Premier League 2016 -1 7 season examine: our novelists’ best and worsts

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Our writers take stock after the Premier League season, naming their best player, finest goal, most entertaining match, biggest gripe and much more

Best player

Daniel Taylor: NGolo Kant. If he can keep Cesc Fbregas out of the Chelsea team, he must be some player.

Barney Ronay: Friendly midfield interceptors are the fashion, but Harry Kane has been the outstanding single player: top scorer, team man and with just enough comic-book star quality.

Dominic Fifield: Eden Hazard, liberated by Antonio Contes switch in system, provided the cut and thrust which inspired Chelsea to their title success. Given his toils last season as he struggled with a hip complaint, his revival was eye-catching.

Paul Wilson: It probably doesnt matter which Chelsea candidate gets the vote, so in the interests of sharing things around I am going to go for Csar Azpilicueta. He seems to be able to play in any position across the back line and his consistency and tenacity are unaffected.

Amy Lawrence: If you could bottle the spirit of Kant and market it to football clubs it would be a bestseller. He has an ability to make others around him better, to make a game plan quicker. The way he carried his Leicester qualities so easily to Chelsea, to be transformative instantly, deserves all the plaudits.

Barry Glendenning: Jordan Pickford. Only in Sunderlands first team because David Moyes was unable to lure Joe Hart on loan to Wearside, the 23-year-old pulled off the impressive feat of making himself one of the most sought-after young goalkeepers in Europe despite playing in the Premier Leagues worst team. Although hes prone to the increasingly rare gaffe, its difficult to pick holes in any aspect of Pickfords overall game and its no exaggeration to say that without him, Sunderland might well have been relegated before the sighting of this springs first swallow.

David Hytner: Eden Hazard. Back to his very best. His ability to make the difference when it matters the most marks him out.

Scott Murray: Diego Costa kept Chelsea going throughout the autumnal odyssey that effectively decided the league, all the while staying in character as pantomime provocateur. Homeric. Well miss his entertaining presence when hes gone.

Jamie Jackson: Dele Alli. Seventeen Premier League goals at 175 minutes per strike for a No10 is top class. At 21, a player with that edge all elite players possess has to get better.

Andy Hunter: Eden Hazard. The champions were not simply a very defensive team, as a former manager bearing sour grapes suggested. They were also the most devastating and intelligent team in the final third thanks largely to the Belgium internationals return to form.

Chelseas Eden Hazard has been back to his best this season. Photograph: Darren Walsh/Chelsea FC via Getty Images

Louise Taylor: Sam Clucas, Hull City; runner up, David Luiz, Chelsea. There are other, far more obvious, candidates but placed in the context of Clucass achievement in ascending five rungs of the league ladder in successive seasons it has to be the left-footed midfielder. Impressive since being shifted from a wide role to central midfield this term, the intelligence of Clucass passing bears the hallmarks of Glenn Hoddle, who persuaded him not to give up the game before honing his skills at his football academy in Spain. David Luiz, meanwhile, is lovely to watch and his re-invention in Antonio Contes back three has thoroughly confounded the doubters.

Stuart James: Gylfi Sigurdsson. Directly involved in 22 of Swansea Citys 43 goals. For a player to continually create and score so many goals in a team that spent almost the entire season fighting relegation is quite something.

Jacob Steinberg: After last seasons sabbatical, Eden Hazard rediscovered his mojo in thrilling style and found the consistency to go with his outrageous talent. NGolo Kant was a worthy recipient of the PFA and FWA awards, but Hazard was Chelseas match-winner on so many occasions.

Paul Doyle: Kasper Schmeichel. While the rest of last seasons champions lost their way, the goalkeeper was the only Leicester player to improve. Yes, there was that 6-1 defeat by Spurs but, taking a broader view, Schmeichel was an example to us all in these troubled times.

Simon Burnton: The brilliant, hard-working, humble and likeable NGolo Kant deserves all the player-of-the-season awards currently cluttering his mantelpiece.

