Monday June 11th
Well it's officially time to close the book on the 2010/11 season, arguably the 5th best season in the club's 140 year history. From the highs of Everton away, to the lows of Wembley it's been a memorable season and a few of us here at the Tilehurst End got together to give our thoughts on the season and hand out a few awards.
Today I'll by putting up a mostly player focussed set of awards, with the overall team ones to come either later this week or at the start of the next. If you've got any comments or thoughts please feel free to comment below!
Q1: How Would You Grade Our Season Overall?
Tommyrfc: Overall a B+ if you work on the assumption that A = promotion in some form. I think we probably overacheived given the squad but to make the playoffs with games to spare, win 8 in a row and make the quarter finals of the FA cup is a really impressive season.
Wimbles: Very similar thinking myself Tommy, I'm also going to say a B+. At the start of the season the play-offs seemed a possibility but by no means a certainty, then after we lost Siggy it seemed as if top half was the best we'd manage. To go on the run we did all the way to Wembley was an amazing achievement really and credit to Brian McDermott for masterminding it. The cup run was a great bonus a well. Would have been an A were it not for the disappointing display at Wembley.
MichaelWade: I'm going to go with B+. When we were sat in mid-table with 15 odd draws (the most in the Football League at that point) and destined to challenge for a top ten finish I would have rated us at C, considering we lost Sigurdsson. But the end to the season, the commitment, heart and spirit shown boosts us up to a B+.
Tommyrfc: Wow, pretty much unanimous!
MarkLawrence: I'll say a B with the reasons really echoed by you guys!
Q2: Who was your player of the season?
MichaelWade: For me only one candidate ultimately deserving of this is Shane Long. I honestly didn't think he had it in him (one of my famous wrong predictions). But he proved me wrong and really was responsible for a lot as we closed in on that play-off spot.
MarkLawrence: Also Long. Although I voted Karacan player of the season (I knew Long would win it) without Longy's goals, we wouldn't have got half the wins we did and we wouldn't have had half the attacking threat needed for a play-off push. I do think that there are other players who played a huge part in the 8 game winning run (McCarthy, Karacan, Leggers) but Long was really the only player I can give it to.
Tommyrfc: Has to be Shane Long. In October there were large chunks of the fanbase who had major doubts about him but he's had a stunning season. His workrate is immense and his all round game is fantastic. To score as many goals as he has is a massive achievement. Honourable mention to Leigertwood though who was the catalyst to our amazing second half of the season.
Wimbles: Once again have to agree that it's Shane Long. While his 15 odd goals since December have won him the most plaudits, for me he deserves as much credit for the tireless running around and hard work he put in throughout the season. To start 36 league games, plus the Cup ties and Play-Off games is a credit to how far he's developed and how crucial he is to the team. Honourable mentions to Jem Karacan and Mikele Leigertwood who are looking our best central midfield combo since Harper and Sidwell.
Wimbles: people will accuse us of being the same person 4 times at this rate :D... so i'll change my vote to Gregorz Rasiak ;)
Tommyrfc: I was just thinking the same thing (not Rasiak...)
Q3: Most improved player?
Tommyrfc: Tempting to say Long again given how far he's come since this time last year but I'll say Jem Karacan as he really established himself this season.
MarkLawrence: Has to be Shaun Cummings for me. At the start of the season most fans (me included) in the stadium were talking about how we don't see him in the team blah blah blah, but how far he has come now! Since he got his chance in the team, he has fully taken it and he never looked back. Shows the journey he has come to have been given the faith to start in the semi-final against Cardiff, a true testiment to a hard working player.
Wimbles: It's tough for me to choose between Jem Karacan, Shaun Cummings, Matt Mills and Alex Pearce for this one but ultimately I look at who I'm far more confident in today then I was at the start of the season and it has to be Pearce for me. Cummings has indeed come on a lot but then I wasn't as down on him as some were (despite having been at West Brom last year...) Pearce to me is finally showing why he's been so hyped up in the past and I think could well be our best defender next season.
MichaelWade: I've got two candidates here. Jem Karacan and Hal Robson-Kanu. Jem for establishing himself in the first-team, something Henry, Cox, Davies, Kelly all haven't done before him and performing well week in week out. HRK for establishing himself in the first team picture, as a solid stand in for one of the teams better players, and performing capably when called upon. His emergence leads me, for one, to believe that if Kebe were sold we wouldn't be too bad off with Hal in his place.
Tommyrfc: Cummings, Pearce & HRK have certainly improved from last season but Jem is still the only one to cement a place in the first team.
