Writer: Barry Worthington
Date:Thursday January 1 2009
What a year 2008 was
Wilson Palacios joined last January and our season was turned around, seemingly destined for the drop Steve Bruce reorganised the team around Palacios and he was inspirational, what an end to the season we had, not only avoiding the drop but finishing in 14th, who would have thought?
We had some excellent results at the back end of last season, the 1-1 at Anfield with Titus grabbing a stunning equaliser and shutting up the Liverpool crowd, followed by a 0-0 against Arsenal at the JJB, but the two best results for me were the 1-1 draw at Stamford Bridge with Heskeys last minute equaliser and the 0-2 away win in the penultimate game of the season at Villa Park on May 4th with a brace from Antonio Valencia, that win against Aston Villa guaranteed Premier League football for another season.
The close season saw the most wrangled transfer in the history of transfers but it was worth the trouble; the arrival of Amr Zaki from Egyptian club Zamalek on a season long loan gave the Latics what`s turned out to be one of the worlds top strikers plying his trade at the JJB for this season at least
Another remarkable signing during the summer was the arrival of Lee Cattermole from Middlesbrough for £3 million, what a steal that was and what an excellent piece of business on Steve Bruces part.
Catt`s has been truly outstanding this season he is our 'bread and butter` man, he`ll put a foot in as can be seen by the fact he`s already been booked 10 times, but he can also play a bit and at just 20 the best years are yet to come.
After a good start to the season we had a very poor October losing all four league games though in two, at home to Boro and away at Anfield we were the better side and deserved a draw at least.
November and December have been a different story though and we have taken 20 points out of a possible 27 and completely got our season back on track, in that run we have also won 5 of our last 6 and suffered just one league defeat in 9 since our Halloween showing at Craven Cottage against Fulham back in October
Zaki has hit 10 league goals in half a season and he could be on for our best ever Premier League return from a striker, add to this the meanest defence outside the top three and you see we are a force to be reckoned with.
2009 holds great optimism for Latics fans, we are on the verge of producing a great finish to the season but we need to keep the squad together and if possible bring in some additions
The talk of Antonio Valencia being lured to Real Madrid and Heskey back to his hold haunts on Merseyside aren`t what the Latics faithful want to be hearing, we must keep our star players.
With the addition of Hugo Rodallega, the Colombian hit-man and Hendry Thomas the squad will look a lot stronger and more capable of dealing with the rigours of a run-in to the English Premier League
We have Everton in our sights and they most be overtaken if we are to finish in a European Qualifying spot come Sunday 24th May 2009.
What ever happens between now and May one thing guaranteed, it will be exciting, lets hope that this early season promise can materialise into a rousing end and the prospect of European football for the new season, now that`s a New Years wish
Vital Latics - All the best for 2009
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Date:Thursday January 1 2009
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