Ed Aarons: NGolo Kant deserves his awards for winning a second successive Premier League title, but Christian Eriksens return to form coincided with Tottenhams emergence as Chelseas only genuine challengers. Even 13 assists and eight Premier League goals do not explain the importance of the Denmark international to Mauricio Pochettino. Csar Azpilicueta also deserves a mention.

Sachin Nakrani: Gylfi Sigurdsson. The Iceland international directly contributed to almost half of Swanseas Premier League goals and, quite simply, without him they would have been relegated, suffering all the fallout that comes with that, which, it should be remembered, includes people losing their jobs.

Best manager

Daniel Taylor: Antonio Conte. Even Jos Mourinho has stopped temporarily, at least trying to undermine him. How, possibly, can anyone question what he has done to get Chelsea back on top?

Barney Ronay: Antonio Conte. Hurled together on the hoof a wonderfully well-grooved champion team, eased John Terry out of the picture without the slightest friction and on match days remains the most ludicrously excited man about anything ever.

Dominic Fifield: Antonio Conte. In a league crammed with elite managers, he adapted best to the peculiarities of the Premier League and ended up putting all the other big names to shame.

Paul Wilson: It was going to be Marco Silva until a few days ago, but now Hull are back in the real world after a brief visit to dreamland there seems no point in looking past the obvious. Antonio Conte could hardly have hoped for a better first season in England. In terms of impact, it says it all that he can now match Carlo Ancelottis double as well as Jos Mourinhos Premier League record of wins in a season.

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Antonio Conte: Chelsea’s new Special One? video

Amy Lawrence: Conte. From the very first game of the Premier League campaign when he celebrated a late win over West Ham with that zealous touchline passion, he has managed almost every situation with authority, class and style. In tactical alterations and man management, bringing the best out of characters as different as David Luiz, Diego Costa, Victor Moses and Pedro, he barely missed a beat.

Barry Glendenning: Antonio Conte. Charming and handsome, with the touchline demeanour of a man who has just had a large handful of red ants dropped down the trousers of his expensive designer suit, there is little to dislike about Chelseas manager. His switch to a back three in the wake of defeat at Arsenal has been hailed in some quarters as the greatest managerial masterstroke in the history of football and while that may be be over-egging the pudding somewhat, the manner in which he steered his team to the title with a minimum of fuss in a season when one or more of Messrs Klopp, Mourinho and Guardiola were expected to have his measure was no mean feat.

David Hytner: Antonio Conte. It has been another hugely impressive season for Mauricio Pochettino but Contes has been better. Took over a Chelsea squad with problems and, in what has been his first season outside of Italy, moulded them into champions.

Scott Murray: Heres a respectful nod to Arsne Wenger, who in addition to yet another high league placing and yet another cup final, somehow maintained super-human levels of dignity despite intense provocation from an entitled minority. An extraordinary feat. His will be much the better look when this story is told 20 years from now.

Jamie Jackson: Antonio Conte. He coached the volatile Costa to 20 league goals and may win the classic English double in his debut season.

Andy Hunter: Conte is the stand-out choice, not only for winning the Premier League title in his first season in English football but for how he responded to potential crises notably the 3-0 defeat at Arsenal and Januarys stand-off with Costa.

Louise Taylor: Sean Dyche, Burnley. Antonio Conte clearly has a strong case while, despite narrowly failing to keep Hull up, Marco Silva turned water into wine in east Yorkshire. Then theres Mauricio Pochettino, whose Tottenham team play fabulous football on around half the collective wage bill of other top six sides, but keeping Burnley in the Premier League is a significant achievement. Given the same relatively limited resources as Dyche, would Jos Mourinho or Pep Guardiola have done anything like as well?

Sean Dyches Burnley have never really been threatened with relegation this season so good has their home form been. Photograph: Lee Smith/Reuters

Stuart James: Antonio Conte. Hugely impressive to win the title in his first season in English football tactically astute, full of passion for the game and gives the impression that every player, even those not regularly in his starting XI, buys into his work.

