Another season over, we enter the somewhat quiet period of the football close season, heavily fueled by transfer speculation for the fans and a time of reflection for management and clubs. Whether celebrating trophies or trying to balance the books after falling into the cruel clutches of Premier League relegation, the thoughts of “just what could have been” and plenty of wisdom in hindsight will occupy the thoughts of the managers hoping to improve on this season’s performances. It appears that time and time again the domestic league has a way of running it’s course and proudly declaring itself as the best in world football. Although this season has hosted an equally, if not more, exciting battle at the foot of the table leading not only to the final day, but to the gripping final seconds of added time.
The three goals scored in added time each held their own importance for all three clubs involved. Completing his hat trick, Somen Tchoyi was the driving force of the attack at St James’ Park, taking over goalscoring duties from the absent Peter Odemwingie. The baggies’ fightback from 3-0 down symbolizes very effectively the nine months that Roy Hodgson has endured, having revived his tarnished reputation after a stint at Anfield and brought West Brom from the foot of the table to a comfortable position.
The icing on the cake of a dreadful season for West Ham was clinically served by Sunderland’s Cristian Riveros providing the final goal in a 3-0 battering, a more than appropriate send off for the Hammers, rounding off a forgettable year with a home defeat. Most significant of course, was Roman Pavlyuchenko’s pile driver of a shot rifled into the back of Ben Foster’s net which sealed the fate of Birmingham and Blackpool, the latter of which fell apart after Evatt’s own goal at Old Trafford.
This season’s fallen sides all had clear weaknesses which contributed to their downfall. Birmingham simply could not score enough goals. Although their defensive organization carried them through the first half of the season, the injury sustained by Scott Dann was enough to derail their centre half partnership and puncture their confidence. Blackpool were equally bad at defending as they were good at going forward in attack. West Ham were the prime example that a weak and indecisive boardroom can be more than enough to cause problems on the pitch.
With all this in mind, I have selected my Premier League 2010/2011 Relegated XI, taking the best performers over the course of the season and considering the possibility that a team of these players could have avoided the drop.
In a 4-3-3 formation:
Goalkeeper: Ben Foster, Birmingham FC
The English ex-Manchester United shot stopper has been worth his weight in gold this season since his £6m move away from Old Trafford in search of first team football. With 178 saves to his name this season, more than any other goalkeeper in the Premier League, Foster is closely followed by Rob Green in second with 162. Yet Green loses out with an inferior 5 clean sheets to Foster’s 9 and also conceding a massive 69 goals compared to Foster who only let in 55.
Centre Half: Scott Dann, Birmingham FC
Formed one half of the Blues’ formidable central defensive partnership with 6 clean sheets to his name. His hamstring injury, picked up during the League Cup semi-final in January, ruled him out for the rest of the season and it would not be entirely ridiculous to suggest that was the turning point in Birmingham’s season.
Centre Half: Roger Johnson, Birmingham FC
A massively under rated defender forming the defensive bedrock of Birmingham City along with Scott Dann. Part of the team that went 12 games unbeaten in the top flight last season and even touted as being a future England player. 9 Clean sheets to his name this season says it all.
Click HERE to see the rest of the Relegated XI!