English Premier League Review 2011/12: Team by Team
A team-by-team comprehensive review of the English Premier League for 2011/12. This is long, and detailed and features a summary, player of the season for each and prediction for next season of each team.
Manchester City (Champions)
A well-deserved title triumph, despite stumbling away from home at times, their form at the Etihad was second to none. Only dropping two points all season at home is a championship side.
They did not lose by more than the one goal all season, phenomenal results against Manchester United at Old Trafford and Tottenham at White Heart Lane at the beginning of the season began the back bone of their success.
Mancini controlled his star line-up when he needed to, with the likes of Tevez and Balotelli rebelling throughout the period, he put the problems behind the team, soaked up the pressure and kept fighting.
Ruthless at times and a dynamic style of football surprisingly albeit with an Italian manager were impressive to watch. Deserved champions.
Player of the season: Yaya Toure. Despite Aguero taking most accolades throughout the season and his last minute goal to seal the title, the Ivorian controlled the game at times like a terminator, hard to stop, strong going forward and defensive when he needed to be. The six foot giant was by far City’s go to man, and his goal at Newcastle proved it.
Next season: Will be hard to stop again. With more investments set to take place, the blue Mancunians are just going to get stronger, the billions already invested seem like they’re paying off. If Mancini can keep all his overpaid stars onside then it will be hard to see them not runaway with the title this time round.
Manchester United (Runners Up)
Fergie always finds a way to keep his team in the hunt, having the reverse philosophy as their cross town rivals by building through youth, many others, like myself, would’ve thought this team would struggle to even find a place in Europe next season. But as noted above, Fergie always finds away with such a small squad with minimal depth.
Many onlookers say this was the worst United squad ever, and they might have been right. Despite this season being first since 2005 that the Red Devils didn’t walk away with silverware at seasons end, a horrible run in the Champions League and Cups competitions, this youthful side has shown promise for the future. However, not this season, and let’s face it, that’s what the fans wanted to see. They played attractive football, but unlike the past united squads who would always step up during the big games, this team didn’t. That’s what cost them.
Player of the season: Wayne Rooney. Stepped up and lead by example when the others couldn’t, he tried his hardest at times but the lack of spark in the midfield dealt united a major blow. Scoring 27 goals in the Premier League should surely be enough to get your team the title, but not with the other players playing their part.
Next season: If Fergie and his boys want any chance, the Glazers must open up their purse strings or else it looks like another season of blue domination. A solid if not new midfield is needed, someone with the creative spark to release the wrath of the youngsters upfront. Possibly a Modric might be the perfect fit.
Another season trophyless and this side just seem like a roller coaster ride. Life must be tough being a gooner. So much promise yet so little to show for it, something at this club has to be done.
They might play beautiful football on the eye, but where is it getting them? The constant whinging of Wenger about other teams ‘financial positions’ compared to his own is getting him nowhere. No one told him to sell Nasri, Cesc or Clichy. Players who have all go on to win silverware and look better off.
They faulted at the final hurdle again. Their inconsistency is still around and that comes with their lack of experience. Sorry to say it, yes they did qualify for the Champions league in third place and beat their North London rivals to automatic spot, but competing with Tottenham is something no one thought would happen ten years ago.
When they are they finally going to challenge for the title? Realistically that is.
Player of the season: Robin Van Persie. Is there any other challenger? His 30 goals were remarkable and the manner in which some were scored was even greater. But there is so much one man can do. He lifted the team when he had to and rescued them. A wonderful player with natural talent.
Next season: Can’t see them challenging again, in fact, I just see more of the same. The real definition of the word ‘pretenders’. Bringing in Podolski will lift the squad, but they must hold on to RVP and others and spend some money. A new experienced central defender alongside a quality attacking midfielder is needed or else it looks like another season of struggle and fighting for Europe for the North Londoners.
Very successful season, were consistent throughout the first half, but faded towards the end. Six wins in 16 matches from the turn of the year until April set them back and that hurt the club, especially the 5-2 loss to their North London Rivals. Although fourth is still a great finish despite not playing Champions League football next season due to Chelsea’s triumph in Munich must leave a sour taste for all Spurs fans.
