This is for the players that have excelled beyond the expectations people had for them.

There are some players that have been in the Premiership for a while but have really excelled this season while there are players here than until January no one had heard or seen play. So without further ado I present to you my Surprise Package of the Season…Ta Dah

In goal and defence

As you can see I have gone for Michel Vorm in goal and let me tell you it was a struggle not to have a few other ‘keepers between the sticks. There was of course Timmy Krul who has had a stupendous season with Newcastle, something every football manager fan will contest isn’t a surprise as he was always highly rated on that game, and al for me Ali Al-Habsi, but every season I am impressed with him and so it came down to the two Dutch goalkeepers. I have gone for Vorm because when Swansea signed him I don’t know what to expect but after his debut, I knew that if he kept that up he would be a revelation, and he was. I know a lot of Newcastle fans that read this will be upset, but tough, get over it because get what you have Davide Santon at left-back.

I had heard about Santon while he was still at Inter Milan and that he was highly regarded there to be a further Inter regular and although his progress may have stalled slightly after that I was still very surprised when Newcastle had signed him. Santon has done really well in his first year of the Premiership and has shown no fear when he is going forward. On more than one occasion I have seen him maraud with the ball down the left to then cut into midfield and storm his way towards the box. As he matures his defensive abilities will get better and if he can match that with his attacking prowess then Newcastle have a very exciting left-back on their fans…happy now Newcastle fans?!

At right back I have gone for Kyle Walker. Some of you may think that is unfair but honestly who saw him doing this well this season? I had watched him at the U21 European Championships and thought that he had done well enough to deserve a try in the Premiership for Spurs and not go out on loan again, but I didn’t expect him to become the first choice right-back at the club. He was so good this season that he even won the PFA Young Player of the Year so he more than deserves his place in this XI.

In the centre of defence I have gone for Johnny Evans and Steven Caulker. Evans had a shaky start to the season but as it progressed he really improved at struck up a good partnership with Rio Ferdinand giving United one of, if not the best, defensive records in the League.

Steven Caulker is only on loan at Swansea from Tottenham but after the kind of season he has had with the Swans I am sure they will be trying to sign him on a permanent basis in the summer but Tottenham may want to keep Caulker for themselves as they look to bolster their defence for next season. A loan move is always risky but Caulker and Swansea seem to have been a perfect fit.

In midfield

In the two centre midfield space I have opted for the two Swansea players Leon Britton and Gylfi Sigurðsson. Sigurðsson may have only joined on loan during the January transfer window but he has really made an impact, so much so that Swansea are now really going to have a battle on their hands if they also want to sign him on a permanent deal. The Icelandic international has scored seven goals in his 14 appearances which has helped Swansea up to 12th in the league.

Leon Britton has also had a huge hand in that and in the way Swansea have played this season. Swansea have dominated possession in most of their games and the way they have played has won over man neutral fans and Swansea have become something of a second team for many fans. Everybody knows about the stats where Leon Britton is concerned, the best pass completion out of the top 5 European Leagues. Now did anyone expect that, no nor did I!

On the wings I have gone for Dempsey and McClean. Now everybody knows who Dempsey is and what he can do, but this season he has just found a new level. He has had such a good season that now he is being rumoured with some of the best teams in the country, now that is a testament to what kind of season he has had.

Now as for McClean, no one and I really mean no one outside of Sunderland Football Club knew about him until Martin O’Neill took over. While Bruce was at Sunderland he didn’t seem to get a chance but when the O’Neill took over and gave him his chance he has more than taken it with both hands, so I think it is pretty clear why he is in this XI.

Up front

Now both Danny Graham and Grant Holt have come up from the Championship where they both scored goals and people may have thought they would struggle to score goals but Holt has gone on to score 13 goals in the league while Graham has scored 10 and that is why I have put Holt in ahead of Graham. I think that is fair. Now I could have had both but that would have meant two things. One leaving out Cissé and two pissing off all Newcastle fans, and I wouldn’t want the hassle. Half-joking aside Cissé was always going to be in this XI as when he signed Newcastle fans hoped he would score goals, but no one thought he would have scored 11 goals in 10 games. The reason I don’t have Ba in this team is that I expected him top score goals for Newcastle. Did I expect that he would do as well as he did, no, but Cissé has far surpassed any expectations I had so that is why he is ahead of Ba.


So who would be the manager of this team? Well that is a toss up between Steve Kean and Alex McLeish, of course it isn’t! No joking now it is between Brendon Rodgers, Alan Pardew and Paul Lambert. I didn’t see Newcastle reaching 4th or even possibly 3rd but I didn’t give Norwich much of a chance before the season neither did I give Swansea much of a chance and they have both proved me wrong also, except Swansea have played some beautiful football. Weighting things up I think it is fair to say that the manager that would deserve to be a manager of this team is ……

Alan Pardew

Hope you enjoyed reading this and share who you would have in your XI and who you wouldn’t and also who you would have managing them also. I look forward to reading your comments


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