We can hardly bring ourselves to mention the cursed number 2020 given the year everyone’s had to endure but if one good thing can be said for it it’s that it’s over.
It is over, right?
That means it’s time for Paddy to salute those in the world of football who’ve made the most of a frankly rotten 12 months…
Player of the year – Mesut Ozil
As crises deepen and multiply at the Emirates, Mesut Ozil’s stature among Arsenal supporters grew and grew.
Not only has he taken working from home to heart by barely playing a game for Arsenal in 2020, but he also rescued the club’s beloved mascot from Stan Kroenke’s furry suit bargain bin, and has delivered some of the most savage burns since a future Springfield Nuclear Power Plant owner was born.
Piers, was that really you, or was your phone hacked? ?? https://t.co/g2GW6YTE8R
— Mesut Özil (@MesutOzil1088) November 22, 2020
For a player whose barely kicked a ball in months, he’s made a huge impact on 2020 and looks better and better with every game the Gooners play.
Team of the year – Chelsea
Some might think breaking a thirty-year title drought should be enough for Liverpool to earn this accolade, but, when a team burdened with a transfer ban, absentee owner and Frank Lampard as manager can finish in the top four it’d be outrageous not to recognise the achievement.
When most clubs were cautious in their recruitment due to the uncertain future, the Blues reinforced to the tune of £220m in the transfer window, bringing in sure-fire superstars of the future like Kai Hevertz and Timo Werner.
Under Frank’s expert guidance they’ve powered the Stamford Bridge side to, eh, sixth in the table – and that’s despite both signings doing f**k all.
They’re truly powering from strength-to-strength and we can’t wait to see them muddle their way to another top-4 finish – just about – in 2021.
Fight of the year – Jurgen Klopp v Television
While Frank v Jurgen on the touchline at Anfield gave us a frisson of possible pub carpark violence we’ve sorely missed during lockdown, Kloppo’s confrontation with a force even more powerful than Frank – television execs – gave us a few bouts to enjoy in the absence of Fury v Joshua in 2020.
While he caught his post-match interviewer unawares with a verbal haymaker following his side’s loss to Man City, BT Sport’s Des Kelly was armed and ready for the Teutonic Tornado’s jabs and feints and delivered a few blows of his own when the Reds drew at Brighton shortly afterwards.
Eddie Hearn’s set to broker a deal for a rematch if Joshua-Fury falls through in 2021.
Goal of the year – Shane Duffy
2020 was the darkest year in a long time for the Irish football team with just one goal scored in all 12 games played by the men’s senior team – but what beauty it was.
Celtic new-boy Shane Duffy scored a last minute equaliser for Ireland v Bulgaria in the #NationsLeague pic.twitter.com/glxA1bccge
— Sky Sports Scotland (@ScotlandSky) September 3, 2020
Ireland changed manager to change their style and the only goal they can muster is a Shane Duffy header from a set-piece. Plus ca change…
Honourable mention to Jordan Flores of Dundalk in the golden days of a pre-Covid life.
Non-Comeback of the year – Jose Mourinho
To give Jose the Comeback of the year award would be to imply that he had dropped from the upper echelons of football’s management ladder, when we all know he was still at the top and it was the game itself that was failing to recognise his abilities – unlike Paddy, of course.
While the opening months of the year may not have gone to plan, his motivational tactics and ingenious man-management during lockdown – “Is Tanguy coming out for a kickabout?” – was simply masterful. Plus the recovery of both Harry Kane and Son Heung-Min from injuries helped, and saw Jose turn Spurs into title challengers, all while starring in a hit TV show.
Is there anything this man can’t do?
Fraud of the year – Pep Guardiola
They’ll be naming the trophy after him if he can keep this up.
Pep was deemed a fraud by many when he was winning Champions Leagues and league titles at a canter, so what are we to make of him now?
His City side let Liverpool streak away with the Premier League, shat the bed in the Champions League quarter-finals again versus Lyon, and have seen their performance drop faster than Cyberpunk 2077 on a PS4 this season with a series of laboured displays.
It’s definitely time to overpay for Messi before he heads off to the MLS.
Overreaction of the year – Birmingham City
Brum were thrust into the spotlight with the sale of their star asset Jude Bellingham to Borussia Dortmund for £25m. The club was so thrilled to get the whopping fee for the teenager they retired the number 22 in an honour usually bestowed on players following serious illness or death.
Birmingham City have retired the 22 shirt after 17 year old Jude Bellingham left them to sign for Borussia Dortmund having only made 41 appearances and scoring 4 goals ? pic.twitter.com/tvDpzklUkl
— ODDSbible (@ODDSbible) July 23, 2020
Keeping things in perspective there lads.
Used Car Salesman of the year – Ole Gunnar Solskjaer
There’s a set of steakknives on the way to the Solskjaer household courtesy of Ed Woodward as United somehow find themselves on course for league title challenge despite enjoying the worst start to a league campaign since 1972 at one stage – is the Premier League just a bit sh*t this year?
That should make up for their spectacular collapse in the Champions League, and Woodward will plug any financial gaps left by such failures with Bulgarian tractor sponsorships anyway.
Motivating his youthful team with pure, unrefined nostalgia has seen the Norwegian extend his run in charge at Old Trafford beyond the two-year mark, and, as Ole will tell anyone who can bear to listen to him for any length of time, it took Sir Alex seven year’s to win his first league title.
Only five more to go.
- Get your festive football punts at Paddy Power News
- Mick McCarthy: Ireland must put faith in Stephen Kenny – but I never wanted to leave
- Paddy’s guide to the naffest tat from club shops this Christmas
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