Their big boys stepped to another level this season, Modric and Bale were a class above the rest, hence the reason why the big European clubs have them on their rich list. Redknapp’s continuous link to manage the now taken English post must have distracted the club. Injuries plagued them slightly and the fact that Bale and Lennon couldn’t play on the wings together was a letdown as their manager thought it makes the game ‘too too expansive’ and teams could hurt them.
Player of the season: Emmanuel Adebayor. Doing whatever he can do to stay at the club, Adebayor scored goals that helped the club through the tough times they endured, even if Bale and Modric were on their own level. Adebayor kept the likes of Saha and Defoe on the bench with his form and 17 goals in the bag.
Next season: Keeping their stars is going to be tough, especially the fact that White Heart Lane will not be hosting Champions League football next season. Many of the stars want those wonderful European nights.
Expect a player exodus from the club and it won’t be surprising if Harry follows. However, who is to say the opposite won’t happen? If they all stay, expect Tottenham to give it a shake next season, with a couple big transfers that will definitely help the foundation.
Newcastle United (5th)
Who in their minds would have thought that Newcastle would be fighting for Champions league football all season?
It wasn’t as if they hit the ground running and faded half way through as most teams do every campaign. Alan Pardew did a fantastic job keeping his players fit and fighting for all nine months. The transfer of Cisse from Freiburg for eight million pounds was a bargain and set up one of the great late-season goalscoring sprees. His 13 goals in 15 games made the former Charlton manager look like the transfer king.
They were definitely the dark horse this term and the team looked happy throughout. Their midfield finally stepped up, Hatem Ben Arfa showed why he was touted as the next Zidane, and Jonas Gutierrez proved too many watchers why Maradona took him to South Africa in 2010.
Astonishing results against United, Chelsea and Liverpool as well as disposing the lower opposition easily at times helped their cause and they deserved the fifth place finish, possibly even higher had they held their wits in certain games.
Player of the season: Fabricio Coloccini. The defensive stalwart was consistent all season leading the backline from start to finish. Despite being scoreless, the Argentinian played 35 games for the club helping his defence produce 15 clean sheets in the league and was a key character in the clubs fight to the Europa League.
Next season: This side certainly have the potential to finish in the Top six again. Pardew will have a major fight on his hands to keep the clubs big players after their heroics all season.
I don’t see the club where it is now next season because of the amount of games they will be playing the next campaign, but they will certainly be up there in the mix fighting for the Europa League again, maybe focusing on the cup competitions and winning the club a trophy should be priority.
A story of two seasons. Again. Another season, another new manager, more jibes about the old guard, more jibes about the owner, it just keeps going around in circles for the West London club.
The horrendous first half of the season saw them at fifth place in the league, out of the carling cup, a replay against Birmingham in the FA cup and needing to beat Valencia to go through to the round of 16 in the Champions league. This sacking of Andre’ Villas Boas this time you might feel was actually the right decision, despite the positive vision he had for the club, it just wasn’t the right time. Their league finish was the worst since 1999, but it didn’t matter one bit to many as Roberto Di Matteo led them to FA cup and Champions League success.
This actually proved to be Chelsea’s most successful season in the clubs history. Tottenham fans will hold a grudge on their London rivals as they have made way for Chelsea to take the fourth spot in the UEFA competition next season thanks to their victory over Bayern Munich in the final.
Player of the season: Juan Mata – was purchased from Valencia for 23 million pounds – money well spent. He was everywhere this season for the blues, his goals and assists helped the cause greatly. Played 56 out of the 61 games in his debut campaign and was the go to man. One of the buys of the 2011/12 season, the 23 year old Spaniard deserves all the praise.
Next season: It all seems like happy days now on Kings road, certainly being the kings of Europe plays a major part, However, their league finish needs improvement, not knowing who the manager is next season…again, the blues will certainly fight for the title this time round especially after Abromavich got his holy grail and would be hungry for more. Slightly more investment is needed in the rights parts and a player exodus replaced with fresh talent will keep Chelsea fighting for the title.
A very successful season for the toffees, their highest finish since 2008 and finishing above their Merseyside rivals made it all but sweeter.
