Chris Pettitt's winners and losers of the 2011/12 season
An extraordinary season was capped in the most extraordinary way on Sunday afternoon by the champions Manchester City. The boys in blue have never done things the easy way, but now that 44 years of pain and misery are behind them, do you think City could now start winning trophies properly instead of putting their fans through the ringer every single time?!
The 2011/12 Premier League season has had it all. Shocks, thrashings, wonder goals, moments of madness and schoolboy defending. But who have been the main winners and losers? All this week we will be highlighting our best and worst of the season, but to kick-off proceedings it's our very own TV critic Chris Pettitt - he's here every Tuesday - choosing his pick of the bunch.
Player of the Season
Of course there have been the dazzling performances of Arsenal’s Robin Van Persie, Newcastle’s Papa Cisse and City’s immovable rock Vincent Kompany. However I’m going to plump for Kompany’s City team mate Joe Hart as my player of the season. The success that City have garnered this season has largely been built on their solid foundations and Hart is the vociferous general marshaling his troops. Assured, with a hefty presence in his area, Hart’s cool poise is almost the antithesis to the early season form of United’s shaky shot-stopper David De Gea and he played a major role in helping City win the title.
Manager of the Season
It sounds pretty boring by now but it is impossible to look beyond the remarkable job done by Alan Pardew at Newcastle. Entering the season already without the previous season’s star performers Andy Carroll and Kevin Nolan, and with an air of discontent still lingering from Mike Ashley’s handling of the Hughton/Pardew transition; Magpies’ fans and Pardew himself may have been fearing the worst when amateur philosopher Joey Barton headed out the exit too. This coupled with the players coming in consisting of a bunch of unknown foreign imports and a striker Stoke didn’t fancy meant that many were tipping Newcastle for tough season at the wrong end of the table. How wrong we all were. Pardew brought a steely determination to his squad with no little talent either. Demba Ba powered them through the early part and his international team mate Cisse then came in to boost their credentials further. A top six finish makes Newcastle the surprise success story of the season – and Pardew the astounding author.
Team of the Season
Honorable mentions must go to Newcastle, Swansea and Norwich; but the Premier League table does not lie, and therefore the best team must go to those that finish above all others. That means then that Manchester City are the recipients of this. While you could argue that there have certainly been times in this long season that City have looked anything other than a ‘team’, the spirit, skill and fortitude they have demonstrated in the face of much adversity (usually self-inflicted) is astonishing.
Goal of the Season
Peter Crouch against Manchester City. No need to say much more. Only that you must take him Roy.
Game of the Season
The 5-3 Arsenal comeback against Chelsea in October capped with a wonderful performance from Van Persie and a humiliating slip by John Terry seems to encapsulate their respective campaigns; as well as the overriding themes of the season in general. Wonderful goals, thrilling comebacks and lamentable defending have all been rife among many Premier League teams this season and that wonderful game showcased all three.
Shock (result) of the Season
Sunday, October 23, 2011. Old Trafford, Manchester. The home of Manchester United, the most successful team in England. A fortress in which most opposing teams choke under the sheer dominant pressure of the Red Devils. Not on this day though. Rivals Man City sauntered in and casually put six past the champions and in doing so, sent out a deafening warning shot that they really meant business. The 6-1 scoreline sent shockwaves through Manchester, through the division and possibly throughout Europe too.
Signing of the Season
There have been some stupendous pieces of business completed by Premier League managers this season. The aforementioned Papiss Cisse at Newcastle, Everton’s shrewd acquisition of Nikita Jelavic, and Aguero at Man City. However, Swansea manger Brendan Rodgers’ signing of Dutch goalkeeper Michel Vorm was an absolute masterstroke. We are all keenly aware of the need for a safe pair of hands in the unforgiving circus of the Premier League, and this need is only intensified for a promoted team in their maiden season. The fact that Vorm has kept 13 clean sheets and been a crucial cog in the Swans’ dream season means he has to be the signing of the season.
Save of the Season
Petr Cech’s clawing out of Andy Carroll’s bullet header in the FA Cup final was a brilliant, and crucial piece of goalkeeping. Whether it was over the line or not is sort of irrelevant; the fact that Cech’s heroics made what should have been a sure goal from a point-blank header into a debate, demonstrates what a remarkable save it was.
Miss of the Season
Sometimes, watching football is a privilege that we don’t always appreciate. The sheer beauty and majesty of our best footballers transcend the sport and seem to be creating an almost heavenly spectacle. Other times it’s hilarious. A moment that falls into the latter came back in September when £50 million-pound hitman Fernando Torres provided further evidence of his alarming decline by missing an open goal in his Chelsea team’s 3-1 defeat to Manchester United. After effortlessly skipping around the despairing David De Gea, Torres blazed over an empty net and endured the mocking cries of 70,000 fans.
Disappointment of the Season
Like many others, I have found the deeply unpleasant abuse directed at Steve Kean from some Blackburn Rovers fans to be very distasteful. Of course as paying punters, we fans reserve the right to air our grievances if the team’s affairs seem to be being handled poorly, and the shambolic running of Rovers by Venkys is certainly deserving of their fans ire. However, there have been times this season when Steve Kean, just a football coach remember – not a criminal, not a mass-murderer, not a Lib Dem MP; has had to suffer an abhorrent level of personal abuse. Whatever your views on Kean’s abilities – we should remember that football is simply a game.
Highlight of the Season
Manchester City winning the Premier League trophy. You may be under the impression that I am a Manchester City fan what with my continued gushing throughout this article. I’m not as it happens, I’m just incredibly thrilled to see a new name etched on to the trophy.
Bargain of the Season
All of Newcastle’s signings could be considered bargains. Demba Ba for nothing, Papiss Cisse for around £10 million and Yohan Cabaye around the £5 million mark have all repaid their worth tenfold in this amazing season for the Magpies.
Well there you have it. They are the major winners and losers in my eyes, but what do you think? I’d love to hear from you.