Premier League 23/24 season losers: Kompany, Ten Hag, Sheffield United and Newcastle failed

Matt Stead
Manchester United manager Erik ten Hag, Nottingham Forest player Morgan Gibbs-White and Burnley coach Vincent Kompany
Here are your Premier League 23/24 season losers

Vincent Kompany, Chris Wilder and Erik ten Hag have had just the worst time. Manchester United and Nottingham Forest need to look themselves in the mirror.

Phil Foden, Cole Palmer and Unai Emery are among the 23/24 Premier League season winners.


Vincent Kompany
It does not necessarily make the decision to reject Chelsea and Spurs wrong – on the evidence of this season he would be unemployed this summer rather than simply facing a return to the Championship if he had taken either job – but it does underline how the reputation of a bright young coach has been decimated.

Kompany was on the Pep Guardiola replacement shortlist. He was a rare case of an individual being bigger than the club. He was Burnley’s USP for new signings, their main attraction. His own chairman described their relationship as “like dating the most beautiful girl in town, and knowing there’s probably no chance she’ll ever marry you, but everybody else wants to marry her”.

That power imbalance never seemed particularly beneficial and over the course of the season, Alan Pace stayed true to his word that “it’s not a worry for me that I’m going to ever fire him”. Other coaches would have paid the price for such stubbornness and naivety; the hope is that Kompany is sharper, better and wiser for those harsh experiences.

And it is only hope, because there have not been too many signs of a willingness to properly adapt to the requirements and environment. Burnley spent a small fortune assembling a curiously young and inexperienced squad which proceeded to look curiously young and inexperienced. That was the first mistake and it snowballed from there for a club who dropped into the relegation zone in the fourth minute of the opening day and never climbed back out.

From the seemingly constant individual mistakes to an endemic discipline problem starting with the manager and seeping into the squad, to the bizarre casting aside of the trusted lieutenants who helped deliver promotion but were barely trusted to try and fight relegation, there are precious few kernels of positivity to cling to at Turf Moor.

It is for the best that a humbled Kompany seems like less of a settler in a relationship with a far healthier dynamic. Burnley’s squad is also in a far better position than last time. But the minimum expectation is now an immediate return from a comfortable Championship season which might well indulge the manager’s worst habits again (like wearing that baseball cap) and undo any semblance of progression or growth (like any time he didn’t wear that baseball cap).


Sheffield United
After setting records en route to a miserable relegation in 2020/21, starting the season with Chris Wilder in charge before Paul Heckingbottom took over, Sheffield United managed much the same in 2023/24 while simply reversing that job-share arrangement.

It has been unrelentingly wretched, from a summer in which two of their best players – Iliman Ndiaye and Sander Berge – left without being close to adequately replaced, to the distinct lack of any real semblance of fight throughout.

Some of their finer performers from this season will leave too. James McAtee and Ben Brereton Diaz are returning to their loan clubs. Oliver Norwood’s contract is expiring. Few have been better than 33-year-old Wes Foderingham who kept one clean sheet, conceded 79 goals and was dropped in February before being restored nine games later. It is ludicrous to think things could have been – and indeed briefly were – worse without him and the last attempt to supplant him hardly engenders confidence around his departure.

One of the biggest summers in Sheffield United’s history awaits, but the ownership situation remains unresolved, lavish investment seems unlikely, the manager’s struggles this season and more recent failures at Championship level are far more relevant than his past success in the second tier with the Blades, and the squad will carry the scars from a bruising season.


Chris Wilder
That quote from the final day, about how Sheffield United have been “14th in the division, over the last sort of eight weeks, in terms of creating chances and everything,” was stunningly bleak. Quoting gloriously underwhelming xG numbers feels far more offensive than eating a sandwich in a Premier League manager’s presence but then Wilder no longer has to worry about the latter.

He will lead this pivotal summer based on little more than his past reputation – “I’ve done it before so I’ve got experience and we’ve had success at it” – because it cannot possibly be on the basis of this season. Sheffield United cobbled together marginally more points per game under Wilder than Heckingbottom, conceded goals at essentially the same rate and were slightly more prolific. They would have gone down either way but one of statistically the worst managers in Premier League history has called out his players and publicly questioned them for “wanting to get out” because part of this great rebuild will require a significant culture shift.

The question is only whether Wilder is the right man to oversee it. The sense is that he is simply the only one willing to try.


Erik ten Hag
Having recently pledged to simply ignore the public ramblings of Erik ten Hag as those of a man desperate to convince himself as much as his new employers that he is worth placing faith in, the Dutchman has regrettably made that impossible.

He cannot possibly think Manchester United “in a better position” than a year ago. If so, Ten Hag subsequently describing the season as “not good enough” and cause to be “disappointed” said it all.

