Premier League Review 2009/2010

Hello and welcome to Gaffers Sports Blog’s review of the 2009/2010 Premier League season with a little help from fans of several of the 20 teams. Though that means the other reviews will be undertaken by yours truly.

Enjoy and as usual all comments are welcomed.

1st. Chelsea by GSB (Gaffers Sports Blog)

Chelsea have set out to achieve what they wanted at the start of the season and despite the Champions League exit to ‘The Special One’, many of the Stamford Bridge faithful would have taken a potential double as the season begun.

Throw into the mix, the John Terry and the Ashley Cole incidents and it shows that in Carlo Ancelotti, they have one of the finest man managers in the modern game. Superb at Stamford Bridge and efficient away from home.

Scoring 103 league goals in the process and breaking several records along the way will help to ease the demands of Roman Abramovich and his ideals on entertaining football. Add this to the defeats home and away against last seasons other entrants in the top-four and Chelsea have to be happy.

Honorary mentions to Frank Lampard, Branislav Ivanovic and Didier Drogba who have all had fantastic seasons and to have arguably your best player in Michael Essien unavailable for most of the season only adds to the impressive season.

Champions League has to head the priorities next season as well as reducing the average age of an aging squad.

Player of the Season; Frank Lampard

2nd. Manchester United by Rob Blanchette, http://viewfromtier3.blogspot.com/

At the start of the season it really felt that this was going to be one of those ‘almost’ years. And that little prophecy unfortunately came true. It was always going to be a struggle post Ronaldo and post Tevez, with their replacements being a wide player from Wigan and a former European Footballer of the Year with dodgy hamstrings, knees, groins, etc, etc. But as a diehard United fan who has seen pretty much every high and low of the last 25 years, it wasn’t all that bad after all!

Pushing Chelsea all the way for the title brought me great solace. I really felt that with the emergence of our wealthy bastard Blue brothers from across the City and the continued improvement of the likes of Villa and Spurs that Champions League qualification was going to be a tricky sea to navigate, with tidal waves and hurricane force winds.

Luckily enough, that was the script that Liverpool picked up on…and we all had a good laugh at them whenever we were feeling a bit low. Good times.

Players wise, it was all about Rooney, topping all the end of year polls more convincingly than any political party could manage. But for me, it was the emergence of a certain Luis Nani that pleased me the most. I had written the lad off after witnessing him to flatter to deceive almost every time he strolled around at The Theatre. For every successful step over there would be eight misplaced passes.

He was finished in a United shirt. So his resurrection, timed with the leaving of his Portuguese buddy has been welcomed by all of The Faithful. Valencia has also had a promising start to his United career. But these positives have been balanced out by the bitter disappointments that are Dimitar Berbatov and Michael Carrick, who both look like players who forgot to pay the bills, and now the electricity company has decided to cut the power to their confidence supply.

They are shadows of their former selves and you just wonder if Fergie can wave his magic wand over them and heal their inadequacies and wounds of 2009/10.

So with a World Cup to quell our summer boredom, we look forward to a new season with the expectation of a new face or three, and hopefully a glorious run to title number nineteen. Glory glory Man United. We’ll never die. We’ll never die.

Player of the Season; Wayne Rooney

3rd. Arsenal by Daniel Clancy

Having scored an average of three goals per game – including six at Goodison Park on the opening day and another six against Blackburn in October – it is fair to say that, save for that defeat away an Manchester City and a three-nil humbling at the hands of Chelsea, we were doing rather well during the opening half of the season.

However, in December we lost Robin Van Persie (ankle), who had scored nine goals in sixteen games and the goals began to dry up.

Luckily, we possessed enough quality to overcome both a one-nil deficit against Liverpool and a stubborn, in-form Aston Villa during a busy Christmas period. In fact, the match-winning Andrei Arshavin strike at Anfield and the twenty-minute Cesc Fabregas cameo against Villa were two of our season’s highlights, with the low light being Aaron Ramsey having his tibia and fibula broken by a horrendous Ryan Shawcross challenge in February.

After being written off in the title time and again, we somehow remained in contention until a draw at St. Andrews and defeats away at Tottenham and, most disappointingly, Wigan ended our chances once and for all. Add to this the demolition job that Barcelona carried out in the quarter-final of the Champions League and the term “utter capitulation” springs to mind.

