A brief overview of all the teams I saw this season (regardless of whether I was supporting them or not) and how they did of the course of the season.
Accrington Stanley –> Who are they? Exactly. Sorry. Despite having hardly any fans and no money, Accrington still managed to finish in a respectable 16th position in League 2. It looked to be a spring board into next season, however news came out yesterday that a winding-up order has been taken out against them and so it remains to be seen whether they will even start next season at all. Worrying times for them at the moment.
Argentina –> Diego Maradona looked to be finding the managerial life simple with wins against Scotland, France and a qualification match against Venezuela and it seemed Argentina would cruise into the 2010 World Cup. Then they travelled to Bolivia, the 3000ft match caused serious trouble as they lost 6-1, a massive shock and hammering. It also left them 4th in the South America (only top 4 qualify automatically), 2 points off Uruguay. Their next match against Columbia (the team in 6th) on the 6th June will be vital for Maradona and Argentina.
Barnsley –> After their 0-0 draw against Southampton in September I said that I would be surprised if both of those teams were not relegated at the end of the season. More on Southampton when I come to them, but Barnsley did manage to prove me wrong by securing survival on the last day with a win over Plymouth and they even finished 20th in the process. They will be favourites for relegation again next season but will battle strongly to try and keep their Championship status secure.
Barnstaple Town –> In the end for Barnstaple it was quite comfortable to secure survival in the Western Premier League. They finished 18th (out of 22 – bottom 2 go down) after a great run of form towards the end of the season. Barnstaple will hopefully be a ground I manage to visit quite early on in the season as it is quite nearby.
Bideford AFC –> They finished 6th in the Western Premier, which I feel is quite a decent finish for them. They also reached the Q-F of the FA Vase before losing 4-0 away at Lowestoft Town.
Carlisle United –> An interesting close season for Carlisle as they announced that Greg Abbot would continue to be manager and so he will hope to try and bring some of his own players in to avoid a struggle like this season. With some big teams still or being relegated into this Division, I can’t see anyway Carlisle finishing in a play-off spot or above next season, although a comfortable midtable finish looks likely. They will have to replace Danny Graham who today announced that he will not be signing the contract Carlisle offered to him.
Celtic –> After three league titles in a row, a 0-0 draw against Hearts, combined with Rangers 3-0 win over Dundee United meant that their Glasgow rivals took the title. Manager Gordon Strachan then resigned in the week and with Burnley manager Owen Coyle set to reject them for a crack at the Premiership, a new boss is needed first before the rebuilt begins. Who knows what the Celtic line-up will look like on the opening day of the 2009/2010 season. They do have bogging away shorts this season though.
Chippenham Town –> Flirted with the play-offs for quite some time before a point deduction cost them and ended up finishing 8th in the Southern Premier League. Could have a decent crack at promotion next season if they keep the basis of their current team together,
Exeter City –> I don’t know how, but Exeter City will be playing League 1 football next season. The two times I saw them this season, they had been outplayed for large sections of the match and managed to fluke their way to 6 points. I do feel that Exeter will come straight back down again, but St James Park will be a place that no team will fancy going to next season so they might just do it. (Doubtful though). Will hope to get a blog report from there at some point in the season, hopefully when Carlisle United go down to the real St James Park.
Hamburg SV –> They looked very, very strong and looked at one point that a treble was on the cards. However, one team put a stop to all of that – Werder Bremen. Bremen beat them in the DFB Pokel Semi-final on penalties, then knocked them out of the UEFA Cup semi-finals on away goals and even had the cheek to beat them in the league. In the end Hamburg only scrapped into the final Europa League spot with the 90th minute goal on the last day.
Hamilton Academicals –> The Accies adapted brilliantly to their first season in the SPL and in the end finished in a (in my opinion) rather harsh 9th. Their best players could be on their way in the summer, so will need to replace them wisely or a struggle could be on as St Johnstone don’t really look that bad a team coming up from Division 1.
