Part three of the series comes in the shadow of some event that occurred in Munich, where Chelsea won some minor trophy or other. Congratulations to the Blues on their European victory (he mumbled, with his head tucked into his chest as he half-heartedly kicked at stones).
And now for something completely different…
Demba Ba (SEN) – When the Geordies sold off Kevin Nolan, Jose Enrique and local hero Andy Carroll, the St. James faithful screamed for owner Mike Ashley’s head. Fast forward a year, and Ashley looks like a genius. Part of that is down to the arrival of Alan Pardew. But the purchase of Senegalese forwards Demba Ba and Papiss Cisse for a pittance was a revelation. And while Ba’s production tapered off with Cissé’s arrival in February, it was because Ba was willing to play the no. 10 that created Cisse’s industry in front of goal. Note that you didn’t hear as much as a little Ba peep about the position change either…
Russell Martin (SCO) – You have to give credit to Paul Lambert. He could have parked the bus and hope that Norwich hovered above the relegation zone. Instead, the Canaries played the same free-flowing football as they did in their Championship campaign, finishing a very decent 12th. The downside was that their defence had to endure a few humiliations. But right-back Martin was ever present, playing out of position in the centre, where he withstood more than one onslaught. Sure, Grant Holt scored the goals but Russell Martin typifies Norwich City’s season… and he hasn’t requested a transfer either.
QUEEN’S PARK RANGERS
Bobby Zamora (ENG) – Zamora was having a decent season… until he moved up the road to QPR during the transfer window. But who else do we pick? Helguson, maybe? Cisse showed flashes of brilliance when he wasn’t sitting out suspensions. Taarabt or Barton? I think not… Zamora it is, then.
Matthew Etherington (ENG) – I’m going to let you in on a little secret: Stoke City aren’t that good. The myth that they are tough to break down is bull. Their defence was in the lower half of the table, and their keepers faced a barrage of shots. Meanwhile, their offence was the worst in the league, save for one of the Potters’ bright lights: Matthew Etherington. The winger ran at defences and provided crosses… well, as much as Tony Pulis let him. Etherington should have received at least an invite from Roy Hodgson, especially when you consider who will be playing on the left for England this summer.
Stéphane Sessègnon (BEN) – When Steve Bruce picked Sebastien Larsson from the ashes of Birmingham City’s season, I thought it was a shrewd move… and the Swede didn’t disappoint. But Sessègnon (who is from Benin. Where is Benin? It’s not quite Togo, it’s not quite Nigeria… but it comes with a slice of cantaloupe at the end) was the engine for Sunderland. He scored the same amount of goals as Larsson but set up many more, including two in an effort against Manchester City that almost derailed the Citizens’ championship run. The club awarded him Player of the Season and it was well-deserved.