Continuing the review of the predictions made back in August, here are those sides I placed in positions 15-11.
15. Reading (Finished 18th)
Everyone expected second season syndrome to kick in, after Reading finished a lofty eighth in their debut year, but relegation never seemed likely until the final weeks. Eventually, they were undone by a lack of goals despite having talent up front, and by their complete lack of strengthening last summer. You cannot stand still in the Premiership.
14. Middlesbrough (Finished 13th)
Another prediction that was pretty close, Boro are one of those sides that rarely threaten to break into Europe or go down. In short, they’re a little bit dull. But Southgate is growing as a manager and they might break into the top ten next time around.
13. Sunderland (Finished 15th)
Like Wigan, the survival of Sunderland is a bit of a mystery. They don’t score very many, concede a lot, and also seemed to have the referees against them for much of the season. Yet somehow they were never in danger of going down, a feat you have to credit to Roy Keane. Now they need to heed the example of Reading, and strengthen.
12. Everton (Finished 5th)
Ah, here’s one I got badly wrong. Everton didn’t appear to improve at all last summer, and with so much cash being thrown around I figured they’d drop into the pack. But Moyes drove them forward, and until the final weeks they were pushing Liverpool hard for a Champions League spot. If he gets some money to spend, they could become a real force.
11. Blackburn (Finished 7th)
Hughes’ merry band of hackers managed to rise up the league this season, mainly because in Roque Santa Cruz they had a class act. But Bentley is still odious, and they once again came comfortably bottom of the fair play list, despite their manager’s pleas. I really wish they’d go down.