End of Season - It's a Wrap

Whilst Pep's City Squad essentially had the Premier League title wrapped up by Christmas, this season was still not without it's share of surprises, delights and departures. After 21 years, #WengerOut finally turned into, Wenger > Out. Mo Salah was crowned King of Liverpool as he broke the record for number of goals scored in a season, and Burnley are in bloody Europe! (Any girls planning their European tour already, shout me - I want a spot on that away bus!) 

With the help of some brilliant women from TFG, we look back on the season and celebrate the highs and lows...


 
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Manchester United, by Laura Hamill.

It really is the hope that kills you. Manchester United’s season was indefinitely above average but in the wake of City’s centurion achievements, it doesn't quite feel that way. The inconsistency is painful, but the never-say-die attitude has begun to come back. Losing the Manchester derby set the tone, with a momentary salvage when Jose and co took the opportunity to rain on Pep’s title winning parade.

Handing City the title after a dismal defeat to the most nailed on relegation candidates for years was just typical of this season. Going out to Sevilla in the Champions League reiterated it too. Yet beating the Top Six feels like a real breakthrough but that bogey team will be just around the corner to haunt us.

How Jose managed to swipe Nemanja Matic and rattle Conte into brief mediocrity is still beyond me and absolute season highlights. It's wonderful to end the Lukaku v Morata debate with one clear-cut winner too. Before we plunge into next season, can we please buy real life full-backs instead of 30-odd year old wingers?


 
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Crawley Town FC, by Carol Bates

To put the season in a nutshell, it didn’t start well. Head Coach Harry Kewell had been appointed, a bit leftfield as he’d only ever managed Watford U23s. There were lots of calls for him to go, but he was setting up a different style of play from the club, a more professional regime that had obviously been influenced from his time at the Hornets.

We saw some great away results with goals in the final minutes but a few too many losses and draws meant the play-offs were no longer a possibility. Finishing in 14th was an improvement on last season though, especially when with one of the smaller budgets in L2, most people were expecting us to be relegated!

The Summer focus will be on buying a recognised striker, or 2, which we haven’t had the luxury of this season. A few players’ contracts have now expired and I don’t expect too many of them will be renewed so that Harry can bring in his own players.

To be honest, I can’t understand how Chesterfield got relegated - they were one of the best footballing sides to come to the Checkatrade! It’s great to see Accrington get promoted as this gives the smaller clubs, like ours, hope that we can do it too! We also did the double over them, so watch out for Crawley getting promoted next season!


 
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QPR, by Clodagh Gilsenan

As a QPR fan, this was always a season where the only way was up - after finishing 19th last season. Through a combination of our FFP limitations and Ian Holloway’s management QPRhave been able to introduce a core of incredibly exciting homegrown young players such as:Eze, Smyth, Furlong, which will be the future of our football club.

At this moment in time , it’s Ian Holloway who dominates my summary of this season, and with his recent departure it leaves QPR fans polarised. Brought in to reconnect the club to its fans - Holloway did a decent job under difficult circumstances. However he ultimately paid the price due to some bizzare team selections and outrageous away form.

The “On our day we can beat anyone” cliche, actually applied to QPR this season - we beat the top two, Wolves and Cardiff at home and outplayed Aston Villa to win 3-1 at Villa Park, while at the same time producing abject home performances most noticeably against Middlesbrough and Nottingham Forest. Away from Loftus Road, we were consistent and not in a good way but if we improve our away form I think we will be pushing for play-offs next season.

Regardless of who we appoint as our next manager, whether that be McClaren or not, the future's looking bright for QPR and I personally cannot wait to get behind the lads next season. You R’ssss


 
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Sunderland AFC, by Harry Killen

The start of the 17/18 football season and after years of great escapes from the relegation zone of the Premier League, Moyes managed what countless managers before him couldn't and took Sunderland down to the Championship.

And despite the disappointment of actually being relegated there's hope in the air. The fans, myself included, were looking forward to actually winning some games. We may no longer be sat at the top table this season but we're not going to be fed shit either. Or so we thought.

