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EastStandBlue

Life President
Joined
May 29, 2005
Messages
15,469
So, another season bites the dust and it’s all over bar the fighting at the Wembley mud bath. As ever, ten months of football has served up more twists, turns and travesties than a Mail on Sunday honey trap and hopefully this should spread some light on the season just gone.

Norwich
Starting the season with a 7-0 drubbing at the hands of everybody’s least favourite victims of inbreeding wasn’t exactly ideal and, as a result, Bryan Gunn became the first manager to lose his job just a week into the new season. Norwich refuted claims that it was a knee jerk reaction to the opening day defeat, blamed it on a miserable transfer window and player selection, recruited the U’s Paul Lambert and never looked back.

Clearly revitalised under Lambert, Wes Hoolahan found his natural position playing just behind Grant Holt and the duo became one of the most fearsome attacking partnerships in the League. Buoyed by the arrival of super-sub Oli Johnson and the rapid implosion of Leeds, Norwich eventually won the League at a canter. Any rumours of financial instability were forgotten, and Delia can now look forward to stumbling drunk onto pitches at Hull, Portsmouth and Burnley next season.

Moment of the Season: Avenging their 7-0 defeat at the hands of Colchester, turning the U’s over 5-0 on their home swamp.



Leeds
Leeds were facing their third year in the third tier of English football and the natives were, understandably, restless. Simon Grayson was tasked with achieving promotion and somehow managed to keep hold of Jermaine Beckford who, despite a barren run of 2 months without a goal, notched an impressive tally of 24 league goals.

A mid-season wobble brought on by an extended Cup run saw the Yorkshire outfit do their level-headed best to somehow fluff another promotion bid, losing their 8-point gap at the top of the table. Rumours were rife of Bates losing patience with yet another manager, a rather high profile falling out with Beckford and a camp in disarray yet Leeds regained composure and clinched promotion with a hard-fought win over Bristol Rovers on the final day.

Beckford will more than likely depart for the subs bench at Goodison Park, but the basis of a talented squad should stay and see them do well in the Championship. Jonny Howson, Leeds captain at just 19, is certainly one to look out for.

Moment of the Season: Dumping United out of the Cup courtesy of a first-half Beckford strike. It doesn’t get much better for a White Rose.



Millwall
So unlucky last season in the Play-Off final, the club everybody loves to hate kept faith in Kenny Jackett and weren’t exactly busy in the transfer market. Zak Whitbread might have jumped ship to join promotion rivals Norwich, but Millwall bolstered their own ranks with the likes of Steve Morison, who helped send them to Wembley with his 21st goal in an impressive debut League season.

Beating Huddersfield in the Play-Off semi-final sent them on their way to Wembley for a second consecutive showing at the home of Bon Jovi concerts, and they’ll be desperate to exorcise the demons of last year.
It could have been oh-so-different, though, for 15 minutes they were second in the League during the final day, but Bristol Rovers’ capitulation in the second half saw Leeds leap frog them into the Championship.

Moment of the Season: Could be still to come, but their 2-0 win over Huddersfield was hard fought and much deserved.



Charlton
Charlton split opinion at the start of the season. While their side was well drilled and effective, they never looked confident in victory and good sides found it relatively easy to exploit their weaknesses. A solid yet unspectacular 4-5-1 formation rarely conceded, but rarely entertained and, as a result, the club were written off on countless occasions.

Their season was reignited with the arrival of Kyel Reid on loan from the West Ham, the tricky winger adding real pace, excitement and enthusiasm to a side that were huffing and puffing away. He helped guide Parkinson’s men to a fourth place finish yet, sadly, fell to Swindon penalties in the play-off semi final.

It’s a result that could be disastrous for the club. Throughout the season, fears over their financial stability grew and administration is rumoured to be on the horizon. Key players will depart in an attempt to quell the fires and it could be a long stay in League One.

Moment of the Season: OK, it’s probably not theirs, but it sure as hell is everybody else’s. Nicky Bailey sending his penalty into orbit will long live in the memory as a sweet, sweet moment for football fans everywhere.



Swindon
The surprise package this season having stayed in the race for promotion, with much of the thanks owed to the demolition duo of Billy Paynter and Charlie Austin. Austin started the season laying bricks for a living, but was picked up from Poole Town (Austin was actually training with Bournemouth, who were blocked from signing him on two separate occasions because of a transfer embargo) and never looked back, totalling 18 League goals to date.

Danny Wilson has assembled a tough, well drilled squad with a blend of experience and youth that play some good football, but also aren’t afraid to battle. Danny Ward has been a revelation since coming into the squad and his goals helped dispatch of Charlton on Monday night.

Wilson has never won a Play-Off final, and that’s the next task to hand for Swindon.

Moment of the Season: a 3-0 mauling of Leeds at Elland Road proved their promotion credentials.



Huddersfield
Huddersfield were touted as an early-season favourite for promotion, having spent big throughout the course of the months before. Theo Robinson left Swindon in the lurch to sign for them at the last minute and the exciting Pilkington joined him from Stockport.