Jacob Steinberg: A nod to Sean Dyche for keeping Burnley away from the relegation scrap, but it has to be Conte, who outperformed his rivals by reviving a misfiring, uneven squad with the power of his motivational qualities, tactical acumen and infectious will to win.

Paul Doyle: Sean Dyche. Burnley never looked like going down, which is remarkable.

Simon Burnton: Great as Tottenham have once again been under Mauricio Pochettino, Antonio Contes impact at Chelsea has been greater.

Ed Aarons: Antonio Conte. The Italian only arrived at Stamford Bridge a month before Chelseas first game of the season but has emerged as a title winner in his first season in English football. The switch to 3-4-3 has defined Contes success but the former Juventus midfielder has also shown his man-management skills in dealing with Diego Costas regular tantrums.

Sachin Nakrani: Antonio Conte. Winning the title in your first season in England is a superb achievement, particularly when it involves reinvigorating a squad that had been in turmoil during the previous campaign.

Best goal

Daniel Taylor: Olivier Girouds scorpion kick for Arsenal against Crystal Palace.

Barney Ronay: Girouds running scorpion volley, a lovely move and a ludicrous finish, made all the more improbable by the fact he seems to stop mid-scorpion to winch his leg up a little higher, like a very stiff man trying to wriggle his way over a garden fence.

Dominic Fifield: Eden Hazard against Arsenal, sprinting away from Laurent Koscielny and holding off Francis Coquelins attempts to bring him down, then finishing before Shkodran Mustafi could block.

Paul Wilson: Sam Allardyce will have been more concerned about some unconvincing Crystal Palace defending, but Andy Carrolls overhead kick against Crystal Palace takes some beating for wow factor. Not a team goal, perhaps, but Carroll put a lot of himself into it.

Amy Lawrence: The Emre Can/Giroud/Henrikh Mkhitaryan showpieces lead the way for individualism, but there was something that struck a chord about Willians goal for Chelsea at Everton in a game that felt so influential for the title. What a fine team goal. The quality of Cesc Fbregass run and pass for Willian summed up the brio Chelsea rediscovered this season. That was the moment they felt undeniably like champions again.

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How the 2016-17 Premier League title was won by Chelsea video

Barry Glendenning: Gastn Ramrez. Possibly not the best, but almost certainly the only thing of interest any Middlesbrough footballer did all season Ramrezs fine solo effort sent goal-shy Boro on their way to their first home win. Picking up the ball inside his own half and encouraged by the strange reluctance of anyone in a Bournemouth shirt to close him down, the Uruguayan embarked on a 70-yard run down the inside left that climaxed with him abruptly cutting inside and slotting home. Buoyed by this rare moment of quality and inspiration, Middlesbrough went on to win three more Premier League matches, while their increasingly unpopular summer signing would go on to score only one more goal as his side sank below the depths.

David Hytner: Andy Carroll v Crystal Palace. Nothing has the ability to bring jaws to the floor more quickly than the thumping scissor kick. Especially when it is executed by a big man.

Scott Murray: Olivier Giroud against Palace. A finish so absurd its easy to forget the six-player pitch-long romp that preceded it, embellished by a centre-circle back-flick from Giroud himself. English footballs most eye-catching sweep forward since Terry McDermott scored against Spurs in 1978.

Jamie Jackson: Henrikh Mkhitaryans scorpion kick versus Sunderland on Boxing Day. Zlatan Ibrahimovic pings a cross over from the right and the Armenian lets go a flying back-heeled volley. Delicious.

Andy Hunter: Dimitri Payet, West Ham United v Middlesbrough. Other goals carried more weight in the context of the season Emre Can against Watford and Eden Hazards v Arsenal being the most notable examples but based purely on its merits this fleeting reminder of the quality the France international could bring to the Premier League had no equals.

Louise Taylor: Robert Snodgrass v Leicester City. The winner in a 2-1 shock opening-day victory against the defending champions for Mike Phelans side. When Wes Morgan could only half-clear Ahmed Elmohamadys vicious cross, the ball fell to Snodgrass whose first-time, left footed, half-volley arrowed into the bottom corner.

