<i>Paul Radley</i> looks at the individuals and teams whose stock rose over the last 10 months, and those whose reputation took a nosedive
Best manager: Pulis
Forget about the Armani suits, the touchline posing, the five-match bans for being able to ask "Que?" in nine different languages, the 4-3-3 or 4-2-3-1, and the false strikers.
The best manager this season wore a tracksuit, a cap to cover his bald head, played two wingers plus nine other tough guys, then told his players to sling it in to the mixer at every given opportunity.
Rocket science like that earned an unfashionable club, Stoke City, an FA Cup final appearance, a place in Europe and they were set for a top-half finish before a crazy final day.
When they then lost that final, he was dignified enough to say the better team had won.
Tony Pulis, we salute you.
Worst player: Boselli
Wigan Athletic will always be swimming against the tide. With a small fan base in a town otherwise totally in thrall to rugby league, relatively modest spending power and a novice manager, they need all the help they can get. They have to stretch their rations, so recruiting a striker who is a goal-free zone, and did not really like the scenery very much, anyway, for £6.5 million (Dh39m) is hardly ideal.
After eight matches without a goal, Mauro Boselli, who has been capped twice for Argentina, played out the rest of the season on loan in Italy.
Best goal: Rooney
If you came in late and missed February's Manchester derby at Old Trafford, John Dykes's post-match debrief provided a clue as to the only taking point to have come from the game.
"The best goal you have ever seen: discuss," the Premier League television anchor said to the expert panel, in reference to Wayne Rooney's classic for United against City.
Rooney had been having an off-season until then, on both sides of the white line. But he put that all behind him to slam in a vintage overhead kick against United's bitter rivals at Old Trafford, and all was well with the world again.
Worst celebration: Ferguson
After 25 years at Manchester United, umpteen trophies and thousands of goals, you might have thought Sir Alex Ferguson could come up with a better celebration than the embarrassing uncle dance routine.
Granted, he is probably past tumbling down the touchline in a series of somersaults, a la Tino Asprilla or Obafemi Martins.
But the bouncing, wavey-hands thing, which he does to the strains of Championes! at the end of every season, makes him look like a pogoing mannequin, and is hardly befitting a man of his greatness.
Best comeback: Newcastle
Newcastle United and ridiculously far-fetched, fairy-tale storylines are not totally alien to one another.
In the film Goal!, an asthmatic Mexican immigrant leaves behind his life as a gardener in Los Angeles and makes good his dream to become a professional footballer when Newcastle take a chance on him.
All of which seems perfectly plausible in comparison to the Toon coming from 4-0 down at half time to draw with an Arsenal side flying high in the table. But they did, earning a point that was nearly a win, and inflicting a slow puncture on Arsenal's season in the process.
Worst comedown: Ancelotti
"Yes, I would coach West Ham, why not?" Probably not the words Carlo Ancelotti expected to be uttering when his side started their Premier League title defence with consecutive 6-0 thrashings of West Bromwich Albion and Wigan.
By the end of the campaign, Chelsea's double success from a year earlier was a fading memory, but Ancelotti's fall has been startling nonetheless.
"The atmosphere at West Ham is amazing, and I can say the same about the Championship," he joked, in morning papers on the day he was sacked. Not exactly Champions League, though, is it?
Best business: Odemwingie
Javier Hernandez's influence on the season far outweighed the £7m Manchester United spent on him, while Tottenham Hotspur basically stole Rafael van der Vaart from Real Madrid.
However, the shrewdest piece of summer business was conducted by a manager who was no longer in situ at the end of the campaign.
Peter Odemwingie, the Tashkent-born Nigeria forward, outlasted the man who took him to West Bromwich Albion, Roberto Di Matteo.
Most Baggies supporters were wondering who he was when he arrived in a rush, for £1m. After 15 goals, they know full well now.
Worst business: Arsenal
Arsene Wenger is allergic to good centre-backs, and has an aversion to spending money on buying them.
Arsenal fans were hoping he had suddenly come to his senses when he paid £13m to bring in Laurent Koscielny and Sebastien Squillaci last summer.
Neither tall, nor imposing, nor particularly good readers of play, they floundered when Arsenal started to eye an end to their long run without a trophy.
Best pundit: Sherwood
The appearances of Tim Sherwood on Al Jazeera this season have been must-see thanks to the Tottenham first-team coach's loose lips.
Take Spurs' Champions League mission against AC Milan, for example. With one leg still to play, and with a mere one-goal cushion to lean on, Sherwood happily wrote off the Italian league leaders as a "paceless" side with nothing that ought to trouble Spurs.
