Swansea have, on the whole, had the best season of any Premier League club
2012/13 has not been a classic by any means. As the years roll by, this season will certainly be remembered as the swan song of Sir Alex Ferguson rather than the football on display.
Considering how many of the Premier League teams have been desperately disappointing,
it is no surprise that this has been such an underwhelming season.
Expectation is everything, and there is one thing that strikes me when glancing over the final Premier League table: more than in any other season that I can remember, it feels as though teams have come up short relative to pre-season expectation.
It is a season where very few teams have excelled.
It is a season where the majority (rather depressingly), to one degree or another, have simply failed to impress...
Stand Out Good Seasons
Positives: 9th place finish; Carling Cup winners; Qualified for the Europa League.
Negatives: Tailed off a bit after the Carling Cup.
Swansea City have had a brilliant season. It would be very difficult to take anything away from Michael Laudrup's side, so I'm not even going to try. They have been this season's outstanding Premier League campaigners.
West Bromwich Albion
Positives: 8th place finish; The management of Steve Clarke.
Negatives: Slight dip in the second half of the season.
The greatest compliment you can pay to Steve Clarke's side is that they now look like an established Premier League club. Only until recently they were the perennial "bounce back" club; too good for the Championship, never quite good enough for the Premier League.That has now all apparently changed.
Whilst they were hovering around the Champions League spots throughout the first half of the season, they were never realistically going to last the course and distance in that position. 8th place for West Brom is an outstanding campaign.
West Ham United
Positives: 10th placed finish.
Negatives: Still question marks from some fans over Sam Allardyce's style.
West Ham have not felt like a newly promoted club this season. Never in threat of relegation, and a top half finish to boot (10th place being the highest a team that have been promoted through the playoffs have finished since West Ham themselves managed 9th in 2005/06). Great season overall.
Good Season, On the Whole
Positives: Premier League Champions.
Negatives: Disappointment in both major cup competitions; the loss of Sir Alex Ferguson.
Whilst a record 20th League title was the perfect send-off for Sir Alex Ferguson, disappointing premature exits in both the Champions League and the FA Cup would have left a sour taste in the mouths of many Manchester United fans and would have been a much bigger question mark at the end of the season had it not been for The Great One's shock retirement announcement.
It would be ridiculous to sneer at a Premier League title win, but there is a feeling that this season could have been so much more for Manchester United.
Positives: FA Cup winners; European football next season.
Only Wigan Athletic could get relegated and still be considered to have had a decent season. Not being relegated this season was more vital than ever with the new TV money coming in, but they won the FA Cup. Simple as that. Relegation and promotion will come and go but the days out to Wembley and the silverware is what the fans will remember forever.
Any Wigan fan who would swap winning the FA Cup for staying in the Premier League needs to take a good look at themselves.
Could Have Been Better
Positives: Finishing above Liverpool for the second consecutive season.
Negatives: Failing to push more seriously for a Champions League place; losing David Moyes; Poor FA Cup result.
Finishing 6th and missing out on Europa League qualification is a bit unlucky. Failing to push more seriously for a Champions League spot was disappointing. Getting hammered at home by Wigan in the FA Cup quarter-final was devastating. Replacing David Moyes will also be extremely difficult. Could have been better for Everton.
Positives: Avoided relegation.
Negatives: Failed to push on for a top half-finish.
The positives and negatives pretty much speak for themselves. Just over two years ago, Southampton were still playing in League One, so to have stayed up in the Premier League this season should be heralded as a magnificent achievement.
But a lot of money was spent.
After an excellent run in March and part of April it looked as though they could have pushed on for a top-half finish. No wins in their last six games meant they were almost dragged back into a relegation battle they should have been nowhere near. Overall though, a solid first season back in the top flight.
Positives: Avoided a humbling relegation.
Negatives: Nearly didn't avoid a humbling relegation.
Make no mistake, this was a disappointing season for Stoke City. It is the first season since they were promoted to the top flight in 2008 where it's felt like they haven't taken a step forward from the previous campaign.
Their 13th place finish is somewhat deceiving. The bottom half of the league was so close and this Stoke City side could have, and should have, gained their first ever top-half finish in the Premier League.
Positives: Avoided relegation.
Negatives: Failed to build on an excellent league position.
Two brilliant wins in their last two league games put somewhat of a glass on what was an indifferent campaign for Norwich. They started woefully, then they seemed to get all their points before December, after which they stumbled over the line yet somehow finishing 11th.
An 11th place finish, whilst slightly deceiving, is still an improvement of one place on last season (although they got three fewer points). In the end it's been a decent season for Norwich City, when at one stage not so long ago it looked like it could have been a lot worse.
Somewhat Bad Seasons
Positives: Europa League win; Champions League qualification.
Negatives: Nowhere near the title race, Champions League embarrassment.
Chelsea's disappointing season has been somewhat covered up by their triumph in the Europa League. Fact of the matter is, though they played for eight pieces of silverware this season, they only won the one that they shouldn't have even been in the running for in the first place.
With the squad they have available they should have had a far better crack at the Premier League and the Champions League. They've lacked a quality striker all season, but then again, Liverpool won the competition in 2005 with Milan Baros up front, so anything is possible.
Positives: The brilliance of Luis Suarez.
Negatives: The idiocy of Luis Suarez.
Liverpool's campaign has been about one man and one man only. They have been "rebuilding" for what seems like forever now and they seem as far away as ever from getting back into the top four, let alone anywhere near the top of the table.
Liverpool belong at the summit of English football, but their squad is still bursting with mediocrity. Every year away from the top will only make it harder to get back there. They need to hold on to Luis Suarez.
