Premier League 2022-23 fans’ verdicts, part two: Leicester to Wolves

<span>Photograph: Michael Regan/Getty Images</span>
Photograph: Michael Regan/Getty Images


I truly think ours will go down as the most shameful relegation in Premier League history. Unbelievable levels of hubris, dither and delusion have turned a comfortably top-half squad into the most pathetic bunch of whipping boys I’ve seen in my 20 years as a season-ticket holder. A more activist fanbase would have turned Filbert Way into the toxic cauldron the club deserves. 0/10

Related: Premier League 2022-23 fans’ verdicts, part one: Arsenal to Leeds

Stars/flops At a push, Nampalys Mendy turned out to be less crap than the rest of them. Flops? Literally everyone else.

Biggest surprise I genuinely thought we’d be comfortable in mid-table this season. What shocked me most about the club is just how deep the rot of complacency had set in. From the players to managers to the board and even the media covering the club, all of them hold a significant share of culpability for this calamity.

Best and worst away fans I couldn’t tell you who the best were – I was too busy staring off into the distance contemplating the abyss on the many occasions we’ve been turned over at home. The worst were Nottingham Forest, because we don’t like them.

Moment that made me smile The arrival of the new Big Strong Leicester Boys podcast, fronted by Jake Watson, was a rare positive - some real catharsis there. A sorely needed refuge for fans.

• Chris Whiting; @ChrisRWhiting


Until our run of eight wins in nine we’d been pretty inconsistent – 9-0 against Bournemouth and 7-0 against United tempered by below-par performances, defeats and listless draws. But the past couple of months have seen us get back to what we’ve come to expect and for every low, we’ve had multiple highs. The boss has had a rocky time of it too, obviously, but anyone doubting him needs a rethink. We didn’t challenge for the title, as we thought we would, but that’s football. That’s life, as Jürgen would say. 7/10

Stars/flops Alisson has been immense. Without him we’d have finished in a lower position for sure. Mo Salah. Again. He’s scored over 20 goals and made numerous assists. Bobby Firmino was at his superlative best at the start of the season, until injury, and Stefan Bajcetic at just 18 was a star in midfield – looking forward to his return next season. A sometimes collective loss of form from some players, including our big names, added to a strange season. See below.

Biggest surprise The way we struggled at times, particularly away. Reams have been written as to why: loss of form, lack of investment, injuries, burnout from last season … We’ve probably witnessed the end of an era and are now looking to rebuild. But it hasn’t all been bad, we’ve had some great performances and good times along the way.

Best/worst away fans Forest were brilliant. A group of them paid their respects and laid flowers at both the Heysel and Hillsborough memorials and once in Anfield unfurled a huge banner that read: “Respect the 97. Solidarity with Survivors. No to Tragedy Chanting.” Arsenal, too, for their honouring of the minute’s silence for the 97. The worst, all those who continue with vile chants mocking the dead and those in poverty. Shame on you.

Moment that made me smile Bobby scoring against Villa was ace. But the biggest win was publication of Uefa’s independent inquiry into the horrors in Paris at the Champions League final which, thanks to many, but particularly Spirit of Shankly, exonerated Liverpool supporters from all blame.

• Steph Jones

Manchester City

It’s been phenomenal. I don’t think any City fan thought in early February that we’d be on for the treble. It looked like a season of transition, even with Haaland. But this has been one of Pep’s greatest triumphs, second only to the 2020-21 season when he constructed a title-winning team without a striker – which was properly ridiculous. It’s all been about him; the money is obviously a huge factor, but I think rival fans are realising he is the difference. 9.5/10

Stars/flops Haaland has obviously been the star, he’ll go from strength to strength. But I think most City fans would agree Rodri and Aké are comfortably second and third place for our POTY. De Bruyne, Grealish and Stones/Dias all deserve admirable mentions, but the unfancied duo are well-deserving of their top three slots.