Fast-forward a couple of months and things are looking bad. Worse than bad, fucking horrendous. Despite an early win against Norwich which had me full of all the 'this is it, this is the turning point' vibes, by the end of October we've not managed to secure any more of those elusive 3 points. Simon Grayson becomes the 5th manager in as many years to get the boot and shortly after Chris Coleman is bought in, to the delight of many.

The season continued much the same way, there were a couple of highs (0-4 away at Derby and even John O'Shea getting on the scoresheet WTF.) but alas it's nowhere near enough and after another damming loss at Burton Albion of all places; for the 2nd season in a row, we are bottom of the league and relegated...again. Much to the delight of those scruffy horse punchers down the road in the Toon.

I've been resided to the fact that Sunderland are shit and they have been for a very long time. Probably the worst they've been in over 100years but I actually have enjoyed supporting them more than ever this season. The away days to Millwall, Bristol city and Brentford this season have been no less enjoyable because we were in the Championship and if anything the collective misery has bought us together even more. The fans have been the same die-hard lot, singing their hearts out for the lads and I've a feeling that isn't going to change in league one.

I've realised that when you're shit the football and the result don't really matter. It's more about just being there for your team and carrying a little bit of hope that you may see a goal, you may get a win and you may not gift three points to every other team in your league.  Bring on league one, bring on Acrington Stanley away and let's sing our hearts out for the lads once more. KTF, FTM.


 
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Middlesbrough FC, by Beth Thompson

After breaking our transfer record (£15m for Britt Assombalonga), signing some impressive players, somehow keeping Adama Traore and appointing Garry Monk as manager Boro fans had a reason to be optimistic at the start of the season. We were all quietly confident that we were going to go straight back up again….then the season started and nothing that we predicted actually happened!

The less said about Monk’s reign the better, the team were disjointed, the best players weren’t playing and something just wasn’t right. Boro are a club who are known for sticking with the manager and giving them a chance so we were all surprised to learn that Monk had been replaced by Pulis. It was like an extra Christmas present to me as I was never a fan of Monk and his style of play.

The second half of the season could not have been more different from first - more attacking with the addition of Besic (on loan from Everton) we offered a lot more upfront. Traore, struggling to make the team with Monk in charge, and Bamford, our top goal scorer for 14/15 both blossoming under Pulis has been a highlight.

I’d say it’s been a weird season as a Boro fan. Overall I’m happy that we made playoffs and 5th is good.  I’m hoping we can strengthen in summer by signing Besic permanently, keeping Traore and possibly another winger. As my family say ‘there is no sentiment in football’. Whatever happens I’m interested to see what next season will bring.


 
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Reading FC, by Pippa Rouse

From heartbreak to despair, that’s how the 2017/18 season went as a Reading FC fan.

Wembley, May 29th 2017 - Reading were beaten by Huddersfield in the Playoff Final on penalties. We were 3-1 up, and somehow ended up watching Schindler smash home his penalty to send Huddersfield to the heights of the Premier League. However, it didn’t feel like the end of something, it felt like the start. We had Jaap Stam, a world class defender as our manager - with a fantastic first season under his belt, we could do anything!

Fast-forward to May 6th 2018 - we were 90 minutes from possible relegation, playing Cardiff, a team who were in line for automatic promotion with a win. Jaap Stam, who had seemingly ended up devoid of ideas and unable to drive results that we had the season before, had left the club. We were now under the management of Paul Clement.

The fan base were divided and arguing amongst themselves, leaving a black cloud over the club. It wasn’t the season any Reading fan had expected or wanted.

Plan A no longer worked, playing it out from the back led to many a comical goal I don’t wish to see again. Our tactics were tired and all wrong, and quite frankly so were the team. There was a clear lack of dedication to the cause, and in the annual end-of-season lap of appreciation after the last home game, in this case a 4-0 thrashing by Ipswich Town, only 300 fans stuck around.

Luckily for us Sunderland, Bolton, Barnsley and Burton were somehow worse... somehow. With our points total this season, we would have been relegated last.

This coming summer we need a clear out, a clear out of any player who is not willing to give everything for the club. Players with the wrong attitude, gone. Liam Moore to be captain, Chris Gunter vice captain and we go again.

