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Pardew's Newcastle the surprise package: Goal.com's club-by-club Premier League season review

Pardew's Newcastle the surprise package: Goal.com's club-by-club Premier League season review

Goal.com

Part three of our look back at the campaign sees two sides promoted, a pair ensure mid-table security, one scrape past relegation and another challenge for the Champions League

ANALYSIS
By Joe Doyle

Three years is all it took for Newcastle to go from relegation to challenging for the Champions League. A scarcely believable scenario, even at the start of this season.

Norwich and Stoke ensured another year of Premier League action, finishing safely in mid-table, though their two main strikers were unfortunate not to see their names on England's squad list for Euro 2012.

Meanwhile, QPR scraped survival by the skin of their teeth, no thanks to poor discipline throughout the season that will not see them bothering the Fair Play league anytime soon.

And the Championship pair of Reading and Southampton ensured they would both return to the Premier League, with great team play and some fabulous finishing on display as Goal.com's review of 2011-12 rolls on...

NEWCASTLE UNITED


Season Overview: Tipped by some as relegation candidates for this season, the Magpies could scarcely have believed going into the last game of the season with a place in the Champions League still a possibility. But Alan Pardew signed some amazing talent at slashed prices to create a formidable counterattacking unit.

It was a tale of two Dembas, as Ba dominated the first half of the season, which included taking four points from champions Manchester United, before Papiss Demba Cisse got an incredible return of 13 goals in 14 Premier League games following his January arrival to galvanise the team and put them into the Europa League. 9/10

Flop of the Year: Sylvain Marveaux - The player arrived as one of a host of Alan Pardew's new signings, and is arguably one of the only ones not to have made a big impact on Tyneside. The French midfielder found his playing time limited frequently, and when he did eventually get a chance he suffered a recurrence of a groin injury which required surgery, making only seven Premier League appearances in total.

Star of the Year: Papiss Cisse - Newcastle had an embarrassment of riches to choose from in this category. Demba Ba was outstanding for the opening half of the season, while Yohan Cabaye was a consistent performer in the centre of midfield and pulled off the occasional wonder goal. Fabricio Coloccini's contributions often go unnoticed, but for sheer impact, Cisse has proved to be an absolute snip for the Magpies at £10 million, rounding off a fantastic season with a stunning goal against Chelsea that really has to be seen to be believed.

Potential Signings: Gylfi Sigurdsson, Benjamin Corgnet

NORWICH CITY


Season Overview: The Canaries were another side tipped to struggle due to a lack of investment, but Paul Lambert's side made a decent start to the season, and their strong team bond and work ethic showed that they really can cut it against the big boys.

While results remained consistently inconsistent, shall we say, Norwich powered through and picked up big results against relegation contenders such as QPR, Wolves and Bolton to really give themselves some breathing room, and finished in a more than respectable 12th place. 7/10

Flop of the Year: James Vaughan - The striker was well out of contention for most of the season, only making five Premier League appearances. It Is rather harsh to choose him as the 'Flop' considering he was injured for a long stretch of the season, but at £2.5m he did cost the Canaries quite a large amount of cash, and unfortunately has not quite paid it off yet.

Star of the Year: Grant Holt - The striker can count himself unlucky not to be heading to Euro 2012 following his fine form in front of goal, which saw him notch 15 Premier League goals to become the second-highest scoring Englishman in the league. His aerial prowess and hold up play is a key part of his game, but his goal against Wolves when he flicked the ball over an on-rushing Wayne Hennessey to head in also showed an agile mind.

Potential Signings: Chris Gunter, Robert Snodgrass, Fraser Fyvie

QPR


Season Overview: It was a turbulent year for the west London side that saw new owners, a new manager and a host of new players come through the doors. Many tipped them for relegation after a lack of investment in the summer transfer window, but Neil Warnock's side (which became Mark Hughes' side) battled on and earned some fantastic shock results, including home wins against Liverpool and Arsenal, the former coming from 2-1 down with 12 minutes left on the board to seal a remarkable 3-2 win.

Still, it took until the last day of the season to confirm their Premier League status, which they did despite losing 3-2 to Manchester City, as Bolton were unable to beat Stoke away in a bid to beat the drop. 4/10

Flop of the Year: Joey Barton - Say what you like about the QPR captain (and plenty do), but you can not say he is not interesting. He was frequently in the papers for what he said as opposed to what he did this season, though he rectified that with an idiotic sending off against Manchester City that could have cost his team everything. It was behaviour unbecoming of a captain, and someone who claims so often to be misjudged really needs to temper his behaviour if he wants to be taken seriously on the football field.