Biggest surprise The turnaround in form since that loss at Spurs in early February, and the Premier League charges that dropped the following day. We looked really disjointed at the time – Arsenal were imperious – and we’d just shipped a sulky Cancelo off to Bayern without a replacement. Most of our key players were struggling to recover their form and fitness after the World Cup. But Pep again proved himself an absolute genius of a coach and a brilliant man-motivator, too. His press conference immediately after the charges genuinely made my hair stand on end, seeing the pride with which he talked about the club. His club.

Best/worst away fans Leeds were best. I wanted them to stay up … before Big Sam. Worst? Surprisingly, Liverpool.

Moment that made me smile Away from City, watching Brighton has been an absolute joy. They play such daring and exciting football under De Zerbi and have a wealth of good young players. From a selfish point of view, I hope we can sign a couple in the summer.

• Lloyd Scragg; @lloyd_scragg

Pep Guardiola with the Premier League trophy.
Pep Guardiola: making the difference. Photograph: Michael Regan/Getty Images

Manchester United

It’s been mixed: we played some good football but also fell apart spectacularly at times, taking some heavy losses on the road. But losing Casemiro, Varane, Rashford, Eriksen, Martínez and Garnacho at critical times was unlucky. Ten Hag impressed, dealing swiftly with the Ronaldo sideshow, dropping the captain and improving the likes of Rashford, Shaw and Wan Bissaka. He now knows who he can rely on, and I expect the likes of Maguire, Martial, De Gea and possibly Sancho to follow Phil Jones out the door. He’s going to need several transfer windows to turn us into title challengers, but it’s been a good start. 7/10

Stars/flops Martínez defended like his life was on the line and his tacking and passing out from the back has been incredible. He has this natural ability to sniff out danger: our best signing for years. Rashford is fulfilling the potential we all knew he had and the emergence of Garnacho has been wonderful: a real match-winner for the future. Sancho, though, hasn’t matched his big reputation or price: a winger who won’t take players on. I just can’t see how he succeeds in this team.

Biggest surprise It’s been a long old road but after 18 years we’re finally getting rid of our parasitic owners.

Best/worst away fans West Ham brought big numbers for a televised midweek game in the FA Cup and were noisy throughout. Worst were Liverpool: not a peep out of them until they scored in the 81st minute.

Moment that made me smile Ten Hag’s dad-dancing at Wembley.

• Shaun O’Donnell


Fans hoped we’d build on last season’s extraordinary turnaround, but not many expected what we got: a first cup final since 1999 and a season in the top four. The football is some of the best since the Keegan or Robson eras, and Eddie Howe deserves the plaudits. He’s brought world-beating performances out of pre-takeover signings such as Schär, Joelinton and Willock, and created a fearsome team spirit. 9/10

Stars/flops There were stars all over, from graceful striker Alexander Isak, midfield fulcrum Bruno Guimarães and ever-smiling sprinter Miguel Almirón to powerhouse Sven Botman, cult hero Dan Burn and our indefatigable leader, Kieran Trippier. Flops? Ryan Fraser ended up training with the under-21s and faces an uncertain future. For a player of his talent, that’s a waste.

Biggest surprise The reinvention of Sean Longstaff. The local lad’s form dipped alarmingly under Steve Bruce and some fans got on his back. But under Howe he has established himself as integral to the high-press tactic. He deserves a nice lie down on a beach after the graft he’s put in.

Best/worst away fans The best were the Spurs fans who endured their 6-1 drubbing and stayed to the end. The worst were the Spurs fans who abandoned their team 21 minutes in. Though you have to have some sympathy…

Moment that made us smile The great reception given to our women’s side at half-time at our game against Brighton after their National League Division One North title win. It’s great to see such progress throughout the club.

• David and Richard Holmes

Nottingham Forest

It’s worked out OK in the end, hasn’t it? At the start and mid-points I said 17th would be a victory, anything else would be a bonus, so I’m delighted. Stevie Cooper is either the greatest conman of all time or he’s genuinely a brilliant coach and wonderful human being. The owner rightly realised Cooper’s the glue that bound the club and fans together for the last 18 months and stuck by him. It was all a bit hairy for a while, but it’s a 7/10 for me.

