It was another enthralling and encapsulating season of English League football which saw Manchester United claim an unprecedented 19th league title to knock Liverpool off their perch. Chelsea sacked yet another manager while Arsenal failed to live up to the promise yet again.. Man City will play Champions League football for the first time courtesy a third place finish while Liverpool welcomed back King Kenny after 20 years and hope for the glory days to return next season.
At the other end of the table, it was a relegation dogfight with as many as six teams fighting for survival on the last day. Wigan, Wolves and Blackburn survived Survival Sunday whereas it was commiserations for boring Birmingham, poor West Ham and entertainers Blackpool.
Lets look as the best and the worst for each team through the course of the season.
Remembered For: Winning a record 19th league title to become the most successful club in England.
Peak Point: Beating Chelsea in the potential title decider as well as the 7-1 mauling of Blackburn including a special performance from ‘five-star Berbatov’.
Low Blow: Losing three out of five games in February-March including a 3-1 hammering at Anfield.
Most Valuable Player: Nemanja Vidic for leading by example and being the rock in United’s defense.
Could Have Done With: A better away form.
Could Have Done Without: The Wayne Rooney Saga. And Bebe.
THT Season Verdict: The season has to be top notch for a team who wins the league title, especially if it knocks its fiercest rivals off their perch. Season Review.
Remembered For: A non-performing record signing and the abrupt sacking of another manager.
Peak Point: Strong start to the season and a late flurry to give United a run for their money after trailing them by as many as 12 points in March.
Low Blow: A 3-0 reversal at the hands of Sunderland at Stamford Bridge that started a run of 11 games without a win for the Londoners.
Most Valuable Player: Petr Cech for once again being safe as a house.
Could Have Done With: A ‘plan B’ in matches, an in-form Michael Essien and more than a goal from Fernando Torres.
Could Have Done Without: The mysterious sacking of Ray Wilkins and offloading Ballack in the summer who could have been crucial while Lampard and Benayoun were out injured.
THT Season Verdict: Not good enough for the people who matter, but in all honesty finishing 2nd in the league cannot be considering an absolute failure. Season Review.
Listened to no one except Roman and yet, got fired!
Remembered For: Ending their 34-year trophy drought.
Peak Point: Victory over Chelsea in the league. The FA Cup semi-final victory over United on their way to silverware was a real high.
Low Blow: Rooney’s goal (of the season), was a kick in the teeth as it virtually ended City’s title aspirations.
Most Valuable Player: Vincent Kompany – rock solid at the back. Carlos Tevez, who shared the Golden Boot with Berbatov was very influential as well and deserves a mention.
Could Have Done With: An Italian manager capable of extracting more from a pool of highly talented players.
Could Have Done Without: Kolo Toure’s drug mishap.
THT Season Verdict: Most successful season in three decades. Won the FA Cup, qualified for the Champions League. In fact, went one step ahead by securing automatic qualification ahead of Arsenal. Season Review.
Remembered For: Yet another meltdown at the end of the season that saw them finish a sixth consecutive year without a trophy.
Peak Point: Beating Chelsea and Man United at home in the league.
Low Blow: Twice surrendering two goal leads against Spurs to gain only one point out of a possible six.
Most Valuable Player: Robin Van Persie – scored 18 goals despite missing a good part of the season through injury.
Could Have Done With: A fit Vermaelen – to sure up a defence that was mostly at sixes and sevens – and a fit Van Persie for the first half of the season.
Could Have Done Without: Manuel Almunia.
THT Season Verdict: Unsatisfactory to say the least as another promising campaign fell way short of its mark. Season Review.
Remembered For: Another exciting season of free flowing football making them one of the most watched teams by the neutrals.
Peak Point: Beating Arsenal at the Emirates coming from a two goal deficit at half time.
Low Blow: Failing to qualify for the Champions League after a great campaign this season.
Most Valuable Player: Luca Modric, ahead of Bale and Van der Vaart, for sheer consistency.
Could Have Done With: A striker who could score 20 goals in a season.
Could Have Done Without: Gomes – The Brazilian was guilty of many horror moments for Spurs which also resulted in loss of valuable points
THT Season Verdict: Could have finished fourth, if they had put in better performances against weaker teams, especially at White Hart Lane.
Remembered For: Just about clinging on to their mantra – ‘Next season is our season’ – due to resurgence under King Kenny. Also, for being knocked off their perch!
Peak Point: Thrashing champions Man United at home.
Low Blow: Losing 2-0 to Everton in “their best display” that left them reeling in 19th position in the league.
Most Valuable Player: Lucas Leiva for most of the season. Luis Suarez for the second half of the season.
Could Have Done With: Kenny Dalglish from the summer.
Could Have Done Without: An English manager incapable of adapting to a bigger club.
THT Season Verdict: If finishing sixth in the league has been celebrated, one can say it has been a very disappointing season for the club. Season Review.
Remembered for: Finishing in the top half of the table with such a small squad and a low budget to work with.
