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Premier League season review: Crystal Palace, Everton, Fulham, Hull City


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By Jonathan Nightingale

Thursday 15 May 2014

Crystal Palace


Premier League: 11th


FA Cup: Fourth round


League Cup: Second round


Crystal Palace


Crystal Palace fans everywhere will be proud of what their team has achieved this season.


At the beginning of the season, Palace had bolstered their squad with a huge influx of players, with no real quality standing out amongst them. It was looking bleak for the Eagles when they sat bottom of the league, with just one point from eight games, when an exhausted Ian Holloway walked away from the club to take a self imposed sabbatical from the game.


It seemed an eternity before Tony Pulis was confirmed as the new manager – and what a transformation ensued.


Pulis focused on defensive solidity, making his side hard to beat before they went searching for goals - the opposite to the expansive style of Holloway. But this didn’t mean the team hasn’t played good football - far from it.


The Premier League's bottom side went on the claim 11 wins from 27 league games - and towards the end of the season put a run of five straight victories together - beating the likes of Everton and Chelsea amongst them to finish a record high 11th place.


Few would have predicted this for the play-off winners at the beginning of the season, but with Pulis in charge they will look to the future with new found optimism.


Player of the season: Palace have a few contenders amongst their ranks, but goalkeeper Julian Speroni has shone brightly in the last year of his contract, producing huge saves that ultimately decided games. He fought off competition from January signing Wayne Hennessey to retain his number one spot for the whole season.


Best moment of the season: Arguably the run of five straight wins that realistically pushed the club to safety before the end of the season. Palace beat Everton away superbly, as well as shutting Chelsea out to beat them 1-0 at home. There were also big results against West Ham, Cardiff and Aston Villa - all teams around them.


Worst moment of the season: No doubt their 4-1 London derby humiliation at the hands of Fulham. This left them with just a single point from the opening eight games of the season, and ultimately spelt the end of Holloway’s tenure. Palace were seven points adrift already at this stage of the season.



Everton


Premier League: 5th


FA Cup: Quarter-finals


Capital One Cup: Third round


Everton began the season with a new man in charge - a particularly unfamiliar feeling at Goodison Park after 11 years of David Moyes. The Scot had just guided them to a sixth placed finish above fierce city rivals Liverpool. Roberto Martinez himself had just been relegated with Wigan.


However it has proved to be a match made in heaven. Take a trip to Goodison this season and you would have seen some of the most attractive football, again delivered on the infamous tight budget set by chairman Bill Kenwright.


The Toffees started the season slowly with three draws, but went on to remain unbeaten in the league until the beginning of October, losing just once more before the turn of the year.


While no one questioned Martinez’s attractive style, he had his doubters that he could apply it to teams further up the table. How wrong he has proved them, becoming one of the most exciting young managers in the league.


While their Champions League push faltered in the closing stages of the season, the Toffees have had a great campaign. With European football again on offer on Merseyside, the ability to attract players to the club will have greatly increased.


Player of the season: While Romelu Lukaku has impressed on loan, Seamus Coleman has had an outstanding season and shown how he has come on leaps and bounds in recent years. He's become one of the league’s top rated right backs: defensively solid and a huge threat going forward.


Best moment of the season: For many Everton fans it will be their double over Manchester United and former manager David Moyes. There isn’t a lot of ill feeling towards the Scotsman but the satisfaction in showing there is life after him will rank highly among their highlights this year.


Worst moment of the season: A humbling 4-0 defeat at the hands of their rivals Liverpool would have hurt many Everton fans, with a 3-3 draw in the other game meaning bragging rights belong to the red half of Liverpool this year.



Fulham


Premier League: 19th


FA Cup: Fourth round


Capital One Cup: Fourth round


Where to start with Fulham? A 'turbulent season' doesn’t quite sum up what has been a disastrous campaign for the West London club.


The season started with Dutchman Martin Jol at the helm and a new owner in Shahid Khan. Fulham had finished 12th under his stewardship the previous season, but his side seemed disjointed from the outset despite an opening day victory. Pressure clearly took its toll on his players, with the club winning just three league games by the end of November.


With Jol unable to halt results, Rene Meulensteen was appointed as his assistant. This was a sign of things to come, and soon Meulensteen was to take over as head coach after Khan dismissed the experienced Jol. This was not to be the end of the merry-go-round, however.


Just three more wins followed, despite a sizeable transfer outlay in January. By the end of February the club panicked again, seeing Meulensteen and his chosen staff swiftly dismissed for experienced Felix Magath – an incredible third manager of the season – although his record of never being relegated posed an attractive option.


However Magath only mustered two more wins, and the Cottagers were condemned to life in the Championship next season.


Player of the season: It is hard to see a shining light in what has been a dreadful season, but top goal scorer Steve Sidwell showed fans that there are players that do care about the shirt. Scoring eight goals from midfield, he arguably had one of his best seasons for the club.


Best moment of the season: A last gasp 2-2 draw at Old Trafford will be up there this season. It was a perfectly executed tactical game until the last ten minutes which saw United score twice, but an injury header from Darren Bent saw a share of the points.


Worst moment of the season: 6-0 defeat to Hull? A staggering 85 goals conceded in one season? Three managers in one campaign? There are a few to choose from in this dismal year for the club, but ultimately it will be relegation after a five year stay in the Premier League.



Hull City


Premier League: 16th


FA Cup: Finalists/winners


Capital One Cup: Fourth round


By all accounts, Hull have had a steady first season back in the top flight - the sideshow of a possible name change aside. Matters on the pitch have, all in all, been successful.


Summer recruitment saw players added to the ranks that have made a real difference over the course of the campaign – the likes of Tom Huddlestone, Jake Livermore, Allan McGregor and Curtis Davies all performing well.


Hull impressed at big clubs Chelsea and Manchester City, despite losing, and come the end of December they were 10th in the league and sitting comfortably seven points clear of the drop zone. The campaign had an all too familiar feel however after a previous strong start under Phil Brown saw a dramatic turn in form. Again the Yorkshire club experienced a dangerous demise.


Just three wins and a draw were to come from the next 13 league games to pull the Tigers back in to the relegation scrap. Some could point to tensions off-field as a distraction for the players, with fans increasingly incensed over the owner’s proposed name change.


However, an FA council rejected the change and Steve Bruce managed to guide the KC club to another year in the top flight. Mission accomplished.


Player of the season: Club captain Curtis Davies has been an ever present for Hull this season and been a real leader when needed. He has put his body on the line for the cause at times and his ability to galvanise his team mates has been a factor in their survival.


Best moment of the season: Reaching the FA Cup final and, more impressively, achieving European football for next season is the stand out moment for supporters this year. Hull have managed it with their unique yet attractive style of football. January signings Shane Long and Nikica Jelavic have also made a substantial impression.


Worst moment of the season: The dispute between fans and owner about the name change rumbled on too long for all involved and at points turned ugly, with protests held. The owner has been quoted as saying far from complimentary things about the supporters.



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