Where they finished: 18th
Season in five words: Joke club gets just desserts.
Successful season? Hmm, absolutely not. I almost don’t know where to start. Let’s do it in bullet points (imagine a Benny Hill style montage). Best outfield player sold (Milner). Keegan resigns, again. Who should replace him? I know let’s get Joe Kinnear! Barton in trouble with something or other. Kinnear does ok. Ashley wants to sell. Ashley doesn’t want to sell. Ashley downs pints. Best player sold (Given). Kinnear has heart trouble. Slide down the table. Shearer returns! Eight games to save them. Only wins one. Newcastle are relegated. That’s just the brief story. In reality, this is a club which has been mismanaged for years, both on and off the pitch. At some point it would catch up with them, the irony being that this was a year when a particularly low points total was needed to stay up.
Defining moment: Keegan resigning, again. There have been so many errors over the season, but had he stayed you feel things may have been a lot more stable. Bottom half, but not relegated.
Player of the year: Nicky Butt has been solid in an otherwise poor midfield. Bassong has impressed in defence and will be targeted by other clubs.
Goal of the season: I literally spent about 15 minutes trying to find some kind of good Newcastle goal this season but had no luck. Any suggestions are more than welcome. This by Duff is the best I could do.
Flop of the season: Coloccini has the unique ability to drag down those around him. Can you think of a single thing Xisco did?
Highlight: Shearer returning was a false dawn in the end but at the time it was quite an amazing story.
Summer homework: Complete the sale by Mike Ashley, sign up Shearer permanently. Get rid of all the deadwood on large contracts and sign young, hungry, pacey players who can get them up at the first attempt. Keep hold of Taylor and Bassong.
Where they finished: 14th
Season in five words: Harry leaves, Tony rubbish, safe.
Successful season? Not really. They came into the season as FA winners, top half finishers and with a talented squad. The debt accumulated to achieve this however could not be maintained and Muntari, Defoe and Diarra were all sold during the season for big money. Harry Redknapp left for Spurs and Adams was promoted in his place. The Arsenal legend couldn’t seem to get the rub of the green and coupled with some curious tactical decisions went on quite a long winless run. He was replaced by Paul Hart who guided Pompey to safety without too much stress in the end.
Defining moment: Redknapp leaving for a second time, he won’t be back again.
Player of the year: Glen Johnson was excellent at right back all season. He needs to cut out the positional lapses but that wil come once he is playing for a big club again.
Goal of the season: Glen Johnson’s left foot volley from around 30 yards. Brilliant stuff.
Flop of the season: Tony Adams? It’s hard to see his managerial career recovering after his spell at Fratton Park. David James and Sol Campbell have started to look their age.
Highlight: In terms of occasion, hosting AC Milan in the UEFA Cup and holding them to a 2-2 draw shows just how much they’ve come in the last few years.
Summer homework: Reduce the average age of the squad. Buy some young, pacey players. Keep Johnson and Crouch. A lot depends on whether the rumoured takeover will happen.
Where they finished: 12th
Season in five words: Not pretty but very effective.
Successful season? Yes. Amongst the favourites to go down at the start of the year, Stoke were never in any real danger of going down. Their home form at the Britannia Stadium was excellent and they picked up plenty of impressive results there to be safe with games to spare.
Defining moment: Signing James Beattie in the January transfer window. Six goals in nine games followed and by the end of that run Stoke were safe.
Player of the year: Abdoulaye Faye was a beast at the back, leading the defence whilst also popping up to score some vital goals. Special mention to Rory Delap and his bullet throws and Jame Beattie for his run of goals.
Goal of the season: Fuller against Villa early in the season.
Flop of the season: Dave Kitson, who quickly went back to Reading.
Highlight: There were many impressive home wins this season but the victory over Arsenal was the most satisfying. When you make Wenger angry and talk about physical, anti football, you know you’ve had a good win.
Summer homework: Sign some more squad players and perhaps some creativity in midfield. A striker to push Fuller and Beattie wouldn’t go amiss.
Where they finished: 16th
Season in five words: Keane’s shadow still looms large.
Successful season? So-so. The aim at the start was to stay up, but given the manager (Keane) and the money he spent, initial expectations were perhaps a little higher. Keane resigned in December citing that he was fed up (and also a run of five defeats in six) but not before he has wasted much of the budget given. Niall Quinn appointed Ricky Sbragia, who started well but then didn’t really have the personality to impose himself (especially after Royston). They stayed up, just, and Newcastle and Boro went down. In that sense it was a great season!
Defining moment: Keane resigning in December. It left them without a figurehead and a proper manager for the rest of the season.
Player of the year: Danny Collins was good at the back. Jones appeared to play well once he returned from injury.
Goal of the season: Kieran Richardson scored one of the few great free kicks this season against Newcastle.
Flop of the season: Cisse scored quite a few but did little else. Lots of other signings didn’t really have great years either (Malbranque, Tainio, Ben Haim etc).
Highlight: Newcastle going down.
Summer homework: Part of it is already done in the sense they’ve appointed a good manager to replace Keane. Getting Steve Bruce to join is quite a coup for Sunderland and he should prove better than Keane in working with a similar size transfer budget. Basically more quality is needed. Lots of honest pros but Sunderland need that spark to ensure they avoid another scrap next season.