Positive seasonal performances from the likes of Alex Song (our most improved player) and new boy Thomas Vermaelan were undermined by a mounting injury list, horrendous goal-keeping and a distinct lack of guts and heart in the team when the chips were really down.

No calls for a new manager from me, although Wenger would do well to figure out how many in the current squad really want to wear the Arsenal shirt before bringing in some new faces.

Player of the Season; Cesc Fabregas (don’t go!)

4th. Tottenham Hotspur by Michael Johnson

Every season being a Spurs fan starts with the same familiar feeling of “could this be the year” and to be sitting here at the end of the season finishing in fourth place it feels good to say “it was”. I’m still bitter about losing to Portsmouth in the FA Cup but then to go on and beat Arsenal and Chelsea in the next few games made me a very happy man.

Harry Redknapp has got us playing “the beautiful game” and now we have the chance to perform on the European stage in the Champions League.

It won’t be easy for sure, but we have a team playing with confidence and with players like Modric, Dawson, King, Bale, Gomes, Defoe all contenders for player of the season.

For me, my player of the season is Gareth Bale (this was not easy to pick out) as seeing him turn into the sensation that he was in the second half of the season was truly amazing.

This has been a great season, it’s still had its share of heartbreak and missed opportunities (the 4-2 defeat at Turf Moor is still too fresh in the memory) but it has also shown great promise for the future. COYS!

Player of the Season; Gareth Bale (pictured below)

5th. Manchester City by Ciaran Howley

Optimism is always a dangerous thing… and like anything dangerous, you have a responsibility to keep it away from those incapable of using it properly.

That was the first mistake City made this season. 

The problem is that transfer budgets the size of the national deficit do funny things to people, and then CEO Gary Cook decided he could do literally anything he wanted without any consequence.

Promises were made, players were brought in, half the league was insulted and fortunes spent. Naturally, all the bravado and boasting ultimately failed to deliver, leaving an expectant fan base embarrassed. 

We’ve had our best Premier League finish ever and feel utterly dejected.  Is this what being a big club is about?  Hurray!    

City needs to take a long hard look at the fundamental issues that have plagued the club for years.  Inconsistent form has claimed many starting places recently: Ireland, Richards, Petrov, Robinho, SWP and Johnson; All key players who at some point have matched their replacements.

City fans do not want to be Real Madrid.  They only slightly want to be Chelsea.  We want to bring our own players through but seem incapable of sustaining their talent.

It’s agonising watching other teams of significantly worse technical skill and ability (and cost!) play with twice the vigour and imagination. 

If City can tap in to this desire – stability and a little more creativity in the middle of the pitch could open the door for their title ambitions.

A goal tally of 29 for the season alone makes it hard to look past Carlos Tevez for player of the season.  A great return for any striker and an astounding one for a club without a recent history of prolific goal scorers.  With the media storm that surrounded his arrival, even managing to meet that expectation is a triumph in itself.

An obvious choice but a deserved one.  Tevez is my player of the season.

(He also didn’t high-five the guy who knocked us out of Champions League qualification)

Player of the Season; Carlos Tevez

6th. Aston Villa by Stuart from www.avillafan.com

If I rewind to last summer and was told what was ahead in the forthcoming season for my football club I would be lying if I didn’t laugh at you.

Don’t get me wrong, Aston Villa had improved during the Summer, Martin O’Neill spent his money very wisely on players like Stephen Warnock, Richard Dunne and James Collins just to name a selected few but Aston Villa visiting to Wembley twice in the same season?

We did have a pretty good pre-season seeing the younger lads take pride when we took part in the Peace Cup particular with a 2-1 win over Porto and then a penalty win in the final against a very strong Juventus side.

However when the league kicked off, I wasn’t able to get to the game and it would be the first home game I would miss for as long as I could remember through illness. Villa fell flat on their face’s and lost 2-0 to Wigan. We were shortly knocked out of the Europa League on away goals to Rapid Vienna.

But during the first month we also beat Liverpool at Anfield and then a home win against a very good Fulham side and many fans including myself were confused as to where this season would and could go.

As the season past we started to look a pretty decent outfit and one that shouldn’t be taken lightly. After all we beat our local rivals Birmingham, we got a point against money bags Manchester City, and beat Chelsea and United although we did notice that started to drop points against the lesser sides.

The true story of this season has to be our success in the domestic cup competitions, as I already mentioned we had to visits to the national stadium.