It’s the blind faith in football that keeps us supporting, and the what if it’s us next season, what if it’s our turn?


 
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Crystal Palace, by Deborah Yates

Started the season full of confidence a Dutch maestro at the helm new style of play. 7 games in and it was a disaster. We didn’t have the skilful players Frank needed to do the job he wanted so Frank out and Croydon boy Roy in. Now I admit I was sceptical that this would work out - the man’s 71 and no spring chicken. The whole Iceland fiasco was still etched on my mind -  but do you know what? The South London boy done good.

He solidified the team, he got them working together as a unit, and reignited Wilf’s passion in the game. He dropped Benteke when others wouldn’t have, and brought in Aaron Wan-Bissaka who has been amazing at such a young age. The future looks bright in SE25 lets just hope he stays! Oh and we finished above Brighton…mind the gap boys


 
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West Ham, by Eleanor Cardenas

West Ham's 2017/2018 can be summed up in my opinion in two words: bare minimum.

With the sacking of well-loved Slaven Bilic to the appointment of David Moyes (rumour has it he was our fourth choice), the players and Moyes bonded over one thing: both had something to prove to the fans. The highlight of the season for me was Moyes' ability to turn Marko Arnotovic into a goal-scoring sensation for West Ham. He went from boos and getting sent off in his second match for us to Hammer of the Year.

Joe Hart on loan didn't turn out to be darling we'd hope, but also on loan Joao Mario was great and I hope he continues to stay with us. Who didn't love it when James Collins watched the Arsenal game in the away stand with fans...a true Welshman making us proud :)

I also think the fans themselves became a story with a low point being the pitch invasions during the Burnley game...come on guys keep it classy next season yeah? I was hoping for a top ten finish and to really avoid a relegation battle altogether but perhaps bare minimum and another year in the premiership with the chance to hopefully set our sights on lofty goals (aka challenging for Europe) will do for now.


 
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Arsenal Ladies, by Louise Mat

I was lucky enough to see the Arsenal Women v Man City Women game, where legend Alex Scott played her last game for the club. A wonderful result from the team digging deep and securing the win they needed to stay in contention for the Champions League spot.

It's been a long season and I think the last few games has shown on the Man City players maybe. A mixed season for Arsenal but understandable, as a lot of changes with a new manager who’s rebuilding and getting back to basics. Big losses in the form  of Jodie Taylor and Fara Williams, but other players like Beth Mead have had a great season. A few new players required though to strengthen the squad, but a conti cup win and reaching the FA cup final mean that things are looking bright for the team.


 
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Ipswich Town, by Amy Downes

Ipswich Town's 16th season in the Championship was predictably uneventful on the pitch, but significant changes were taking place off it. After announcing he would be leaving at the end of the season, manager Mick McCarthy brought his departure forward following some negative experiences with a section of Ipswich Town fans. The end of his time there has been long awaited, with most of the Portman Road faithful willing this era of hoof ball and defensive play to be over. Owner Marcus Evans is yet to appoint his replacement, but the dark cloud has already lifted in Suffolk thanks to a positive end to the year under Bryan Klug which included the thumping of Reading in the final away game of the season.

It may take more than a new manager to change the fortunes of the Tractor Boys, but with Evans promising something new with the next coaching line up - it will, at the very least, be interesting to see which direction they head in after the Summer.


 
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Cardiff City, by Danielle Bumford

Cardiff City had a record-breaking start to the season; we didn’t lose a game in August and, in fact, only lost 10 the whole season. The season before we finished twelfth and lost 18 so this season was already getting any Bluebirds fan dreaming of (dare we say it) a play off place…

We spent the first four months wondering if we’d be able to keep it together long enough to maintain our high league position or if we’d crack under the pressure. Our team kept it exciting for even the most of pessimistic fans with last minute goals, a whole lot of heart and a giant heap of Warnock magic.

An automatic promotion place seems like it’s been a long time coming for Cardiff City fans. We’ve been one of those clubs that always seem to be doing well but since our relegation from the premiership and the whole Vincent Tan “thing”, we’ve hardly been able to pick ourselves back up. Enter Neil Warnock!

