Brilliant goals, best-forgotten predictions and matches that prompted dramatic late rewrites
Paul Doyle Luis Suárez. His dazzling turns, incessant mischief-making and much-improved finishing made him a joy to watch.
Dominic Fifield Juan Mata. Of those I watched regularly, he was the most consistently excellent, with his astonishing tally of 12 assists and 12 league goals testament to his impact at Chelsea throughout another tumultuous campaign.
Owen Gibson Hard to see beyond Gareth Bale. Not since Cristiano Ronaldo was in his pomp at Manchester United has a player demonstrated such an ability to seize a game and shape it.
Barry Glendenning A stunningly original choice here: Tottenham game-changer Gareth Bale.
Andy Hunter Robin van Persie. Signed to wrestle the title back from the wealthiest team (though not much of a team) on the planet and delivered under that pressure by February.
David Hytner Dimitar Berbatov. The best player to watch and the best player to write about.
Jamie Jackson Gareth Bale. The Welsh flyer has become the Premier League’s successor to Cristiano Ronaldo as the man who consistently scores and performs superbly.
Stuart James Gareth Bale. Just gets better and better. Almost single-handedly carried the Tottenham team and deserves to be playing Champions League football next season.
Scott Murray A toss-up between Christian Benteke and Adam Le Fondre. Hats off to your Van Persies, Bales and Suárezes (Suari?) but there’s something infinitely more romantic about those calmly pelting them in while all around is panic.
Sachin Nakrani Dimitar Berbatov. A left-field choice but then Berba is a left-field player. Languid, highly-skilled, hilariously ratty and the only man who would dare wear a “Keep calm and pass me the ball” T-shirt. Oh and he got 15 goals in his debut season with Fulham, which ain’t bad.
James Riach Gareth Bale repeatedly scored stunning, match-winning goals and spearheaded Tottenham to their biggest ever Premier League points total.
Barney Ronay Michael Carrick. Often did the job of two men in midfield for the champions. The Roy Keane of the elegant interception.
Jacob Steinberg It feels utterly ridiculous not to be picking Robin van Persie. But that’s Gareth Bale – utterly ridiculous. The quality of his goals and performances for Tottenham have been staggering.
Daniel Taylor Gareth Bale, with an honorary mention for Michu (clearly not playing for a big enough club to get many PFA votes) and Robin van Persie.
Louise Taylor Philippe Coutinho. Arsenal’s Santi Cazorla has been lovely to watch but Coutinho is the midfielder capable of making Liverpool great again.
Paul Wilson Luis Suárez. More watchable and audacious than Robin van Persie or Gareth Bale, if also more annoying and apparently more hungry.
WINNER Gareth Bale.
Paul Doyle Michael Laudrup. Took a successful Swansea side and made them even better through smart signings and more effective attacking.
Dominic Fifield David Moyes. Everton finished sixth, above their city rivals for a second successive season, and lost only once at Goodison Park all campaign. Their squad boasts quality but not much depth, so to sustain such a challenge while others spend so heavily felt miraculous. Moyes has earned his opportunity with Manchester United.
Owen Gibson Sir Alex Ferguson. Fittingly in his final season, he marshalled his resources one last time following the bitter disappointment of the last day in 2011-12 to ease to the title.
Barry Glendenning Michael Laudrup. Prior to the start of the season, I idiotically predicted that Swansea City under his management would resemble “a car crash”.
Andy Hunter Sir Alex Ferguson. Another league title lifted by the latest Manchester United team to be spurred on by talent, naturally, but also character. A huge loss to the game.
David Hytner Rafael Benítez. Could not have done much more than win the Europa League and finish third. Moreover, he maintained his dignity at all times in the face of sustained hostility.
Jamie Jackson Michael Laudrup. As a first season in the top flight claiming the first major trophy of Swansea City’s 101-year history and finishing ninth was impressive.
Stuart James Michael Laudrup. There was a feeling Swansea were punching above their weight under Brendan Rodgers. Then Laudrup took over and won the first major trophy in the club’s history and secured a top-10 finish in the Premier League. Oh, and he also traded at a profit in the transfer market. Not bad, all in all.
Scott Murray Rafael Benítez, only the second man to win a European trophy at three different clubs (after Udo Lattek). The snipers – and it’s not just been Chelsea fans, either – can simmer down now.