As they do almost every season, the put in a massive effort after the new year, David Moyes pulled the right strings in the transfer window too, bringing back Steven Pienaar on loan from Spurs, it felt like the South African had never left, also bringing Croatian Nikica Jelavic from Rangers who finished their top goal scorer putting the ball in the back of the net nine times in 10 starts proved vital for the blue half of Merseyside. With their lack of funds and facilities they deserve all the credit with resounding wins over Man City, Chelsea, Newcastle, Tottenham and possibly the side who destroyed United’s title ambitions with a 4-4 draw at Old Trafford.
Player of the season: Marouane Fallaini – The big Belgian proved vital yet again this season, his dynamic strength and passing along with his three goals this season helped his side’s grow through the campaign, hence the reason why the big boys around Europe are keeping tabs on him . His willingness to go forward also proved to be a big difference in taking his game to another level.
Next season: As many as other smaller clubs, trying to keep their bigger players at the club will be tough, but David Moyes always finds a way to finish in the top half of the ladder every season. Expect Everton to do more of the same next season and with a couple signings can possibly even go further.
The sacking of Kenny Dalglish at the end of the campaign proved it all. A very poor season for the reds. Who would’ve thought ten years ago that Liverpool would finish below Everton and in eighth?
Take the Carling Cup success out of the equation, not one of the Liverpool off season purchases or players in that matter stepped up and proved themselves. Stuart Downing’s 36 games in the League with 0 goals and 0 assists would be a career low for player and club. At times, very rare times, they looked as if they were turning their season around, but inconsistency prevailed.
Their defence at time was in shambles and the spirit of the side had diminished throughout. Their worst home record in years and scoring only 47 goals in the league makes Lionel Messi seem like a God, considering they have spent over 80 million pounds on attacking prowess over the last 24 months.
Players of the Season: Luiz Suarez. A very hard one to pick this season, not many played great, but the Uruguayan is a player from the heart, however at times his frustration boiled over him. Just ask Patrice Evra. The fiery striker was on song at times and this proved to get Liverpool out of jail at key stages.
Next season: A search for a new manager is underway, and the ability to fight with the heart is needed. The good old Liverpool mentality looks to be hiding under a rock. They have a great squad with talent for the future, but the new manager needs to find a way to get the best out of them, or else it might just be the same old story for the once most successful club in English football.
A great campaign for the West London Club, their ninth place finish came down to their home form, winning 10 out of the 19 possible games. Martin Jol’s first season in charge of the cottagers was a great kick start to what can prove to be a bright future, their top players stepped up and the style of football improved from what it was like five or six years back. T
he loss of Zamora midway through the campaign did not demonstrate to be a big one as their replacement strikers made life look easy at the craven cottage. This side looked together all season, they looked happy, the Dutchmen Jol ready kept his sides feet on the ground and a menace for many teams.
Player of the season: Clint Dempsey – Scored 17 goals this campaign, bagging a couple hat tricks as well as finding the back of the net in big games. The American stepped up to another gear and has earned many a praise from several pundits around Europe. Fulham will be fighting to keep him as clubs like Liverpool have come knocking on the door.
Next season: Staying in the Premier League looks all but assured, however repeating this season’s finish will be a tough ask. Jol’s experience with Tottenham over the years might prove to help the club maintain their top half status. If they manage to hold on to their current crop, they might just be able to keep themselves in the fight for Europe.
West Bromwich Albion (10th)
The baggies played their final game under Roy Hodgson this season as he looks to kick start his post with England as soon as possible. West Brom had their highest finish in their Premier League history. Consistency home and away was boundless and scoring goals never seemed to be an issue. Their defensive displays were second to none for a team of their stature, keeping the likes of Manchester City, Chelsea and Liverpool scoreless through the campaign. The new England boss did a fantastic job. They also finished the highest out of any midlands club and that will certainly give the side confidence going into the next season.
Player of the season: Ben Foster: The on loan English goalie that just recently turned down any approach from his former boss for the national team scored a remarkable 10 clean sheets this season earning himself this award, he was certainly up to his game this season producing 117 saves out of his 37 appearances.
Next season: Their growing reputation will certainly not do them any harm. They are now looking for a new manager as many other clubs are, but you would think they won’t go for any Joe Blow, a manager with great credentials looks on the hit list as this much improving side look to finish even better next season.
