Mails: More awards, teams of the season, play-offs

Date published: Wednesday 24th May 2017 11:55

Keep those emails coming, you lovely folk. Send them to…


More awards!
While no one can spot that I spilled beer on this tuxedo, let’s give out a few more awards. Yes, there is an inherent bias for my team and against yours. No, they’re not meant to be serious. Features one crowbarred pun, and one reference to a sitcom no one remembers:

Most Valuable Player of the season: Jordan Pickford. Deserved far better than playing for David Moyes.

Signing of the season: Mamadou Sakho. January signings are expected to be able to come into the side and make an immediate impact. The improvement he made to the Crystal Palace side during his brief tenure was a huge factor in the Eagles surviving relegation, and no one – not even N’Golo Kante, for all his excellence, can claim to have made as much of a difference to what was there before as Sakho did.

Breakout player of the season: Victor Moses. His manager and his mother were probably the only people before this season who thought he could play wing-back, but he took it like he’d played there all his life.

Goal of the season: Christian Benteke versus Chelsea. While it lacks the spectacle of a long range screamer or an overhead kick, it combined a mazy run on the counterattack from Wilfried Zaha and the coolest, most impudent dink over the goalkeeper imaginable.

Club-owning c##t of the season: Francesco Becchetti. Fawaz Al-Hasawi is second. SISU third.

Administrative c##t of the season: Shaun Harvey. Harvey takes one for the team for being the main executive talking about the shambolic Checkatrade Trophy.

Overall c##t of the season: Kelvin MacKenzie

Prentiss McCabe Award for PR: Chesterfield. Any fans who weren’t alienated by the fake competition winner, “the Surrey Spireite”, may have had their resolve tested by the signing of a pre-conviction quashing Ched Evans

Narcissist of the season: any of the countless players who brought a match to a complete standstill, requiring complicity from both teams, in order to arrange a substitution at a point where the time on the game clock coincided with their shirt number.

Depressing revelation of the season: when a BT Sport insider revealed to John Nicholson that they deliberately employ poor pundits to create a social media buzz, even if it’s a negative one, because the network sees all Twitter buzzes as free publicity. Then they cancelled the European Football Show

Garth Crooks Award for tactical creativity: Putting a perennially loaned-out striker/wide attacker at wing-back was a move straight out of a Crooks Team of the Week, but Antonio Conte did exactly that and reaped the benefits.

The Bad Kenny Rogers Tribute Act Award: Alan Pardew. Having kept Manchester United at arm’s length, and with the scores level, Pardew rolled the dice and took off defensive midfielder James McArthur, bringing on striker Fraizer Campbell in his place. Palace lost all shape, conceded a second goal. Pardew’s equally maverick approach to deciding against shoring up his defence to protect a late lead also saw a 4-3 win become a 4-5 defeat against Swansea City. It’s an award for rubbish gamblers.

Proudest Pundit of the season: name withheld, but he’s proud enough to read this site and occasionally use it to fuel his own newspaper column

Gregg Wallace Award: In honour of the man paid to stuff his face on national TV, the award goes to Wayne Shaw

First World Problem of the season: the Manchester United fan who complained that despite all their spending, no matter what happened they were stuck in sixth for a few weeks.

Question of the season award: Hindsight is 20:20, but nothing seems more ridiculous now than the suggestion by Tim Sherwood that Steve Bruce would do a better job at Chelsea than Antonio Conte.

“Winner” of the season: yours truly, mailbox regular turned tactical guru for one night only, making a cameo in the Winners section of April 4’s Winners & Losers.

Losers of the season: those among us who, as neutrals, wanted Bob Bradley and/or Marco Silva to do well as a backlash to the reactionary sneering from pundits whose dismissal of them was based mainly on their lack of Britishness. Unfortunately, the PFMs were, to an extent, right, even if their means of expression was incredibly distasteful.

Actual Loser of the season: anyone who is incapable of taking a joke when reading about football.
Ed Quoththeraven


A Champions League play-off would be great
Sitting at home watching an uneventful last day of the season it got me thinking, how our main Premier League propaganda enthusiasts (Sky and BT) let this happen. Surely there is a way the last day of the league can be made more interesting. The most exciting thing to look forward to in a non-tournament summer is now the play-offs.

Perhaps this idea has been raised multiple times before but why cant the teams who finish 4th, 5th, 6th and 7th compete, play-off style, for the 4th champions league spot. The team who lose the play-off final receiving the dreaded Europa League spot.

Teams like Everton and Southamption may be able to sign a better calibre of player knowing there is a better chance of champions league qualification. Tony Pulis might not take a rest after he has hit the 40 point mark. Mid-table Premier League managers could talk about always pushing for that play-off spot. Basically mid-table teams could have something to play for with five games to go, instead of being like Stoke who were playing in their flip-flops the last few weeks. Maybe players like Graziano Pelle may be more motivated to stay at a Southampton with the stronger prospect of playing in the Champions League?

