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Football | Barclays Premier League

BPL clubs' end-of-season report



A far-from- vintage Premier League season reached its conclusion on Sunday with a flood of goals, a host of retirements and a familiar-looking top four.

Following is a brief end-of-term report on the 20 teams in the top flight and, with the most lucrative ever television contract in place for next season, a look ahead to their prospects for the start of the next campaign in 89 days:

Manchester United

(champions) Signing Robin van Persie proved to be the final masterstroke before Alex Ferguson called time on his 27-year reign at Old Trafford.

The Dutchman's 26 league goals allowed United to romp to the title but there were questions marks about the defence at times and a lack of creativity in central midfield.

With Wayne Rooney's future at the club uncertain, and time running out for under-performing wingers Nani and Ashley Young, new manager David Moyes should be granted a large transfer budget to strengthen his squad.

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Manchester City

(runners-up) A disappointing fall from grace for City after they won the title the previous year.

Failure to upgrade in key areas pre-season, particularly in attack, cost them dear with no striker reaching 15 goals.

With Roberto Mancini sacked and his replacement yet to be named, the next couple of months will be hectic at The Etihad as City attempt to strengthen the team up front and on the flanks.

Chelsea

(third, Champions League) Began the season on a high under Roberto di Matteo but his sacking, an early exit from the Champions League, a slump in league form and the controversial appointment of Rafa Benitez as interim manager saw the wheels come off.

However, Chelsea ended the season full of beans with Frank Lampard becoming the club's record goalscorer, the Europa League trophy in the bag and Champions League football assured.

With Jose Mourinho expected to return as manager and owner Roman Abramovich set to flex his financial muscle, Chelsea will be serious title contenders next season.

Arsenal

(Champions League playoff) No silverware yet again but Arsenal's proud record of finishing in the top four continued with a final-day win at Newcastle United sealing a 16th consecutive season in the Champions League, providing they win their playoff tie.

The Gunners endured their worst start to a Premier League season as they tried to recover from the loss of Van Persie but in Santi Cazorla they discovered a midfield gem and Theo Walcott's scoring contribution inspired a stirring late run.

With funds now available, manager Arsene Wenger will be hunting for a world-class striker, a central defender and a midfield enforcer during the off-season.

Tottenham Hotspur

(Europa League) Despite their record Premier League points haul of 72, they suffered a second consecutive failure to qualify for the Champions League and the latest near-miss could have a big impact on whether footballer-of-the-year Gareth Bale stays.

Bale's 21 league goals, most of them spectacular, put him on the most-wanted list of Europe's top clubs and his future is bound to overshadow Tottenham's preparations for next season.

Everton

- Another solid season for Everton under David Moyes, finishing above Liverpool. Flirted with a top-four finish despite a lack of spending power.

Keeping Belgian midfielder Marouane Fellaini and choosing their next manager wisely will be vital for Everton if they are to progress.

Liverpool

Luis Suarez's 23 goals masked a disappointing campaign for Liverpool who never recovered from a terrible start. Played some attractive football at times but the jury is out on coach Brendan Rodgers and fans will expect more.

West Bromwich Albion

Eighth place for the Midlands club usually battling relegation was no mean achievement. Relied on the goals of on-loan Romelu Lukaku but he may go back to Chelsea next season.

Swansea City

Season ran out of steam but Michael Laudrup's first season in charge was a memorable one with Swansea winning the League Cup. Keeping 18-goal Michu, and juggling the Europa League and Premier League will be the challenge next season.

West Ham United

Tipped as relegation strugglers pre-season but manager Sam Allardyce used all his experience to get the Hammers safe. Squad lacks quality and needs strengthening.

Norwich City

A topsy-turvy season for Norwich who began badly, then had a great run, then flirted with the drop. Survival will be the priority next season.

Fulham

Speculation swirled around Craven Cottage about the future of boss Martin Jol after a poor run of form and he will want assurances that he can reinforce the squad before next season.

Stoke City

Brought virtually nothing to the party and appear to have gone backwards. Vulnerable next season.

Southampton

Made a strange decision to sack Nigel Adkins mid-season but new coach Mauricio Pochettino impressed with a notable victory against Manchester City.

Aston Villa

Paul Lambert's young side looked to be careering towards relegation in December but a late flourish steered them away from trouble. Need to add experience.

Newcastle United

A dreadful season for the Geordies, slumping from fifth the previous season to within a few points of being relegated. Some serious soul-searching in store for manager Alan Pardew over the coming weeks.

Sunderland

Came within a whisker of being relegated and lacked quality throughout the team. Paolo di Canio, who took over as head coach in March, should at least add some passion next season.

Wigan Athletic, Reading and Queens Park Rangers (relegated) - Wigan at least went down with honour, winning the FA Cup, and will be hopeful of a return. QPR have a huge wage bill and little quality and their manager Harry Redknapp has a big job on his hands.



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