Star of the Year: Jamie Mackie - While January arrival Djibril Cisse could rightly stake a claim to this gong, Mackie has been the real star of the show. Making a comeback from a broken leg, the attacker took a while to adapt to the Premier League, but eventually got going and scored some vital goals, including the winner against Liverpool in the dying seconds.

Potential Signings: Junior Hoilett, Wayne Hennessey, Kenwyne Jones

READING


Season Overview: The Royals really had a lot to bounce back from after suffering play-off final heartbreak at the hands of Swansea. But the campaign started poorly for Brian McDermot's side, as they came within a loss of dropping to the foot of the table.

A remarkable turnaround saw them hurtle towards the top of the table, and a magnificent run of form which saw them win 15 of their last 19 games, including a victory over promotion rivals Southampton at St. Mary's, was capped by a closely fought 1-0 win over Nottingham Forest to seal promotion back to the Premier League. 9/10

Flop of the Year: Honestly? You can not really pick one. A club that turns around from struggling in the opening five games to lifting the crown at the end of the season needs a strong squad throughout the season, and that is what they have displayed.

Star of the Year: Jason Roberts - The striker was in inspired form following his transfer from Blackburn Rovers, finding his feet well in the lower league, in a formation that he recently stated was perfectly suited to him. His charisma seemed to help the dressing room, with 'The Big Bad Wolf' persona and song inspiring not only a new nickname but also an air of fun around the team.

Potential Signings: Gareth McCleary (free transfer from Nottingham Forest agreed), Kieran Richardson, Wilfried Zaha

SOUTHAMPTON


Season Overview: For a long time, Southampton appeared to be favourites to win the Championship, but in the end had to settle only for automatic promotion after Reading pipped them to top spot in the final weeks of the season.

The Saints were helped along the way by the recruitment of Billy Sharp halfway through the season, which seemed to revitalise the team and reinvigorate them when they started to falter. Promotion to the Premier League was eventually sealed with an emphatic win at home to Coventry on the last day of the season. 8/10

Flop of the Year: Bartosz Bialkowski - It is hard to really pick someone for this from a team who have played so well the entire season, and perhaps a little harsh on the stand-in goalkeeper, but he is the unfortunate incumbent. The keeper somehow allowed the ball to squirm past him in the 2-2 against Blackpool that led to them losing their winning streak of 21 games at home. Like I said, harsh, but hey, they got promoted!

Star of the Year: Ricky Lambert - 27 goals for the Championship's top scorer speaks for itself. The striker has lead the line, and forged a fine partnership with a player who gave the team a big boost when they needed it most - Billy Sharp. Lambert's form even led to some (perhaps fanciful) calls for a shock England call-up, that was in truth never likely to materialise. However, the real prize for the forward is the chance to finally prove himself in the Premier League at the age of 30.

Potential Signings: Yakubu, Chris Burke, Simon Cox

STOKE CITY


Season Overview: Overall, it was not a great season for Stoke, but ultimately they have secured another year of Premier League football. They were unable to really build on last year's campaign, finishing this year in 14th position behind newly promoted Swansea and Norwich City.

There were a few standout moments, including Peter Crouch's volley in the 1-1 draw with Manchester City, and a decent Europa League campaign only ended by Valencia (and a wonder strike from Mehmet Topal at the Britannia Stadium). 5/10

Flop of the Year: Ricardo Fuller - The striker had few opportunities to impress this season after the arrival of Peter Crouch, but when he did occasionally get time on the pitch, he failed to deliver the goods, scoring only one goal all season, and picking up one of the most ridiculous red cards of the season against Chelsea for stamping on a player already on the ground.

Star of the Year: Peter Crouch - The striker bagged 10 goals for the Potters this season, and although the club did not finish in the strongest position, Crouch impressed and (though an outside bet) could have made the England squad. His best moment was undoubtedly the audacious volley from the edge of the area over Joe Hart and into the corner to score the opener in a 1-1 draw against Manchester City, the only goal to really come close to Papiss Cisse's this season.

Potential Signings: Aruna Dindane, Jamie O'Hara, Matt Jarvis

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