Relegation was the least of Portsmouth’s problems from the season, with the on going off-the-pitch saga of the sheer volumes of money owed to the tax man. This highlights that Football is not an exception to the global financial crises we are currently in. Back on the pitch the poor start to the season, (not winning their first league game until end of October against Wigan) continued throughout the campaign winning 7 games all season. Yet by the unpredictability of the FA Cup reached the Final and had Kevin Prince-Boateng scored the 54th minute penalty, things could have been very different.
Teacher’s Pet: Avram Grant for taking on the challenge and winning the hearts of the Pompey fans facing such adversity. On the pitch, that distinction goes to Jamie O’Hara, who has showed real quality in his loan spell.
Detention: The board for the financial mess Portsmouth are in.
No second season syndrome for The Potters, top of the bottom half the Premier League, never in any real threat of regulation and have shown that they are a settled and well organised team to cope with the best of England has to throw at them. Lack of goals up from Fuller, Kitson, Beattie and Tuncay suggested that if Stoke want to go to the next level they will need to find a goalscorer.
Teacher’s pet: Matthew Etherington has rediscovered the form that he had for a few years with West Ham United, even got mentioned in the media of England honours, but realistically that was never on the horizon.
Detention: James Beattie for his spat with Tony Pulis in the middle of the season.
Despite a period of 11 league games without a win from mid November to early March – with the goal machine that is Darren Bent – Sunderland always had enough in the locker to survive. On paper they have a productive strike force with Kenwin Jones and Frazier Campbell to boot, who scored key end of season goals for the Black Cats. Next term one would expect to see a better performing Sunderland team especially if Lee Cattermole stays fit and away from disciplinary problems.
Teacher’s pet: Darren Bent – 24 league goals in a struggling side, fait accompli.
Detention: Kieran Richardson – a player with plenty of talent who has had a below par season.
After going so close in 2005/06 Spurs finally make the potentially lucrative position of 4th spot in the Champions League. All-round they have a strong squad, with many attacking flair players including Modric, Lennon, Kranjcar and Bale; they still have some cracks to fill defensively, with King and Woodgate re their fitness and Bale requiring more experience to play at left-back. Let’s put things into perspective: it’s still only a playoff and not qualification but fully deserved for a fantastic season.
Teacher’s pet: Tom Huddlestone – the ever-present in the centre of midfield and fully deserved his place in the England 30-man squad.
Detention: Jermaine Jenas – was at one stage a stand-in captain and England international who now struggles to make the first eleven.
Survived in the Premier League by the skin of their teeth. Another football team with financial difficulties but this time with very outspoken Chairmen David Gold and David Sullivan, Sullivan has stated that everyone is for sale except Scott Parker, clearly emphasising they need to sell before funds are available to spend on new players. They are in the market for a new manager and current favourite appears to be Avram Grant, which would a good move for West Ham, a manager with good experience of managing in the Premier League something that despite all of his charisma and friendliness Zola didn’t posses.
Teacher’s pet: Scott Parker – the fans favourite: week in week out gives 100%, and fittingly scored the winner against Wigan to secure survival to round off an excellent end of the season for him.
Detention: Kieran Dyer – still struggling to get to fully fit, and has only played 4 league games this season.
Closing the leaky pipe defence will be the No. 1 priority for Wigan, they conceded 79 league goals – only Burnley and Hull shipped more. Key victories at home to Liverpool, Chelsea and Arsenal saved Wigan’s season. On the plus note, they do have a couple of match winners in Hugo Rodallega and Charles N’Zogbia (when N’Zogbia feels in the mood that is!!).
Teacher’s pet – Hugo Rodallega – Score goals in a struggling side, all in his first season in the Premier League.
Detention – the defence for conceding so many goals.
There was only one priority for Mick McCarthy’s men and that was finishing 17th or above. He was heavily criticised for playing an under strength 11 at Old Trafford in December before a massive six pointer against Burnley. It proved to be the correct decision – they won 2-0 and finished 8 points above the drop zone.
Teacher’s pet: Kevin Doyle – a work ethic and goal threat throughout the whole season where he often played up-front on his own. An excellent signing by Mick McCarthy
Detention – Sylvan Ebanks-Blake – hasn’t scored the goals in the Premier League and looks out of his depth at the highest level.