Football

Best player, biggest flop and what’s next? Assessing the Premier League’s bottom five

Everton manager Sean Dyche

The final part of our Premier League season review looks at the clubs who narrowly avoided relegation, as well as those who will be playing next season in the Championship.

For so long, it looked as though last season could be the tightest relegation battle in recent history. But by the final day of the Premier League campaign it was between three teams for the final two relegation spots, with Everton’s win over Bournemouth securing their survival as Leicester City and Leeds United were relegated along with Southampton – who had already had their relegation confirmed prior.

But a side who managed not to take their Premier League survival to the final day was Nottingham Forest who, despite struggling for much of the season, managed to finish four points above the drop zone.

Here is how we rated these sides, and what we think comes next for each of them…

NOTTINGHAM FOREST

REVIEW OF 22/23 – A crazy season for Forest saw them sign a whopping 30 new players across two transfer windows. That decision evidently came with its problems, boss Steve Cooper openly admitting it was not an ideal situation to have to try to incorporate so many new players. But it ultimately paid off, with Forest securing their Premier League survival despite a dismal record away from home.

PLAYER OF THE SEASON – There are a few players who are within a shout of this honour, but Morgan Gibbs-White’s eight assists and five goals in the league were crucial to his team’s survival. He has gone some way to repaying the hefty fee Forest paid Wolves and only looks to be getting better.

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FLOP OF THE SEASON – It certainly raised a few eyebrows when newly promoted Forest signed former Manchester United and West Ham attacker Jesse Lingard, but injury problems meant the ex-England international struggled to make an impact at the City Ground and failed to impress when he did play.

WHAT NEXT? – After a year of so much change and uncertainty around the club, including concerning the future of manager Cooper, Forest need a more settled summer and next season. A few quality additions to the squad down the spine of the team should help ensure they have a more comfortable year.

READ MORE: Best player, biggest flop and what’s next? Assessing the Premier League’s 11th-15th

EVERTON

REVIEW OF 22/23 – Another year of turmoil at the Merseyside club with concerns around their finances and plenty of poor performances on the pitch. A mid-season managerial change saw Sean Dyche replace Frank Lampard, with the former Burnley boss managing to keep the Toffees up by the skin of their teeth. Problems all over the pitch mean there will still be plenty of concern, especially as the club is soon to move into their expensive new stadium.

PLAYER OF THE SEASON – A tough choice for the wrong reasons, but Jordan Pickford’s performances in goal were crucial to keeping Everton up. Without his heroics the club would probably be playing next season in England’s second tier.

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FLOP OF THE SEASON – Neal Maupay was signed to fill the void often left by striker Dominic Calvert-Lewin’s persistent injury problems but the former Brighton man scored just one goal in his 27 Premier League appearances. A huge disappointment.

WHAT NEXT? – A lot of worry still surrounds the club. The Toffees are being investigated for alleged breaches of financial fair play rules after losing £371.8m over a three-year period, well above the maximum £105m permitted and a future points deduction is a possibility. Sorting out the financial mess at the club is the number one priority but there is no getting away from the fact that the squad is well short in key areas. Dyche needs quality additions if they are to avoid a relegation fight again next season but that might not be possible.

LEICESTER CITY

REVIEW OF 22/23 – It is crazy to think that just seven years ago, Leicester were crowned champions of the Premier League and even more recently were FA Cup winners. But the Foxes will be playing their football in the Championship next season after a horrific campaign which saw the departures of key players not replaced well enough and a late managerial change, swapping Brendan Rodgers for Dean Smith, failing to have the desired impact. Defensive woes were largely to blame for their relegation.

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PLAYER OF THE SEASON – An easy one. James Maddison was the shining light in an otherwise poor team, scoring ten times and assisting nine times in the Premier League. A quality player whose future likely lies away from Leicester.

FLOP OF THE SEASON – Wout Faes was signed to replace Wesley Fofana following his departure for Chelsea but endured a horrible first season in England with some catastrophic performances and mistakes contributing to relegation.

WHAT NEXT? – Rebuild and go for promotion back to the Premier League. Selling the likes of Maddison and Harvey Barnes and reinvesting in the squad is probably the most sensible strategy, and the club may also need to ship out some other high earners. There is also the small issue of appointing a new manager.

READ MORE: Best player, biggest flop and what’s next? Assessing the Premier League’s 6th-10th

LEEDS UNITED

REVIEW OF 22/23 – A disastrous campaign saw Leeds concede a league-high 78 goals and constant change in the dugout, with Jesse Marsch, Javi Gracia and then Sam Allardyce all managing the club across the season. The club invested significant amounts in signings, including Georginio Rutter, Brenden Aaronson, Luis Sinisterra and Tyler Adams but none could fix the bigger issue of the defence and goalkeeper.

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PLAYER OF THE SEASON – No obvious choice but Rodrigo’s 15 Premier League goals in a poor team means he probably deserves it.

FLOP OF THE SEASON – Unlike the previous category, there are many worthy of this honour but the hefty outlay for USA international Aaronson proved to be a poor decision as the attacking midfielder failed to impress at all.

WHAT NEXT? – A big decision to make over who the club’s next manager should be, and whether they want to return to the relentless, attacking style implemented by Marcelo Bielsa or instead move in a new direction. There is the core of a good Championship squad there and with a few additions Leeds are well capable of bouncing straight back if the right appointment is made.

SOUTHAMPTON

REVIEW OF 22/23 – A season from hell for Southampton, who were the worst team in the division from start to finish and were well short in all areas.

PLAYER OF THE SEASON – James Ward-Prowse’s relentless work rate and ability from set pieces was one of the few positives for Southampton, scoring nine goals from midfield, and will no doubt attract plenty of interest this summer.

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FLOP OF THE SEASON – A few names that could be considered, but we’re going with striker Paul Onuachu who was signed under Nathan Jones before he was sacked but didn’t score in his 11 appearances after arriving in January. Goalkeepr Gavin Bazunu was also a disappointing signing.

WHAT NEXT? – Reports suggest Swansea City boss Russell Martin will be the man tasked with trying to get Southampton back to the top flight. The Saints have several players in the squad who have already impressed at Championship level, such as Che Adams and Adam Armstrong, and reinvesting a decent transfer fee for Ward-Prowse should they sell him could help the club to win promotion at the first time of asking.

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