Review of 2005. At least it's over.

Last updated : 01 January 2006 By Chris C
At least that fishy smell about the place has gone. Saints can start 2006 with a promising crop of youngsters, some genuine Premiership quality players (if ever fit), the best manager we could have hoped for and a relatively easy opener against south coast neighbours Brighton (although when was anything about Saints ‘easy’?). 2006 has the makings of a much better year for Saints. After all, it can’t get much worse.

A hungover On the Cross dishes out its awards for 2005.

Manager of the year

Played three lost three, yet still George Burley takes it by a country mile. Special agent Redknapp managed to get us unfit, unmotivated, disorganised and relegated. How satisfying it would be to see him fall flat on his face at Pompey, but the old wheeler and dealer may even manage to wriggle his way out of that one.

Honourable mention: this goes to Dave Bassett for being one of the few to depart Saints with good grace. Yes, we’re talking about you Dennis Wise.

Cameo of the year

We can at least be thankful that 2005 was the year that Theo Walcott burst onto the scene. Theo Walcott won so many On the Cross Cameo of the Day awards that we’re thinking of just being done with it and renaming it the 'Theo Walcott award' for next year. He’s not going anywhere in the transfer window and Saints should just enjoy this special talent while we can.

Honourable mention: Rory Delap’s Le Tiss juggle to earn a penalty against Burley. Where on earth did that come from?

Moment of the year

The 4-3 win over Norwich was special in so many ways. The best atmosphere seen at St Mary’s, the ultimate six pointer, the comedy defending and, last but by no means least, a very special late strike from that man, Henri Camara to win it. It still brings a lump to the throat just thinking about it. Such a pity it proved another false dawn.

Honourable mention:
Theo Walcott’s wonderful chip against Luton. How did he even think to try it, let alone execute it?

Player of the year

In a year of departures, Saints captain invicible Nigel Quashie has been an inspiration for Saints. He has bossed the midfield, chipped in with valuable goals and Saints are a much weaker side without their talisman. Despite his humble origins, the Saints ‘Beckham from Peckham’ is a huge crowd favourite and the key to Saints improvement in 2006.

Honourable mention: Peter Crouch more than replaced James Beattie and provided the goals that so nearly managed to keep Saints afloat when we were leaking goals so badly at the other end.

Sour grapes of the year

Former crowd favourite Super Kev turned Villan with an unnecessary parting swipe, just weeks after claiming he ‘loved the Saints’: “I never really felt happy about joining them. It was a move that never really felt right for me and I'm glad I can resurrect my Premiership career." Another nail in the coffin of player loyalty.

Honourable mention: It was a close battle between Phillips and Dennis Wise’s equally petulant departure when not appointed manager. Wise seems incapable of leaving a club with good grace.

Predictions for 2006

With Saints running out of room in the treatment room and with four defeats on the bounce, George Burley has a big job on his hands. He needs to get the players fit, motivated and organised after the Redknapp era. The signs are that he is slowly turning things around at St Mary’s and his appointment is well timed to keep hold of the likes of Quashie and Niemi and also to attract players of sufficient calibre to improve the team in the transfer window.

It is too much to ask to turn the side into world beaters overnight. While the youngsters are big on talent, they are short on experience and have struggled against well organised and aggressive teams. It may take until the end of the season for them to start imposing themselves on the league. By then of course it will be too late for the pipe dream of automatic promotion. Saints have an outside chance of the play-offs, but it may be that 2007 proves their and our year.