Gary Neville, Jamie Carragher, Jamie Redknapp, Graeme Souness on 10 talking points
Gary Neville, Jamie Carragher, Jamie Redknapp and Graeme Souness review 2013/14's big issues.
Last Updated: 12/05/14 6:27pm
So we gathered four of our top names - Gary Neville, Jamie Carragher, Jamie Redknapp and Graeme Souness - together to reflect on the major talking points from the 2013/14 campaign.
They discussed Manchester City's jubilation, Liverpool's heartache, Manchester United's turmoil and the fine work of Roberto Martinez and Tony Pulis amongst other things on our 'End of Season Special'.
Read on for the experts' take on 10 of the major talking points of the Premier League season.
Are champions Manchester City the best team in the Premier League?
NEVILLE: They have the best squad and the best spine. You look at Toure, Kompany, Aguero and Dzeko - plus the depth they've got up front. I think of the power in the team and I always think title-winning teams have that power. That power saw them home and they got their best players on the pitch by the end. Manchester City would have won the title by a lot more points had Silva, Aguero, Toure and Kompany played together a lot more often.
CARRAGHER: They've won the league, so no matter what you think of the squad, the team, the money they've spent or Manuel Pellegrini they've had a great season. But in terms of jobs done in the Premier League you could probably look at Brendan Rodgers and Tony Pulis and maybe they may just come above what Pellegrini has done this year.
REDKNAPP: If they'd not won the title you'd have to be pretty critical of Pellegrini, but the facts were they won the league and the Capital One Cup and he's answered a lot of the questions. They've got the best squad and at the start of the year we all expected them to do it, but they made it difficult for themselves at times. They lost at Anfield, drew at home to Sunderland and I couldn't see them doing it, but you have to credit any team that wins the title.
SOUNESS: The foundations are there for Man City to be a dominant force in our football for a number of years. As long as these people in the Middle East are interested that club is going to keep going forward. The challenge is European football for them.
Was it ultimately a season of failure for Liverpool?
NEVILLE: If you'd said at the start of the season that Liverpool would be challenging for the title with a week to go, I'd have said there's absolutely no chance. Measuring it against that it's been an absolutely fantastic season. However, if you're talking about where they were two or three weeks ago there is no-one at Liverpool, I'm sure, in that dressing room feeling fantastic. They will feel disappointed and will feel "what might have been".
SOUNESS: It's screaming at you, what they need to do. You can't concede 50 goals in the Premier League and expect to win it. The reliance on the strikers to go out every week and score three or four goals because you're letting them in at the other end is too much. If anything had happened to Luis Suarez where would Liverpool be? They certainly wouldn't be in the Champions League because of the way they defended at times.
REDKNAPP: I'm of the other opinion. They play such an attacking style of football and the two full-backs push on so much that there are going to be consequences. You are going to leave yourself open at the back. When they were winning 12 on the spin no-one was complaining about the defending then. We were saying how good they were and what a breath of fresh air it was.
CARRAGHER: They need two or three players to go into the team, not into the squad. They need two defenders and another midfield player. They've got to get two defenders, proper defenders. We hear a lot in the modern game about ball-playing defenders and attacking full-backs and Liverpool have got that in the squad. Now they need a couple of defenders who just want to defend. If they get that they could go again.
Should Chelsea have won the Premier League?
SOUNESS: I didn't really believe Jose Mourinho when he said they had no chance at all this year. He would have felt prior to the Aston Villa game when they went there and lost that they were right in the mix. You look at the games they lost - Sunderland at home, Aston Villa and Crystal Palace - and you could see flimsy teams going into those games and coming unstuck, but not Chelsea under Jose Mourinho because they are a really solid outfit. If Wayne Rooney had gone there at the start of the season I think we'd be talking about Chelsea winning it. I think they were that close.
CARRAGHER: I think there are regrets for a couple of teams. It was in Chelsea's hands, really, and you think of the stupid games that they slipped up in. The best team wins the league after 38 games, we all know that and it's Manchester City and credit to them, but you have to look at the position Chelsea found themselves in. City are still worthy champions - they scored over 100 goals - but there will be regrets from Chelsea, Liverpool and maybe even Arsenal as well.
Were Arsenal ever realistic title contenders?
NEVILLE: I don't think anybody thought, apart from maybe Arsene Wenger and a few of his players in January or February when they were top, that they could win the league. We kept saying each week that they keep answering questions and keep proving us wrong but eventually you always felt [they lacked] the tenacity, the determination, power and drive you really need to get through the Champions League knock-out stage and big title games. They fell apart in March in a period of about two or three weeks. You just knew when that period came they wouldn't have enough to get through it.
SOUNESS: He needs a different type of midfield player. For me, they're too samey in midfield. I think they are very close. They need to go and buy an out-and-out striker that would get them 25 or 30 goals a year, which would cost big money, and a different type of midfield player. Arsenal are too easy to play against. You can't win a league losing 6-0, as they did at Chelsea, and 5-1 as they did at Liverpool.
REDKNAPP: Theo Walcott and Aaron Ramsey were big losses in January. When they knew Walcott was going to be out for six months the transfer window was still open. That was maybe the time to go and get somebody to replace him. I think Arsenal will come again next year, but they do need that sensational striker - and there's not that many in the market.
Has Roberto Martinez improved David Moyes' Everton team?
