Premier League’s Unsung XI of the Season
At this time of the year, the forward-thinking amongst us tend to devote their attention to the rumoured activities of the forthcoming transfer window, desperately trying to predict which players will be seeking pastures new. The more reflective however, like yours truly, choose to look back upon the successes and failures of the previous campaign. The PFA Team of the Season didn’t really spring any surprises (although if I hear another Chelsea fan bemoan the omission of Frank Lampard I will throttle someone), predictably selecting the leading lights of the teams found within the upper echelons of the Premier League table. The entirely subjective nature of such selections will forever provoke debate, so instead of throwing my two cents into that argument I have decided to put together an alternative XI.
Whilst the following eleven players seldom receive the plaudits and column inches afforded to some of their more esteemed colleagues and counterparts, they can nevertheless be relied upon as a model of consistency. For the sake of fairness I have tried to avoid selecting more than two players from the same club. These eleven players have been left out of most “team of the season” lists you’ll find on the internet, exemplifying how they tend to avoid the radar of the average football fan. However each one of the following collection of ‘Steady Eddies’, ‘misfits-come-good’ and cult heroes are all worthy of place in my Unsung XI of the season.
Eschewing the expected 4-4-2 line-up of teams of this nature, I have opted to use a 4-5-1 formation, given that it seems to be the flavour of the month amongst most top teams at the moment. So without further ado…
Goalkeeper – Marcus Hahnemann (Wolverhampton Wanderers)
Newly-promoted, managed by Mick McCarthy, a squad lacking proven Premier League players – how many of you honestly thought that Wolves wouldn’t go straight back down to the Championship? Whilst the Molineux outfit’s admirable 15th place finish is attributable to a wealth of factors (most notably how dire the teams below them were), the installation of the heavy metal-loving American between the sticks a third of the way into the season was an inspired decision.
Initially brought in as back-up, Hahnemann managed to usurp the shaky Wayne Hennessey and hasn’t looked back since. Since then the 38-year-old has enjoyed an Indian summer akin to that of team-mate Jody Craddock, ending up as Opta’s goalkeeper of the season, with statistics showing that he made more saves per game than any other regular goalkeeper (4.4 and had the highest saves-to-shots ratio of any regular custodian (79.7%), as well as an impressive catch success rate (96%). Statistics aside, Hahnemann has impressed many with his shot-stopping feats at the Premier League’s lowest-scoring club, with the American proving to be a great ‘catch’ for Mick McCarthy (I’ll grab my coat…).