top of page
  • Writer's pictureBy Yann Tear

So how did they all do? Capital Football writers give their annual appraisal of the 14 teams we cover



This will go down as the year of almosts for London clubs. Arsenal almost won the league. Spurs almost landed a Champions League spot under an adventurous new boss. Chelsea almost won the League Cup. And almost reached the FA Cup final.


West Ham almost reached the Europa League final after a pulsating semifinal second leg against Bayer Leverkusen. QPR, Millwall and Brentford were all involved in a relegation dogfight almost right to the end.


We said goodbye to Sutton and will say hello to Bromley next season for their EFL debut. We will watch with interest the direction of travel of mid-table teams who can harbour hopes of doing slightly better next term - Charlton, Palace, Fulham and Watford among them.


Here, we take a final look at the season that was and give our end of term ratings. Feel free to disagree. Initials represent the writer's scores. YT = Yann Tear, PL = Paul Lagan JT = Julian Taylor DE = Dan Evans AS = Alessandro Schiavone EW = Ewan Harkness


AFC Wimbledon: They did not quite have enough in the end to make the play-offs, but Johnnie Jackson will believe he is building the foundations to have another good dart at it next season. The departure of Ali Al Hamadi in February to Ipswich Town was an obvious blow – the Iraqi had bagged 13 goals in 22 starts in the league. Omar Bugiel’s last-day hat-trick in the thumping of Walsall took him to the same number of goals for the campaign. A 10th-place finish was a huge improvement on the previous campaign, when they ended up 21st and perilously close to the Football League trapdoor. Home form is much stronger and there is the feeling that new Plough Lane is starting to feel more and more like home again.  

YT: 6.5 PL: 7 JT: 6 DE:6 AS: 5 EH: 6 = 30.5

 

Arsenal: Those who like to measure success purely in terms of silverware can have a field day over the Gunners. No trophy to show for two years of increasing excellence. But Mikel Arteta's side really were very, very good. Unlike last year, when they ran out of juice in the run-in, they had Willian Saliba and Declan Rice to keep the ship moving inexorable forward. Their form in 2024 was relentlessly good. Only the defeat to Villa and the draw at Man City blemished a perfect record. They beat City, Liverpool, United (twice), Spurs and Chelsea, without losing to any of them. They accumulated their second highest ever points tally. But for the freak that is Pep Guardiola's team, they would have romped to the title. Somehow they have to find another gear next term, which won't be easy, and they will definitely need a stronger bench to cope with the workload. The only regret should be that timid home performance against Bayern when mistakes cost them. But it was a season of consistently good things, and all without an out-and-out striker. Kai Havertz, Gabriel, Ben White, Martin Odegaard, and Bukayo Saka all shone.

YT: 8.5 PL: 8 JT: 8 DE: 8 AS: 9 EW: 9 = 50.5

 

Brentford: It was a bit close for comfort. This third season in the topflight has undoubtedly proved the most challenging for the urbane Thomas Frank, whose unruffled approach was put to the test by a string of long-term injuries and the loss of Ivan Toney for a large chunk of the campaign. He had to find ways of rejigging a defence repeatedly hit by players going lame and it is to his, and the club’s credit, that they managed to dig in and get the job done. This was probably a good year to have a wobble, with all three promoted clubs from last season struggling and two others near the bottom being hit by points deductions – but it will need a return to a more solid showing at the Gtech to avoid a repeat next term. The announcement that Matthew Benham is looking to end his long association with the club obviously casts some doubt on the future direction. The business model and recruitment have been first class, and the Bees will want that happy formula to carry them into the next chapter. 

YT: 4.5 PL: 7 JT: 6 DE: 6 AS: 4.5 EH: 5 = 33

 

Charlton Athletic: They really were a basket case until Nathan Jones arrived. You could write a book about this season alone when it comes to the Addicks’ season given the uncertainties over ownership and changes in management. At one stage, only the continuing excellence of Alfie May – who made the division’s team of the season – seemed to offer any hope amongst the ruins. Then came the Welshman. His methods and cultish self-promotion may not be to everyone’s taste, but he knows what’s required and fans at the Valley are so grateful he decided to take over from an ailing Michael Appleton to guide them nine points clear of the relegation zone when there had been a real flirtation with the drop. At one stage, they had gone 18 without a win. Before losing their final match at Wycombe, they went 14 without defeat. Can they maintain the momentum next term after this great turnaround? It’ll be fun to find out. 