Stuart James: Emre Cans bicycle kick against Watford must take some beating. In fairness, Olivier Girouds scorpion kick against Palace is also worthy of a mention.

Emre Can lets fly with a sumptuous overhead kick against Watford. Photograph: John Walton/PA

Jacob Steinberg: Gaston Ramrezs slaloming 70-yard run against Bournemouth ended with a clever trick and a cool finish. Sure, Andy Carroll, Olivier Giroud and Henrikh Mkhitaryan all took the breath away with those scorpion kicks and bicycle blasts. But in an otherwise grim season for Middlesbrough, the fact Ramrezs solo effort was a rare moment of excitement makes it all the more precious.

Simon Burnton: Olivier Girouds New Years Day scorpion kick wasnt even Januarys goal of the month, and there are a few rival volleys that compare with it, but to my mind it is the best of the bunch. It has grown on the scorer as much as it has grown on me: after the game he said he was a bit lucky. It was the only thing I could do. I tried to hit it with a backheel and after it was all about luck, but by March he was saying: I dont want to big myself up but goals like mine leave a mark on history. Andy Carrolls [overhead kick] is magnificent, but maybe people wont remember it in two years time. Mine, yes.

Paul Doyle: Wayne Rooney against Stoke. It was a hell of a way to snatch a late equaliser, set a wonderful record and convince Jos Mourinho he could finally jilt an over-the-hill hero.

Ed Aarons: In a season of spectacular volleys, Emre Can saved the best for last. His brilliant overhead kick against Watford left nothing to chance, unlike Olivier Giroud or Henrikh Mkhitaryans scorpion kicks.

Sachin Nakrani: Olivier Giroud v Crystal Palace. In a season of notable scorpion/overhead kicks, this one edges it because of the slick counter-attack that preceded it and which Giroud was involved in as well as the height at which boot met ball prior to it looping into the net.

Best match

Daniel Taylor: At the risk of sounding like a misery, its not easy to think of a stand-out match this season. Nothing left me as excited as, say, seeing Monaco in the Champions League.

Barney Ronay: Swansea 5-4 Crystal Palace. Messy, wild and desperate at times, but this is basically what the Premier League is for.

Dominic Fifield: Bournemouths madcap 4-3 win over Liverpool was entertaining, but Crystal Palaces win at Chelsea in April encapsulated everything about the baffling nature of the Premier League at times. Chelsea were superb going forward, playing wonderfully incisive and inventive football. Palace defended ruggedly and, somehow, kept them out.

Paul Wilson: The one that sticks in the mind is Manchester City 1-3 Chelsea. An eventful and entertaining game, with some dead-eyed finishing by Chelsea to leave Pep Guardiola moaning about Kevin de Bruynes miss for the rest of the season. A significant title pointer at the Etihad too, for the second successive season following Leicesters statement win in February.

Amy Lawrence: Swansea 5-4 Crystal Palace. Lovely, wonderful, beautiful, panicked madness. The best of the Bob Bradley experience. Alan Pardew trying to put on a brave face. First on Match of the Day for an unanticipated game. Whats not to like?

Barry Glendenning: Bournemouth 4-3 Liverpool. They dont get much more entertainingthan this white-knuckle rideat the Vitality Stadium.

Leroy Fer scores during Swanseas rollercoaster 5-4 victory over Crystal Palace. Photograph: Christopher Lee/Getty Images

David Hytner: Swansea v Crystal Palace. Never mind the defending at both ends, this was a classic, loaded with drama, and the scenes after Fernando Llorentes stoppage-time winner seemed to shake the Liberty Stadium. Both of the managers, Bob Bradley and Alan Pardew, were sacked within a month or so.

Scott Murray: Manchester City 1-1 Liverpool. It really wouldnt have taken much for this game to have ended 5-0, 0-5 or 5-5. One of those.

Jamie Jackson: Burnleys emphatic win over Liverpool at Turf Moor on the seasons second weekend punched a hole in the title pretensions of Jrgen Klopps team and suggested Sean Dyches men would survive. Those auguries were proved correct.