Stars/flops Morgan Gibbs-White looks a steal at £30m. Apparently survival stuck an extra £5m on the price, but we won’t pay the quoted £42.5m unless we qualify for the Champions League. Are Wolves fans still laughing now? But the beating heart of our team is Ryan Yates: homegrown and a Forest fan. We look so much more competitive when he is fit. Jesse Lingard didn’t work out, though – at least on the pitch. His personality and demeanour make him popular, but he never looked fully fit and made only a fleeting contribution.

Biggest surprise We knew we needed 15 or so signings but got twice as many. Some actively made the squad worse. But even then we were carrying up to 12 injuries at a time for half the season, so the 25-man squad was stretched.

Best and worst away fans Surprisingly I was most impressed with Man United – vocal, good-humoured, passionate. Credit also to Brighton for a good and loud following for a long midweek journey. Worst were Wolves: they can give it but they couldn’t take it when Gibbs-White beat them in the Carabao Cup shootout.

Moment that made me smile Cooper screaming into the sky at the end of the game that secured our safety. Did I mention that I love him?

• Rich Ferraro 1865: The Nottingham Forest Podcast


Where to begin?! An absolute train wreck from start to finish. Many argued for the sacking of Ralph Hasenhüttl either during the summer or at various points until he was eventually shown the door in November. If those people had been told who his replacement would be they might have kept their counsel. The absolute bin fire that was Nathan Jones’s tenure came and went in a few months amid ludicrous press conferences and nonexistent tactics. Rubén Sellés then got two wins in his first three, but none since, so essentially all three have failed miserably. 0/10 is being generous.

Stars/flops Not many stars, really. Roméo Lavia has been a standout for most of the season, Ward-Prowse hit yet more free-kick goals, and there’s been a surprise renaissance for Theo Walcott, but other than that, it’s thin gruel. Both keepers were terrible (one has the excuse of being 21, the other very much doesn’t). Meanwhile, we’ve been impotent up front, which naturally makes a winning combination.

Biggest surprise Spending big without selling first to finance it. The only problem is it was mostly squandered, and we failed to get the centre-forward who might have seen us safe in what must be an all-time low-quality Premier League bottom half.

Best/worst away fans Wolves fans seem to have a bit of beef with us for reasons best known to them, so their second-half turnaround at St Mary’s after spending an hour a man down was pretty loud (and put us out of our Jones misery). Most teams who have come to St Mary’s have left happy, although most of the games have blended into one by now so it’s difficult to pick out any particularly poor away crowds.

Moment that made me smile Jones’s unhinged post-match press conference after defeat at Brentford. Fortunately he only lasted another week, but that was pretty funny in a “laugh at yourself so it doesn’t feel so painful” kind of way.

• Steve Grant; @SteveGrant1983

Nathan Jones on Southampton’s bench.
Nathan Jones: nonexistent tactics. Photograph: Dan Mullan/Getty Images


The season went exactly how it was always destined to go even if I spent the first half of it believing it would all work out in the end. Three managers, no identity, plenty of discontent. Conte the consultant imploded because he wasn’t really suited for us. A case of him making no concessions and Spurs appointing a coach for a quick fix without the necessary tools to achieve one. Again. 5/10, considering how hyped I was at the end of last season.

Stars/flops Harry Kane. Obviously. Broke the Jimmy Greaves record: he’s our best forward, our best midfielder too. He’s rendered superlatives redundant. A modern-day tragedy that the past four years have been stagnant while Harry continues to define greatness. As for flops? I prefer “disappointments”. Factor in injuries, lack of rotation – Bissouma, Richarlison, Kulu, Bentancur too. We’ve had a rough time of it. Son’s form was, at times, tragic.

Biggest surprise Even though you always expect things to go wrong, I didn’t quite see us collapsing to this current numb state of apathy. I predicted Champions League but instead we have a fragmented fanbase, no design or leadership from the board, possibly no European football, three “managers” in a season and the awkward persistence of playing two in the middle. Oh yeah, and no recognisable philosophy. COYS, Daniel.