YT: 5.5 PL: 6 JT: 4 DE: 5 AS: 4.5 EH: 4 = 29

 

Chelsea: They turned from being a hopeless jumble of disparate parts into something resembling a unit with prospects. So what did the hierarchy do? They got rid of Mauricio Pochettino. It was the exact opposite of recency bias. The Blues found they had a player they could build around in the brilliant Cole Palmer and the improved form of Moises Caicedo, Noni Madueke Malo Gusto and Nicolas Jackson added to the long-term promise. For sure, too many underwhelmed, such as record signing and World Cup winner Enzo Fernandez, but it was difficult to judge a fair number of players whose seasons were blighted by injury - Reece James, Romeo Lavia and Christopher Nkunku among them. But there were other plus points in the shape of Conor Gallagher and green shoots in Mykhailo Mudryk. The Blues somehow made it to the League Cup final and an FA Cup semi, and the late surge has ensured a crack at Europe's third tier competition, but the early months were a shambles best glossed over. The heart-stopping home games against the Manchester clubs and the thrashing of Everton hint at better things to come - but so much will depend on who picks up the poisoned chalice that is the Chelsea managerial hotseat.

YT: 5.5 PL: 5 JT: 6 DE: 5 AS: 4 EH: 6 = 31.5

 

Crystal Palace: For Wilfried Zaha, read Eberechi Eze and Michael Olise. In recent seasons. The summer narrative was all about whether the Eagles were going to lose their star player. This time, the futures of two stand-out players will top the agenda. It would be perfect for the Holmesdale Road faithful if they get another year of the duo – who did not always feature at the same time because of injury. Throw in the great form of Jean-Philippe Mateta since Oliver Glasner arrived as boss, along with the emergence of Adam Wharton and there is much cause for optimism about next season. Palace fans endured a horribly deflating end to the Roy Hodgson era, but the next boss did just enough to silence the doubters – the headline 1-0 win at Liverpool in mid-April effectively kick-starting the Austrian’s career in South London. 

YT: 6.5 PL: 6 JT: 8 DE: 8 AS: 6.5 EH: 9 = 41

 

Fulham: Considering the doom-mongers were predicting a season of struggle without former talisman Aleksander Mitrovic, this must go down as a pretty decent season overall. There were a number of outstanding days for the fans at the Cottage - with those 5-0 thumpings of Forest and West Ham among them. There was the home win over Arsenal and the thrashing of Spurs as well as a League Cup run to the semi-finals. Away form remained a bone of contention throughout the campaign but that was at least partially offset by a long-awaited win at Old Trafford. The Whites were never in danger and fans will have been mostly OK with the mid-table status, even if the final placing of 13th was not quite the top half finish craved by Marco Silva. The hope must be that the Portuguese retains his enthusiasm to continue the good work, and can oversee the continued emergence of Calvin Bassey in defence and Rodrigo Muniz as the new number nine and that the tirelessly spiky Joao Palhinha can stay on board. Good report cards for Bernd Leno, Harry Wilson, Andreas Perreira and Antonee Robinson. Tom Cairney looked as polished as ever when coming off the bench, but the less said about Armando Broja's spell on loan the better.

YT: 6.5 PL: 7 JT: 7 DE: 7 AS: 6 EH: 8 = 35.5

 

Leyton Orient: O’s fans should look forward to next season’s fixture list with relish, even if this term fizzled out a bit towards the end. Richie Wellens oversaw a very decent first season back in League One since 2015 and they more than consolidated following last season’s table-topping season in League Two. At one stage they were even threatening the playoffs. Not bad for a club that had dropped into the National League not so long ago. Orient’s boss recently signed a new three-year deal, saying: “I wouldn’t have signed if I wasn’t excited about the future and I’m looking forward to hopefully taking the club to the next level.” They need a regular goalscorer next term. Only Ruel Sotiriou reached double-figures. Keeper Solomon Brynn notched the most appearances with 42 and a more settled starting XI might help the east Londoners push on to greater heights. 

YT: 6.5 PL: 6 JT: 8 DE: 8 AS: 7 EH: 9 = 44.5

 

Millwall: The return of Neil Harris – the man with Millwall in his veins – turned out to be not mere sentimentality. The Lions’ former talismanic striker proved to be an inspiration as he halted the freefall under Joe Edwards which had plunged the club into darkness and threatened a drop to the third tier. The club’s fanbase had grown tired of Gary Rowett’s pragmatic approach and wanted a little more adventure in the side, but the change of direction was almost their undoing. It was a sad season for the club, with the untimely death of hugely popular chairman John Berylson, but it at least ended on a relatively upbeat note with five straight wins to hoist the club up to 13th and well away from the relegation zone that they were close to embracing in March. Goals were hard to come by, with Zian Fleming leading the way with a modest return of seven goals. Along with Jake Cooper, he was the only man to reach 40 league appearances. Ryan Leonard took the plaudits as the fans’ player of the season. Stalwart keeper Bart Bialkowski bade farewell after great service to the club. 