Positives: Qualified for the Champions League next season.
Negatives: Everything else.
Watching Arsenal's wild celebrations on Sunday after securing fourth place made me feel a little bit uneasy. Whilst securing fourth should have come as a relief, and pipping Spurs to it will have been pleasing to say the least, the unbridled ecstasy that they showed was slightly excessive.
For a team who went unbeaten throughout an entire Premier League season less than ten years ago, celebrating fourth place so vociferously felt a bit wrong.
Arsenal have not won a trophy now for eight seasons, which is eight seasons longer than Wigan Athletic. Their limp exits in the cups to lower league opposition were unforgivable and their exit from the Champions League at the hands of Bayern Munich was disappointing (but probably a relief it was only an away goals exit after seeing what they did to Barcelona in the semi-final).
Fourth place should not be the epitome for a club the size of Arsenal. Another poor season.
Positives: Avoided relegation; Christian Benteke.
Negatives: Reduced expectations.
Looking at this season on it's own, Aston Villa should be very happy that they stayed up, finishing 15th in the process.
In the grand scheme of things, it is incredible how far the club has fallen in such a short space of time. Whilst Gabriel Agbonlahor, Andreas Weimann and Ron Vlaar all had excellent run-ins, they were kept in the Premier League almost single handedly by Christian Benteke.
If he decides to move on this summer, they will have to reinvest every penny they get from his transfer fee on new players in order to have any chance of survival next season.
Positives: Dimitar Berbatov.
Negatives: Extremely poor end to their campaign
Fulham sold Clint Dempsey and Moussa Dembele at the start of the season and didn't replace them.
They have not had any kind of central midfield all season. Their squad is too old, which showed in the run-in. All in all, they actually did okay to finish 12th, but an end-of-season slump meant a casual flirting with the possibility of relegation. Something Fulham should have been nowhere near.
Downright Bad Seasons
Positives: Decent Europa League campaign; Some solid acquisitions in January.
Negatives: Awful final League position; Losing Demba Ba.
Although they will be pleased with a decent run to the Europa League quarter-finals, it was a drab season on the whole for Newcastle.
Injuries, poor form and a horrendous away record led to a season to forget for Alan Pardew. Cisse, Coloccini, Jonas Gutierrez, Cabaye and Tiote were all a shadow of their previous selves.
They also lost Demba Ba in January, but did make some other decent signings. Maybe when the likes of Gouffran, Debuchy and Sissoko have had a chance to bed in at the club, Newcastle can push onwards again. All in all, though, it has been a season to forget for the Toon.
Positives: In a stable position to come back up.
Negatives: Relegation without much of a fight.
It was a poor season for Reading, in which it never really looked like they were staying up. But let's get one thing straight, this Reading side cost virtually nothing to put together, and all in all it was a bit useless.
This is a Reading side who probably shouldn't even have been good enough to get promoted to the Premier League in the first place. Exactly why Brian McDermott was sacked is beyond me, but expectations were low, so relegation shouldn't be treated as too disappointing.
You can't imagine too much of the rest of the squad being snapped up by any other Premier League sides, so they should be able to make a decent fist of bouncing straight back.
Positives: They actually have good players.
Negatives: The disappointment of the Martin O'Neill era; Going so close to relegation when they should have been nowhere near.
Bad season. Really bad season. After expecting to push on this year under Martin O'Neill Sunderland went absolutely nowhere. Their squad is decent and they should have been nowhere near where they were.
Paolo Di Canio saved them from relegation with a couple of excellent wins, particularly away at Newcastle. He has certainly shaken things up a bit, and he needs to get much better performances from the likes of Adam Johnson, Stephane Sessegnon and James McClean than Martin O'Neill managed to this season.
Positives: The £20 million pounds or so that Gareth Bale added to his price tag.
Negatives: Failure to qualify for the Champions League.
Last season's failure to qualify for the Champions League was somewhat unlucky for Spurs. Finishing fourth but missing out because Chelsea won the damn thing is really unlucky, in fact. They should not have let Arsenal get anywhere near them, let alone finish above them and take third place.
Letting Arsenal do so again this season was nothing short of criminal. Tottenham should have gone further in the Europa League, they shouldn't have been knocked out of they FA Cup by Leeds United, but they most certainly should not have finished fifth in the League. They failed in their one major ambition and will surely lose their most prized possession in Gareth Bale.
Positives: Erm... they still have loads of money I guess.
Negatives: Horrendous title defence; Horrendous Champions League campaign; Horrendous FA Cup Final loss; Horrendous season.
They failed to compete with Manchester United in the Premier League and got brushed aside too easily in the Champions League. They then lost the FA Cup Final to relegated Wigan, then sacked the manager who had won them the Premier League title just 365 days earlier.
No player, other than Pablo Zabeleta, has come close to replicating their form of last season and it has really shown. Manchester City would undoubtedly have had the worst season of any Premier League team by a mile were it not for...
Queens Park Rangers
Negatives: Literally don't even know where to start.
Seriously, no idea where to start with how bad QPR's season has been. They made so many awful signings. They've been just abysmal from the word go.
The good news that has come out of this season is that they might get to keep hold of Loic Remy, their only standout player from the campaign. The bad news is it might be whilst he is in prison.
QPR have given the perfect lesson in how not to run a football club in the Premier League. Other teams coming up with good financial backing can learn from their mistakes.
So there we have it then. An (albeit depressing) alternative League Table, which I have Christened "The Alternative Premier League Table of Achievement in Relation To Pre-Season Expectation".
Catchy I know.