Both of them ended in similar ways, myself and fellow Villa fans walking away feeling hard done by and thinking what could have been. After all who’s to know that if Nemanja Vidic saw red on that day, whether we could have gone on to win the Cup? Or if we was awarded that penalty against a very evenly Chelsea side at the point in the game?

There’s no doubt the cup defeats hurt but when we visited Stamford Bridge in late March the day turned from hurt to humiliation. Chelsea smashed us that day and the fact the score line was only 7-1 flattered a very, very poor Villa side on the day.

Never the less the lads deserve credit for picking themselves up and putting a 5-match unbeaten run together to give us a chance of finishing in the top 4.

However, despite the effort from the players well fell short when we visited the City of Manchester last weekend. Not many fans could really criticize the manager or the players as they both went for it but in the end we just wasn’t good enough.

The season has ended up being another one without a trophy at Villa Park, and despite everything ending in a bad way for the club – most Villa fans would take this season again next season as it was one hell of a ride.

I’m now glad the season is coming to and end and we can follow our nation in which I truly hope James Milner makes a real impact, and stays at Villa in the summer.

But I look forward to next season and our next assault on the Premier League.

Villa till I die!

Player of the Season; James Milner

7th. Liverpool by Martin Uttley, http://www.altogetherdigital.com/

What a shocker!

Liverpool have managed to go from a title challenging team to a bunch of also ran’s in the space of 12 months! Last Spring we were hammering teams left right and centre. This season we looked like a bunch of lost school kids desperately trying to live up to the billing of a top four team. I think it is fair to say we over achieved last year but that is no excuse. We lost some important players in the summer namely Hyypia, Arbeloa and Alonso all valuable in different ways.

Hyypia was a rock in the 10 years he spent at the club non more so than the destruction of Man United at Old Trafford in March. He came into the game at the last-minute but his experience and aerial prowess was fantastic and his move really hit a good but young defence this term.

Arbeloa is a Spanish international and pretty much any team would miss a solid performer like him and with Glen Johnson being injured for large parts of the season we could’ve done with some solid cover on either flank. Xabi oh Xabi how we missed your passing! In my humble opinion the best passer of a football in the world apart from maybe Xavi (although his long distance passing isn’t as good). Xabi set the tempo of the game, he let Stevie G roam and also had a lot of late challenges on him leading to sending offs (which opened up games).

We can sit here and blame those who aren’t here anymore or injuries but fundamentally the buck stops at the players for me they are the ones who are on the pitch. They just didn’t give enough, week in, week out. Rafa for some reason hasn’t bought a striker to complement or replace Torres (when injured) and I don’t understand why.

Torres is unbelievable but if he’s injured or being kicked lumps out of (cough Wolves cough) then someone else needs to be able to step up and Ngog is not good enough! Bable, Pacheco or Kuyt, mmmmm maybe in a few games are good enough but not on a weekly basis.

Pepe Reina is the best keeper in the world and I don’t think he made a genuine mistake all season (beach ball excluding). He has been the best buy Rafa made and proves Rafa can buy good mid range (5-12Million) players.

The most interesting part thing was even though we had a horrid season we didn’t end up that far away from the converted 4th place. This shows that we don’t need to improve that much to get back into the big four and it also shows the Premier League is nowhere near as strong as it should be! Any league which loses Ronaldo, as much as I dislike him, isn’t going to be as good.

Buy a striker, buy a left winger, give Aquaman a season, blood some youngsters like Kelly and maybe a little bit of luck and we’ll be back in the mix for 4th place.

Player of the Season; Pepe Reina

8th. Everton by GSB

Had the season begun at Christmas, David Moyes and his boys would have easily been in contention for a Champions League place and if they happen to add a couple of quality signings to their thin squad it will be a realistic possibility.

Moyes has the ability to mould a fantastic team work ethic and team spirit and this is personified by his captain, Phil Neville alongside many leaders on the park.

A reasonable run in the Europa League with a depleted squad adds to the quality and character of the Merseyside club, though superlatives are fully deserved, they haven;t yet yielded a trophy in his 8 years in charge.

A success they fully deserve, notable wins against Manchester United, Chelsea and Manchester City show the ability of the squad with notable performances this season from Leighton Baines, Stephen Pienaar and the formidable Johnny Heitinga.

Keep up the good work but need to push onto silverware success.

