The season’s over and it’s time to dish out the gongs.
And while the Football Writers Association may have been dazzled by Liverpool second-best midfielder in voting for their top award, Paddy is 100% clear-headed and objective as he hands out his, frankly, far most respected and altogether more treasured accolades.
So, let’s make like Ricky Gervais – no, not sucking up to old American comedians in the vain hope they’ll like you – and deliver some acerbic assessments of this season’s Premier League…
Player of the Season – David Luiz
Plenty of strong contenders this season, mostly in Liverpool red, while Kevin De Bruyne continued to show why Jose Mourinho was so wise as to let him develop his skills in the Bundesliga all those years ago, but the clear number one in our hearts this season was Arsenal defensive maestro, David Luiz, and, more specifically, his hair.
The Brazilian ‘defender’ stamped his mark all over this Premier league season with calamitous performances, playing with all the control and poise of a puppy on an ice-rink and showed just how shrewd a manager Frank Lampard is with his decision to offload the walking disaster last summer.
However, it’s his trademark bouncing bouffant that put him over top in for this award, because it’s clearly all that separates him from the likes of Harry Maguire, Jonny Evans and Antonio Rudiger in the ‘how much of a clown can look playing centre-half?’ rankings.
Team of the Season – Watford
A banter season for the ages from the Hornets. Not only did they tear through managers quicker than Big Sam in the queue at Greggs, but – for a change – they actually gave us some truly memorable moments.
The body-swapping horror of Javi Gracia being replaced by the zombie of Quique Sanchez-Flores’ previous Vicarage Road stint did nothing to dispel the stench of Championship-to-League-One collapse off Elton John’s favourite side to December, but they, ahem, stepped into Christmas with a 2-0 win over Man United, just their second victory of the season, sparking a brief revival under Nigel Pearson’s ‘robust’ tutelage.
That sudden upturn included smashing Liverpool’s attempt to send droves of Man United supporters into cryw*nking oblivion – an undefeated season on top of an imperious, perch-reascending title march would’ve been too much for many – as Big Nige’s Hornets obliterated the Reds’ undefeated streak with a 3-0 thumping in February.
And then it all fell apart. They collected just seven points from a possible 30 following that win, sacking Pearson with two games left and conceding seven goals in those crucial ties before mustering two goals against Arsenal when their fate was all but sealed. At least it wasn’t boring.
Transfer of the Season – Bruno Fernandes
It seems Man United delayed signing the man who turned their season around until January to give other teams a chance. How else to explain the delay in bringing in Bruno for Sporting when he’s clearly made them the most potent attacking force ever to grace empty stadiums during an unprecedented threat to humanity?
Before Fernandes’ arrival, Mauricio Pochettino was already stocking up on lemons to soak up the nuclear radiation-level waves of negative energy around Carrington whenever he got the call, but the arrival of the Portuguese playmaker showed Ole had regained control of the wheel and would steer United away from the cliff edge for another six months or so.
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Manager of the Season – Frank Lampard
Lamps has done a reasonable job in his debut season as Chelsea boss, so, obviously, he must be the clear winner of the top boss award given the dire straights they were in last year.
In case you forgot, the Blues were in rag order before club legend Frank returned to Stamford Bridge with sixth-place-in the Championship plaque from Derby freshly minted to rescue them. They scraped third-place under the Italian Maurizio Sarri and had to settle for a Europa League trophy as their only piece of silverware, along with a League Cup final appearance.
This year, however, they secured a fabulous fourth position in the league and did so with a sensational SIX FEWER points than Sarri’s side, just fantastic stuff from this new manager. They also managed it with the worst defensive record in of the top 12 clubs in the league. That’s quite an achievement.
Throw in a last 16 home humbling at the hands of Bayern Munich in the Champions League and you can easily see why Frank is just the greatest thing yo hit English football since Arsene Wenger said ‘maybe getting plastered after training isn’t the best idea, lads’, can’t you?
Villain of the Season – VAR
Etch-a-sketch lines on the screen trying to measure whether a centre-forward’s armpit hair was in an offside position is exact;y what we all expected when video technology was talked about, isn’t it?
The officials meant to monitor games seem to be ploughing through the Netflix catalogue on the sly given some of the decisions that are and aren’t made.
Paddy would propose the Premier League stage a VAR review of VAR for next season, but they’d still probably somehow miss it and award a penalty to United while they were at it, so what’s the point?
Tactical Masterstroke of the Season – Ralph Hasenhuttl
The Austrian has drawn plaudits this season for his sophisticated use of limited resources and development of talent at St Mary’s, but it’s the 9-0 loss to Leicester that we’ll all remember. Getting the worst home result in Premier League history let the players know that, whatever happened from there, they could never be as bad as that.
The Saints finished 11th and, more amazingly still, Ralph kept his job. A true genius.
Comeback of the Season – David Moyes
Just when West Ham fans thought it was safe to go back to the London Stadium – or not – David Moyes returned to scare the bejebus out of every not-so-happy Hammer all over again. The Scot showed what a winner he is by helping the expensively assembled squad swerve relegation post-lockdown, though the less said about the one-win-in-19-games run before the extraordinary intervention of global catastrophe, the better.
We’re pencilling in a new West Ham manager for, say, November.
Pundit of the Season – Patrice Evra
Lesser pundits would cower at the prospect of spending eight minutes in live, televised conversation with the volcanic Roy Keane and his endless stream of magma-like footballing opinions. Even some of the best on-air talkers have been rendered Pompeii-like such has been the Vesuvian force of the ex-Man United’s midfielders eruptions – just ask Jamie Carragher.
"You said almost won a title, you DIDN'T win a title" ??
That time Roy Keane shut down Jamie Carragher ? pic.twitter.com/gQZjY7GOFf
— Soccer AM (@SoccerAM) July 22, 2020
But Patrice Evra knows how to tiptoe around the pulsating lava. By channelling the viewer’s bemused amazement into laughter at the seismic fury Keane can generate because of a misplaced pass or minor slip, the former French full-back is clearly our punditry hero this season.
Unsung Hero of the Season – Jordan Henderson
Rather like one of those players – okay, it’s Michael Carrick, that’s who I’m talking about – who are so often described as ‘underrated’ you start to wonder if they’re overrated, Hendo has been held up as such an undervalued and underappreciated source of, I dunno, good vibes, general politeness and a kind of warm fuzzy feeling among his teammates so much in the last 18 months that the unsung and unheralded nature of the ‘job he does for the team’ practically announces itself with a three-ring circus, marching band and publicity tour of every major US city and European capital at this stage.
His Football Writers Association Player of the Year award just underlines how successful he’s been in playing the uncelebrated force that has driven his Liverpool team to glory.