It would make good television at least, wouldn’t it?
Cormac, Dubai, THFC
(MC – The fair argument is that players play enough football)


A City fan who has dropped the rivalry
I’m a Manchester City fan. Been there for it all over the last 40 years. Probably would have said I hated Man Utd if you’d asked me, in the way we are prone to do when we let our passions run away with our sense of perspective.

This morning I find myself genuinely wishing them well in the final tonight. I want them to win it for the red half of the city in which I live, for the people I share a common purpose with. I went to the vigil in Albert square last night, a place I’ve been lucky enough to visit to celebrate a trophy win or two. The mood was everything you would imagine but I’ve never felt more like a part of this wonderful city, nor prouder to be called Mancunian. Come on you reds.
Manchester – United


Fair play to Sam Allardyce
Oddly enough, I read his statement. I liked him more at that point than I ever have before.

I had to respect his undoubted track record (come on, we’re all armchair losers, anyone managing in the prem is extremely good) but I could never like him. The fact that he just decided enough was enough and it was time to push back his chair and leave the table, that takes a level of self-awareness that I wasn’t sure was there.

Good luck to him I say, even if the England thing was a debacle. I hope he goes everywhere and does everything he feels like doing whilst he still can. And leaves his phone on the side at home.
Matthew H


‘One per team’ teams (Sorry, but we got over 50 of these)
I bet you can’t find a more complete team than this.


Sanchez-Firmino-Kante-De Bruyne-Antonio

Keane-Van Dijk-Cook

De Gea
Simon Wong (KL)


Here you go Rob, Dorset. I’m sure you’ll be inundated with teams and here is mine to add to the pile. First up, I hate “teams of the season” that are full of attackers and attacking defenders with no thought to actually defending so I’ve tried to make this balanced. Second, I haven’t chosen the “best” players from each club, just the one player that fits this team. I’ve gone for a 4-3-3 with a fairly young team.

Keeper: Jordan Pickford, 23 (Sunderland). Poor bastard certainly had some practice this season and did an admirable job for a terrible team. He’s young and hopefully will only get better. There are definitely better ‘keepers in the league, but no other Sunderland player made the cut and this allowed me to pick outfielders from the top teams

Centre Backs: Virgil van Dijk, 25 (Southampton) and Michael Keane, 24 (Burnley). Both players have been absolutely rock solid at the back this season. Keane offers a strong presence at the back and good positioning, van Dijk is great on the front foot both intercepting and distributing the ball well. It also helps that both are giants and good in the air.

Left Back: Ben Davies, 24 (Tottenham). An integral part of the leagues best defence. While Vertonghen and Alderweireld were phenomenal in the centre, their “points above replacement” is less than Davies to the rest of the league. The kid offers a lot going forward and more than enough going backward.

Right Back: Joel Ward, 27 (Crystal Palace). Super solid at the back, and there are other players in this team that can provide the impetus going forward. Ward can sit back and concentrate on keeping the door shut

Defensive Mid: N’golo Kanté, 26 (Chelsea). Who else?

Centre Mid: Paul Pogba, 24 (Man Utd). He has copped a metric tonne of abuse this season for the price tag but I don’t buy into it (I’m a Liverpool supporter if it matters). He has been good going forward, good on the ball, good defensively. Pogba is an all-round good box-to-box midfielder in a time where box-to-box is coming back (thanks to the tendency for one dedicated DM and one AM). I would love to have Pogba in any team, particularly in this one between Kante and….

Attacking Mid: Kevin De Bruyne, 25 (Man City). He, like City, faded as the season went on but there was no player that was a greater joy to watch as the season started. His passing, set pieces and dribbling were majestic. I’ll leave the tackling the gents behind him.

Left Forward: Alexis Sánchez, 28 (Arsenal). The oldest player in my team and definitely the captain. Not only was he brilliant in a shitty Arsenal team, he embodies the fight, the drive, the passion I would want in my team. He married goals, assists and skill with a never-say-die attitude better than anyone else in the league.

Right Forward: Sadio Mané, 25 (Liverpool). I honestly thought the price was high and that he wouldn’t live up to it. He proved me and Winty undeniably wrong. His pace, strength, skill and beautiful finishing all came together for a spectacular goal in the first game of the season and he kept it up the whole way. It is no coincidence that Liverpool faltered when he was missing.

Striker: Romelu Lukaku, 24 (Everton). Leading the golden boot until Kane went insane. Lukaku provided goals in a team bereft of ideas (42% of Everton’s goals). He has been absolutely brilliant for three seasons now and I cannot believe Chelsea let their ready-made replacement for Drogba leave. Lukaku is already a great striker and he should grow into a premier league great.


