The Best XI of the 2008-09 Football Season
The XI I have chosen for this season has been based on the British footballing season in domestic and European competition. I have selected one goalkeeper, a left and right back, two centre halfs, a right/left wing midfielders, two midfielders, and two attacking forwards.
I have then selected a sub for each position along with an explanation of why they came second. I have headed the slide show with a picture of Steven Gerrard because I believe he was the best player all season.
With a total of 24 goals in 41 games saw Gerrard break his record for goals scored by one goal.
He was inspirational in Liverpool's greatest season in their premier league history and also found the net seven times in nine games in the Champions League including a brace in the Liverpool's unforgettable 4-0 demolition of Real Madrid in the last 16.
I feel my selection of the XI and the subs has been fairly based on players performances in all competitions please feel free to let me know what you think.
Mark Schwarzer (Goalkeeper)
A controversial choice after Edwin Van Der Sar's record breaking season but the big Aussie was at the heart of Fulham's best ever season finish of seventh which will see them in the Europa League next season.
At 36, Fulham manager Roy Hodgson brought in the experienced keeper to tighten up a weak defence and his influence has seen one of the most dramatic increases in league standings this season and improvement of ten places from last season's least day escape.
He kept 10 clean sheets in all competitions and played every minute of the season.
Glen Johnson (Right Back)
The England international has come of age this season with a string of mature performances which have seen him back in the England team.
A season of inconsistency let down Portsmouth on and off the field in what was their first venture into Europe which saw them draw 2-2 with AC Milan at Fratton Park in what was one of the most thrilling games of the season.
With the season having come to an end rumours of a possible move to Liverpool have circulated again and I believe that whoever ends up in charge of Portsmouth would do very well to keep hold of him.
This season Johnson has finally achieved the potential he showed as a youngsters at West Ham, he’s crowing moment came with a 35 yard screamer against Hull back in November which won goal of the month on Match of the Day.
Nemanja Vidic (Centre Half)
The towering Serbian would struggle to follow up last season’s performances but he was still solid and reliable in United’s successful title defence.
With his partner Rio Ferdinand picking up niggling injuries throughout the season which saw the promising young Northern Irish defender Jonny Evans came in for him, Vidic played out of his skin at times.
Edwin Van Der Sar’s fourteen game clean sheet record had a lot to do with the Serbian who was the only ever present in the sequence (out of the defenders).
His season ultimately quietened down with defeat at home to Liverpool and then the Champions league final but his early season performances certainly merit his place.
Brede Hangeland (Centre Half)
In the Norwegian’s first full season at craven Cottage he has come alive. The powerful and commanding centre half has been at the heart of everything that has been good about Fulham this season which will see them play in next season’s inaugural Europa League.
Back in August he grabbed his first goal for the club in a 1-0 win against Arsenal. Speculation over where he will be playing his football season is around following his terrific season with Liverpool and Arsenal rumoured to have strong interest in the Fulham player of the season.
Ashley Cole (Left Back)
After a number of season’s of inconsistency in his performances both for club and country Ashley Cole has had a outstanding season in particular his part in winning the FA Cup for Chelsea (his fifth as a player).
The season began for Cole with a shocking performance in the home qualifier against Kazakhstan at Wembley and ended with a man of the match performance in the FA Cup final win for the Blues against Everton.
His commanding performance saw him pick up the winner medal in the cup final and ensured that caretaker manager Guus Hiddink left for Russia with a trophy.
It seems that Chelsea may well be getting themselves back together and with Cole playing like he did at Arsenal Chelsea will be amongst the top boys next season.
Stephen Ireland (Centre Midfield)
The controversial Irish man was City’s player of the season and produced a season full of mature performances. As a result of blistering form he has recently signed a new contract with the Eastland club until 2014.
In a season where the money men achievable very little Ireland flourished with 13 strikes and impressive tally from midfield.
His place at City was in major doubt when City announced that they had new billionaire owners, but it seems under the guidance of Mark Hughes Ireland has ‘grown up.’
As a result of his outstanding season whoever is brought into Manchester City Ireland will feature heavily as City look to be a major force in the league and Europe in the coming years.
Steven Gerrard (Right/Attacking Midfield)
My player of the season. An outstanding season even by his very high standards the inspirational Red's skipper ensure that they would be involved in the club’s first assault on the title in the past decade.
Sixteen goals in the league as well as seven in the Champions League saw Gerrard have his most successful season in what was his tenth year in the senior team.
Sensational performances against Manchester United at Old Trafford and Real Madrid at home were the highlights, although Liverpool for a third consecutive season ended trophy less.
A few tweaks are needed at Anfield to ensure another title push with the absence of Sami Hyypia a defender is a must as well as winger and a man to cover Torres if he picks up injuries.
Gerrard will start next season fresh and will be determined to end the years of hurt at Anfield, he has been the key to Liverpool’s most successful season in Premier League history.
Frank Lampard (Centre Midfield)
After a quiet start to the season Frank Lampard has been the driving force under Guus Hiddink revival of the Londoners. 20 goals in all competitions including his marvelous winner in the cup final on Saturday saw Lampard win the player of the year at Stamford Bridge.
Ignored by many in their teams of the year Lampard scored a number of vital goals, including two vital goals that killed off Liverpool in the jaw dropping quarter final champions’ league tie.
He also got himself on the score sheet on his 400th appearance for Chelsea with the winner at home to Stoke. 2008-09 has been the fourth consecutive season that Lampard has scored 20 or more goals and from midfield this is an outstanding achievement.