Andy Hunter: Everton 4-0 Manchester City. Selecting from Premier League matches attended, this raucous afternoon at Goodison Park stands out for many reasons. In Ronald Koemans eyes it was really perfect and a total team performance from Everton. It confirmed the emergence of Tom Davies, who scored his first goal for the club with an exquisite chip over Claudio Bravo at the Gwladys Street end, and brought a debut goal for Ademola Lookman with one of the teenagers first touches in the Premier League. For Pep Guardiola, however, it underlined the defensive and mental frailties at Manchester City, represented the heaviest league defeat of his managerial career and left him conceding the title was beyond his team for this season.

Louise Taylor: If this means watched live, its a difficult one to answer. As north-east correspondent Ive certainly seen a few candidates for worst game at Sunderland and Middlesbrough and the better ones I covered invariably involved Newcastle United in the Championship. One top-tier game does stick in the memory though; Hull 3-3 Crystal Palace in December. A six-goal thriller featuring a brilliant, mesmerising performance from Palaces Wilfried Zaha.

Stuart James: Swansea City 5-4 Crystal Palace. A nine-goal thriller that was 1-1 with 25 minutes remaining then all hell let loose. Bob Bradley and Alan Pardew, the respective managers, went through every emotion going and, in truth, it wasnt really surprising that neither man lasted much longer in the job. For what its worth, the reporters at the game were also in a terrible state come the end.

Jacob Steinberg: Crystal Palace 0-4 Sunderland. Sunderland were so surprised about scoring four goals in a single half that they didnt win another game until they were already relegated. In their defence, Ive only just recovered from the shock as well.

Simon Burnton: Liverpools 4-3 win at the Emirates on the seasons opening weekend was everything you could ask it to be and more. Excellent attacking, lovely goals from open play, a gorgeous free kick, brilliant individual skill, embarrassing manager-hugging celebrations, sunshine, it had the lot. The only possible reaction was yes please, Ill have nine months more of that. Which, sadly, neither team could deliver.

Paul Doyle: Leicester 4-2 Manchester City. Thrilling and at times brilliant, but also bizarre, outrageous and laughable. A snapshot of this seasons Premier League.

Ed Aarons: Swansea 5-4 Palace. Leading 4-3 with the game past the 90-minute mark, Alan Pardew must have felt pretty good. His team had just battled back from 3-1 down with only 15 minutes remaining to lead, only to surrender the points to Fernando Llorentes double in injury time.

Sachin Nakrani: Manchester City 1-1 Liverpool. A high-octane, end-to-end, relentlessly-thrilling encounter only let down by poor finishing. A mention, too, for Swanseas 5-4 victory over Crystal Palace. A madcap encounter that saw two goals in stoppage time and Alan Pardew fearing the worst.

Best referee

Daniel Taylor: Keith Hackett. I see his criticisms of the current crop and marvel that he must never have made a mistake in his life.

Barney Ronay: Clatts. Will be missed, in part for his unintentional comedy, when he leaves for Sauds.

Dominic Fifield: Probably Martin Atkinson or Michael Oliver.

Paul Wilson: No idea. They all look the same to me. Lets say Martin Atkinson.

Amy Lawrence: Michael Oliver doesnt seem to want to be the star as much as some. He gives the impression of wanting the best game possible.

Barry Glendenning: Mike Dean. His no-lookyellow card to Ross Barkley in the Merseyside derby at Goodison Park was a thing of beauty.

Referee Mike Deans no-look yellow card given to Ross Barkley was a thing of beauty. Photograph: Jason Cairnduff/Reuters

David Hytner: I dont have strong feelings on the category this season. Id still say Mark Clattenburg is the best.

Scott Murray: Referees are lightning rods for impotent frustration, rampant paranoia and myopic rage. Objective praise doesnt come into it, its not what theyre there for.

Jamie Jackson: The video official what a brave innovation. What? They still do not exist despite everyone else having access to ad nauseam replays?