Player of the Season; Johnny Heitinga (pictured below)

9th. Birmingham City by Aneet Nijjar

Well, it’s been an absolutely outstanding season for the Blues. Predicted by many at the start to be scrapping around the bottom half of the table, no one would have believed that we would finish 9th. There’s plenty for us Bluenoses to be proud about. The F.A. Cup run (but we’ll forget about that Pompey game) and the unbeaten home record since September was a remarkable achievement for a newly promoted team that cost roughly ten million.

Who’d have thought that a team consisted of former bad boys Barry Ferguson and Lee Bowyer and the rookie centre half partnership of Roger Johnson and Scott Dann would make such an impact? Alec McLeish deserves enormous praise for his shrewd signings and his ability get the best out of his players (well, maybe not Chucho) and should have been a shoo-in for Manager of The Year – OK, I’m a little bit biased.

Our defence was the foundation for our survival. The whole team defended and attacked as a cohesive unit, making us hard to beat. Our home record against the top half of the table is mind-blowing but we gave a good account of ourselves away from home too, barring a few dives (looking at you N’Gog!) and dodgy penalties decisions (not trying to look at you Agbonlahor!).

Apart from the usual off-field rumblings, this is the time to build and grow as a club. Let’s just hope the board sign up Big ‘Eck for good…

Player of the Season; Joe Hart (Gonna miss ya Joe! Sob!)

10th. Blackburn Rovers by GSB

Love him or hate him, ‘Big’ Sam Allardyce has turned his Blackburn Rovers team into a similar animal as his team when managing Bolton Wanderers, stubborn, determined and extremely difficult to play against, especially at Ewood Park.

I’ll admit to not liking ‘Big’ Sam, but his methods appear simple yet effective. This emphasis is well and truly on the team mentality and couple this with a win at all costs attitude and the formula is almost complete.

A distinct lack of fire power has thwarted what may have been a more productive season for the Lancashire outfit, with midfield play maker, David Dunn, the club’s clear leader in the goal scoring charts with 9 goals.

Defensively sound, with outstanding seasons had by Paul Robinson, Gael Givet, Christopher Samba and Steven Nzonzi to name a few.

The question will remain, can they build on this next season whilst keeping hold of their talented players? Time will tell. A notably mention to the emergence of Phil Jones, a talent for the future if ever I have seen one!!

Player of the Season; Paul Robinson

11th. Stoke City by Shawn M. Moore

Highlights:

  • Easily overcoming the second season syndrome that has befallen six previous premiership clubs (please see the list at the end of this blog).
  • Becoming only the second team to better their points tally in their second top-flight season since the inception of the Premier League (Blackburn were the first in achieving that during the 2002-03 season).
  • Reaching the quarter-finals of the FA Cup for the first time since 1972.
  • Away performances improved dramatically as Stoke doubled their wins and points taken on their travels and became very tough to beat in general.
  • Although he didn’t play Ryan Shawcross being called-up for the England squad was positive news for the club as it was the first time since Mark Chamberlain in 1984 that a Stoke City player had been in the England squad.  If it wasn’t for injury he just might have stood an outside chance of making Fabio Capello’s World Cup squad too.

Talking points during the season:

  • Internal fighting: First there was “Partygate” between Tony Pulis & James Beattie after the Arsenal match in December, then there was “Abdygate” between Abdoulaye Faye and Glenn Whelan after the heavy defeat by Chelsea in April. Acts of public petulance towards the manager from Tuncay Sanli and eventually Dave Kitson.
  • The strong home from the previous season went slightly AWOL as Stoke struggled to hold onto leads and became easier to manhandle and prone to conceding late goals.
  • Goals:  A severe lack of them, especially from the five forwards who only mustered twenty-three between them during the whole season (bearing in mind that Chelsea’s Didier Drogba scored thirty-six himself). 
  • Ryan Shawcross tackle on Aaron Ramsey (gravely unfortunate for Ramsey and also unfortunate for Shawcross as it happened on the same day that he was called up to the England squad). 

Player of the Season:

  • Matthew Etherington – another player who has seen his career put back on track after been revitalised by the Pulis touch. Most of Stoke’s best attacking play through the season involved Etherington and he could consider himself unlucky not to be called-up for the England squad at some point.

Goal of the Season:

Match of the Season:

Worst defeat of the Season:

The Off Season:

Central to Stoke City and Tony Pulis is to sort out and remove the dead wood in the team e.g. Beattie, Kitson, and the mole who has been leaking team information out to the press. Find an attacking right midfielder who can complement Etherington on the left and bring in forwards who will gel with the manager’s favourites Ricardo Fuller and Mamady Sidibe. Above all Stoke need to re-gather team unity – the same togetherness that got them promoted and which has been so central to their success in the Premier League.