So Rob from Dorset wants a Team of the Season with only 1 player from each team allowed, i accept your challenge sir!

Here is my personal Team Of The Season following your rules with a 3-4-3 formation, a future classic.

Goalkeeper: Tom Heaton (Burnley) – No other keeper made more saves (141) than Tom Heaton, made some crucial saves that probably kept Burnley in the Premier League and of course that stunning save to deny Zlatan Tom Heaton amazing save vs Manchester United

Harry Maguire (Hull) – Most likely will leave for a mid table team in the Summer and one of the bright lights of an overall poor Hull team

Gareth McAuley (West Brom) – 227 clearances, 50 Tackles and 6 goals and he is 37 years old….THIRTY SEVEN!!!

Mamadou Sakho (Crystal Palace) – Showed he was a top class defender and one of the best signings Big Sam has probably ever made (or been lucky enough to pull off)

N’golo Kante (Chelsea) – Premier League Winner, PFA Player of The Season, Football Writers Player Of The Year, do I need say more?

Gylfi Sigurdsson (Swansea) – 9 Goals, 13 Assists in a side that looked doomed for the Championship before Paul Clement arrived, another player similar to Maguire destined for a big Summer move.

Sadio Mane (Liveprool) – A season cut short through injury, but scorer of some truly special goals and showed why he is such a top class player and to pick Coutinho would be to mainstream.

Leroy Sane (Manchester City) – Pace, eye for a pass, more pace and a real young talent that could become a world class star

Zlatan Ibrahimovic (Manchester Utd) – What a legend, a joy to watch and a shame he may only play just the one season of Premier League football due to injury

Harry Kane (Spurs) – 29 Goals, back to back hat tricks and a future Premier League legend…..or perhaps just a three season wonder?

Joshua King (Bournemouth) 16 goals this season from a player who previously had only scored 6 last season.
Mike Clewer, CFC (I really hope you print this mail as I should be asleep due to work tomorrow)


Rob, Dorset asked for this, and you’ll no doubt get loads, but I figured I’d add mine to the pile:

GK: Pickford – Break-out season for the Sunderland player who’s (probably) too good to be in the Championship next season

LWB: Alonso – A revelation for Chelsea in a position English fans had more or less forgotten existed
DF: Keane – In a struggling Burnley side, he performed well enough to earn an England call-up
DF: Sakho – Moved to Palace, looked like a star
RWB: Antonio – West Ham’s best player played pretty much everywhere, including right back, so can surely slot in here

MC: Wanyama – Spurs’ wrecking machine who’s chipped in with some handy goals
MC: Romeu – Southampton’s latest star has reignited his career. Comparisons to N’Golo Kante may be premature, but he’s in a similar mould.

AM: Mane – Liverpool’s player of the season, his absence for the AFCON almost cost them the top 4
AM: De Bruyne – Man City’s assist machine, made fast, skillful football look easy
AM: Sanchez – Arsenal’s shining light in a season that really would have been a lot worse without him

ST: Lukaku – Everton’s record PL scorer, with a goalscoring pedigree that shows consistent, and growing, quality
Michael C


One player from each team (3-4-3):

Keane Vertonghen Van Dijk
Antonio Herrera Kante Milner
De Bruyne Sanchez

Subs: Valdes, Shawcross, C. Dawson, Sakho, Capoue, Sigurdsson, Mahrez, Chadli, King
Sandy, Palermo (COYS)

And a bottom-half team
ob, Dorset asked for a team of the season with only one player allowed from each team. You’ll probably get loads of those so here’s my alternate take on it. I’ve picked a ‘best of the rest’ using only one player from each team that finished miles off everyone else (8th – 20th). That’s right, I didn’t even let myself pick someone from Everton.

They’re in a 4-2-3-1:
GK: Jordan Pickford (Sunderland)

RB: Michail Antonio (West Ham)
LB: Jose Holebas (Watford)
CB: Ben Gibson (Middlesborough)
CB: Michael Keane (Burnley)

MC: Oriol Romeu (Southampton)
MC: Joe Allen (Stoke)

AM: Josh King (Bournemouth)
AM: Gylfi Sigurdsson (Swansea)
AM: Wilfried Zaha (Crystal Palace)

FC: Jamie Vardy (Leicester)

Subs: Gareth MacAuley, Sam Clucas (I’m only allowed two, as I’ve run out of teams to pick from…)

I reckon they could’ve nicked 8th place this season…
Ohio Joe (Spoons LFC says betting on Lampard eating a pie in the stands is acceptable. I say it’s a mortgage job), Spurs, London

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