Sachin Nakrani Michael Laudrup. Had the tough task of replacing Brendan Rodgers and did so with aplomb. Swansea finished two places higher than they did in 2011-12 and have become a more dangerous attacking unit.
James Riach In the face of bitter protests from Chelsea’s supporters, Rafael Benítez remained dignified and won the Europa League title as well as securing third place.
Barney Ronay Rafa Benítez. Perhaps not the obvious choice but still: a European trophy and third place in the Premier League. And all without the full support of the club’s fans or – it would seem – board.
Jacob Steinberg Michael Laudrup won Swansea their first major trophy in his first season in England, made some shrewd signings and ensured their football remained easy on the eye.
Daniel Taylor Steve Clarke. Well, probably Sir Alex Ferguson. But I owe Clarke an apology for having him to win the sack race last August.
Louise Taylor Paolo Di Canio. Not content with saving Sunderland from relegation he speaks a lot of good sense. And makes the Premier League infinitely more colourful.
Paul Wilson David Moyes. After years of not winning anything, he walks off with the top prize. Tremendous first seasons from Steve Clarke and Michael Laudrup, solid progress by Sam Allardyce and Brendan Rodgers.
WINNER Michael Laudrup.
Paul Doyle José Enrique for Liverpool v Swansea. Great move in which every touch was a trick.
Dominic Fifield Matthew Lowton’s volley from distance beyond Asmir Begovic, Stoke’s fine goalkeeper. It was a goal that breathed life into Aston Villa’s pursuit of survival.
Owen Gibson Van Persie v Aston Villa. Wayne Rooney’s raking 70-yard pass and the Dutchman’s skill in watching the ball drop on to his boot before volleying home was a fitting way for United to clinch the title.
Barry Glendenning Luis Suárez for Liverpool against Newcastle. Sprinting at full speed, he controlled a long ball to the edge of the penalty area with his shoulder while under pressure from Fabricio Coloccini, before taking it around Tim Krul and prodding home. In little more than a couple of seconds and with just three touches he made two very good players look like chumps.
Andy Hunter Robin van Persie v Aston Villa. From the pass by Wayne Rooney to the movement, awareness and sublime technique of Van Persie’s volley; a glorious goal and a true jaw-dropping moment.
David Hytner Luis Suárez v Newcastle Utd. Speed, strength, sumptuous chest control, balance, feint, touch, finish. Genius.
Jamie Jackson Robin van Persie’s second v Aston Villa. Wayne Rooney’s sublime arcing pass placed into the path of the on-rushing Dutchman was complemented by a left-foot volley struck oh so sweetly in a game that sealed Manchester United’s 20th championship.
Stuart James A close call between Matthew Lowton’s wonderful volley for Aston Villa against Stoke and Robin van Persie’s brilliant strike against Villa. Van Persie gets the nod on the basis that he was hitting a ball dropping over his shoulder.
Scott Murray Shinji Kagawa’s cerebral sidefoot against Norwich City.
Sachin Nakrani Matthew Lowton against Stoke. A stunning chest-and-first-time-hit volley that ultimately won a important game for Villa, lifting them out of the relegation zone.
James Riach Robin van Persie’s fine volley against Aston Villa oozed quality. He timed his run perfectly and made the finish look ridiculously easy.
Barney Ronay Romelu Lukaku versus Sunderland. Essentially a series of high-speed crash tackles, but still a rare joy to watch. The kind of goal the Hulk would score. Or a runaway cement mixer.
Jacob Steinberg I didn’t think Bale’s stabbed finish against Swansea in March really got the recognition it deserved. It was Messi-esque in its speed and inventiveness.
Daniel Taylor Luis Suárez v Newcastle. It’s the control, running, looking over his shoulder, then trapping a 40-yard pass on his chest and shimmying past Newcastle’s goalkeeper. The finish was simple; what preceded it was sublime.
Louise Taylor Fernando Torres in Chelsea’s 3-1 win at Sunderland. Torres met Eden Hazard’s cross with a perfectly cushioned volley expertly directed beyond Simon Mignolet. Not bad for a striker supposedly “finished”.
Paul Wilson Van Persie’s volley from Wayne Rooney’s sumptuous pass against Aston Villa. Otherwise anything from the Bale collection.
WINNER Robin van Persie v Aston Villa.
Paul Doyle Southampton 3-1 Man City. It is always good to see hungry young slicksters batter a team of glamorous slackers.