Andy Hunter: Any nomination will incur the wrath of at least one club though Anthony Taylor continues to improve so in the interests of harmony lets just say its not Jon Moss.

Louise Taylor: Probably Mark Clattenburg (despite missing the latter part of the season following move to Saudi Arabia.)

Stuart James: Not much to get excited about here. Martin Atkinson, Mark Clattenburg (yes, I realise hes now gone) and Michael Oliver would be in the top three. Oliver, on a good day, gets the nod.

Jacob Steinberg: Michael Oliver gets my vote, capped by punishing Manchester Uniteds cynical rotational fouling on Hazard in the FA Cup.

Simon Burnton: Mark Clattenburg. He sometimes looks like he thinks hes the best referee in the land, which is unappealing, but that doesnt make him wrong.

Paul Doyle: Mike Dean. The only one to enforce the shirt-tugging directive with something close to consistency. And technology will never have mannerisms as entertaining as his.

Ed Aarons: Mark Clattenburg and Martin Atkinson usually get the biggest gigs from Uefa and Fifa, but Michael Oliver remains the outstanding referee in the country. Still only 32, the Ashington official has been in charge of more matches (31) than anyone else and issued just two red cards.

Sachin Nakrani: Unlike 99% of people who watch football in this country, I dont have a strong view on referees. They all seem roughly the same and their mistakes, while occasionally astonishing, never entice me into reaching for a pitchfork.

Best signing

Daniel Taylor: Mamadou Sakho. People laughed when a January loan signing was nominated for Crystal Palaces player of the season award. But without him Palace would be down.

Barney Ronay: Leroy San. What a lovely mover, what a calm head, what a nice young man. Seems to have no real limit to how good he could be.

Dominic Fifield: NGolo Kant was key to Leicester Citys startling success in 2016, and just as influential to that of Chelsea in 2017. A blur of energy and interceptions, and at the heart of everything Chelsea have achieved.

Paul Wilson: Where would Manchester United be without Zlatan Ibrahimovics contribution? Hardly the best value signing, and not exactly one for the future either, but until injury struck he did what he had been brought in to do.

Amy Lawrence: Hard to argue with Kant for overall impact. Honourable mentions to Mamadou Sakho who made a big difference to Crystal Palaces predicament, and Gabriel Jesus for being a great signing who looks bound to shine more for Manchester City in future.

Barry Glendenning: NGolo Kant.

David Hytner: David Luiz. Has shown that underneath the mad hair lies an intelligent reader of the game. Has excelled in the middle of a back three. Long passing remains beautiful to watch.

Scott Murray: Gabriel Jesus, a score-any-sort genius destined to rattle in an absurd number of goals. Had he not picked up that injury in February, Manchester City would have given Chelsea a race.

Jamie Jackson: Eric Bailly. Manchester United appear to have filled the Nemanja Vidic-sized gap created by his 2014 departure. Costing 30m from Villarreal, the Ivorian is a tough, dominant 23-year-old who can be a fixture for a decade.

Andy Hunter: Paul Clement. Swansea City were bottom and looking certain for relegation when they appointed their third manager of the campaign in January. Astute signings such as Tom Carroll and convincing a squad to buy into yet another managerial voice enabled the former Bayern Munich assistant to have an impact that can shape a clubs short-term future.

Louise Taylor: Eric Bailly for Manchester United. At 30m he wasnt cheap but goodness knows how far United and Mourinho might have sunk without Baillys central defensive excellence.

Mamadou Sakho stops Alxis Snchez in his tracks. The defender transformed Crystal Palace after his loan move from Liverpool. Photograph: Matthew Childs/Reuters

Stuart James: NGolo Kant would have to be up there, though it was a rather obvious piece of business on Chelseas part, given the Frenchmans impact at Leicester the season before. With that in mind, and taking it account the size of the fee, Ill go for Victor Wanyama, Tottenhams 11m recruit from Southampton.

Jacob Steinberg: On the basis that signing Kant was a no-brainer after last seasons exploits, one has to admire Chelsea for making the return of David Luiz a success. Its easy to forget that there were plenty of doubts about the Brazilian when he signed on deadline day.

