Howe, Haaland win the big ones; Spurs, Man Utd mocked in 2022/23 Premier League awards

Jason Soutar
Premier League-award winners Erling Haaland, Eddie Howe and Todd Boehly

Well, that’s a wrap, folks. Erling Haaland scored a few goals and Newcastle United, Manchester United, Arsenal surprised many to qualify for the Champions League, while Bournemouth and Fulham both comfortably stayed up when they were given little chance before a ball was kicked.

From the best manager to the funniest moment, here are our Premier League awards for the 2022/23 season.

 

Best player – Erling Haaland (Manchester City)
This one has been a foregone conclusion since Haaland bagged his third Premier League hat-trick in his eighth appearance for Manchester City. What a joke of a season that is going to go down as one of the best of all time.

 

Best young player – Bukayo Saka (Arsenal)
The official nominees for this award were Haaland, Bukayo Saka, Martin Odegaard, Gabriel Martinelli, Moises Caicedo, Alexis Mac Allister, Sven Botman and Alexander Isak. The youngest of the lot is Caicedo, who turns 22 in November; Mac Allister and Odegaard are 24, while Saka and Martinelli are the only other players aged 21 or younger. This award is long overdue a restructure but Saka would still make the grade with an U-21 rule change.

Saka has come under some criticism due to his role in Arsenal’s title collapse, but his season has still been spectacular. The England winger played in every Premier League game for the Gunners this season, scoring 14 goals and providing 11 assists. Saka’s goal contributions alone decided the results in seven wins and two draws.

Southampton’s Romeo Lavia, Leeds United’s Wilfried Gnonto and Brighton duo Levi Colwill and Julio Enciso deserve a mention. All four made their first appearances of the season in their teens and if there was an award for the best teenager, it would go to Enciso.

 

Best manager – Eddie Howe (Newcastle United)
There are a number of managers who can feel aggrieved to miss out on this award (in real life, not here…they probably don’t care). Had Arsenal won the league, Mikel Arteta would have comfortably claimed it, but they didn’t. Regardless of that, his side have massively overachieved. Gary O’Neil is another honourable mention. He inherited a Bournemouth team backed by everyone and their dog to go down and kept them up fairly comfortably. Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola, Fulham boss Marco Silva and mid-season appointments Roberto De Zerbi (Brighton) and Unai Emery (Aston Villa) also deserve a mention (and Matt Stead makes a case for Thomas Frank here), but Howe just edges it.

Newcastle United have been ambitious but sensible in the transfer market and pretty much all of their signings have been a huge success. The jury is out on Anthony Gordon and Matty Targett has barely played, but the latter wasn’t bought for mega money, so nobody is arsed. Even with the additions of Kieran Trippier, Alexander Isak and Bruno Guimaraes, the Magpies were not expected to finish in the top four. Hell, eighth would have been a great season. To finish fourth in Howe’s first full season is extraordinary. Champions League nights are returning to St James’ Park and with the gazillions they have at their disposal, there is no reason Newcastle should be falling out of the top four any time soon.

Howe has turned Joelinton into a terrific box-to-box midfielder, Miguel Almiron, Fabian Schar and Sean Longstaff into world beaters, and Callum Wilson is playing the best football of his career. What an appointment he has turned out to be.

RANKED: All 16 Premier League manager changes this season: Chelsea really did f*** it – twice

 

Best goalkeeper – Alisson (Liverpool)
Liverpool’s best player this season by a country mile, it is safe to say Alisson has helped prevent a poor season from becoming a disastrous one.

Manchester United’s David De Gea might have 17 clean sheets this season, but there is no chance he has been the best goalkeeper in the Premier League. Newcastle shot-stopper Nick Pope is a close second to Alisson, who is statistically the best goalkeeper in Our League and has kept a clean sheet 14 times in 37 matches this term. Jurgen Klopp gave him a rest on the final day and Liverpool conceded four goals to Southampton, who finished rock bottom of the Premier League. Make of that what you will.

 

Best defender – Kieran Trippier (Newcastle United)
Gabriel Magalhaes convinced me all year long that he was having a better season than William Saliba, but Arsenal’s fall-off without the latter has been extremely alarming, which has tipped the scales in his favour. Saying that, neither have been the best defender this season. That particular accolade goes to Kieran Trippier, who plays for the joint-best defence in the Premier League.

