The Spoiler’s Premier League Team of the Season 2008-09
Sadly there’s no room for player of the year Ryan Giggs here…
It’s another end of season list, but with a twist. To stop a roundup of the 08/09 Premier League team of the season descending into a top 4 love-in, we’ve tried to limit ourselves to only one player from each club. Sticklers for punishment that we are, we’re also rigidly sticking to a classic 4-4-2. It all ended up being a lot harder than we gave it credit for:
GK – Manuel Almunia (Arsenal)
Pulled off some super saves, stopped an inordinate amount of penalties, and has been good enough to have this ridiculous nonsense about him playing for England rise to the surface again. The Spanish keeper has come a long way from Jens Lehmann’s assessment he was to rubbish to play for Arsenal.
DR – Rory Delap (Stoke)
Rory Delap made a healthy contribution to securing Stoke’s top flight status, earning priceless league (and mental) victories against the big boys at a time when Stoke were looking the unfashionable new kids while Hull cakewalked it. He spent most of the season in midfield but his position is almost irrelevent for what he brings to the team.
DL – Luke Young (Aston Villa)
Playing completely out of position, covering for a crocked Wilfred Bouma and an absolutely dreadful Nicky Shorey, isn’t an ideal way to start your first season a new club, but Young has done the job manfully, without complaint and more often than not, impressively.
DC – Phil Jagielka (Everton)
One of the most reliable performers of the season until that heartbreaking injury, Jags has had a superb campaign, reaping benefits in the form of England selection and deserved recognition for being an integral part of Everton’s drive to cup final glory.
DC – Brede Hangeland (Fulham)
On-pitch star of Fulham’s meteoric rise this year, the composed centre-half has come from literally nowhere (FC Copenhagen last January if we’re being pedantic) to being one of the performers of the season, pivotal to his team’s miserly goal concession rate.
MR – Dirk Kuyt (Liverpool)
Since dragging Liverpool into the Champions’ League group stages at the start of the season, Kuyt has spent this season proving there is no better clutch player in the Premier League. More last minute goals at Man City and Wigan and an impeccable work rate have rightly earned him a place in the team of the season.
ML – Cristiano Ronaldo (Man Utd)
Despite once again falling foul to what is already an immensely boring punditry cliché, apparently reserved only for CR7 – “he doesn’t look like he’s enjoying his football” – early on in the season, Ronaldo has spent the rest of the year thwacking in free-kick from angles and distances he should have no business even considering, winning awards and generally having a good time of it.
MC – Stephen Ireland (Man City)
Wrongly overlooked for the PFA Young Player of the Year award in The Spoiler’s eyes, Stephen Ireland’s season has been rammed full of great assists and even greater goals, manfully picking up the slack whenever Robinho felt like having a snooze.
MC – Wilson Palacios (Spurs)
Palacios can spend this summer proudly boasting about being a big part of the reason Spurs weren’t embroiled in 08/09′s relegation bar fight. Having spent the campaign discreetly getting on with the job of being one of Tottenham (and Wigan’s) most dependable defensive performers, the Wenger-endorsed Honduran deserves his recognition.
FC – Nicolas Anelka (Chelsea)
Much of this pre-season was spent with pundits quickly agreeing that Anelka should be ready to quietly step aside for Didier Drogba on his return from injury. That line of thought soon changed when Anelka refused to stop scoring and spent the remainder of the season making Didier look rather less indispensable.
FC – Amr Zaki (Wigan)
Crap since Christmas, we know. But his goal tally is still frozen at 10, as many as some of the league’s proven goalscorers have managed to knock over the line all season – not bad in a lean campaign where the top scorer failed to break the 20 goal barrier for the first time in a decade.