Dominic Fifield Chelsea 2-3 Manchester United in October, a game that saw the hosts reduced to nine, retrieve a two-goal deficit, then succumb to an offside winner. It was subsequently tainted with controversy after allegations were made against Mark Clattenburg by home players. Just as significantly, it proved to be the beginning of the end for Roberto Di Matteo.
Owen Gibson Manchester City 2-3 Manchester United. Just as the previous year had been defined by City’s 6-1 humbling of their neighbours, so Van Persie’s last-gasp winner seemed to symbolise this season’s revenge.
Barry Glendenning Reading 3-2 West Brom will live long in my memory. I was reporting on it and three Reading goals in the final eight minutes meant a panic-stricken rewrite. It was great fun, mind.
Andy Hunter Selecting only from games attended, Liverpool 2-2 Chelsea. The Benítez sub-plot, a commanding Chelsea display, a rousing Liverpool recovery and, of course, the best and ridiculous worst of Luis Suárez. The moment it dawned he had bitten Branislav Ivanovic, and that a week of inquests and accusations of a media witch-hunt was sure to follow, was not a highlight, however.
David Hytner Chelsea 2-3 Manchester United. Great goals, a stirring fightback, red cards, contention, pulsating from start to finish. The subsequent, unproven allegations about Mark Clattenburg ought not to overshadow the memory.
Jamie Jackson Manchester City 2-3 Manchester United. In the closing moments Van Persie’s free-kick deflected off Samir Nasri, who had turned his back, to beat Joe Hart and all three points were heading to Old Trafford.
Stuart James The first 5-5 draw in the history of the Premier League, at The Hawthorns on the final day of the season, must take some beating.
Scott Murray West Bromwich Albion 5-5 Manchester United, the nearest football’s ever got to DG Bradman, b Hollies, 0. Sport always has the last word, leaving even the geniuses wondering exactly what the hell just happened.
Sachin Nakrani Manchester City 2-3 Manchester United. Not a title decider but the moment it felt power had shifted back across Manchester. A pretty dramatic contest, too.
James Riach Newcastle United 0-3 Sunderland. This was the turning point in Sunderland’s survival bid, a gutsy performance that included three excellent goals and some incredible celebrations from Paolo Di Canio.
Barney Ronay Manchester City 2-3 Manchester United. Decided which way the seasonal Manchester momentum was heading – plus a lovely bit of soap opera in Van Persie’s free-kick and Nasri’s flinch.
Jacob Steinberg A personal highlight was West Ham’s comeback against Chelsea in December. Chelsea murdered West Ham in the first half and should have been two or three goals up at half-time. But the introduction of Mohamed Diamé changed the game and Upton Park was a very loud and enjoyable place to be by the time Modibo Maïga made it 3-1 to West Ham.
Daniel Taylor Southampton 2-3 Manchester United. The kind of match for which Sir Alex Ferguson will be remembered: losing 2-1 until the last three minutes and then a quick one-two from Robin van Persie and some frantic rewrites in the press box.
Louise Taylor Newcastle United 3-2 Chelsea. A fantastic game filled with fabulous counter-attacking football and settled by Moussa Sissoko’s 90th-minute winner for Newcastle.
Paul Wilson Newcastle 3-2 Chelsea was a real humdinger, the one where Demba Ba took a boot to the face and got his nose splattered.
WINNER Manchester City 2-3 Manchester United.
Paul Doyle Christian Benteke – £7m for the young striker who kept Aston Villa in the Premier League in his first season in England. A bargain.
Dominic Fifield Robin van Persie. Michu was the bargain of the season, but Van Persie ensured Manchester United eclipsed Manchester City in the title race. A player who made a difference.
Owen Gibson The still improving Christian Benteke narrowly edges Van Persie for value. He scored on his debut and didn’t stop, keeping Villa up despite his misfiring colleagues.
Barry Glendenning Michu’s transfer to Swansea City from Real Vallecano for £2.2m was an astonishing, astute bit of business … for Swansea.
Andy Hunter Michu. His form may have tailed off after the Capital One Cup final but Swansea are unlikely to hold that against him. A steal at £2m, he epitomised the style and class of Michael Laudrup’s team and the club’s historic cup win in their centenary year.
David Hytner Robin Van Persie. Took the No20 shirt at Manchester United. Made the difference in the club’s 20th title.
Jamie Jackson Van Persie. “If” is a questionable concept in sport but had the Dutchman signed instead for City would United be champions?