Swansea City (11th)
This was the Welsh sides first ever appearance in the Premier League and what a memorable season in was. Midway through the campaign Brendan Rogers’ side was the second best passing team in Europe, behind off course…Barcelona. Impressive victories against Manchester City, Liverpool, Arsenal and great performances against Chelsea have big European Clubs calling for the Former Blues reserves manager to start managing a bigger side. A solid defence and attack with a strong home record set the standard for their finish. Their free flowing passing game deserved 11th place if not, even higher. At a stage they were up in seventh fighting for a Europa League spot.
Player of the season: Danny Graham – his 12 goals this season spoke for themselves, led from the front every time he stepped on the field, the Englishmen poised many problems for any defence he come up against, his speed and delicate finish on the ball proved to be a great asset for his growing side.
Next season: We’ve seen it many times; a newly promoted team starts off their first campaign in the top flight with a strong finish, but the second season syndrome hits. This is something that the Swans must avoid, and you get the sense that Rogers might be the man to stop that from happening, his respect earned this campaign and experience plus a few transfers in the side might just keep the club in the Barclays Premier League for the third successive season.
Norwich City (12th)
Another one of the new boys who managed to produce very successful campaign, led by a fabulous manager. Losing 7-1 to Colchester United in league one in 2009 seemed like a decade ago. Paul Lambert managed successful promotions two times in two years that got them to the top flight. Great results throughout the season as well as magnificent results at Tottenham, Liverpool and Arsenal summed it all up. Led by the talismanic Striker, Englishmen Grant Holt scored goals that really helped the canaries to the right end of the table. Their slick football at times got them the results they wanted, they were defensive when they had to be and scored goals when they were needed. Their home form was brilliant and their 52 goals in the campaign was the seventh highest in the League. A well-deserved finish.
Player of the season: Grant Holt – The Englishmen scored goals in the big games, his 15 in total in the league including goals at Anfield, Stamford Bridge and a brace against Newcastle were only the small personal achievements, this man was fitting tyres at his friends mechanic shop only five years ago, and now he is scoring goals in the Premier League, what a turn around it has been for the 31 year old.
Next season: Possibly another case of second season syndrome might be on the horizon, some fresh talent and a couple centre backs are needed, if Lambert can manage another season in a mid-table finish a couple star players are required in the squad. Holt is already touted as the first man out of Carrow Road according to his agent. Lambert must try his hardest in the transfer window or a relegation dog fight might just be on the cards this time round.
The Black Cats seemed doomed for relegation halfway through the season. Three wins from their first 15 games had them fighting for survival which cost Steve Bruce his job. In came Martin O’Neill, who was without employment after leaving Aston Villa in 2010. He turned the football club on its head, recording six wins and two draws in his first nine games, that form would have placed the Wearsiders in the top four of the league. The Northern Irishman managed to get the best out of his players who seemed very low on confidence, great results against Liverpool and victory over Manchester City as well as a great run of results twisted their enthusiast’s heads who thought they were ready for a relegation scrap now saw themselves fighting for a spot in Europe. However, Sunderland started slipping off the radar towards the end of the season, but most fans will be happy with their place on the ladder considering where they were sitting Christmas time.
Player of the season: Stephane Sessegnon – The Beninese international was the jewel in Sunderland’s fight back this season, despite at times being regarded as ‘selfish’, the fleet footed 27 year old really hit the ground running under O’Neill bagging seven goals and nine assists in this campaign.
Next season: Plenty of investment was made last summer, so spectators are not really sure how much can be offloaded this time round. Martin O’Neill already has some rising starts taking the stage and a great crop of players to follow, no real investment is needed, keeping Nicolas Bendtner will be a great asset nevertheless, like Villa did under O’Neill, the black cats can certainly surprise a few people next season.
Stoke City (14th)
Another steady season for the potters. Their lowest finish in their premier league stay so far, but never really seemed worried about relegation, their off season purchases really stood up this campaign, in particular Peter Crouch. His wonder goal against Manchester City shows why people have him in a shout for a return to the England fold. Great home form and some good away wins kept Stoke where they wanted to be. Let’s not forget, they had a very long campaign playing in the Europa League and any team of their wits who would be challenging the likes of Valencia can certainly give themselves a pat on the back. Although their struggle to score goals again, which is what they are renowned for, their defence still proved the difference, as they managed to keep teams like Chelsea and Liverpool scoreless this season.
