Thursday, May 15, 2014

My Alternative Best & Worst Premier League Memories of the 2013/14 Season

It has been a thrilling Premier League season, full of twists and turns at the top, the middle and the bottom - with Manchester City emerging as champions in the end.
There have been brilliant goals, memorable matches, wonderful performances, as well as some more controversial moments and outbursts. As a Palace fan you may feel the following piece shows some bias towards the South-London Club! However they have been applauded by many this season for their achievements, both on and off the field.

Biggest Gripe:
Crying fans. You know who you are. Get a grip!
Secondly: Stupid kick-off times and inconsiderate scheduling, when all everybody wants is a game on a Saturday afternoon.
Thirdly: Yellow cards for players removing their shirts during a goal celebration.

Best and Worst Fans:
According to a Premier League fans' pole held by The Guardian newspaper Crystal Palace fans were considered the best away support by almost one-third of all Premier League clubs, namely Cardiff, Chelsea, Everton, Southampton, Swansea and West Ham, with Fulham fairing the worst.
The bleacherreport ranked Selhurst Park as the ground with the best atmosphere in the Premier League.
Sky Sports pundit Gary Neville and former Palace and England defender Gareth Southgate also praised the atmosphere at Selhurst Park.
Neville said of the Palace faithful: "They’ve been the best fans this season by a million miles. I don’t know what they’re putting in the water there. They’re mad."

Most Bizarre Goal of the Season:
On 2nd November 2013 Stoke goalkeeper Asmir Begovic scored after 13 seconds in Stoke's 1-1 draw with Southampton.
The goalkeeper's long kick forward got carried in the wind before bouncing over Saints keeper Artur Boruc at the other end of the pitch and finding the net.

Other Premier League goal-scoring goalkeepers:
Peter Schmeichel (Aston Villa) v Everton in 2001
Brad Friedel (Blackburn) v Charlton in 2004
Paul Robinson (Tottenham) v Watford in 2007
Tim Howard (Everton) v Bolton in 2012

Best Goal of the Season: Pajtim Kasami for Fulham at Selhurst Park:
There have been some phenomenal strikes in the Premier League this season. But in terms of technique nothing betters Kasami's effort in Fulham's victory over Crystal Palace in October. Fulham trailed 1-0 in what was a huge game for them. Sprinting at full pelt, the Swiss international burst through the defence, controlled Sascha Riether's long-ball with his chest without breaking stride, and then unleashed a sumptuous right-footed volley which dipped over Julian Speroni's head from a near impossible angle. Shades of Marco Van Basten!

Special mentions also go to Jonjo Shelvey, and whilst Wayne Rooney’s goal at West Ham was truly special, the fact that goalkeeper Adrian was flapping around like a beached seal somewhat ruined it and for sheer bloody-minded Jeeeeeesus Christ-ness its Norwich City’s Norwegian Alex Tettey. His sublime long distance volley versus Sunderland, had everything - technique, pace, power and direction! An unlikely source but a screamer none the less!

Worst Penalty of the Season: Jason Puncheon
On the 11th January 2014 Jason Puncheon, the Crystal Palace midfielder became the first Premier League player to miss a penalty this season. After an atrocious spot-kick at White Hart Lane, blazing high and wide against Spurs, which included a bonus (and appropriate) face palm, it was rightly or wrongly labelled by many as the worst penalty kick of all-time!

Most Significant Own Goal of the Season: John Terry.
The beginning of the end of Chelsea's title ambitions. After thumbing Arsenal 6-0 the week before, Terry's own goal saw Chelsea lose at Selhurst Park and some of the results that followed including a home defeat to Sunderland and a home draw with Norwich saw any chance of them winning the title go up in smoke!

Quote of the Season: "They can die as soon as they want"
Hull City owner Assem Allam decides the best way to endear himself to the club's fans is to attempt to change the name that has stood for more than a century and tell the fans they can kill themselves if they don't like it. (But to his credit he appointed a good manager in Steve Bruce, supported his wise purchases of Shane Long and Nikica Jelavic in the January transfer window and can now look forward to an FA Cup final appearance against Arsenal).