And, one final point is don’t be complacent – two years in the Premiership does not make you an established Premiership club. Too many teams have done this in the past and have since found themselves out of the Premiership and down in the Championship or worst League One.

PS This is an end of season interview with Tony Pulis which sheds some light on the seasons coming-and-goings and his thoughts for next season.

NB  A list of the teams who have been relegated after their second season in the Premiership:  

Team Promoted Relegated
Middlesbrough 1994-95 1996-97
Bradford City 1998-99 2000-01
Ipswich Town 1999-00 2001-02
West Brom 2003-04 2005-06
Reading 2005-06 2007-08
Hull City 2007-08 2009-10

Player of the Season; Matthew Etherington

12th. Fulham by Andrew Vile

What a remarkable season for the mighty Whites from the Cottage. It’s hard to believe that a club staring certain relegation in the face 30 months ago were within minutes from being European Cup champions. Its been a ride to savour, and one many football fans can look up to as inspiration.

Who will ever forget that evening on 18 March 2010, where Fulham were staring at a 4-1 aggregate deficit after 2 minutes in the return leg at Craven Cottage against Juventus in the Europa League round of 16. Many loyal supporter would be forgiven for thinking this was the end of a great Cup run, and the mountain was finally too high against the second most successful team in European history.

However, what happened in the following 90 minutes will go down in Fulham’s 131-year history as one of the Club’s finest moments. A 4-1 victory at the Cottage sealed a 5-4 aggregate win against one of Europe’s most successful clubs, finished by a sublime chip by American Clint Dempsey that reflected Fulham’s never say die spirit that has been so evident this season.

Other notable victories against the previous UEFA Cup holders Shakhtar Donetsk, 2009 Bundesliga Champions Wolfsburg as well as a come-from behind semifinal victory against Hamburg meant Fulham went undefeated at Craven Cottage through the Europa league campaign, and entered HSH Nordbank Arena as worthy finalists.

Outside the Europa League, there was a great FA Cup run which ended in the quarter-final replay against Champions-league qualifiers Tottenham. A 12th place finish in the EPL is not a true reflection of the performance this season, given the latter season’s focus on European glory.

Who could forget the victories against Liverpool and Everton, as well as that amazing afternoon at Craven Cottage on 19 December 2009 where the mighty Whites blew Manchester United off the park with a 3-0 victory.

It has been an outstanding season for the small club on the Thames, one which captured the imagination of all English football fans and showed you don’t need gallons of money to compete with some of Europe’s finest. However, after 63 games across 10 months of football, the fairytale was cut short 4 minutes from the end in the inaugural Europa Cup final. However, even the harshest critic could not fault Fulham’s performance on the night, and the Club can be proud of everything it has achieved this season.

It’s difficult to pick a player of the season, however I am tempted to lean towards Bobby Zamora. He passed the 20 goal mark this season, however his selflessness in attack should not be underestimated as he was pivotal in almost every Fulham attacking move.

Other notable mentions include inspirational skipper Danny Murphy, winger Damien Duff and ‘keeper Mark Schwarzer, while Simon Davies’ efforts later in the season showed his true class after an injury-riddled start to the season.

And a review of Fulham could not be complete without a tribute to LMA manager of the year Roy Hodgson.

Thanks Roy … you taught us how to truly believe!

Player of the Season; Bobby Zamora (pictured below)

13th. Sunderland by Paul Dodsworth

A season of what might have been!

Hi everyone I am Paul Dodsworth, an avid Sunderland supporter for far too many years.

Going into the season was great, full of optimism we had spent well in the close season I felt, bearing in mind we were renowned for our impecunious approach to football under the Murray regime.

Our nearest rival Newcastle continued their oneric implosion. And the Boro were well-being the Boro and were relegated…Again. Oh what fun I had extracting the proverbial out of all who would listen. They could not deny me my moment. The boot had been for too long on the other foot.

I felt our Geordie manager had a pellucid vision for the coming season. My family and I were almost getting ourselves somewhat excited. Sensible head on, mid table would be a result; carefully climbing the ever slippery slopes of the mountain we call the Premier League.

Football Supporters head on, I don’t mind admitting that a bit of me felt, could this be the season we could actually skirt with a European place for the first time in my time as a Sunderland fan.