Player of the season: Robert Huth – For a defensive enforcer, the big German’s three goals this campaign proved to be a great asset for his side, his strength and ability to read the game has been of the top draw, hence the reason Chelsea are interested in bringing back the player they once sold. His ability to keep eight clean sheets in the league this season wasn’t really up to Stoke standard, but was good enough to keep this side in the premier league another season.
Next season: More of the same for Stoke, nothing great, nothing horrific. If they can be funded with some off season purchases including the likes of Michael Owen who they look set to capture and try to improve their eye for goal most times, they can surely give the top ten a slight shake up.
Wigan Athletic (15th)
Another remarkable season for the Latics who always find a way to avoid the drop, how Roberto Martinez and his men always seem to pull it off is beyond me. But they deserve it, their free flowing passing game and cracking goals at times gives the players the confidence and the spectators the thought that this side here is a sleeping giant. Their end of season form consisted of victories at Liverpool, against Manchester United, at Arsenal, against Newcastle and at Blackburn. These types of results don’t only ensure survival but European Football.
Player of the season: Gary Caldwell – His winner at Liverpool really began their fight for survival, leading by example at all times, the captain and former Celtic boy was an abundant purchase in 2010. His defensive frailties seem all but out of his game now and the 30 year old Scotsmen should look to build on his career at Wigan next season.
Next season: Every year we say to ourselves ‘this will be the year Wigan gets relegated’, but they have always proved us wrong. Keeping Roberto Martinez at the side is going to be key for their future, if they lose him, they must find someone big. Their squad is bright and talented and they will struggle to keep hold of them the way they are playing. Owner Dave Whelan must keep investing in this club as you can see its paying off, they are growing by the year and the funds he provides can only push the club forward or else next season might be the year that the fiction becomes a fact.
Aston Villa (16th)
This club with great history were always the dark horses of the Premier League under Irishmen Martin O’Neill. This campaign however took a nose dive for the worse; their 16th place finish is the worst they have endured in the premiership. The Villains has never been relegated since they were instated in English Football in 1912. To have to wait to the second last week of the season to ensure they had survived in the Premier League cost Alex McLeish his job, undoubtedly, he deserved it. His boring football and defensive approach was what got their midland rivals Birmingham City relegated in 2011. Why he was hired in the first instance was a surprise to the footballing world. The loss of Darren Bent to a knee injury was a vicious set back from the club, nevertheless, a poor season for Villa and nothing exciting to report on, besides their luck to survive.
Player of the season: Shay Given – The only player in the squad who seemed safe from being dropped. The Irishmen’s eight clean sheets and 98 saves was the only real highlight of the Villa season.
Next season: The new manager will make a massive difference, Randy Lerner must choose carefully. Reports are suggesting Roberto Martinez might be McLeish’s successor. This might turn out to be a good choice since observing the Spaniard’s football philosophy at Wigan. The clarets and blue have a great youth side and managed to produce wonderful talents over the years, they will survive, but some changes upstairs are needed.
Queens Park Rangers (17th)
If any team was lucky to survive it were the Rangers. The Hoops had to wait to the last minute of the last round of the Premier League season to ensure they will still be playing top flight football next year. Luckily for them, Bolton had drawn against Stoke and the West Londoners got their wishes. Another side with a mid-season managerial change QPR looked lacklustre at times, but impressive on other spells. Eventually owner Tony Fernandez had enough and wielded the axe on Neill Warnock. In came ex Man City manager Mark Hughes. He endured a tough spell at times, but produced the right results when he needed to and even playing some attractive football in the process. Three points against both North London sides began their revival, they looked all but gone at the beginning of April, but they were the third and final new boys to stay up.
Player of the season: Jamie Mackie – The Scottish right winger pulled all the right strings this season, he helped his team throughout with goals and assists. The 2010 purchase from Plymouth and Wimbledon born man helped is club through the promotion phase of 2010/11 and has certainly helped his side stay up in the top flight thanks to some vital goals in vital games.