His stated aim in pre-season, to mould this group into “the best transition team in the world,” led to them conceding more shots than 2007/08 Derby while recording a negative goal difference for the first time in more than three decades and outscoring only the sides in the bottom half. His description of Manchester United as “one of the most dynamic and entertaining teams in the league at this moment” was only accidentally accurate, and particularly damning.

Injuries have been a significant factor in the story of their season but cannot alone account for such a bafflingly sharp drop in performances and results. While other clubs and managers have dealt with similarly challenging periods far better, Ten Hag has proven entirely incapable of devising any alternative plan. Or talking about anything other than that offside goal against Arsenal in September.

It remains the case that if Sir Jim Ratcliffe wants “every person in management” to be “world-class” – and every computer keyboard in the office to be free of lunch debris – then Ten Hag’s face does not quite fit, even if he has played a necessary role in their rebuild.


Manchester United
The team with the highest wage bill and most expensively-assembled squad in the Premier League finishing eighth is fundamentally hilarious.

📣 TO THE COMMENTS! Do Manchester United and Ten Hag deserve more credit? Join the debate here.


Nottingham Forest
The lowest points total put together by a team securing Premier League survival, albeit with deductions. Nottingham Forest can take precious little from this season and relying on there being three worse sides than them each campaign will result in only one eventual outcome.

There cannot be many teams in English top-flight history who have retained their place with consecutive seasons in the 30-point range. Forest will inevitably point to the refereeing complaints which caused them to temporarily lose grip with reality but that quest was always dangerous in how it removed accountability from the equation. Forest became a laughable conspiratorial caricature and it almost cost them.

Some of the composite parts of this squad are excellent. Murillo is the best kind of chaotically brilliant defender and Morgan Gibbs-White has a potent attack to help supply. But there remain so many gaps to fill and at least one major sale will be necessary to fund any sort of summer spend. Even with the departure of Brennan Johnson, it still feels as though Forest are somewhat resistant to that necessary part of their place in the food chain.

They were one of six clubs with a lower points tally from last season to this, but entirely alone in that they could barely afford any sort of drop. If lessons are not learned, blame is not accepted and that is repeated again next campaign, they will go down.


Mark Clattenburg
Please, never again.

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Thomas Frank described the season as “a success” but it is one Brentford will be happy to put behind them for a reason. As with a handful of clubs, any pre-season aspirations were rendered moot by injury crises. Yet that is only one of the ways in which they have looked their most vulnerable as a Premier League team.

A sub-optimal summer of recruitment and those availability issues made for an uncomfortable combination which Brentford seemed incapable of turning around at times. It underlines how easy it is to slide from apparent mid-table safety one season into a relegation battle the next, and a club who has taken those missteps should at least be more prepared going forward.

No team suffered a bigger drop in points this season in comparison to last campaign. That is proof of the high bar and standards Brentford have set, but also how transient their position is unless the foundations are sound.


For the first time in their Premier League history, Brighton have taken a clear and undeniable step back. Their seven seasons in the division have not been characterised by constant improvement but at the very least they had consolidated year on year. Even taking into account the added strains of their European excursions, this has been at least a slight relapse.

There should be no panic; Tony Bloom has more than earned faith that his decisions are for the ultimate betterment of this club. As Roberto De Zerbi said, “he knows the best for Brighton” and this eventuality would have been planned for months in advance.

But Brighton’s hit rate on these decisions has already been impossibly high and willingly parting with one of their greatest managers over an irreconcilable difference in philosophies places intense pressure on their next moves, as well as his replacement.

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Roberto De Zerbi
With that said, after starting the season with five wins from six games, Brighton have genuinely been in relegation form since. From September 30 onwards, only the bottom four have accrued fewer points than the Seagulls (33).

At one point, it seemed De Zerbi would have his pick of managerless clubs to either choose from or use as leverage for more sway at Brighton. Most of those vacancies no longer exist, the second option has been removed and there is no obvious next move.


After being taken over in September 2008, Manchester City improved both their points tally and position season upon season until winning the Premier League title four years later.

They remain the most relevant comparison to draw with Newcastle, whose rise from 11th to 49 points to 4th with 71 has been followed with a fall to 7th with 60.

There are obvious caveats, injuries, the Sandro Tonali situation and the need to balance a debut Champions League campaign for this manager and these players among them. Plus that highlights how they were ahead of schedule last season rather than behind it this campaign.

They will be stronger to have come out of that particularly sticky winter patch together, while Alexander Isak, Bruno Guimaraes and Anthony Gordon give them enough enduring quality to build around if a scenario whereby one of them has to be sold can be avoided.

The internal reaction to that awful run in December and January bore stark contrast to the external perspectives of this team and its trajectory, and showed how patience will be a virtue under owners who it was previously assumed would accept nothing but constant forward motion. That is heartening for Eddie Howe, but it does still feel as though only one such season of regression will be accepted, no matter the excuses.


Roy Hodgson
The stabilisers on what appears to have been a Harley-Davidson all along

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