Stuart James Michu was an absolute bargain at £2m but Christian Benteke was also an incredible piece of business. Without Benteke’s goals (of every description) Villa would surely have been relegated.
Scott Murray Philippe Coutinho. A pocket Molby, or a Beardsley-sized Beardsley?
Sachin Nakrani Michu. Strikers who score 18 goals in their debut season for a new club in a new country are not meant to cost £2m. An incredible piece of business.
James Riach Michu is the clear choice after scoring 18 goals for Swansea City at a cost of £2m from Rayo Vallecano. An absolute bargain.
Barney Ronay Christian Benteke. A £7m signing who kept Villa up and will now probably leave for much more. In short bursts looked like the perfect centre-forward in the making.
Jacob Steinberg Swansea paid £2m Michu and got more than their money’s worth.
Daniel Taylor Michu, and if we can ignore Steve Clarke (see above) I did predict this last August.
Louise Taylor Robin van Persie. He did not come cheap but, by their standards, an arguably limited, non-vintage, Manchester United would not have won the title without the Dutch striker.
Paul Wilson Has to be Van Persie, if he really made the difference between United and City.
Paul Doyle Roberto Mancini. There are professors who got PhDs from a slot machine in Blackpool who could mount better defences of their title than Manchester City managed.
Dominic Fifield Alou Diarra at West Ham, if only because I suggested back in August that he would prove to be the bargain of the campaign. He may have been free but he arrived an experienced France international, the kind of player who could take the Premier League by the scruff of the neck, but five appearances in all competitions and a loan to Rennes rather sums up his impact. Then came the allegations that he had been lured to Upton Park by “false promises”.
Owen Gibson It seems unfair to single him out amid myriad overpaid failures at Loftus Road. But at £12.5m and £100,000 a week, Christopher Samba’s admission that he wasn’t prepared for the Premier League when he arrived in January couldn’t help but grate as Queens Park Rangers went down with a whimper.
Barry Glendenning Considering the high standards he set for himself last season, the decline of Newcastle midfielder Cheick Tioté has been particularly notable.
Andy Hunter Queens Park Rangers. Every signing made last summer and in January and their two managers, Mark Hughes and Harry Redknapp. Abysmal.
David Hytner José Bosingwa. A European champion with Chelsea last May, he was tempted to QPR by the big wages and did little to justify them. Refused to take his place as a substitute against Fulham. Jeered by fans on his last appearance against Newcastle.
Jamie Jackson Chelsea fans who failed to back Rafael Benítez. What, exactly, did the Blues supporters want by not getting behind the manager? Failure? Having returned the Europa League and third place Benítez has shown the kind of manager he is.
Stuart James Hard to look beyond the Queens Park Rangers team, headed up by José Bosingwa. Probably won’t happen but would be great to see him running out at Yeovil.
Scott Murray David Moyes and Everton, after yet another craven capitulation in the Cup. Roberto Martínez and Wigan showed them how to play the glory game.
Sachin Nakrani Christopher Samba. The personification of QPR’s ill-thought-out, irresponsible and bloated transfer strategy.
James Riach Chris Samba arrived at QPR in January for a club record £12.5m. Having not played since November, the centre-half was in poor shape and has admitted he was unprepared for a Premier League return.
Barney Ronay Emmanuel Adebayor. Came to life a little towards the end of the season, but it took until May for Spurs to win their second match in which he actually scored.
Jacob Steinberg It has not quite worked out for Scott Sinclair, has it?
Daniel Taylor Queens Park Rangers, the A to Z of how not to run a coherent football club.
Louise Taylor James McClean, Sunderland. The once so promising left winger regressed alarmingly. Desperately requires the “revolution in the brain” prescribed by Paolo Di Canio.
Paul Wilson Not blaming Harry Redknapp in particular, but everyone involved at QPR must view the season as a bit of a fiasco. Wigan’s defence coach, if they actually had one, also had a season to forget.
WINNER Queens Park Rangers (particularly Christopher Samba and José Bosingwa).
Paul Doyle Lack of innovation at set-pieces: most are very predictable. Players are getting their priorities wrong when they put more thought into their goalscoring celebrations than how to actually score in the first place.
Dominic Fifield The mess that was Queens Park Rangers. Their survival last season had been celebrated but what followed was pathetic. Their stay in the top flight was a missed opportunity.
Owen Gibson Hardly original, but in a season when low level grumbling about ticket prices became loud protests, the urgency of more clubs addressing the issue can’t be overstated.
