One Season On

Today is the last day of the Premier League season, and coincidentally also the anniversary of the day we gained promotion by beating Blackpool in the play-off final at Wembley. Sky’s trailers for this season’s play-off matches showing that marvelous piece of TV where Carlton Cole is shown in slow motion celebrating the winning goal while a sea of claret & blue go mental behind him, has brought back great memories of that day.

With just today’s match against Reading to play, we have secured our place in next year’s PL with a reasonable degree of comfort. The season has had its ups and downs, but overall I think we can be pretty happy with the way it has turned out. Our home form has been fairly consistent, including a notable win against Chelsea, and a draw against champions Man Utd where we were perhaps unlucky not to get the victory. On the downside, we couldn’t find the net on our travels, and this cost us a lot of points. It’s a flaw that we must address for next term, otherwise we could really struggle.

Andy Carroll has been on a good run of form since his return from injury and I would like to see his signing made permanent, but I suspect that the combination of transfer fee and wages demands will mean we can’t afford him. We need to add some more strength in depth, particularly in defence, and if signing Carroll means we can’t use funds to strengthen elsewhere on the pitch, then it would probably be the wrong move

We were probably lucky that the opening few fixtures in August and September were quite kind to us, giving us the chance to put a few points on the board and gain some confidence before the more difficult games came up. We took advantage, and got the platform to be able to absorb the hits we took in the middle part of the season. Just when it looked as though we could be dragged into the relegation fight, we went on a decent run that pulled us clear again.

Off the pitch, the big talking point is the confirmation that we will be moving to the Olympic Stadium in 2016. Despite the addition of retractable seating, I still can’t see it be a suitable venue for football. The so-called “supporter consultation” (held after the decision was made and therefore not going to impact it), was nothing but a marketing exercise, with leading questions designed in such a way as to encourage people to look positively on the move. As such, the club were always going to be able to spin the results such as to appear that the majority of fans are in favour. However, this contrasts with the views of fans (mainly season ticket holders) that I’ve spoken to.

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