester Update:

The Foxes signed another player recently, Bristol goalie Chris Weale. Gonna have to do better than that, Nigel. Biggest move to date though was signing Hobbs permanently. Thank-you, Rafa. More thanks below...

And Finally...The Black Pudding Of The Year

Rafa Benitez, Liverpool: Love him or hate him, he’s made the league exciting this season. His random tirades, sensical or otherwise, were always a delight to take in. His team should have won the league this year, but he wasn’t able to keep them together long enough to see it out, let alone himself. With ‘The Special One’ no longer inside England’s shores, Rafa had to step up into the craziest, yet most tactically sound manager in the league, and he did so with aplomb. For that, I thank you, you cooky Spaniard!

Shane Evans is an Associate Editor of His feature, "The Full English" appears every Friday morning. Contact Shane at with questions, comments and concerns or follow him on Twitter.