First season back into Premier League (where we belong, I must add) and obviously at the start of the season we were very much tipped to go straight back down. We did not really make many signings or at least proven in the Premiership players. We brought in James Perch who became quite the scapegoat amongst the fans. Dan Gosling on a free transfer, but would be out until at least Christmas due to injury. Sol Campbell who was already clearly past his best, and would just cost us money. But then an exciting new player would be signed on loan (but then permanent in January) Hatem Ben Arfa who looked fantastic but suffered a horrible injury when he had his leg broken after a Nigel de Jong tackle. So those being the new players brought in not really much was placed on them. We had to rely on the team who done so well making the Championship look easy the year before. Not forgetting of course our signing and possibly player of the season Cheik Tiote.
The season has certainly been a roller-coaster journey throughout, giving some teams a good hiding (Villa and Sunderland first to come to mind) but also getting a few hidings as well (Bolton and Stoke away). The trauma of the FA cup defeat to lower league side Stevenage and another change of manager. Chris Hughton being sacked and replaced with Alan Pardew.
But performance wise and in goal scoring terms we looked to have more than enough to survive in the league, after Andy Carroll and Kevin Nolan leading the league scoring charts. But we all know what happens next, our new number 9 involved in the deadline day record breaking move to Liverpool for 35 million. That type of money for Carroll really could not be turned down, for a player who had not played a full season in the Premier League and not proven. But we did not have time to bring in anyone else and ended up signing Shefki Kuqi who was out of contract and hardly made any appearances for us!
That left us with Leon Best, Peter Lovenkrands and Nile Ranger to come up with the goals. Which for the latter of the three does not look like it will ever actually happen. I will admit that I was pleasantly surprised when Best and Lovenkrands managed to get quite a few goals, as still don’t think they are for the top level.
Moment of the season has to be Cheik Tiote’s goal against Arsenal to draw it level at 4-4 after being 4-0 after 20 minutes!
Match of the season beating Sunderland 5-1!
Finishing a very respectable 12th in our first season back definitely gives us a good base to build on, but we must improve our very thin squad over the summer. But that is after we nail down Kevin Nolan and Joey Barton with new contracts. We keep hearing how much they are involved in the fantastic team spirit we now have at the club.
Now for the summer and speculation of who we will be signing. Howay the lads!