At other times, he revealed Manchester United are interested in signing David de Gea, the Atletico Madrid keeper, Spurs are keen on Falcao from Porto, and that Joe Jordan, the fiery assistant to Harry Redknapp, fancied a fight with Gennaro Gattuso.
Worst tackler: Adam
With retirement edging ever nearer, the Premier League will soon need someone to assume Paul Scholes's mantle as the best midfield maestro who still tackles like a loony, no matter how hard he tries to get better.
In his first season in the top flight, with Blackpool, Charlie Adam showed he has got the goods as an attacking force.
His tackling is also an aberration, as he picked up 11 bookings. He ended Gareth Bale's fine season prematurely with a Scholes-esque reducer last month.
Then, as Blackpool fought valiantly against the drop at Old Trafford, Adam somehow escaped punishment for an equally clumsy tackle in the penalty box on Park Ji-sung. Scholes, watching from nearby, would have been proud.
Best resources: Man City
Not so long ago, City fans were happy to have Uwe Rosler and Niall Quinn in harness.
Nothing typifies the upturn in fortunes at Eastlands more than their replacements bench these days.
In a game against Arsenal, for example, they had Shay Given, Wayne Bridge, Joleon Lescott, Patrick Vieira, Emmanuel Adebayor, Adam Johnson and Mario Balotelli picking splinters.
All internationals. All worth a mint. Just imagine whose derrieres those posh, sky-blue sports-car seats which adorn the City of Manchester Stadium dugouts are going to be cushioning next season.
There were changes aplenty this campaign, with more to come next term
Adel Taarabt (Queens Park Rangers)
When Damien Comolli, the erstwhile director of football at Tottenham Hotspur, brought in a little-known midfielder from France named Adel Taarabt he tried to persuade everyone he had just unearthed the next Zinedine Zidane.
Spurs then lurched to the foot of the table, Comolli was jettisoned, and out with the bathwater went the baby.
After his unhappy time at White Hart Lane, Taarabt has unfinished business in the Premier League, and was in a rush to get back, judging by his form with QPR.
It clearly takes a manager like Neil Warnock to unlock the inner Zizou. Let’s see how these two unlikely bedfellows fare together in the Premier League.
The Scouser (Liverpool)
It did not take a “King Kenny” to diagnose that one of the major reasons Liverpool had lost their way in recent times was because the club’s identity had become diluted.
Why spend money on players with names like Riera, Aquilani or Vorinin when you can rear your own Flanagans and Spearings?
Happily for the faithful on the Kop, Kenny Dalglish knows better than anyone what makes the Anfield club tick.
Take one Steven Gerrard – who has had to carry the Scouse fight with Jamie Carragher for too long – a Luis Suarez and a Pepe Reina, liberally sprinkle with a few new home-grown aspirants, et voila: back in business.
The Poznan Bounce (Man City)
For a long time during Manchester City’s gory years, facing the other way when the team were playing probably seemed like an appealing idea.
Now they have a side to believe in, with the promise of a star or two more to arrive in the summer, and the supporters decide to spend much of the match jumping up and down while looking in the opposite direction.
Borrowed from the Polish side Lech Poznan, one of their opponents in this season’s Europa League, the new craze is likely to be even more regularly spotted next season.
Avram Grant (West Ham United)
For the past four years, Uncle Avram has hovered around the Premier League like the bloke at the house party who no one knows, loitering around the sausage rolls in the kitchen, while everyone else wonders how he got there, yet they are all too polite to ask him to leave.
Surely no one can now be left in any doubt that he was an imposter all along, having crashed the party when an influential Russian left the door ajar.
West Ham were the second side he had taken down in two seasons, after Portsmouth last term. Where to next for the Angel of Relegation?
Cesc Fabregas (Arsenal)
After the FA Cup final, Roberto Mancini was asked which player would turn his Manchester City side from a third or fourth-ranked side into Premier League winners. He answered: “Fabregas.” With the emergence of Jack Wilshere and the convalescence of Aaron Ramsey, the impending departure of Fabregas might not be mourned quite as gloomily as it once would have been at Arsenal.
Whether he joins one of their Premier League rivals is not certain, either. The Spaniard may say goodbye to the UK altogether, with Real Madrid and Barcelona each apparently keen to stage a summer transfer clasico in order to land his services.
If all blue-sky thinking was as vivid as Blackpool’s tangerine, the world would be a better place.
“You have to aim for the stars and then you might hit the moon,” Ian Holloway, their manager, said on Sunday, as he went down in a blaze of sparkling, glorious quotes.
Holloway’s Blackpool scored more goals than any other relegated side in the Premier League. Their top-flight flit was brief, but it was brilliant.
“The singing’s over and the fat lady has finished and I don’t like her tune,” Hollway said. Please do not stay away for long, Olly.