In retrospect, it probably wasn’t the wisest of ideas to base a promotion-contending defence on Peter Clarke and, as a result, the Terriers were blighted by chronic inconsistency throughout their campaign. One week, they’d be thumping Wycombe 6-0 and the next they’d be made to look rather seriously by drawing a blank at home to the League’s worst team, Stockport.

It’s this complete lack of a run that saw them fall by the wayside of the automatic promotion contenders and, ultimately, collapse at the last hurdle and resort to hoof ball in an attempt to get promoted.

Moment of the Season: Smashing an appalling Wycombe 6-0 at the Galpharm, playing some scintillating football in the process.



Southampton
The club started the season on a knife edge. Starting with a ten point deduction accrued because of administration and without an owner for the majority of the Summer, the Saints began their League One voyage with a half-assembled squad and a manager who didn’t know his boss from one week to the next.

Based on how precarious their position was in August, it’s something short of a miracle that Pardew has worked on the South coast. To finish 7th in a tightly fought league just seven points off the play-offs lays a fantastic foundation to be built upon for next year. Signing the likes of Lee Barnard and Jose Fonte has filled any potential short fallings and the smart money is definitely on them for a title next year.

Moment of the Season: A verifiable romp over Carlisle in the Paint Pot final, bringing the first new piece of silverware to the club for decades. Apart from Lee Barnard’s legs, of course.



Colchester
Losing Paul Lambert a mere few weeks into the season left the incestuous locals incensed, especially when Lambert took it upon himself to quit and then take the Norwich job instead of waiting for the clubs to organise appropriate compensation.

A court battle ensued, but Aidy Boothroyd and his alien head showed up and all was forgotten. Out went any passing brand of football and in came a neck-straining “hoof and hope” style that was nothing if it wasn’t remarkably effective at this level.

The likes of Clive Platt and Kayodi Odejayi flourished under Boothroyd while Steven Gillespie found his playing time cut short... £300,000 well spent I’m sure you’ll agree. Unfortunately for the sister shaggers, they were found wanting against the bigger teams at this level who know too well how to deal with long ball merchants and they fell just short of the Play-Offs. How tragic.

Moment of the Season: Unfortunately for us, it’s probably when Adam Barrett found his standing leg stuck in quick sand.



Brentford
The Bees have enjoyed a fantastic season, finishing 9th the season after winning promotion from League Two. Andy Scott would be my manager of the season, forging a very good team who are nothing if they aren’t well organised, resilient and cohesive. The key reason behind their success is their almost impeccable home record, turning Griffin Park into a fortress.

The unlikely duo of Carl Cort and Charlie MacDonald forged a great partnership up front and they were certainly helped by on-loan ‘keeper Szczesny, who will have helped his stature at Arsenal with a series of great performances between the sticks.

Next season is pivotal for them, however, as they look to avoid that second season syndrome and consolidate their League One status.

Moment of the Season: Beating Norwich 2-1 at home certainly gave them the impetus to succeed.



Walsall
Arguable one of the worst teams to visit Roots Hall this season, they owe an awful lot of their high finish to their early season form, particularly the goal scoring prowess of Troy Deeney. Falling apart as they secured safety probably won’t give much confidence to Hutchings, and the stories emanating from the club aren’t exactly great either.

Sections of the crowd who chose to voice their concern about the management behind the scenes were forcibly removed and threatened with banning orders and a stadium ban on flags and banners has now been enforced. Cue one particularly great shot of stewards tearing down a banner that simply read “freedom of speech”.

Expect crowds to dwindle next season if the regime continues, and it could potentially spell trouble for the midlands outfit.

Moment of the Season: A 2-1 away win over Leeds wouldn’t have done any harm...



Bristol Rovers
Coping with the loss of a natural goal scorer like Ricky Lambert was always going to be difficult, Southend fans can attest to that more than most, but Trollope and his Rovers have adjusted well to live without their regular 20 goal a season man.

A comfortable, mid table finish for the club leaves them in a good position to perhaps mount a challenge for the Play-Offs next season and Trollope’s stock continues to grow as an accomplished League manager.

Time will tell if they can hold on to the likes of Dominic Blizzard, Jo Kuffour and Danny Coles, but if they should, they’ll be well placed for next season.

Moment of the Season: Comprehensively beating their much fancied local(ish) rivals Swindon 4-0 at the County Ground.



MK Dons
The Dons have had a rather disappointing climax to the season, finishing 12th after being, as expected, in and around the Play-Offs for most of the season. Paul Ince returned in an attempt to gain the promotion that Winkleman has been craving, but was consequently sacked after failing to clinch it yet again and picking up just 8 points in the final two months of the season.

The almost disastrous way they folded towards the end of the season, courtesy of mounting suspensions and an injury list akin to a bad day in Bangkok, could be cause for concern as they enter a pivotal season. Rumours of financial insecurity weren’t exactly quelled with the “cheap option” appointment of 29 year old Karl Robinson and that dreaded inconsistency will have to be cured by August.

Moment of the Season: A pretty uneventful season, probably buoyed by the moment Ince decided to leave. On the pitch, coming from behind to beat a rampant Norwich just about stands out.


Part Two will follow tomorrow.
 
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