Peak point: Come back against Man United with 2 injury time goals and win over Liverpool.
Low blow: 4-1 defeat at the hands of West Brom at Goodison Park.
Most valuable player: Leighton Baines was by far and away their best player and also played every minute of the league
Could have Done With: A fit Louis Saha (7 goals in 14 games played), but can anybody get one?
Could Have Done Without: Another shoddy start to the campaign and lengthy injuries to key players.
THT Season Verdict: If one looks at the top six, Everton were not expected to finish above any of them so overall a satisfactory season.
Remembered for: Securing 8th position with such a small group of players to work with.
Peak point: Qualifying for Europa League, where they had such a wonderful time in 2009-10, through fair play standings
Low blow: Thrashed at home by Liverpool, Manchester City and West Ham.
Most valuable player: Brede Hangeland was a rock in defence and scored valuable goals at the other end as well.
Could have Done With: More games from Bobby Zamora as the tall striker added a new dimension to the attack whenever he played.
Could Have Done Without: Michael Jackson statue outside Craven Cottage especially with Shankly and Busby standing outside Anfield and Old Trafford, respectively.
THT Season Verdict: Pretty Good, as a steady season with a top half finish is probably what they would have hoped for at the start of the campaign. Europa League qualification comes as a welcome bonus.
Remembered for: The bright displays by their young kids at the start of the season when senior players were injured.
Peak point: Strong finish to the season with wins against Arsenal and Liverpool and also the relegation of rivals Birmingham City.
Low blow: A 6-0 drubbing at St. James’ Park at the start of the the season.
Most valuable player: Any one of Darren Bent, Stewart Downing or Ashley Young.
Could have Done With: Darren Bent from the start of the season
Could Have Done Without: Signing Robert Pires, who is a shadow of the footballer he was at Arsenal.
THT Season Verdict: A disappointing start to the campaign left them in relegation fear at one time, but the late flourish saw them finish a respectable 9th position. Yet, the fans would have loved them to finish 7th or 8th.
Remembered For: Early season form that threatened to put them amongst the elite.
Peak Point: Thrashing Chelsea at fortress Bridge and finishing above Newcastle.
Low Blow: The 5-1 suffering at the hands of their bitter rivals left the fans hiding their faces.
Most Valuable Player: Welbeck for the first part of the season, new arrival Sessegnon post January.
Could Have Done With: A better medical team with almost half of the squad lying injured at one point of time.
Could Have Done Without: Selling Daren Bent.
THT Season Verdict: Sunderland got the taste of reality in the latter half of the season after a flying start. They could be in for a tough next season especially with a lot of changes expected at the club.
West Bromwich Albion:
Remembered For: Laying the tag of yo-yo club to rest by staying up.
Peak Point: Win at Emirates and being the only team to get anything at Old Trafford.
Low Blow: Mid season slump that resulted in sacking of Di Matteo.
Most Valuable Player: Peter Odemwingie – He was one of the best strikers in the league this season.
Could Have Done With: The relegation battling expertise of Roy Hodgson from day one.
Could Have Done Without: Creating the record of no clean sheets for the longest period (29th August ’10 to 9th May’11.)
THT Season Verdict: West Brom achieved their aim of surviving the league season and they did it by playing an attractive brand of football.
Remembered For: Coming back from 4-0 down against Arsenal to draw the game and the atmosphere at St. James’ Park which was surely missed last season.
Peak Point: 5-1 win over bitter rivals Sunderland will remain in the fans’ memory for years.
Low Blow: Thrashing at the hands of Bolton, Stoke and West Brom.
Most Valuable Player: Cheik Tiote was a revelation in his first season.
Could Have Done With: Ben Arfa for more than four games.
Could Have Done Without: Sacking Chris Houghton who brought them to the League and was doing a pretty decent job as well.
THT Season Verdict: Newcastle set out to avoid relegation at the start of the season. So overall a pretty good season.
Remembered For: Comment by Andy Gray about them overpowering Barcelona at the Britannia Stadium.
Peak Point: 3-1 win over Arsenal in which Kenwyne Jones did what the Gunners try week in week out – Walk the ball into the net.
Low Blow: Losing 3-0 to West Ham is as low as it can get.
Most Valuable Player: Etherington and Pennant were brilliant as they added a new dimension to their attacking play.
Could Have Done With: A good striker to partner Kenwyne Jones.
Could Have Done Without: Ramsey being booed at the Britannia Stadium.
THT Season Verdict: Stoke played a physical brand of football that is getting more and more associated with them which also kept them safe from the relegation worries. Not sure about the Barcelona thing though.
Remembered For: Breaking the mould and playing in an un-Bolton like manner.
Peak Point: 5-1 win over Newcastle on a day they played the most delightful football seen from them in years.
Low Blow: Their disastrous finish to the season caused them to finish at a lowly 14th position in the league.
Most Valuable Player: Elmander before Christmas, Sturridge after it.
Could Have Done With: A better away form as they collected least points on the road.
