Big Sam Allardyce’s 4-0 humbling of Tigers ended the relegation battle rather prematurely confirming the relegation of Hull City, Middlesbrough and Sunderland from the Premier League.
Despite the Tigers shipping out a league high of 73 goals, Boro being dubbed as the most boring Premier League side ever and the Black Cats failing to turn up all season, we pick 11 individuals who were the shining light in an otherwise gloomy league campaign for their respective sides.
JORDAN PICKFORD (GK)
It’s the end of Sunderland’s 10 year old stay in the PL but for this 23 year old shot-stopper, the journey has just begun. *Pickford has been a revelation between the sticks having made a staggering 132 saves in 28 appearances this season. On a night when he absolutely mesmerized the Emirates with a whooping 11 saves to prevent further humiliation of the Black Cats, his distribution caught the eyes of fanatics all across.
Pickford’s side volley is porn. pic.twitter.com/glcJVFg5xo
— David Preece (@davidpreece12) May 16, 2017
CALUM CHAMBERS (RB)
A Southampton academy product, Calum Chambers joined Boro on a year-long loan spell in search of regular first team action last summer. The 22 year old excelled at the Riverside establishing himself as a vital cog at the heart of the Boro defense alongside Ben Gibson. A return to Wenger’s 3-4-3 could very much be on the cards for the versatile defender who could play as a right sided CB or provide cover for Bellerin with the days of Debuchy and Jenkison numbered.
BEN GIBSON (CB)
Nephew of Middlesborough chairman Steve Gibson, Ben Gibson has thoroughly enjoyed his maiden Premier League campaign attracting interest from Premier League giants. A string of outstanding performances for his boyhood club earned him his first Three Lions call up as he replaced Chris Smalling for England’s World Cup qualifier against Lithuania in March, 2017. *Besides his neat defensive skills that prevented any error leading to a shot, his passing distribution of 84% is quite impressive considering he has played over 3000 minutes of football this season.
HARRY MAGUIRE (CB)
The 23 year old 6ft 2in defender has earned accolades from pundits all across the Premier League fraternity. *Maguire completed more dribbles than any other defender in the league and has attracted interest from Pochettino besides other PL gaffers. He has just one year remaining on his contract which bodes well for those who want to see him in the Premier League next season.
ANDREW ROBERTSON (LB)
This nimble footed LB has enjoyed a breakthrough season with the Tigers, earning ardent admiration from Liverpool gaffer Jurgen Klopp. The 23 year old is a Scotland international who scored his first goal against England in a 3-1 defeat in 2014. His driving runs forward coupled with good defensive showings this season has put him under the radar of an array of PL clubs.
KAMIL GROSICKI (RM)
The Polish international managed as many assists for the Tigers in the month of April as Robert Snodgrass did in the first half of the season*. Grosicki won PFA Fan’s Player of the Month (April) beating the likes of Firmino, Hazard and Alli to grab the laurel. The pacy and direct winger gave boost to Marco Silva’s relegation battle that saw Hull winning 7 consecutive PL home games before going down against the Black Cats.
ADAM CLAYTON (CM)
Adam Clayton, who is a fan favorite at Riverside recently put pen to paper as he extended his contract at Middlesbrough. Last season’s player of the year for the Teeside outfit, Clayton was an ever-present figure in the Boro midfield this season too. *Boasting a pass completion rate of 87% with an average pass length of 18.42m, the former Huddersfield player also chipped in with 62 interceptions overshadowing the impact of new arrival Adam Forshaw in the Boro midfield.
MARTEN DE ROON (CM)
The 26 year old Dutchman arrived as a midfield enforcer but played as an attacking midfielder for both Karanka and Agnew scoring 4 goals in his maiden PL campaign. Jose ‘The Special One’ Mourinho singled him out following a hard fought win against Middlesbrough hailing his ‘phenomenal’ work rate. His exploits in the league also earned him his first ever call up for the Oranje in November, 2016. He is a subject of interest for Everton boss Ronald Koeman who is looking for a replacement for 36 year old Gareth Barry this summer.
SAM CLUCAS (LM)
Another Jamie Vardy-esque fairytale? Clucas (aged 16) was released by Leicester City for being too small despite being their top scorer for 4 consecutive years. From Hereford-Mansfield-Chesterfield to Hull City (who were on the brink of EFL final at Wembley earlier in 2017), Samuel Raymond Clucas has come a long long way. His goal against the Foxes meant he had scored in the National League, League 2, League 1, the Championship and the Premier League all in 5 years. Clucas has been one of the first names on the Hull City team-sheet all season owing to his consistency and deservedly finds a spot in this Relegated XI too.
? | Have you voted for @SamClucas in the April Carling Goal of the Month award yet? If not, you can do so here ➡ https://t.co/3pz4evcqwP pic.twitter.com/R50OzcOIeU
— Hull City (@HullCity) May 6, 2017
ALVARO NEGREDO (ST)
The former Spanish international and Manchester City striker would have certainly hoped for a better season on loan from Valencia. His tally of 9 goals and 4 assists couldn’t help save Boro from the drop and it will be interesting to see where his future lies. In all fairness, the managerial changes coupled with the style of play at Riverside affected his performances rather poorly but he performed just about good enough to find a spot in our XI.
JERMAIN DEFOE (ST)
It was a stellar season for the Black Cats’ ‘Jermain Man’ on a personal level as his tally of 15 goals and 2 assists earned him that elusive Three Lions call-up. The 34 year old turned up in style scoring for England exactly after 4 years in a WC Qualifier against Lithuania in March, 2017. Defoe has a bizarre clause in his contract that allows him to quit the Black Cats for free this summer. The likes of West Ham, Crystal Palace and West Brom are interested to secure his services for the coming season.
Great scenes, Bradley Lowery & Defoe. Nice touch from captain Joe Hart to let Bradley & Jermain lead England out #ENGvLIT #OneBradleyLowery pic.twitter.com/XQz12uRaNj
— YNFA (@ynfafootball) March 26, 2017
Brownie points to Defoe for a series of heart-warming gestures throughout the season towards Bradley Lowery, who gets a place with his best pal as the unofficial mascot for our best relegated XI of Premier League 2016-2017.
If there is anyone you would rather swap in this team, feel free to drop your opinions in the comments section below.
* (All the data and statistics acquired from Squawka Comparison Matrix)