Barry Glendenning The paranoia and seething rage of some fans is tedious. Relax, it’s just football.
Andy Hunter Extortionate ticket prices that have turned some football stadiums into tourist destinations and homes for a precious, middle-aged, middle-class audience.
David Hytner Sky sources. Just because the TV channel invented the game does not give them the licence seemingly to take other outlets’ stories and information and present them as their own.
Jamie Jackson Prominent footballers who shun the media when playing, then take up jobs in the media on retirement.
Stuart James The ruthless sackings of Brian McDermott at Reading and Nigel Adkins at Southampton. Both victims of their own success.
Scott Murray Faux moral outrage, 25 hours a day, eight days a week. Life’s too short to be this annoyed.
Sachin Nakrani The FA’s disciplinary decisions. A four-match ban for racism (John Terry), a 10-match ban for biting (Luis Suárez) and no ban at all for nearly snapping someone’s leg (Callum Mcmanaman). Madness.
James Riach Giving players a voice by reporting their nonsensical comments on Twitter, particularly one converted Francophile.
Barney Ronay Get rid of the “the ref saw it so we can’t do anything” law – thereby destroying at a single stroke the gist of roughly 50% of all angry football talk radio content.
Jacob Steinberg The FA Cup final (with Budweiser; mustn’t forget the sponsors) was great entertainment but it still shouldn’t kick off at 5.15pm or be played on the same weekend as league games.
Daniel Taylor 1) goal music, 2) Brendan Rodgers never told us who were in the envelopes.
Louise Taylor Those Chelsea fans who persistently undermined Rafael Benítez and demanded his dismissal after he, quite reasonably, gave them a measured ticking off following an FA Cup win at Middlesbrough. Benítez performed splendidly; is José Mourinho really going to do better?
Paul Wilson The Premier League is tilting towards the south, even south Wales. From a position of strength a few years ago, there are only the four core north-west clubs left. Lancashire is becoming an outpost, rather than a sensible location for a football writer to base themselves.
WINNER The FA’s disciplinary process.
Change for next season
Paul Doyle Play-offs for last Champions League spot and last relegation spot. There is an obvious antidote to anti-climaxes, as followers of the Championship, League One and League Two know full well. And why should the lower leagues have better endings than the top flight?
Dominic Fifield Transfer windows for managerial changes. Chelsea can have their own one, if necessary, in late February/early March. November is far too early.
Owen Gibson They have more need than most, but it would be nice to see others follow Arsenal’s lead in introducing special cut-price areas for teenagers.
Barry Glendenning Cheaper ticket prices would be nice.
Andy Hunter Same as last season: retrospective punishment for diving.
David Hytner Sir Alex Ferguson to hold regular press conferences in his new role as a Manchester United director.
Jamie Jackson Cameras in changing rooms, please.
Stuart James That the Manchester United manager attends post-match press conferences.
Scott Murray Pitchside bats, for smashing goalline cameras into pieces so small they can be sieved through a sock. Perfection is a pipe dream and, anyway, bemoaning the occasional incorrect decision is all part of the fun.
Sachin Nakrani £20 away tickets. In January the Football Supporters’ Federation launched its “Twenty’s Plenty for Away Tickets” campaign in a bid to establish an across-the-board, affordable pricing structure for travelling fans. Its introduction would show football at the highest level retains a soul.
James Riach Retrospective punishment even if a match official has seen the incident during the game. Some blatant and ugly fouls have escaped proper scrutiny this season.
Barney Ronay Relegate five teams.
Jacob Steinberg It is understandable that the FA doesn’t want to undermine referees but it is slightly farcical that retrospective action can’t be taken over incidents – Callum McManaman’s tackle on Massadio Haïdara, say – which the officials decided not to punish during games.
Daniel Taylor Maybe the Premier League, with its £5.5bn television revenue, could give Kick It Out more than £100,000 a year operating costs (roughly the same as someone who earns £50,000 a year chucking 25p into a collection tin).
Louise Taylor Journalists reporting on Premier League teams being invited, as happens at certain European clubs, to eat training ground lunches with players as part of an obligatory extension of current weekly press conferences. With increased trust unlikely to be abused it could only erase paranoia, increase understanding and enhance coverage.
Paul Wilson Players attending finals in a suit should be made to stay in a suit, and frisked if necessary to make sure they are not carrying spare kit, boots and shin-pads.
WINNER Cheaper tickets.