It has been close between Trippier and Benjamin White as the best right-back for much of this campaign, but it is now safe to say that the former has been better. Much of the logic behind this decision is that picking the Newcastle man in the team of the season is the easiest selection out of the back five. Any of Ruben Dias, John Stones, Gabriel, Saliba, Lisandro Martinez, or Sven Botman deserve a spot in the middle, but you can only pick two (no back threes here, Trippier has to get in). As for left-back, Oleksandr Zinchenko, Pervis Estupinan, Luke Shaw and Nathan Ake are all in contention.

 

Best midfielder – Martin Odegaard (Arsenal)
It would have been nice to see Odegaard lift the Premier League trophy but it wasn’t to be. Despite Arsenal’s failings, Odegaard has had an incredible season, scoring 15 goals (no penalties!) and providing eight assists.

Kevin De Bruyne and Rodri are unlucky to be beaten here, but these are my awards so frankly, f*** ’em.

 

Best striker – Erling Haaland (Manchester City)
You can look at all the goals Haaland has scored, but the fact Harry Kane is having a ridiculous season in a horrible Tottenham team, yet nobody gives a sh*t, is a testament to how good the Nordic robot has been.

 

Most underrated player – Sean Longstaff (Newcastle United)
Baffled by this one, are you? Point = proven.

Sean Longstaff has been crucial for Newcastle all season and his performances have really gone under the radar. Missing out on the latest England squad is actually very unfortunate. Some think Howe needs to sign a replacement, but Longstaff should feel aggrieved if he does not start Newcastle’s first game of 2023/24.

 

Best English player – Harry Kane (Tottenham)
Bukayo Saka is amazing and we love him but his England skipper has been better. 30 goals in 38 games is simply phenomenal.

Side note: isn’t it strange that Saka’s penalty miss against West Ham has been spoken about more than Kane’s against France at the World Cup? Moving on…

 

Best non-European player – Gabriel Martinelli (Arsenal)
In contention for this award were two of the three Gabriels at Arsenal (not Jesus), Liverpool goalkeeper Alisson, and Brighton’s Ecuadorian duo Estupinan and Caicedo. The winner is Gabriel Martinelli, who has scored 15 goals in 36 games. Not only has he become more potent in front of goal, but his decision-making is evidently a lot better, as is how he receives the ball and his overall playmaking. Arteta really is scarily impressive working with wingers.

 

Signing of the season – Joao Palhinha (Fulham)
Picking Haaland would be boring, so let’s include a £30million cap for this award.

This means the winner is Joao Palhinha, who Fulham bought for around £17m from Sporting. He is already being linked with a move elsewhere with several top clubs looking to sign a defensive midfielder. Palhinha has quickly adapted to Our League, showing great ability on the ball, while being an absolute wall in front of his defence. Honourable mentions are Manuel Akanji (Manchester City), Ben Mee (Brentford), and Bernd Leno (Fulham). Here’s a full Bargain XI.

Fulham midfielder Joao Palhinha during a match

 

Flop of the season – Richarlison (Tottenham)
Richarlison cost £60m and has scored once all season. He has taken his top off to celebrate a goal on four separate occasions; three of those strikes were disallowed, and the other ended up meaning bugger all after his last-gasp equaliser at Liverpool was instantly cancelled out by a Diogo Jota winner. Delicious.

 

Bargain of the season – Ben Mee (Brentford)
There are lots of contenders for this one. Leno, Nick Pope (Newcastle), Christian Eriksen (Manchester United), Serge Aurier (Nottingham Forest), and of course Palhinha, but Brentford centre-back Ben Mee is our pick.

Having starred in the Premier League for Burnley, Mee joined the Bees on a free transfer and has been brilliant. He has helped Ethan Pinnock take his game to another level with Brentford finishing ninth in the Premier League. All the while his former Clarets partner, James Tarkowski, has gone to Everton with higher expectations, only to be a lot worse.

 

Most improved player – Jack Grealish (Manchester City)
We are chuffed for him. And his sexy calves.

 

Biggest letdown (club and player) – Chelsea and Raheem Sterling (Chelsea)
Last summer, Raheem Sterling joined Chelsea from Manchester City for around £50m having scored 117 goals and provided 87 assists in the Premier League. Since then he has scored six and assisted three in what has been a woeful campaign for player and club.

The Blues finished the season in the bottom half, despite spending a shedload of cash last summer and in January, having won four and lost 11 of their top-flight fixtures in 2023. Simply appalling stuff.

 

Biggest surprise (club and player) – Bournemouth and Willian (Fulham)
Chelsea being quite that bad was clearly a surprise, but this award is all about the positives.

