The relegation scrap proved as brilliantly entertaining as any other in recent years, and although all but one of the drop spots had been confirmed before the final day, this was a story almost as enticing as the race for the top honour at the top. As it happened, this season’s unfortunate three were Wolverhampton Wanderers and two Lancashire clubs in the form of Blackburn Rovers and Bolton Wanderers, who were relegated on the final day of the season.

They say that the league table doesn’t lie, and that was unfortunately true for the bottom three of this season’s Premier League. Considering the season as a whole, it would be hard to say that any of the three consigned to relegation were undeserving of their plight given their on-field performances.

Bolton are perhaps the unluckiest, given the mid-season heart attack suffered on the pitch by Fabrice Muamba that undoubtedly rocked the club to it’s core. Even then, however, this was a season that started badly, and it was that shocking form at the start of the season that ultimately cost them. A team that was often characterized as being very hard to beat, Owen Coyle’s side looked very soft at times this year, certainly a lot softer than in the days of Allardyce or even Megson. A 4-0 win over QPR on the opening day was the high point of a tough opening run in which they conceded a total of 20 goals in matches against Manchester City, Liverpool, Manchester United, Arsenal and Chelsea in the opening rounds. Wins over fellow relegation sufferers Blackburn and Wolves towards the end of the season reignited hope that Bolton might escape the drop, but their fate was ultimately sealed in the final run of games, in which they only took one win from eight games.

Bolton were allowed some hope entering the final round of fixtures, but there was no such hope for Blackburn or Wolves who had both seen their fates sealed. Wolverhampton endured a terrible season in which Mick McCarthy was unceremoniously sacked. The Irishman was perhaps deserving of his fate given in his third season with the club in the Premier League he had not been able to shift the club from relegation scrappers to midtable mainstays, but he certainly would not have allowed the Wolves to drop so insipidly. Terry O’Connor, McCarthy’s replacement, lacked the guile to guide the club to safety and will face a massive challenge to get the club promoted back into the Premier League next season.

Blackburn were crippled by a lack of investment in the side, and the sale of some of their top talents, most notably Phil Jones in the summer and Chris Samba in January. Yakubu brought some much needed goals to the side but they weren’t enough to avoid the drop. Steve Kean miraculously remains in a job despite the vitriol of the supporters who have passionately protested against his continued employment by the club. The fans will surely only be further enraged if it is Kean who is entrusted with the important job of  getting the club back into the Premier League as soon as possible.

Queens Park Rangers, Aston Villa and Wigan Athletic were fortunate enough to beat the drop, though in the case of Wigan Athletic, there was nothing lucky about their good fortune. Roberto Martinez masterminded yet another fantastically late escape from the drop, when it all seemed lost once more. Wigan secures massive points with wins over Manchester United, their first since being promoted to the Premier League in 2006, in a run of five wins from their final six games, which also included a famous win over Arsenal and a 4-0 win over Newcastle United.

Aston Villa was perhaps the most disappointing outfit this season, one that proved all too predictable for the Villa fans. Alex McLeish’s appointment was incredibly unpopular with the fans of the club, who were not pleased to see the ex-manager of their fierce rivals, Birmingham, put in charge of the club only months after getting his old side relegated. McLeish almost made it two in two as well, with his side playing a particularly bland brand of football. The revelation that club captain Stilyan Petrov was suffering a life-threatening illness did not help, as did a host of other injuries. McLeish has since been sacked, but Randy Lerner cannot afford to get his next managerial appointment wrong. Whoever comes in will have a fine group of young footballers to work with, including Aussie Chris Herd, as well as the incoming Socceroo, Bret Holman.

Queens Park Rangers survived by one point despite losing against Manchester City on that eventful final day of the season. This may be somewhat disappointing for a club which invested heavily in the playing squad, considering the success enjoyed by fellow promoted sides Norwich and Swansea with so little investment. Mark Hughes will certainly want to finish higher up the table next season, but for now he can be content with Premier League survival.

From top to bottom, this was truly a Premier League season to savour, one of immense excitement and quality. Was it the best ever? You’d have a hard time electing a better candidate than the Premier League season that was 2011/2012.