MichaelWade: The competition for Jem is a lot more competitive than for HRK tho. Admittedly he's kept some solid pros out in Tabb, Howard and Bryn but for HRK to keep Kebe out would take a mammoth achievement on his part. To establish himself in the squad when others haven't been able to is good progress for now.
Tommyrfc: Fair comment, there isn't the same collective groans when HRK comes on now either.
MarkLawrence: If only HRK could cross better.......
Tommyrfc: Could say the same about Kebe...
Wimbles: I think it's a great sign that we can all look at so many players and say how much they've developed, something we've struggled to say with players like Henry, Kelly etc in the past.
Q4: Who has been the most disappointing player for you this season?
MichaelWade: I don't like being too critical but I don't think Shane Long has pulled his weight at all...
Tommyrfc: Simon Church - he scored that absolute belter on the last day of last season and all the coaches were lauding him as this great prospect. This season he's done sod all in truth. The fact that we had to bring Manset in and at one point Jay Tabb was playing in an attacking role ahead of him says it all. He's gone backwards as a player and looked less and less effective as the season went on.
Wimbles: Once again I'm going to agree with Tommy and sorry it's Simon Church or Andy Griffin, with the 'winner' being Simon Church. The lad just never ever got going, even when given a run of starts he just looked totally lost. Credit to him for grabbing some vital goals but all round he's gone backwards since an impressive end to 2009/10. Dishonourable mention for Andy Griffin who's just not looked as steady as I'd have liked this year, with that being summed up at Wembley.
Tommyrfc: Bit harsh on Griffin, he's had a fairly solid season and been no worse defensively that Harte.
MichaelWade: Good point to be fair - Church looks like he is struggling and works best as an impact sub (he's scored a few important late goals) but little more right now.
MarkLawrence: Matt Mills. Now this may come as a surprise and he has had decent games this season (Everton, Wembley) but I can't help but get disappointed when I see Mills most of the season. Struts around like he doesn't care, when things go badly he shouts at the players and generally loses faith in the team. I rate him as a defender but hot headed and times such as Sheff Utd. he hasn't done the basics which you would expect of a Captain.
Tommyrfc: Matt Mills is a good shout. Bit of a big match player I think, not so interested in the less glamorous games.
MichaelWade: I'm going to go with Brian Howard - I used to fear him and think he was quality before he joined but he seems to be treading water. I'm convinced it's not all his fault, he's in a competitive squad and maybe things haven't worked out but if he left I don't think he'd be missed or too hard to replace.
Wimbles: Think Howard suffered the most from the switch to 4-4-2 he looked brilliant alongside Gylfi and Tabb last year.
MarkLawrence: Shame about Howard, looked half decent last season.
Q5: Who was your unsung hero?
MichaelWade: I feel they've all had their fair share of the spotlight for various reasons. The guys who seems to go about business without too much fuss or hassle for me is Jay Tabb or Brynjar Gunnarsson. Both solid, dependable, reliable and don't cause a fuss when they're not in the team and from what I understand help to create a harmonious squad environment as a whole. Top drawer.
Wimbles: I'm going for Adam Federici. I think he's suffered this year from the fact people have been so impressed with McCarthy and have always been talking about selling him. Despite 1 or 2 high profile errors Fed has been one of our best goalkeepers in the past 20 years and his distribution, shot stopping and general enthusiasm has been a big plus. Good shout on Bryn as well, shows a lot when you offer a 36 year old another year!
Tommyrfc: I'm gona go for Jobi McAnuff. All the attention goes on Jimmy Kebe (for obvious reasons) but I think Jobi's has had a very consistent season. Sometimes he frustrates because we know what he can do (see Cardiff away) and doesn't always produce it but he very rarely gets injured or plays badly and has been a mainstay all season. I suspect he also played a big role in getting Leigertwood here.
Wimbles: Agreed on Jobi, he's barely played in his natural position all year, he's played left wing, in the 'Gylfi' role, central midfield and even right back! never complains.
MarkLawrence: Don't think either of them really played enough games Michael! Wimbles, you have a great shout with Fedders, definitely his best season! Yeah Tommy although Kebe gets most of the attention, I see McAnuff as an away player only, at home, he seems a shadow of the player that plays away from home.
Tommyrfc: As a club I think we are blessed at having so many 'honest pros' and no prima donnas. It's been our secret ever since Coppell came in.
That about wraps up the player section of our lookback, keep checking back to the site later in the week or the start of next week for our team awards and review.