Let battle commence. And what a start we got off to beating the not so mighty, Liverpool, granted without Torres and Gerrard. Drawing two’s each against Manchester United at Old Trafford. Suffering defeat at the hands of a classy Chelsea team who were by far and away the best team I have seen this season. And of course beating Arsenal…..Who are Ya!!!

Maybe that dream of mine was more than, well, just a dream. However as a Sunderland fan I should have known better. We historically shatter our tremendous supporter’s dreams hopes and aspirations.

14 Games thereafter without a win. We were a team racked with injuries; this exposed our lack of depth of squad. The only positive out of this poor run was the emergence of some youth, Meyler, Henderson. Two fantastic prospects.

In the round, we did rally to finish a respectable but unlucky for some Thirteenth. Reality head on, I would have settled for it at the outset.

I named this piece A season of what might have been! What if we had not lost our way mid-season, might my dream of being realized?

Looking forward I would give Brucie 6/10, a could do better report. Prospects I have mentioned two previously. John Mensah, we must sign him. He is solid. Darren Bent, great buy he has to go to the world cup. On loan Waghorn has been rattling them in at Leicester.

After my closed season exploitation of friends and family, I have to admit that I missed our local rivals. Derby days are special. The Mags are back with no money to spend. It gets better.

Boro are been Boro and not coming up this season, crack is they are contemplating playing St. Mirren, Rangers, Celtic etc, there are so many Scottish associated with the club they may as well join their league.

Obviously I am only joking it would however be funny you passing the Mags next season.

To all football fans, enjoy the World Cup.

Roll on next season

Player of the Season; Darren Bent

14th. Bolton Wanderers by GSB

Definitely a season of two halves for the Wanderers, and this literally coincided with the turn of the year down at the Reebok with the much wanted departure of Gary Megson and the well received appointment of former player Owen Coyle.

Coyle has since steered the club to a respectable finish in the league and the fans will be optimistic for the 2010/2011 season, should signings be made to back up their optimism.

Another club who may find it difficult to hang onto players should the big clubs come calling and the fans will be hell-bent on the return of Messrs Wilshere and Weiss from their parent clubs.

Coyle wants to play attractive football much to the delight of the impatient Bolton faithful, failure to do this could see the dream turn sour, but I have a feeling he is on the right tracks and will challenge to break into the top half of the table.

Player of the Season; Chung-Yong Lee

15th. Wolverhampton Wanderers by GSB

Many fans and pundits easy and obvious choice to suffer relegation back to the Championship, but Mick McCarthy and his boys have defied the odds and achieved safety with time to spare.

The much publicised and to some extent stupid criticism and resulting fine for supposedly fielding a weakened team in a defeat to Manchester United at Old Trafford appeared to bring unity to the club and fire them to their goal – safety!!

Wolves have provided entertainment in the Premier League this season and coupled with some outstanding results they are worthy of a place in the top-tier of English football.

Notable results included the 3-1 win at West Ham and achieving the league double over Tottenham. They will continue to upset teams next season and if they can add to the likes of Kevin Doyle and Karl Henry they will surely survive again.

Keep up the good work Mick!!

Player of the Season; Jody Craddock

16th. Wigan Athletic

A first season in charge by Roberto Martinez that contained some moments all Wigan fans would love to forget but will go down in Premier League folklore and some memorable moments that the so-called bigger teams will want to instantly forget.

Fantastic home wins over Arsenal, Liverpool and Chelsea will make a visit to Wigan more of a challenge next season to all visitors but an away record, which saw the Latics’ concede 55 goals, will make them cannon fodder for many a team,

A tough summer lays ahead for Martinez and his staff, whilst the fans will be worrying about the club holding onto talents including Rodallega, Diame and Figueroa, as they will always need to sell to be self-sufficient.

Can he hold onto any of these players? If not, will he be able to replace them with talents stronger than the failings of Jason Scotland and Jordi Gomez. I fear if the answer is no then next season will be very tough indeed for Wigan Athletic.

Player of the Season; Hugo Rodallega (pictured below)

17th. West Ham United by Scott Kerr

This season has been one to forget for West Ham fans. After 2009’s 9th place finish and retaining key players over summer, there was a quiet optimism at the Boleyn. However, underperforming players, a bankrupt owner and a disgracing pitch invasion later and we ended up in a relegation scrap, finishing 17th.

