We’ve had countless ‘teams of the season’ put forward by pundits from all over the country. So, I thought I’d have a go at one – but with a twist. Here in the Midlands, in comparison to London and the North-West, we don’t get the coverage that our four sides deserve. So, to drift away from the norm, I’ve decided to base my team of the season on the four West Midlands giants.
Taking players from West Brom, Aston Villa, Wolves and Birmingham, I’ve attempted to put together a starting XI and a manager of the season. I’ve gone for a 3-4-3 formation because, let’s face it, none of our defences have really shone this season!
Although the Blues found themselves relegated this year, there is no doubting the quality of Foster. Most Birmingham fans would agree they would have been in a lot more trouble had it not been for the heroics of the former Man United keeper. His man of the match performance in the Carling Cup final helped them win the trophy, but, his future is in serious doubt and the club may struggle to hold onto him.
Despite being apart of a defence that conceded in 36 out of 38 Premier League games, Olsson has been a rock for the Baggies. Steady performances throughout the season, along with a goal during the 3-1 win against Birmingham, has seen Olsson win plenty of plaudits from pundits and fans alike.
Similar to Foster, although he has just been relegated, Johnson clearly has immense quality. A constant attacking threat from corners, coupled with his aerial ability in his own box, has seen the defender linked with moves to the likes of Spurs and Liverpool. Blues will do well to hold onto Johnson, who has been a great success since arriving from Cardiff last season.
One of the best loan deals of the Premier League season, Walker has been a rare bright spark in a Villa defence that has struggled this term. A threat going forward, as well as being able to keep up with the pace of attackers, the Spurs-loanee will surely find himself back in the reckoning for Harry Redknapp’s side next season.
Jarvis has undoubtedly had the best season of his career. An England debut, constant top-notch performances and voted Wolves’ player of the season has seen the winger become a marked man. His form has seen him linked with Liverpool, but he continues to remain loyal to the club who took a gamble on him a few years ago.
Voted West Brom’s player of the season, Mulumbu has bossed the midfield at the Hawthorns this season. Regularly on the scoresheet, Mulumbu has been a key part of a successful season for the Baggies. A tough-tackling, no nonsense midfielder that a great number of clubs in the top flight would love to get their hands on.
Another good season for the England international has seen him attract interest from some of the biggest teams in the league. Young, who is comfortable on both wings, central midfield or even up front, has proved to be an invaluable player for Villa this season. A constant threat going forward, Villa will do well to hang on to him this summer.
A player who has had to deal with a lot of criticism, Downing has been a great success for Villa this term. Working well with Young and Darren Bent, Downing has had his best goalscoring campaign since 2007/08. A regular in the England squad, Downing has also been linked with a move away from the Midlands this summer, as he continues to delay on singing a new contract.
Seen as many as the signing of the season, not even the most optimistic Albion fan would have hoped for the goalscoring exploits the Nigeran has displayed. Finishing the season with a club record 15 goals in the top flight, Odemwingie has been one of the deadliest strikers around this term. Baggies fans will be hoping he puts pen to paper after the club offered him a new deal.
Despite only joining in January, Bent still managed to finish as top league scorer at Villa Park. The reported £24 million spent by Houllier clearly put a lot of pressure on the striker, but he has more than delivered for the expectant fans. A series of impressive performances have seen Villa pull away from a relegation battle into a comfortable mid-table finish.
It’s not always about goalscoring when it comes to strikers, and there is no better example of this than Kevin Doyle. Often leading the Wolves’ attack on his own, Doyle has more than held his own against some of the best defenders in the world. Crucial goals against Spurs and Manchester United proves he can score and compete against the best sides in the league.
Manager – Roy Hodgson
There was only one real candidate for this one. Hodgson, albeit controversially, replaced Roberto Di Matteo in January and immediately made an impact. Leading the Baggies to an impressive 11th placed finish. Despite his disastrous time at Liverpool, Hodgson has recovered to work wonders at the Hawthorns and Albion fans can look forward to a summer of smart signings from the 2009/10 manager of the season.
So, there we have it, my attempt at a team of the season. There were obviously a few close-calls, with the likes of Chris Brunt and Jamie O’Hara unlucky to miss out. Undoubtedly, there will be plenty of disagreements between fans over who they thought deserved their place. Let the arguing begin!