My first in a line of reviews of the season, and i have started off with the people who have dictated our season, the players. Looking back from the summer, what could have been with various signings, and who from the old crop had a good season.
The season before hand, Martinez had made some great signing bringing in the likes of Moses, Diame, Thomas and Caldwell (Gary) plus more, who all turned out to fit in too the team well. So we expected some more good moves in the summer following, and we thought we were not to be disappointed.
Boselli was the £6 million wonder striker, who so we were lead to believe, hit five goals in pre season looking good for the money. I saw him play against Real Zaragoza and he looked the part, although he didn't score in the game, his work rate and movement looked good and surely he could fit into the Premier League. Five league games in, no goal for Boselli and he looked like a man lacking something.
Come January with one Latics goal to his name he moved to Genoa, where he scored in his first apperance, and looks like he has made an impression. Reports are he will be leaving the club for £3 million. So bad season for Boselli in England, will we see him again next year? I wouldn't bet on it.
Antolin Alcaraz signed before heading off to South Africa for the world cup on a free and what a good piece of business it was. The world was alerted by him scoring a goal against Italy in Paraguay's first game in the World Cup, along with some good defensive displays. Rumors were he would leave the club instead of sticking with us, he rubbished the rumors and came to Latics.
What a good choice it was. Although he had a shaky start, his first two games were not the best to come into, but game on game he is improving. He has made mistakes but his quick recovery and ability to block shots has served him well. Will only improve next season, and deserved his player of the year award.
James McArthur Latics returned to Hamilton to signed the youngster who had played along side James McCarthy. Although he has yet to break into the squad like his team mate, the signs are there of a talented young football player who will certainty be on to watch. Played well in the Wolves game away, and I would hope to see him feature more next year.
Ronnie Stam we lost a dutch right back, we signed a dutch right back. The blonde hair lad looked a good buy with the likes of Ajax and Munich reportedly circling. It didn't take long for him to make an impact either. Although he was signed as a right back, his attacking flair has shone through in the early part of the season, but his defensive play was lacking. He was muscled out of the side by a usual ever dependable Boyce, and the rumors our that our dutch full back is back off home this summer. Ajax have supposedly made a £2 million offer for him. Although he hasn't been a flop i think a move away from Latics is likely.
Franco Di Santo the young Argentina striker who looked like a great buy from Chelsea. Full of life and energy all that really missed his early season performances was a goal. The longer it went on the more his performances dropped. There looks to be a lot of improvement for the lad, a good preseason with the team, and a proper run in may see him become a handy striker for us. Don't write him off just yet.
Steven Caldwell the older brother of Gary, looked to be an odd deal on paper, but signing on a free with experienced it did make sense. Although he has been caught out, his experienced has brought some stability when it has been needed. With his contract up in the summer, I have a feeling it won't be renewed with the chance of younger defenders breaking through.
Tom Cleverly the midfielder signed on loan from United for the season, and again this looked a bit of a weird deal. Why did we need another midfielder with how many we already have. But the young English man gave us something none of our other midfielders could and that was a bit of a spark. He was a vital part of the team over Christmas and his double against Stoke to see a point was his best performances. He has plenty of potential and don't be surprised if him and Jack Wilshire line up on England's midfield in the near future.
Ali Al Habsi do I need to say more than his name. Broke into the team after Kirkland had a torrid time at the beginning of the season. Excellent season and deserved any award he got by the end of it. Only really made on mistake against Manchester City, and the reported £5 million price tag is a bargain considering he has saved us our Premier League status.
Adrian Lopez the spaniard eventually signed in January after a dispute with his former club. He has yet to feature much, but his performance against Manchester City was great, considering he was only partial fit. I would expect to se more of him next season, and looks like he will defiantly be part of the squad if not team next year.
Players of the Season
Now with the new lot out of the way, I am going to list my top three players from the squad already present, with most improved player, most consistent player and most surprising performance of the season.
Most Improved Player
For me this can only go to one player, from the very start of the season he has looked a lot sharper and better drilled to play in the Premier League a second time round. Last season he showed signs he could step it up and this year he has, especially towards the end of the campaign with some great performances.
This is of course Mohamed Diame. Featuring for most of the season, he has looked like a dependable rock, all though it didn't start like that. Against Blackpool his usual energy was there, but he gave away the ball to easily and was getting caught out. But over the season he has really grown into the side, and if he is fit he plays for me. Diame came into his own after Christmas, getting himself into the line up, while Thomas disappeared. Diame's season best performance, came in the West Ham where he controlled the midfield, but even before that he had looked our best centeral midfielder.
I look forward to seeing him play next year in Latics blue, I can't see him leaving just yet there is more to come from him.
Most Consistent Player
The obvious choice in my book, he hasn't just been our most consistent player this year, but since the day he pulled on a Latics shirt. He gives 110% to the cause and never gets enough praise for his work rate for the team. He deserves the arm band to show the lads just how to play continually at the same level. My choice is Emmerson Boyce.
Although injury had kept him our for much of the early to midseason, when he did feature he looked right at home, even half fit. His return against Bolton he looked his regular self, and since then he has kept marching on. Has chucked in with some vital assists toward the end of the season, and looks right at home on the right back position. Having him fit all season is a must for next year.
Most Surprising Performance
Now this goes to a player who before this season, I never throughout would play how he has this year. Under Martinez his mentality and playing style has changed to make him look right at home. This is of course Ben Watson.
Bought under Bruce he was an attacking midfield player who would get forward and create things with a spark. Now he has been changed and some what for the better, slowly but surely he has started to take up the role as midfield general, and it is starting to come together. His tackling is getting there and his range of passing is great.
He has really surprised me though with how well he has adapted to it, and by the end of the season his performances were over shadowing that of James McCarthy. I think that shows just how much he has changed and can now start to look to improve is free-kicks and corners, which have been his major let down of the season. All the same he has been a interesting player to watch of the course of the season.