Next season: With the funds they will be provided from their wealthy owner and a world class manager, you can only presume unless something drastic happens QPR are here for the Premiership long run, they will continue to ease their way in to the league and with investments made over the summer, I wouldn’t be surprised if they finish mid-table. However, a possible stadium upgrade might be needed.
Bolton Wanderers (18th)
If it was any of the three relegated teams you would’ve liked to see stay up, it would’ve been the Trotters. Owen Coyle, a manager with great character and does whatever he can to try lift his squad strained his hardest to keep his teams spirits up throughout the campaign. Bamboozled with long term injuries and the upsetting scene of seeing Fabrice Muamba suffer a cardiac arrest against Tottenham at White Heart Lane in the FA Cup quarter final would have been a real hurdle to climb over. But when push came to shove, Bolton could not produce the goods when they needed to, in particular when they had the home ground advantage. This eventually was too much for the side to handle as a win against Stoke on the final day was needed, and could only manage a draw.
Player of the season: Martin Petrov – the Bulgarian was a shining light in an upsetting season for the Greater Manchester side, his four goals and six assists almost got the club out of jail, but there was only so much one man could have done. Despite other players playing their part, the heart of the side was not on the field at times contradictory to their manager who wears his heart on his sleeve.
Next season: Applying their trade in the Championship, with their manager and many of their top players set to stay on and sacrifice one year without Premier League football, you would think Bolton will be back with the big boys in no time.
Blackburn Rovers (19th)
Their football got them where they deserve to be, the Championship. Once an English Premier League champion, the Rovers had problems from the start of the season to the finish. The fans continuous chants and protests to the owners to sack Steve Kean was one of the many problems the Lancashire club faced. Their defence was just not good enough to survive at this level, even with some talented attacking players on the field; they even struggled to score goals. The club had gone down-hill since Sam Alladyrce’s departure, coincidently, if Kean stays on which will be the most likely outcome according to the Indian owners, both respective managers will be trading leagues, possibly where they both deserve to be. Credit to the Scot however, when times were tough he kept his head and kept going, but eventually lost the fight to survive in the top flight. Their overall season was very poor. Relegation unfortunately was deserved.
Player of the season: Yakubu Aiyegbeni – His 17 goals in the Premier League came as a massive surprise considering his team were relegated. Perhaps the only player in the side who gave it his best shot, alongside David Hoilett. These two were the star players for the Rovers all season. It could have been a case of what if, If three or four other quality players lifted throughout the season.
Next season: Another Lancashire side applying their trade in the Championship, a mass exit of players and backroom staff looks to be on the horizon; funnily enough the only man the fans want to see gone, is their manager, who perhaps looks the safest at Ewood Park. If they can manage to hold on to their players which will be a tough ask, they will fight for a place for promotion.
Wolverhampton Wanderers (20th)
A disastrous season for the Wolves, the sacking of Mick McCarthy made a few jaws drop but also didn’t surprise a few. The bad run of results including the surprising 5-1 defeat at home in the Black Country derby against West Brom was the final game for the English-born Irishman. Terry Connor, who was the assistant manager to McCarthy, took over until the end of the season. Things only got worse; Connor did not win any of his 13 league games in charge. Wolves only managed 40 goals this campaign, second lowest behind Stoke, they conceded an astonishing 82 goals, worst in the league. 16 more than what they conceded in 2010/11. Performances were just not good enough; their average possession stat for the season was at 43%. Relegation was the only option.
Player of the season: Steven Fletcher – the fact that he managed 12 goals out of the 40 scored was why he was the Wolves best player. The Scotsman scored some great and important goals this campaign, but none to give the club any glimmer of staying up. However, his ‘never say die’ attitude was what the club needed from of its other players.
Next season: Ex FC Cologne (Koln) boss Stale Solbakken is set to take over the club from the first of July 2012. The moves the Norwegian makes for the club is unknown at the moment, but you would think trying his best to keep the players who are a talented bunch would be priority, plus investing in a couple others for some depth, or he can possibly re-build his own side. Either proposal will give his side the chance to make it back in the Premier League quicker than expected. Will definitely be one of the favourites in the Championship next season.