End of season review

by James Bayley

127864200_football_412660bThe curtain falls at the end of another eventful season in the Premier League which will be remembered fondly for the retirement of Sir Alex Ferguson after securing Manchester United’s 20th title, a fitting finale to his 26 successful managerial years at Old Trafford.

The season that was will also be remembered for its usual twists and turns which saw a total of ten managers sacked or leave their respective clubs by the end of it all.

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Best match of the season922338-15303954-640-360

Manchester City 2 – 3 Manchester United

The Manchester Derby was the pinnacle game which saw the title slip away from Manchester City. Robin Van Persie’s injury time winner from a free kick sent Manchester United six points clear at the top of the Premier League and they didn’t look back.

Worst match of the Season

Reading 0 – 0 QPR

The dull, drab draw between both teams who were on the verge of relegation and needed a win typified their Premier League fate.

Goal of the season

Matt Lowton’s volley vs Stoke Citylowton2_950x550_1706204a

There were a host of spectacular goals this season who are all worthy contenders for ‘Goal of the Season’ but considering the importance and relevance, this spectacular goal by Matt Lowton in April against Stoke from 30 yards out is a worthy winner.

The scores were level and a win looked out of Aston Villa’s reach. Stoke cleared a corner towards a young Matt Lowton who took the looping ball down on his chest and rocketed it past one the best goalkeepers in the league this season into the top corner. The importance of the goal too is significant as it won the game for Aston Villa at the Britannia Stadium and was arguably the catalyst to their survival from relegation.

There are some worthy mentions with several other spectacular goals this season, including Cameron Jerome’s effort in the last seconds of the game against Southampton. The striker thrashed at the ball first time from 25 yards out to grab the draw for Stoke. Gareth Bale scored a collection of amazing goals this season but one in particular worthy of a mention was his last minute winner against West Ham at Upton Park which won the game for Tottenham. Given the angle of the ball and the moment it almost defied belief and physics.

Best buy of the season

Michu – Swansea City  Michu-Swansea_2817100

There are plenty of contenders this season, with the signing of Robin Van Persie who was the difference between Manchester United winning their 20th title. However, the ‘bargain’ signing of the season in terms of value for money was the that of Michu for just £2m by Michael Laudrup, and the Spaniard scored 22 goals in his debut season. Christian Bentenke also proved a shrewd signing by Paul Lambert for just £8m and his 19 league goals this season saved Aston Villa from relegation.

Worst buy of the season

Chris Samba – QPR

Chris Samba signing for QPR for an astonishing £12m and reported wages of £100,000 a week from Anzhi Makhachkala in January has to be one of the worst signings this season. Another expensive signing that flopped such is Javi Garcia who cost £16m, as much as Santi Cazorla and Shinji Kagawa, but failed to live up to his transfer fee. Kagawa is another whose reputation preceded him and he didn’t live up to the hype in his debut season, there is still potential though. Scott Sinclair and Maicon, two other summer signings by Roberto Mancini, failed to produce any quality. Scott Sinclair was a surprise signing, after two seasons were fantastic for Swansea City, but he failed to cement a place in the starting eleven at City and the majority of his appearances this season were from the substitutes bench.

Unsung hero of the season

There were plenty of ‘unsung heroes’ this season in the Premier League and it’s difficult to decide between Michu, Bentenke and Lukaku who were impressive and not awarded or recognised by the PFA. All three scored goals that helped keep their respective clubs – Aston Villa, Swansea City and West Bromwich Albion – in the Premier League. The three players have very impressive goals-per- game ratios; Benteke scored 19 goals in 34 appearances, Michu scored 18 goals in 35 games and Lukaku scored 17 goals in 35 games. All three are ‘unsung heroes’ this season for their respective clubs.

Biggest flop of the season

QPR-v-Swansea-Hoops-dejected_2813608QPR players

For QPR to be relegated and win just four games all season considering the millions they spent on ‘big name’ players is a major disappointment and they are the biggest flops this season. In some, respects football triumphs ahead of money with the QPR saga, it shows that splashing the cash doesn’t always bring success but in fact it can destroy clubs. QPR fans have been let down and humiliated by the overpaid players who most of the time this season looked like they were playing 90 minutes not for the club or fans but for the money. The ownership and management of the club should be questioned considering the amount of prima donnas brought in who failed.

Another huge disappointment this season is how easily Manchester City surrendered their title to Manchester United, without putting up any competition or fight. City ended up eleven points behind United and as result of a trophy less season, Roberto Mancini was sacked, understandable to an extent considering the millions invested into the team, though the players also play a big part.

Most successful wheeler and dealer

Michael Laudrup – Swansea City  Bradford City v Swansea City - Capital One Cup Final

Michael Laudrup ability to sign cheap players of quality this season has to be respected, especially the signing of Michu, who was a relatively unknown player in Spain before, for just £2m. Laudrup also produced a cheap and shrewd signing with Chico Flores who again only cost Swansea £2m and has proved to be a reliant defensive signing this season.

A worthy mention for Paul Lambert who also been a successful wheeler and dealer this season with an ability to sign young talent from lower leagues such as Matt Lowton and Ashley Westwood. Lambert plucked Matt Lowton from League One’s Sheffield United for just £3m and he has shone in his debut season with an impressive 189 clearances in defence for Aston Villa. Lambert didn’t do too badly signing Christene Bentenke for just £8m either, and the Belgian will fetch a sell on price of least double that in the future.

Man of the season

Sir Alex Ferguson – Manchester United

For Sir Alex Ferguson’s final campaign as Manchester United manager, he has to be the ‘man of the season’. With arguably the toughest task of his 26 year long and successful managerial career, he re-energised his squad of players and restored belief back into Manchester United to regain the title from their rivals Manchester City. Hats off to the ‘greatest’ manager of all time; Sir Alex Ferguson.

Favourite memory of the season

Wigan winning the FA Cup imagesCA9G7YQP

Seeing Wigan defy all the odds and make history winning the FA Cup against the oil riches of Manchester City, which was a triumphant day for football. A worthy mention to the sense of nostalgia in the closing weeks of the season as legends such as Sir Alex Ferguson, Paul Scholes, Jamie Carragher all bowed out of the Premier League.

Next season I want to see more of…

A title race and consistency from the FA and referees

A title race between the top four clubs which goes down to the last day of the season. With an end of an era at Manchester United and David  Moyes having the impossible task of replacing Sir Alex Ferguson and a new manager replacing Roberto Mancini at Manchester City as well as possibly the return of Jose Mourinho at Chelsea, the prospect of a four horse title race is not out the question. If Arsenal spend money in the summer and strengthen the squad then they may well challenge for the title. The changes in the summer will make next season interesting.

Also next season I’m sure every football fan wants to see more consistency from the decisions made by the FA and an end to the pathetic rule which says if the referee sees the incident but doesn’t take any action the FA can’t punish the player. Many times this season we have seen how flawed the rule is and how inconsistent the refereeing and FA have been with awarding match bans.

 Manchester City moneyAnd less of…

Money spent by Manchester City or Chelsea and less cheating and diving

Money spent by Manchester City or Chelsea. Hopefully the introduction of the FIFA Fair Play will be effective and we will see a level playing field for all the teams in the league.

Also hopefully we will see less cheating and diving by some the most talented players in the Premier League; Luis Suarez and Gareth Bale.

Description of the season in just five words

An end of an era.

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