The season illustrated the lack in-depth of the squad, another season of relying on inexperienced youth graduates to play against the Premiership’s top brass will result in much of the same. This is in no means disrespect to those players, Zavon Hines’ winner against Villa was invaluable as well as Stanislas’ last gasp equalizer at Fulham were invaluable, with credits to James Tompkins and Jack Collison’s performances too.

But without the talismanic Scott Parker, this season could have been a completely different story. Rightly awarded the ‘Player Of The Year’ award for the second season running and making the preliminary 30-man England World Cup squad is no less than he deserves after an all-action season, completed by essentially scoring the tremendous goal that staved off relegation against Wigan.

The summer is now a time for us to re-group, with Zola departing, Gold and Sullivan must bring in a manager with more pedigree and experience. The squad needs to be strengthened with quality and depth to push on and get back into the top half of the table and challenge the top teams.

Player of the Season; Scott Parker

18th. Burnley by Sarah Parker, http://blissbubbley.blogspot.com/

Burnley’s return to the top flight after 33 years started in spectacular fashion. Turf Moor became a fortress and the 1-0 wins over Manchester United and Everton left fans in a happy daze. Sadly it wasn’t to work out and Burnley are returning to the Championship for the 2010/2011 season.

After Owen Coyle left it felt a little inevitable that they would be relegated, the team seemed to lose a bit of their faith. The jury is still out whether Brian Laws is the right replacement but we shall soon see.

Burnley’s task now is about re-building and strengthening and making a good strong promotion effort for the new season. Turf Moor is at present undergoing reconstruction works and already there is talk of players like Jack Cork staying for a further loan period.

My player of the season is Graham Alexander; at the age of 38 he can still compete at the top-level and showed he is still the penalty taker king. His experience will again be valuable in going for promotion in the upcoming season.

The 4-2 win over Tottenham on the last day of the season showed how much the club could have achieved this season but ‘The Clarets’ will be back.

Player of the Season; Graham Alexander

19th. Hull City by GSB

This will sound critical of me, but after Phil ‘Orange Tan’ Brown took to the field to sign to the Tigers’ fans at the end of last season, this seasons relegation was always going to be on the cards for Hull and they deserve to be relegated.

The antics of this club this season are beyond belief, gardening leave for Phil Brown and he is then replaced by Iain ‘I get teams relegated’ Dowie, alleged stories of Brown saving a woman from committing suicide on the Humber Bridge.

The same bridge which was alleged to have held a confrontation between Jimmy Bullard and Nicky Barmby, which happened to be viewed by the local Women’s’ Institute. In the words of Chris Kamara;

“Unbelievable Jeff”

You honestly could not write it. Put this with a failure to win away from home all season, spending 80% of their turnover to pay players wages, injuries to their two Premier League players, Messrs Bullard and Stephen Hunt and the constant use of the media to have a go at former chairman of managers, leaves a club in utter disarray.

Fans do deserve better as the atmosphere at the KC Stadium has been good but the team deserved to be relegated a long, long time ago!!

Good bye and good riddance.

Player of the Season; Stephen Hunt

20th. Portsmouth by GSB

Another example of how it can all go drastically wrong, yet the blame for Portsmouth relegation has to rest at the feet of former owners and former managers spending way above the means of which the club can survive medium to long-term.

Yes, they won the F.A. Cup and they may add a second trophy to this, as at the time fo writing Portsmouth are preparing to face Chelsea in the F.A. Cup Final.

A trophy the fans deserve but many associated with the club do not deserve. The first Premier League club to go into administration, players wages not paid on several occasions, more owners than you could throw a stick at and again the list goes on….

‘Uncle’ Avram Grant deserved the praise he receives and I truly hope he is managing in English football next season, the fans at Fratton Park do not deserve to see their club go to the wall, but it won’t be an easy journey to save them.

Notable performances have come from several ‘loan’ players and I truly hope they enjoy the cup final at Wembley as I fear it will be many years before they return to these dizzy heights.

Player of the Season; Jamie O’Hara (pictured below)

I also did a Premier League Review at the start of the season, correctly guessing three of the four Champions League qualifiers as well as two of the three relegated sides and in total I correctly guessed only 3 exact league placings.

Coupled with predicting Notts’ County to win the league and Bayern Munich to make the Champions League final.

I’d like to take this opportunity to thank all that helped with this review and as usual I welcome comments on whether you agree or disagree with the reviews.

Cheers.

Gaffers et al

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