Steve Clarke put it best on West Brom's season
It might have sounded a touch contrived, but boss Steve Clarke summed up West Brom's achievements perfectly in the wake of their thrilling season finale.
"For us to finish in the top eight is almost like being first in the 'second league' and it's a great achievement."
That was Clarke said as he caught his breath after the 5-5 home draw with Manchester United. And the Baggies boss was spot on. Many statistics stand out from a memorable season at the Hawthorns.
A return of 49 points was their best ever in the Premier League, while an eighth-place finish was their highest in the top flight since 1981.
Yet the tag which sounds least impressive is perhaps the one that should please Albion fans most – their side ended Clarke's first campaign in charge as the 'best of the rest' in the Premier League.
The big-spending Manchester duo and the trio of London heavyweights were always likely to have the top five places ring-fenced.
Merseyside rivals Liverpool and Everton also had the spending power and pedigree for their supporters to demand high-placed finishes.
Despite a difficult second half of the campaign that caused some justifiable alarm among fans, the Baggies still broke new ground in the Premier League age.
Their fans have not had it this good for a generation.
Player of the Season:?Gareth McAuley
Many players impressed during West Bromn's record-breaking campaign, but one man stood out.
When Gareth McAuley received his big break in the Premier League at the age of 31, fans were surprised, and when he failed to make an early impression they were concerned.
But the Northern Ireland international ended the 2011-12 term in strong form and carried it into the campaign, just ended, during which he was Clarke's defensive rock.
Goal of the Season: Zoltan Gera v Liverpool
Few players have been as popular with West Brom fans in the Premier League era as Zoltan Gera.
So, in a season when his contribution was once again limited by injury, it is fitting he should have left fans with a couple of enduring memories.
First came the left-footed screamer in the 4-2 win at Sunderland, then his even-more-special thunderbolt in the 3-0 opening-day win against Liverpool.
High of the Season:?Beating Chelsea
So many days stood out for Baggies fans, but 17 November 2012 was probably the occasion that provided the biggest high.
That was the day that the champions of Europe arrived at the Hawthorns, managed by a former West Brom boss, and left with a 2-1 defeat – their second loss in as many seasons on Hawthorns turf.
Goals from Shane Long and Peter Odemwingie gave West Bromn their third victory in a sequence of four wins.
That gave Clarke a memorable triumph over his former employers and hastened Roberto Di Matteo's controversial departure from Stamford Bridge.
Low of the Season:?Odemwingie row
A depressing January weekend off the field was the lowest point for Baggies fans, as one-time hero Odemwingie took to Twitter in a row with the club and supporters in the wake of his transfer request.
Odemwingie had been heading for legendary status after two successful goalscoring seasons and a hat-trick at Wolves.
But his attempts to leave and his online rants soured his relationship with the fan-base irreparably.
Defining Moment of the Season:?Opening day joy
Rarely can the opening day be seen to have defined a club's season but, in Clarke's case, the 3-0 success against Liverpool back in August set the tone for much of what was to follow.
A comprehensive victory over one of the Premier League's most illustrious names eased any pressure on the Scot, as he took over head coach duty from Roy Hodgson.
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