YT: 5 PL: 6 JT: 5 DE: 5 AS: 4 EH: 5 = 30

 

QPR: Is it possible to build a statue for someone who has been at a club less than a year? R’s fans would probably welcome it. Marti Cifuentes took over from Gareth Ainsworth in October when the club appeared to have already signed its own death warrant at the foot of the table. The Spaniard transformed the mood among the players, and very quickly in the stands as he organised his seemingly shambolic squad into a coherent unit – which played some great football at times, to boot. In a season which marked the passing of the legendary Stan Bowles, it was fitting that the team rediscovered a bit of style and at various times relished the work of Lucas Andersen, Ilias Chair, Steve Cook and Jimmy Dunne – whose winner in the key clash at home to Birmingham City seemed to herald the safety that the exhilarating 4-0 thumping of Leeds confirmed. The emotional send-off for Bowles summed up a new wave of positive vibes at Loftus Road that has been long overdue.

YT: 5.5 PL: 6 JT: 6 DE: 6 AS: 6 EH: 7 = 36.5

 

Sutton United: They kept fighting defiantly until the very last. But their three-year sojourn in the Football League is over and we can only hope they can find their way back again at some stage – even though competition has never been fiercer to get out of the National League. A heavy losing streak saw the sad departure of Matt Gray, who had done so much to get the Ambers to a level they had never reached before. They did not just make up the numbers. They were in the conversation for promotion in their very first season and Harry Beautyman was twice named in the League Two team of the season accolades. They punched well above their weight. But surviving on crowds of 3,000 has been tough and this year was a struggle from the start, though boss Steve Morison kept the embers of hope glowing with a run of just one defeat in the final eight. A run of 12 without a win following the Boxing Day triumph at Wimbledon did most of the damage. Let's hope the Ambers can find a way back.

YT: 3 PL: 5 JT: 4 DE: 4 AS: 3 EH: 3 = 22

 

Tottenham Hotspur: Listen mate, we’re still learning. He seems a bit grumpy and downbeat, but the former Celtic boss Ange Postecoglou has been a breath of fresh air after the dour regimes of Jose Mourinho, Nuno Espirito Santo, and Antonio Conte. They chased down a Champions League slot for most of the season and only just fell short but there was something exciting to watch again – which few would have expected given the painful departure of Harry Kane last summer. In the end, there were some sobering lessons for the new boss to absorb and he made it clear he was unhappy about the vibes he was getting within the club ahead of the fixture against Arsenal, which many were desperate to lose to avoid handing their bitter north London rivals the title. Form dipped alarmingly after a crushing win at Villa Park which had appeared to herald a return to Champions League football next season. In the end, fifth place and the Europa League must be looked at as some progress. Heung Min Son carried the burden of Kane's exit well on the whole, with James Maddison, Micky va de Ven, Pedro Porro, Dejan Kulusevski and Cristian Romero taking most of the plaudits. Richarlison disappointed.

YT: 6.5 PL: 6 JT: 6 DE: 7 AS: 8 EH: 7 = 40.5

 

Watford: It would be lovely to think that in Tom Cleverley, the Hornets have a manager the fans and the owners can finally get behind, but this being Watford, you wouldn’t bet on it. Once a byword for homespun loyalty and togetherness, the club continues to lurch from head coach to head coach, with no apparent thought for the long-term. In finishing 15th, they only garnered six home wins all season and always had the feel of a mid-table side rather than one with designs on the top six. A run of three wins in the final 21 fixtures of the season testifies to the big drop in standards in recent times and the rebuilding that needs to take place. Only Mileta Rajovic hit double figures for goals in a line-up that chopped and changed too much.

YT: 4 PL: 6 JT: 5 DE: 5 AS: 5 EH: 4 = 29

 

West Ham United: The great Euro adventure is over, as is the David Moyes era. The three–year adventure was a great odyssey and gave the club a focus way beyond survival and respectability. Having just missed out on a fourth season, they must re-calibrate their objectives. So much of what fans can expect next term hinges on who comes and goes this summer. The A-listers Jarrod Bowen, Lucas Paqueta and Mo Kudus are all wanted. Michail Antonio may be reaching the end of his shelf life at the age of 34 – certainly it expects a lot for a player with his physical style carrying the workload. Danny Ings has not had a massive input and perhaps more was expected of James Ward-Prowse. Emerson and the ungainly Kurt Zouma were unexpectedly good. 

YT: 6 PL: 6 JT: 6 DE: 6 AS: 6 EH: 6 = 36

Commentaires


Join our mailing list

bottom of page