Simon Burnton: Crystal Palace won six of the 30 games they played without Mamadou Sakho in their line-up this season, but five of the eight in which the Liverpool loanee appeared, keeping five clean sheets in the process (counting their 1-0 defeat at Spurs, in which he was forced off after 57 goalless minutes and they conceded in the 78th). No other signing was so transformational.

Paul Doyle: Mamadou Sakho. Liverpool outcast, Crystal Palace saviour.

Ed Aarons: Hard to argue with NGolo Kant for 30m, who transferred from one blue title-winning shirt to another with minimum of fuss. Victor Wanyama, 11m from Southampton, has had almost the same effect for Tottenham, albeit for a third of the price.

Sachin Nakrani: Zlatan Ibrahimovic. I was among the people who thought the 35-year-old, while undeniably talented, would struggle in England. Instead he has gone on to become one of the best free transfers in Premier League history.

Worst flop

Daniel Taylor: Pep Guardiola. Maybe our expectations were too high but, after all that waiting, it has been a real disappointment. Claudio Bravo comes a close second, which probably illustrates the point.

Barney Ronay: Claudio Bravo of course, the first goalkeeper Ive ever seen receive an ironic round of applause from his own fans for making a save.

Dominic Fifield: Moussa Sissoko has hardly pulled up any trees since becoming Tottenham Hotspurs record signing, which has not come as much of a surprise to those who watched him regularly at Newcastle United.

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Guardiola: Barcelona and Bayern Munich would have sacked me video

Paul Wilson: The man who was tired of London. Dimitri Payet was a big letdown at West Ham United. The clubs 2015-16 player of the year and inspiration for a stadium mural at least ought to have been able to manage a full season before leaving.

Amy Lawrence: Jointly awarded to Manchester United and Arsenal, neither of whom were able to mount a serious challenge for the Premier League title despite recruiting heavily last summer to apparently boost their push.

Barry Glendenning: Pep Guardiola. Tasked with his most difficult job in management so far, even by his own admission the Manchester City manager has come up woefully short.

David Hytner: Simone Zaza. His ludicrous penalty at the Euros for Italy was merely the prelude. Saw his loan spell at West Ham United cut short after 11 matches and no goals because, had he played a bit more, the club would have had to buy him outright. Moved to Valencia in January.

Scott Murray: Pep Guardiola arrived in England with a big reputation … for being super-surly in press conferences. His glorious disdain for daft questions has at times shone through this was simply majestic but not yet with Fergie or Louis van Gaal levels of consistency. Hes got the press corps rattled, though, if the repeated raising of the subject on the Sunday Supplement is anything to go by. He now needs to go in for the kill.

Jamie Jackson: Claudio Bravo. Pep Guardiola probably blew Manchester Citys hopes of winning anything in his first season when bombing out Joe Hart and paying 14.5m for the Chilean on 25 August. Bravo in a word? Hapless.

Andy Hunter: Claudio Bravo. There were more expensive mistakes than the Manchester City goalkeeper Tottenhams 30m outlay on Moussa Sissoko for example but his recruitment was fundamental to how Pep Guardiola envisaged his first season in the Premier League and served only to undermine it. That is not to say it was a mistake to replace Joe Hart, who has toiled at Torino, only that Bravo was the wrong choice.

Louise Taylor: Moussa Sissoko, Tottenham Hotspur. Rafael Bentez is rightly proud of persuading Spurs to part with 30m for a midfielder who played a big part in Newcastle Uniteds relegation last year and whose Euro 2016 cameos for France flattered to deceive. Indeed when HMRC recently raided St James Park, club staff joked about whether they were investigating the theft of 30m from Spurs.

Stuart James: A few in the mix here Borja Bastn at Swansea, Jordon Ibe at Bournemouth and Ahmed Musa at Leicester all come to mind. But Claudio Bravo, Manchester Citys 17m goalkeeper, is surely the standout candidate. What were you thinking of, Pep?

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