Bournemouth were already down before a ball had been kicked; nobody gave them a chance. Yet, here we are, Gary O’Neil has led them to safety against all the odds and he deserves endless praise for doing so.

As for Willian, his return to London was mocked. He was not expected to make any sort of impact having struggled back in his native Brazil following a woeful stint at Arsenal. Marcus Rashford deserves an honourable mention, but his season is not as much of a shock as Willian turning out to be a competent footballer after all.

 

Goal of the season – Ilkay Gundogan (Everton vs MANCHESTER CITY)
This is a tricky one. Let’s go for a sublime piece of technical skill over a peach from 30-odd yards like the one Julio Enciso scored against Ilkay Gundogan’s Manchester City.

Best individual performance – Erling Haaland (MANCHESTER CITY 6-3 Manchester United)
Asking for advice on Twitter brought nothing but biased replies, so any suggestion there was ignored.

Erling Haaland’s performance against Manchester United might not have been as fun to watch as Allan Saint-Maximin against Manchester City or Mohamed Salah against Manchester United, but he scored three and got two assists. Sometimes ruthlessness in front of goal is more impressive than skills and pace that literally bring Pep Guardiola to his knees and make Lisandro Martinez eat grass, and that is the case here.

 

Best game – Liverpool 7-0 Manchester United
The aftermath in the Sky Sports studio was almost as hilarious as the game itself.

 

Most surprising result – Brighton 1-5 Everton
Had Arsenal held on to win the Premier League, their defeat at Everton probably would have been our pick. But they didn’t; they bottled it.

Instead, it is another Everton win. Brighton welcomed the Toffees to the Amex on May 8 having beaten Manchester United (1-0) and Wolves (6-0) in their previous two matches, while Sean Dyche’s men had not won since March 11, only their third win in 2023. Obviously, Dwight McNeil turned into prime Gareth Bale in a 5-1 victory. Brighton won their following match at Arsenal by three goals to nil, because Barclays.

 

Funniest moment – The ending to Liverpool 4-3 Tottenham
It has actually been a hilarious season, hasn’t it? There are so many moments that stick out when trying to identify the funniest of the lot. Gary Neville recently discovered what a holiday is, which was amazing. Other funny moments include the entirety of the aforementioned 7-0 result, particularly when Mohamed Salah put Lisandro Martinez in a spin cycle, Antonio Conte’s meltdown before being sacked by Spurs, Conte almost fighting Thomas Tuchel, but the best of the lot happened at the end of Liverpool’s 4-3 win against Spurs.

If Richarlison’s manic celebration (top off and the pigeon) wasn’t funny enough considering what happened next, Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp decided to run right up to the fourth official to scream in his face, pulling his hamstring in the process. Brilliant.

Tottenham striker Richarlison celebrates his goal against Liverpool

 

Best owner – Tony Bloom (Brighton)
Nailed the appointment of Roberto De Zerbi, kept hold of Moises Caicedo, got him to sign a new contract after he openly asked to leave, and watched his beloved Brighton qualify for Europe for the first time in their history.

 

Worst owner – Todd Boehly (Chelsea)
This season has been nothing short of a shambles at Chelsea and 99.9% of it is down to Todd Boehly.

Andrea Radrizzani deserves an honourable mention for that sh*tshow at Leeds. All of Marcelo Bielsa’s good work thrown down the drain. Just. Like. That.

Ranking Todd Boehly mistakes at Chelsea: Lampard fourth as daft new contracts make the cut

 

Best pundit – Ally McCoist
Who doesn’t love Super Ally? It’s a shame we don’t see/hear more of him.

 

Best Football365 article – Guardiola in League Two, Haaland loaned out, Mourinho for an hour: 10 Man City punishments
Great job, Matt. Your trophy is in the post.

 

Best pre-season prediction – Leicester to be relegated (Ian King)
Predicting Leicester to go down was pretty bold, but Ian King absolutely nailed it. He also said Jesse Lingard would be the biggest flop…

 

Worst pre-season prediction – Erling Haaland to be the biggest flop (Dave Tickner)
Joe Williams, Sarah Winterburn, Ian Watson and Lewis Oldham also predicted Leeds to be the pleasant surprise of the season, Every single one of us said Spurs would finish in the top four. What a group of morons.

The worst of the lot is Dave Tickner reluctantly backing Haaland to be the biggest flop. Bloody hell, mate.