Perhaps underrated by many fans and pundits but ask yourself where would the Blues have been this season without him?
Tim Cahill (Versatile Midfield)
The fan’s favourite at Goodison park played a huge role in Everton securing an amazing fifth place finish when you take into consideration the amount of injuries they had to contend with.
Vital goals throughout the season including a last minute winner at Man City and his role in ensuring the Blues would participate in their first cup final since 1995 ensure him of his place amongst the first XI and excellent season who is no doubt David Moyes’s best ever buy during his reign.
Cristiano Ronaldo (Left/Attacking Midfield)
The driving force in Manchester United's title succes and their Champions League run. Awesome goals at Porto and Arsenal ensured that Sir Alex's men would be appearing their second showpiece final in a row.
He scored a number of vital goals throughout the season including two against Aston Villa in 3-2 win in a game many saw as the game United turned the title race in the favour.
Nicolas Anelka (Striker)
Anelka is not only in my team because of winning the golden boot he is i it because of the effort he has put into games since his move from the Reebok.
It's a tough task trying to pushout Drogba no matter what form he is in and Anelka has flourished he bagged himself a classy hat-trick in a tough cup tie at Watford when the Blues were a goal down at the beginning of the second half.
He has kept himself to himself at Chelsea and under the new manager he will be a very useful tool.
Tim Howard (Sub Goalkeeper)
An excellent season for the American stopper he led his team to the cup final with a top performance in the semi final win against Manchester United and then he went on to break Everton legend Neville Southall’s clean sheet record.
This can be out down to the outstanding performances of the likes of Jagielka and Lescott but when he was called to duty he answered with a string of outstanding performances.
Moyes looks like he has done another bit of great business in securing the reliable American.
Liam Lawrence (Sub Right/Left Midfield)
Lawrence has been pivotal in ensuring Stoke City’s survival in one of the success stories of the season. It was fitting the popular player scored the winner at home to Hull in May that ensured that Tony Pulis’s men were to play in the top flight for another season.
He has since gone on to make his Republic of Ireland debut after gaining residency from his grandparents. One of the most underrated players in the league had a season to remember in his second stint in the league.
He will be key to Stoke if they are to avoid the dreaded ‘second’ season curse.
Phil Jagielka (Sub Defender)
An outstanding season from Jagielka has now seen him a serious contender to go along with the England squad to South Africa next year for the World Cup.
His commanding performances throughout the season instilled the belief that carried the Toffee’s to the cup final, it was fitting he was the one who got the winning penalty.
His season was cruelly cut short by a nasty injury at home to Man City days after the Wembley joy and he missed out on his place and during the final Everton did miss him.
An outstanding performer and hopefully will recover in time for the 2009/10 season and I believe he will go to the World Cup this time next season.
Fernando Torres (Sub Striker)
In his first two seasons the Spaniard has sensationally scored 50 goals in 83 games beating the likes of Rush, Fowler, Dalglish and Owen to the quickest first 50 goals record.
El Nino's season has been a stop start one but still managed 14 premier league goals and three cup goals some of his most memorable goals game against the big teams with three goals against Chelsea in League and Europe, as well as Liverpool's first in their demolishion job at Old Trafford and a memorable goal against his old rivals Real Madrid.
He along with Gerrard hold the key and without a doubt Liverpool will be among the big teams next season again with Torres's class.
James Beattie (Sub Striker)
My shout for signing of the season. When Tony Pulis went back to the Championship to look for a goal scorer to keep his side up a lot of eyebrows were raised at Beattie’s arrival.
Stoke were in trouble and preparing for the dog fight of relegation but with seven goals in 15 Beattie’s performances ensured that the Potteries were safe with games to spare.
He got vital goals against Man City and West Brom the powerful forward again will be key to their survival and improvement next season.
Titus Bramble (Sub Defender)
Bramble has excelled this season and ensured that Wigan would have their best ever premier league season with a 11th place finish. His performances at the back were strong and commanding and his error’s have been kept at a minimum this year it’s clear that Bruce has got the best out of him.
With Bruce’s pending move to Sunderland I think Bramble will follow him to Sunderland and he will continue with his improvements.
Luka Modric (Sub Midfield)
The Croatian international superstar arrived in England with a big reputation and Spurs had one of the most talked about player at Euro 2008.
His performances in the first half of the season were below par but under Harry Redknapp he has been sensational and played a crucial run in their amazing second half to the season in which they pushed Fulham all the way for a European spot and lost the League Cup Final on penalties.
He capped off a impressive 2009 with a great winner against Chelsea in a 1-0 win at the Lane which killed off any chance of the Blues winning the league. With this man controlling the play next season Spurs will be a major force once again.
Roy Hodgson (Manager of the Year 2008-09)
From last day drama last season to finishing in a Europa league position what Roy Hodgson has done at Craven Cottage has been nothing short of remarkable.
A blend of experience, youth and exciting players they have been the surprise package of the season. Next season will be a huge season an assault on Europe will ensure better players will come in the summer and I believe Roy is the right man because he will bring in players he think will do the right job for the club.
He got rid of Bullard in January and it really went unnoticed he has got the best out of the players he has at the club. David Moyes at Everton ran him close again another manager who gets the best out of what he’s got.
Hodgson has proved that experience is key at two rookie managers went down this season and one just survived Fulham have the right man at the helm to ensure the don’t get to distracted with Europe and struggle in the league.