"I want to congratulate again Mike Dean. I think his performance was unbelievable and I think when referees have unbelievable performances, I think it's fair that as managers we give them praise. So fantastic performance"
He hasn't won anything this year but Jose Mourinho has been quote gold. This time he lands himself in hot water by coming across all sarcastic after Sunderland inflicted a first home defeat in 78 matches for the Chelsea manager.

Worst Club Chairman:
Malaysian businessman Vincent Tan was allowed to get away with changing Cardiff City's colours from their famous blue to (lucky) red while the club were heading towards the Premier League. He then attempted to adopt his own transfer policy by signalling his intent to only sign players with the (lucky) number eight in their birthday, and he even booed his own team off the field. But what turned the tide against him was sacking manager Malky Mackay, the man who took them there and was so highly regarded by the fans, despite a poor start to the season. It was a bitter parting and it is hard to see how Tan's relationship with Cardiff's fans can recover, especially after relegation.

Best Match of the Season: Crystal Palace 3-3 Liverpool.
For the sheer drama of the late turn-around, it was one in a million. One of those matches that makes you think the Premier League really is the best most unpredictable league in the world.

Worst Match of the Season: Manchester Utd 0-0 Chelsea.
Back in August 2013 no-one knew quite how bad Manchester United were going to be under David Moyes, and so Jose Mourinho thought he was being really, really ball-achingly clever when his Chelsea side turned up at Old Trafford, opted to play no forwards and bored his way to a goalless draw.
He wasn’t.

Best Signing of the Season: Jason Puncheon.
Having arrived on loan at Crystal Palace at the start of the season, the 27 year-old winger signed a long-term deal in January, and Palace became his 11th club, in his much travelled career. He established himself as a key member of a team which surpassed all expectations. There were seven goals, all of them important, and it is testament to Puncheon's character that he excelled having had to endure the humiliation of that dreadful penalty miss against Tottenham, as Tony Pulis's side cruised to Premier League safety.

Worst Signings of the Season:
1/ Erik Lamela. A £30m signing from Roma as Spurs looked for a replacement of sorts for Gareth Bale. Ten starts in all competitions for Tottenham. One goal. Hardly any memorable moments. Disappeared over the second half of the season with a mystery back complaint. Massive problems learning the language. Hard to know how it could have gone any worse. The Argentine winger was probably the worst replacement since Alberto Aquilani tried to fill a Xabi Alonso shaped hole in Liverpool’s midfield.

2/ Second is Norwich's Ricky van Wolfswinkel. Chris Hughton splashed £8.5m on van Wolfswinkel from Sporting Lisbon as the supposed answer to his goalscoring problems - built his Norwich team around him, got one goal in return (a fortuitous opening-day goal against Everton), saw his team turn into rubbish and got himself the sack to top it all off

3/ Third is Marouane Fellaini. A £27.5m disaster (Tottenham's Roberto Soldado also deserves a mention.)

Most Controversial Moments of the Season:

1/ A manager headbutted a player.
Just take a moment to think about that. Maybe think about your manager at work and imagine if he/she did the same to someone who worked for a rival company. Pardew did just that to Hull’s David Meyler. A seven-game ban followed on top of a £100,000 club fine, during which time Newcastle were abysmal, but Pardew has managed to hang onto his job by his fingernails, but for how long?

2/ Jose Mourinho scares a ballboy:
What is it with Chelsea and ballboys? Last season it was Eden Hazard who gave a Swansea youngster the boot and this season manager Jose Mourinho decided to give a young Crystal Palace ballboy a stern lesson during the match. Unhappy with the boy taking too long to give the ball back, Mourinho warned him he could be “punched” if he continued the delaying tactic.