Hearts –> Well, as previously discussed in my last post at the end of the 07/08 season I feared for Hearts, a terrible team, no manager and a crazy owner. This season has been exceptional if you compare it to the dross I watched 12 months earlier. 3rd place in the league, Europa League play-off round (cheers Rangers, *washes mouth out with soap*) and a great, great manager. The fears are back though (I am a very pessimistic person), with our defence ripped out, our most creative player gone, these are big gaps to fill for next season. There is also the shadow of Romanov hanging over us and I feel that we would need to be bought out before those fears go away again. Cannot wait for the summer as we are linked with various players such as Maurice Ross, Paul Hartley, Roy Carroll and Miku. (A Salamancia striker – holds a Hungarian passport so could be true…..)
Lancaster City –> Finished 7th in the Unibond Div 1 North, their old manager was actually sacked the week after the 5-3 loss to Salford City and so with a new manager, a promotion tilt (they have the look of a club that deserve to be higher) could be on the cards next season. With next year set to be my last year at Lancaster, it would be rude not to repay them a visit.
Manchester City –> Finished 10th in the Premiership, but the big news over the summer will be, who will their starting XI be next season? With billions to spend, Mark Hughes is basically playing a real life version of Football Manager so expect some crazy spending and City still winning nothing and coming midtable.
Millwall –> Reaching the play-offs can be seen as a great achievement for a team that weren’t expected to be around that area at the beginning of the season. Yet a win over Leeds in the Semi-Final put them through at Wembley to play Scunthorpe and despite going 2-1 up (the equalizer being a wonder goal) they still managed to lose 3-2. I doubt another promotion push will be sustained next season but as my predictions are normally so laughably wrong, they will probably go up automatically.
Morecambe –> Finished 11th and had an outside shot at the play-offs which would have been a play-off place if they actually had any sort of form in the first few months of the season. This, despite having a squad not as good as the 07/08 squad, shows good work done again by the boys at Christie Park. This coming season is also set to be the last season at Christie Park so get down there!
Motherwell –> Its hard to congratulate success at Motherwell when they have such a whiney, dislikeable tosser as a manager in the form of Mark McGhee. They finished 7th and so were the best of the bottom 6, yet due to “fair play rules” they have been laughably given a Europa League spot where they WILL go out the first round they are in. If you look on Wikipedia at the Europa League 2009/10 page, there is a great table to show what Round, teams come in. Motherwell enter at the First Qualifying Round where 95% of the teams will beat them easily. Still, why don’t Scotland give another spot to the Cup final losers? Oh. They have. :|
Rochdale –> Another decent season from the boys at Spotland, although some may feel that an automatic promotion place was lost rather than a play-off place gained. An interesting close season on the horizon as they currently have 0 goalkeepers so look out for that one.
Salford City –> Where do I start with Salford!? Their win at Lancaster in March put them on 12 points. Relegation looked likely, suddenly they picked up win after win and found themselves only 2 points behind Rossendale United on the last day. A win for Salford at Garforth Town (5-2) and Rossendale’s 0-3 home defeat to Mossley kept them up. Amazing and what an escape. Ironically though, Rossendale were reprieved and so Salford wouldn’t have been relegated anyway. Nevermind.
Scotland –> After that 1-0 defeat to Argentina, Scotland next played the runaway leaders in Group 9, Holland. We lost. Iceland were beaten (only just) to keep our slim hopes in qualifying for 2010 alive, although with Holland basically there already it would seem a play-off would be in order if we came 2nd in the group. Its a big big game against Norway on the 12th August. We will be helped by the fact Barry “straight-ball” Ferguson won’t be playing.
Southampton –> Oh dear. Those two words sum up Southampton’s season quite well as relegation to League 1 was confirmed, the club are currently in administration and will start next season in League 1 on –10 points. Although Saints legend “Le Tiss” appears to be part of a consortium buying the club, Southampton’s short-term future looks to be not so rosy, especially as it looks like another season will await in League 1 after this season. Also not helped by the fact their nearest rivals Portsmouth have just been bought up by some rich Arab. Never rains but it pours eh.
Tiverton Town –> Finished a disappointing 12th in the Southern Premier League. A better season, or at least a start will be needed next season at Ladysmead.
My final blog post will be detailing the grounds I wish to see in 09/10 (I’ll get to hardly any of them most likely) and then I sit back and watch Hearts sign more unknowns and Manchester City buy every football in the World. In the meantime, have some pictures of games I was at this season. (I didn’t take any of these)