Could Have Done Without: Injury to young midfielder Holden for the final two months of the season.
THT Season Verdict: It was nice to see Bolton get out of the Allardyce mode of playing, but it could have been much better for them but for an atrocious away form.
Remembered For: The takeover by Venky’s and being linked with the likes of Ronaldinho and Beckham.
Peak Point: The first half performance at Molineux to avoid relegation on the last day of the season.
Low Blow: The 7-1 mauling at the hands of United at Old Trafford.
Most Valuable Player: Christopher Samba was inspirational in his performances at both ends of the pitch.
Could Have Done With: Appointing a more experienced manager after the sacking of Big Sam
Could Have Done Without: Sacking Big Sam in the first place.
THT Season Verdict: They were lucky to survive relegation by scoring just enough points. However, they would need a new manager and a striker other than Santa Cruz.
The proof of the mauling!
Remembered For: Their unpredictability – Kings to Pauper in a matter of days.
Peak Point: Last day heroics at the Britannia. However, the come from behind win against West Ham the previous week was equally important and ten folds more enthralling.
Low Blow: Scoring just one goal in the opening six games.
Most Valuable Player: Hugo Rodallega – the difference between top flight football and the obscurity of Championship.
Could Have Done With: A few hundred more supporters at their games.
Could Have Done Without: Forgetting to defend. Wigan were the entertainers of the league but the art of defending seemed alien to the club.
THT Season Verdict: Another year in the top flight for Wigan and more thrills and spills in store for the supporters.
Remembered For: Great escape at the end of the season, winning two of the last three games.
Peak Point: Beating United, Chelsea, Liverpool and Man City at home.
Low Blow: Despite beating the top teams, they were involved in the dog fight up until the last minute.
Most Valuable Player: Matt Jarvis, who also earned an England call on the back of his excellent performances this season.
Could Have Done With: A proper finisher that would have helped them survive relegation easily.
Could Have Done Without: Mick McCarthy’s uninterpretable semi-English.
THT Season Verdict: They are a much better team than their position in the league suggests. Were difficult to beat, especially at home.
Remembered For: Taking football to new levels of boredom.
Peak Point: Winning the Carling Cup, beating favorites Arsenal. Winning against defending champions Chelsea on their home turf.
Low Blow: Relegation in the most heart breaking fashion must have felt like a kick in the crotch for the Brum faithful. Pavleychenko must be the most hated guy in Birmingham circles right now.
Most Valuable Player: Roger Johnson was the rock at the back for Birmingham and played his heart out for the Brum but lack of goals upfront finally condemned the Blues to Championship football.
Could Have Done With: An actual striker in their starting XI. Cameron Jerome was one sorry excuse for a football player.
Could Have Done Without: Scott Dan’s injury. The other half of Birmingham’s assured Center Back partnership missed the crucial phase of the league campaign and Birmingham’s season derailed alarmingly.
THT Season Verdict: Birmingham would be back amongst the big boys pretty soon but hopefully that time, the manager would look to win games rather than avoid defeats.
Remembered For: The quality of their football, their wonderfully exuberant fans and their even more outspoken manager – Ian Holloway. Blackpool were a breath of fresh air and despite not having household names in their squad, they made the English Premier League richer by their presence.
Peak Point: Undoubtedly, the league double over traditional giants Liverpool.
Low Blow: Relegation at the ‘Theatre of Dreams’ on the final day of the season. At one time they led the champions Man United but ultimately succumbed to pressure.
Most Valuable Player: Charlie Adam – scored free-kicks, scored long rangers, scored tap-ins and even scored straight from a corner!
Could Have Done With: A better bench strength; may be a couple of shrewd loan signings during the January transfer window would have ensured safety.
Could Have Done Without: Letting in some cheap goals after dominating games for large periods. Blackpool surrendered some very valuable leads and in the process lost precious points in their quest for safety.
THT Season Verdict: Credit to the Club for their refreshing approach, it was a delight to have them amongst the elite of English football. All of the neutrals would be hoping for a swift return back to the top flight, but surely they would be stripped off some of their prized assets.
West Ham United
Remembered For: Being easily the worst team in the league, despite having one of the players of the season as captain.
Peak Point: Victory over Liverpool at Upton Park. The three-goal comeback at West Brom wasn’t bad, either.
Low Blow: Conceding thrice in the second half to Wigan on the penultimate weekend that relegated them, officially.
Most Valuable Player: Scott Parker easily outshone his teammates as he tried to single handedly drag the Hammers from the mire. He was also rewarded with the Writer’s Player of the Year award.
Could Have Done With: At least a couple of centre-backs; and no, Mathew Upson doesn’t really count.
Could Have Done Without: Trusting Avram Grant with unquestionable faith. He needed to be shown the door half-way through the season.
THT Season Verdict: New management with a new outlook is really needed at Upton Park. However, the bigger concern for West Ham would be losing their vital assets ala Scott Parker, Mark Noble et al.