The last three games were stressful and it seemed a play-off position was inevitable until Fulham lost against Birmingham and a draw was enough to see us finish second. SECOND!!! I could hardly believe it! I would have preferred to have gone up with a win but like I said, it’s been a long time coming so I’m not about to complain. WE ARE PREMIER LEAGUE! I’m already excited about the new season and can’t wait for the fixture list to come out not to mention Cardiff City Stadium featuring on FIFA!

The squad at Cardiff is clearly tight at the moment and that is a huge part of our success. I think buying a goal scorer is our main priority in the summer and I’d love to get Ademola Lookman in from Everton. He’s an England Under 20s World Cup winner and is scoring regularly out on loan in Bundesliga for RB Leipzig. I think he’d fit in well in the team and the fans would love him!

Even though they’ve been amongst our biggest rivals this season, I’d like to see Fulham doing well. We could easily have been in their position if Birmingham hadn’t won the last game of the season. The play-off route must be heartbreaking for their fans and they’ve played good football.


 
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Tottenham Hotspur, by Emma Townley

There has been much said, felt and shouted about our season. The Wembley ‘wobbles’ the vacuous atmosphere the lacklustre performances. Blah blah blah. But what’s a good love story without the lows?

Harry scored his 100th goal, Dele is becoming a force to be reckoned with. Poch is instilling drive, passion, loyalty and structure. Things we haven’t had for a while, Long may it continue. Fave Goal scorer this season? Sonny. Never seen anyone be so flippin’ happy about putting a ball in the back of a net. Even When he’s only getting ‘pitch time’ you won’t see a happier player.

Go on Son.

GO ON SPURS!


 
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Aston Villa, by Dannielle Harper

Aston Villa's start to the 17/18 season was a rocky one, with early injuries to Johnathan Kodja and Jack Grealish- arguably our best two players from our long lost (unfortunately not forgotten) slow decaying premiership side. Steve Bruce knew he had to acquire some talent and fresh blood to for a chance at promotion, and at very least to finish above last season's dismal 13th place.

The arrival of England legend John Terry and West Ham's right winger Robert Snodgrass was a step in the right direction- both big characters in the dressing room and hold unquestionable premier league talent. We've be lucky enough to rely on the fore-mentioned midfielders who can almost take sole responsibility for getting us into play off contention at Christmas, since our most expensive signing Scott Hogan (£15m from Brentford s16/17) had started near every game and was yet to fire the ball into the back of the net in  league football.

Brimming with confidence after we started 2018 with 7 wins on the bounce, we had a keen and realistic sight of finishing in the top 2. But we all know good things come to an end. A few injuries caused change in our starting lineup and inconsistency breeds uncertainty - proven when we lost against Bolton Wanderers, QPR and Norwich in the running to the end of the season.

Globally, fans blame our decline on those three matches (ridiculous!) forgetting we didn't have a performing striker until January! I'm not the only one to say it - the game often depends on 'which Aston Villa turns up', a detriment to our reputation but an added flare of excitement to spectators. Are we happy with forth, yes. Are we still a little bitter we tasted second and 'gave it away'? Maybe. Are we forever hopeful and proud to be Villa? Always.

 


 
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Leicester City, by Amy Drucquer

If you’d told me at the start of the season we’d have finished 9th I’d have been pleased - 3 places above the season before has to be seen as progress? Somehow though, the drudging style in which the season closed (minus a final overturning of Arsenal at home for the first time in 24 years) seemed to expose all of our weaknesses.

Just like the squad apparently, I have only JUST shaken the hangover from 2016. We have some magical moments, Vardy's stunner at West Brom away being awarded goal of the season - counterbalanced by stomach wrenching defeats. Don’t talk to me about Palace away, I’m still not totally over that.

Puel, (if he stays?) has some BIG decisions to make over the summer. I find it so difficult to be critical of the 15/16 team after all they did, but we need to evolve. We need to fix the leaks in the back. We need to more depth upfront, especially with a move up North for Mahrez and almost dead cert. We need to be fearless again.

#LCFC #TrueBlue #BlueArmy #FoxesNeverQuit

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AMY DRUCQUER