The Villains had a pretty average season as far as I am concerned. Martin O’Neill, a manager, I do admire, was expected to come in and do a lot of good things. Doug Ellis was for the first time in ages, a thing of the past and it seemed the good times are back to Villa Park.
The season started well enough with players like Luke Moore and Gabriel Agbonlahor coming to the fore. But it all started to go downhill and they started drawing games they should have won and losing matches. In January, Martin, brought in Ashley Young from Watford and John Carew from Lyon.
Carew made an immediate impact straight away by scoring then he reverted back to the same old Carew. A player who is infuriatingly inconsistent, 1 minute, he is unplayable, and then next, he is like a pub player.
It was not until Patrick Berger was brought back from his loan period at Stoke, and put in the first team, did things start to pick up for Villa and they had a very impressive run towards the end of the season. All in all, I did not see that much difference between this Villa side and the one that was so maligned under David O’Leary.
The impressive players were Agbonlahor, Gareth Barry, Gavin McCann, Gary Cahill, Craig Gardner, Luke Moore and Olof Mellberg. Agbonlahor would get my vote for the player of the season. Disappointments came in the shape of Petrov who was a huge let down, Juan Pablo Angel and before he left to go to Lyon in exchange for Carew, Milan Baros.
Bolton brought in Nicolas Anelka as their only major transfer of the season and it was going to be interesting to see if they would change their style of play to suit his talents as their long ball routine would not have suited him.
He did not start scoring immediately though as his first goals did not come until he scored a brace against his former club Arsenal. I am not a huge fan of the way Bolton play as are many in the country but it seems to suit them and they have been very effective with it.
They were not helped by a panorama on BBC which seemed to implicate manager Sam Allardyce and especially his son of wrongdoings in the transfer market.
Their impressive performances include beating Liverpool 2-0 at the Reebok stadium and drawing 2-2 with Chelsea at Stamford Bridge, effectively handing the premiership to Manchester United. The game also saw the shock decision of Sam Allardyce to resign as manager. It will be interesting to see how they cope without him.
The most impressive performers include Kevin Davies, Jusskalinen, Anelka, El-Haji Diouf, Ivan Campo and Joey O’Brien with the player of the season being Gary Speed. Kevin Nolan had a rather average season by his recent standards.