End of Premier League Season Review: Part 2
An excellent season for the men from Craven Cottage, and a huge credit must go to Roy Hodgson who in two years has transformed his team from relegation fighters to Europa League finalists and fully deserves his Manager of the Year. Has also revived the careers of Bobby Zamora and Damien Duff who have both had stellar seasons.
Teacher’s Pet: There are quite few – including Zoltan Gera, Clint Dempsey and Mark Schwarzer. But the honour goes to Bobby Zamora with his 17-goal season (including 6 in their Europa League campaign) that gave him an inkling of an England call-up.
Detention: Andrew Johnson – has rarely played this season due to injury.
Relegation wasn’t so much of a surprise with Hull, the loss their midfield maestro Jimmy Bullard for the majority of the season meant the task was always going to be a difficult one. Yet the craziest decision would have been to place Phil Brown on gardening leave and appoint Iain Dowie. With so few games remaining in the season, if they didn’t want Brown why not do it in December or January, when a manager will have more time to potentially make a difference? Third highest conceders in the Premier League with 75.
Teacher’s Pet: Jimmy Bullard – Didn’t play that many games but still their best player, is good enough to still play in the top-flight of English football.
Detention: Jozy Altidore – Has struggled to life in the Premier League and subsequently only scored one goal.
Cross this season off the list for The Reds, it’s been an absolute disaster for them both on and off the pitch. Finishing 7th in the league, being knocked out of the Champions League in the group stages and constant injuries to Fernando Torres and the loss of form of Steven Gerrard. Then there’s the “will he go or won’t he?” saga of Rafael Benitez, plus with the spiralling debts of the club, they are left in a position where they have to play catch-up quickly with the likes of Aston, Manchester City and Tottenham, and possibly the best route is to sell one of their prize assets.
Teacher’s Pet – Jose Reina has had another excellent season between the sticks and also Dirk Kuyt’s work ethic and performances earn him a special mention too.
Detention: Some may say Glen Johnson for an indifferent season, others will point the finger at new-boy Alberto Aquilani, but the winner is Ryan Babel, who Benitez prefers to use more as a sub and hasn’t settled in the three seasons he has been at Anfield, closely followed by Maxi Rodriguez.
The purest of football fans would have been pleased that City finished outside of the Champions League places with the money they spent. This will only mean the cheque book will be at the ready again this summer. Overall it should be still seen as a positive season for City finishing 5th in Premier League, reaching a League Cup Semi-Final despite the making the wrongful dismissal of Mark Hughes. Roberto Mancini has done a steady job without setting the world alight, other than find a puncheon for a 70’s style sky-blue and white scarf.
Teacher’s pet: Carlos Tevez – 28 goals in his first season at Eastlands, showing that he is the man to lead the line ahead of Adebayor and Santa-Cruz.
Detention – Joleon Lescott – Everton must have been rubbing their hands at how much they sold him for: £20m+. Has struggled with form and fitness since his move to City.
In United’s eyes to only win the Carling Cup will be seen as a disappointing season. And they are right, but many positives should also be taken from the season. First the emergence of Wayne Rooney being in the true spotlight as the ‘main man’ at Old Trafford, since the departure of Ronaldo. Positive first season from Antonio Valencia - and a key this season were the limited matches that both Vidic and Ferdinand started together (10 league games) and an extra striker is still needed as without Rooney up-front United don’t have a true ‘fox in the box’, and matches without him last season proved that.
Teacher’s Pet: Wayne Rooney, double PFA Players and Football Writers’ Player of the Year, 26 league goals in his most productive goal scoring season ever.
Detention: Dimitar Berbatov – The man who suffered the most from United’s 4-5-1 formation. His lazy effortless style often frustrates United fans but Ferguson is reluctant to sell him, but for him to be successful at Old Trafford he needs to form a partnership with WR.
Next time, the remainder of the Premier League including Sunderland, Tottenham, West Ham and Wolves.