Best and worst away fans Champions League nights are usually great because the away fans seem more interested in singing and chanting than interacting organically with the game, so that was always a pleasant soundtrack to distract from the lack of rhythm on the pitch. Worst fans? Arsenal. Why? Why not? Anyone singing about north London when they originate from Plumstead playing under the guise of Woolwich gets my vote every time.

Moment that made me smile I could write a book off the back of all the Spursy things that fizzled with bitter flavour across the season. However, Emerson Royal’s no-look pass résumé is unparalleled. I’ll add that I really like Emerson: him going from scapegoat to pretty decent right-back is heartwarming in a season of cold snaps.

• Spooky @Spooky23;

Tottenham fans protest against Daniel Levy.
A tough crowd for Daniel Levy. Photograph: Richard Heathcote/Getty Images

West Ham

Our first European final since 1976. For success-starved fans it’s massive. At times Moyes’s counterattacking tactics looked outmoded and a £160m spend produced a relegation fight – though injuries to Aguerd, Scamacca, Paquetá and Zouma didn’t help. But Moyesy got results in the must-win games and credit to the board for sticking with him. Our near exemplary record in the Europa Conference has been underestimated; he deserves another crack at the job next season. Let’s see what he can do with Paquetá settled in and a fit Scamacca – though much will depend on how the money for Rice is spent. 7/10

Stars/flops Declan Rice is our best player since Bobby Moore. Even though he’s probably off he’s given it everything and is still humble. It would be fantastic to see him join Moore and Bonds in lifting a trophy. Paquetá has provided memorable moments of showboating while Antonio has done well to see off the striking competition. Jarrod Bowen was more on fire after the World Cup break and Benrahma also had a mainly decent season. Flops include the hard-working but off-form Soucek, £35m Scamacca and Maxwel Cornet, who had a bad injury, but looked nothing like the player he was at Burnley.

Biggest surprise Combining a relegation struggle with a European final. Pablo Fornals’s late winner against AZ Alkmaar will never be forgotten.

Best/worst away fans Best were Leeds for noisily backing their losing side while dressed as nuns and Big Sam, which takes courage. Most overconfident were Arsenal for singing: “Are you in Tottenham in disguise?” and: “You’re going down,” only to see their 2-0 lead pegged back and their title bid derailed.

Moment that made me smile Chelsea gave us fantastic comedy value by spending £600m but forgetting to sign a striker and then reappointing Everton reject Frank Lampard. Just hope they can stay up next season.

• Pete May Author, Goodbye to Boleyn;

Declan Rice poses for a selfie.
Declan Rice: still humble. Photograph: Simon Dael/Shutterstock


Up to Christmas it would be 1/10 on the basis we were bottom but just about still breathing. Since Julen Lopetegui came in, though, it’s been closer to an 8. We escaped relegation with three games to spare and enjoyed a couple of fine victories. He’s been excellent and must be retained at all costs. So overall, for the season, 6/10.

Related: Premier League 2022-23 fans’ verdicts, part one: Arsenal to Leeds

Stars/flops Rúben Neves kept us afloat in those horrible early months and made key contributions throughout. Craig Dawson and Mario Lemina were vital January additions. Matheus Nunes has to be a flop given what we paid for him and the expectations about what he’d bring, but he did produce a couple of big moments to help keep us up, including the goal of the season against Chelsea.

Biggest surprise The January splurging. The owners have been notoriously stingy mid-season and always retained a very lean squad. This time they recognised the desperate need for reinforcements and that business was the difference. All six players contributed in some way.

Best/worst away fans Leeds are the best and worst. Really loud and annoying. And yes, I am being salty because they’ve inflicted a couple of painful defeats in recent years.

Moment that made me smile The reaction to Big Sam’s arrival at Leeds with four games to go. Especially one fan commenting: “Give him the next two but make sure there’s a replacement lined up for the run-in.”

• Thomas Baugh; @wolvesblog

Part one: Arsenal to Leeds