3/ Chris Smalling dresses as a suicide bomber:
The poor Manchester United press office. Not only have they had to deal with the David Moyes debacle, but Smalling decided to give them a bit of extra work by hosting a fancy dress party and going as a suicide bomber. The tabloids got families of terrorist attack victims to condemn the United defender and he promised to limit his fancy dress options to zombies, cowboys and Fred Flintstone in the future.

Most Deluded Fans in the Premier League:
Newcastle fans are the most deluded in the Premier League, just edging out West Ham's
Yes, Newcastle lost six matches in a row, that led to a mass walk-out at St James' Park during the win against Cardiff. Yes, their manager headbutted an opposition player. But they had secured a top-half finish way back in February. Why then do the Newcastle fans consider their Club to be a laughing stock? Anyway the Geordie fans just edge out London's East End fans as the most deluded in the Country.

Psychologist of the Season: Dr.Steve Peters
Every team will be on the hunt for their own Dr.Steve Peters. The psychologist is said to have worked wonders at Anfield this season, but the meltdown at Crystal Palace suggested that when the pressure was on Liverpool were not quite as in control as they would have liked.

Waste of a Talent: Wilfried Zaha
The £15m man who would save English football was given little chance to impress by David Moyes before being loaned to Cardiff. And no one could make them look good.

Unlikely Hero: Dwight Gayle
Two years after playing in the Conference North, a year after relegation to League One with Peterborough, and with just 88 minutes of Premier League football under his belt in 2014, Crystal Palace striker Dwight Gayle was the unlikely man to end Liverpool’s title hopes and finish the season as the Club's top goalscorer.

Worst Director of Football: Joe Kinnear
“Judge me on my signings,” said Newcastle’s newly appointed director of football last summer. They did and he was sacked in February having failed to bring in a single player on a permanent transfer.

Young Player of the Year: Séamus Coleman
There were a few candidates in here including Ross Barkley, Joel Ward, Raheem Sterling and Luke Shaw, but Coleman was quite simply superb. His seven goals this season were priceless and he was an instrumental part in what made Everton's defence one of the meanest all season (conceding only 39 goals - only Chelsea had a better record).

Worst Refereeing Decision: Andre Marriner’s error in mistakenly sending-off Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain instead of Kieran Gibbs at Stamford Bridge in March, and this despite Oxlade-Chamberlain telling Marriner he was the culprit. To make matters worse Chelsea went on to win the game 6-0.

Defining Moment of the Season:
If Liverpool had won the Premier League then it would have been Philippe Coutinho’s superb winner against Manchester City following a Vincent Kompany sliced clearance.

But as they didn't then of course it is Steven Gerrard’s slip against Chelsea which allowed Demba Ba to score.

It was a moment in time which ensures that, no matter how hard you work, how much you sacrifice, how much you long for success for your team, your fans and your city, you are still susceptible to the crazy storylines which run throughout football.

Changes for Next Season:
Lifetime bans for supporters that leave the stadium while the game is in the balance. You know who you are!

My Premier League Worst XI of the 2013/14 season:

Maarten Stekelenburg (Fulham)

Matt Lowton (Aston Villa)
Fernando Amorebieta (Fulham)
Modibo Diakite (Sunderland)
Aly Cissokho (Liverpool)

Erik Lamela (Spurs)
Marouane Fellaini (Man U)
Mohamed Diame (West Ham)

Andreas Cornelius (Cardiff)
Ricky van Wolfswinkel (Norwich)
Jozy Altidore (Sunderland)

My Alternative Premier League Best XI of the 2013/14 season:

Julian Speroni (Palace)

Joel Ward (Palace)
Marin Skrtel (Liverpool)
John Terry (Chelsea)
Leighton Baines (Everton

Raheem Sterling (Liverpool)
Aaron Ramsey (Arsenal)
Fernandinho (Man C)
David Silva (Man C)

Romelu Lukaku (Everton)
Sergio Aguero (Man C)

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