CARRAGHER: David Moyes laid the foundations and that shouldn't be forgotten. But let's not forget what Roberto Martinez did. He didn't just build on the foundations, he changed the way they played. They were a very difficult team to beat and were very organised but he got them playing a style of football I didn't think they were capable of. I didn't think they had the players there and the way he set them up is a credit to Roberto Martinez. He has taken them to another level.
REDKNAPP: What I like most about him is the way he improves players. If you look at the two full-backs, Baines and Coleman, they are absolutely fantastic. A lot of clubs, if they lose their captain, they panic. Phil Jagielka gets injured and what do they do? No pressure, bring in John Stones at 19 years of age, plays him at centre-back and he looks an absolute world-beater. That is what you want in a manager.
SOUNESS: He inherited a very solid group of players and gave them a bit of belief that they can play this way. Under David Moyes they were very effective, maybe more direct, and Martinez has said 'I trust you, I know you can do this' - and they are a good watch now.
Who's to blame for the problems at Tottenham?
SOUNESS: Tottenham spent over £100m last year and they had a manager in place who they quickly got rid of and then got another manager promoted from within the club and it looks like he's going as well. I never see any criticism directed at the person responsible for bringing all the players in.
REDKNAPP: They've got to get their recruitment right. For the last seven or eight years they've sold their best players - Modric, Bale, Berbatov, Carrick - every time they get a good player they sell them. Then they bring in a group of players and it's very difficult to bed in five or six players. It hasn't worked this season. What they must do is get in one or two to make that difference.
NEVILLE: Whoever picks up Tottenham will benefit from what's happened this year in the sense that the £100million of players will have settled down and have had a year to bed in. Two or three of them are decent players and they will get better. Whoever picks them up will be in a better position next season.
Is this a blip or a terminal decline for Manchester United?
NEVILLE: It's been a shocking season from where they've been, challenging for championships year in and year out. I thought at the start of the season that a change of manager would bring some turbulence, but because of the stability they've had that they would have it in them to be able to compete for another championship. What's happened is they have not been able to cope without Sir Alex Ferguson. It doesn't sit well with me that Manchester United have sacked a manager after 10 months, at all. There's not much you can take out of this season.
REDKNAPP: I think you want to follow the man that follows the man. Having had 27 years of continuity and running the club with an iron fist it was going to be difficult for David Moyes, but not to the extent where they were losing so many home games. The style of football wasn't anywhere near what we've seen. It was an amazing transformation of a football club and they've got to get going quickly because football doesn't stand still.
SOUNESS: It's not a quick fix. From where Man United were to where they are now, the strength is nowhere near where they would want it to be. You put Man United in that elite group of Barcelona, Real Madrid and Bayern Munich, but how many Man United players in the current squad would be wanted by any of those teams? I can think of two - and beyond that you're struggling. I don't see it as a quick fix.
Has anyone done a better job than Tony Pulis has at Crystal Palace?
REDKNAPP: Probably not, but it didn't surprise me to be honest. I've known Tony since I was 14 years of age and his attention to details was even there as a player at Bournemouth. He was such a fit player and then he went to Stoke and got them organised defensively. That's what they needed. The key to his success at Palace is the structure and how he got them organised defensively with two banks of four working extremely hard. I bet the players there cannot wait for their summer. They deserve their summer because he would have drilled them every day; it would have been non-stop!
NEVILLE: It's a magnificent performance. Watching them in the early parts of the season I thought they had absolutely no chance. They could have brought in any manager in the world and I wouldn't have thought it would have got them out of trouble for the lack of quality they had. It's an absolutely brilliant performance from Tony Pulis.
Was Sunderland's "great escape" simply covering over the cracks?
REDKNAPP: When they lost 5-1 at Tottenham I think we wrote them off then. I think even Gus Poyet did, saying " we need a miracle now". I don't think there was a great deal of hope when he did his press conference after that game so it's absolutely incredible. At Christmas we expected Crystal Palace and Sunderland to go down, but that's why it's almost impossible to make predictions with relegation. You only need to win back-to-back games and everything changes.
NEVILLE: Has Gus Poyet really worked because they won three or four games at the end? He has put a great end of season together, but if you'd said at the start of the season that Sunderland would finish 14th, that's where they should be finishing. He's only achieved what they should have done - and got there in a more dramatic fashion, but I wouldn't say it's a wonderful and magnificent job.
Did Cardiff and Fulham prove the folly of managerial changes?
NEVILLE: The foreign owner is searching for a wonderful brand of football and this great club that can compete with Man United, Man City and Chelsea when what they really should be looking for is a manager who is experienced enough to get them around the block and keep them in the league. It would seem they are taking big chances during the season and it's not paying off - and that's a good thing in some ways. We want to see new managers come into the league, but we also want to see continuity. The way managers get chucked overboard after 70 days, six months or eight months is ridiculous. I'm glad this season it hasn't been rewarded.
CARRAGHER: A lot of the time the manager who gets sacked is the one bringing the team up. You think you'd get longer in the job if you actually missed out and get to have another go at coming up through the Championship. What do the owners expect, especially when a team comes up?
SOUNESS: It amazes me. Look at two of the three teams that went down - Fulham and Cardiff. They employ foreign managers coming into our game - and Pepe Mel has to be factored into this argument because he played 17 games and won three of them. When you buy a foreign player you accept there will be a period of time he will need to adjust to our game and the same must apply to managers coming in. If you look at the margins they are dealing with, where teams are getting relegated by three points you could lose those points in the first weeks you're at the club. There's plenty good young British managers out there, so go down the road Crystal Palace went down; someone tried and tested who gives you a real chance of surviving.