So like the transfer window “slams shut” twice a year, the Premier League curtain has “come down” on season 2013-14. We now know that ROMANCE IS DEAD, football narratives don’t exist like they used to and money is king as the team everyone expected to win did just that. But that attitude ignores how bananas this season was and how unpredictable, enjoyable and at the same time soul-sapping 38 rounds of football can be.
We had Liverpool’s poetry in motion and Suarez’s tears; Mourinho’s return as “the Happy One”; Southampton’s silky young guns; Tactics Tim and the Tottenham Boiz; Arsene pretending to challenge for the title for about half a season and then returning to the comfort of fourth; The Chosen One; Big Sam having a laugh; Crystanbul; Pardew’s headbutt; Shelvey one-upping Wazza; Bobby Martinez and his tasty Toffees; Sunderland’s miracle; Fulham sacking everyone; and of course Manuel Pellegrini, the nicest guy in football, finally winning a European title. Let’s not take this season for granted because they don’t come along like this too often. Sure, on the last day pretty much everything was sewn up but for the majority of the season we had a three-way title race, about 11 teams fighting relegation and a handful of teams contesting the European places. We even had two teams score over 100 goals!
So in this most memorable of years, one that makes a legitimate case for “best season eva”, here are our End of Season Awards.
Team of the Season:
Setting out in a functional 4-3-3 formation (because we’re more tactically aware than the PFA and their pre-historic 4-4-2 nonsense) there aren’t really any surprises here.
Seamus Coleman Gary Cahill Dejan Lovren Luke Shaw
Yaya Toure Adam Lallana
Luis Suarez Daniel Sturridge Eden Hazard
David De Gea, Curtis Davies, Cesar Azpilicueta, Mile Jedinak, Aaron Ramsey, Raheem Sterling, Edin Dzeko.
Player of the Season:
Winner: Luis Suarez (Liverpool)
There isn’t really much to say. Equalled the record of goals in a 38-game season (while missing the first five through suspension), second in the league in assists and was an absolute menace to defences up and down the country week in and week out. The quality, variety and class of his goals were unparalleled and Liverpool will be hoping they can hang onto him for years to come.
Runner Up: Yaya Toure (Manchester City)
Toure led Manchester City to their second league title in three years with 20 goals from midfield, only the second player to do so in the Premier League behind Frank Lampard. Toure was a beast in midfield using his power, skill and intelligence to make a mockery of some of the league’s best players. The only criticism is, knowing what he is capable of, why couldn’t he do it even more often?
Young Player of the Season:
Winner: Eden Hazard (Chelsea)
Eden Hazard, despite recent criticism from Jose Mourinho, was Chelsea’s stand-out player this season. The Belgian topped their goalscoring and assists charts often taking the game by the scruff of the neck and forcing results all on his own. There are rumours surrounding his future after being at fault for two goals in their Champions League exit to Atletico Madrid (proving that he’s an attacker, Jose, not a left back) and Blues fans will be hoping that the noises being made by PSG are nothing but hot air. Extra kudos for not kicking any ball boys this year.
Runner Up: Daniel Sturridge (Liverpool)
A breakout season for the English striker finished with 21 goals, second in the league behind teammate Luis Suarez. With his first full season as a first XI player Sturridge didn’t let the chance slip, starring alongside Suarez in a dynamic and versatile Liverpool attack. Still only 24 and a World Cup around the corner this could be the start of a something special when many feared his star had faded. He just needs to prove he isn’t a one season wonder.
Under-21 Player of the Season (seriously, you can’t be 24 and be considered young in football):
Winner: Raheem Sterling (Liverpool)
It’s hard to believe Raheem Sterling is only 19. Think of it this way, if the PFA Young Player of the Year Award rules remain the same he will still be eligible for it in the 2018-19 season. Starting his Liverpool career as a winger, Sterling has flourished in the Tricky Reds this season playing on both flanks and latterly through the middle of a 4-1-2-1-2 diamond where he has ripped teams apart. His goal against Manchester City in arguably the biggest game of the season signalled his arrival as a big game player, demonstrating an incredibly calm and assured presence in the opposition area. Sterling finished the season with 9 goals and 5 assists and has been handed a seat on the plane to Brazil in the England squad.
Runner Up: Luke Shaw (Southampton)
England does a very good job of overhyping their youngsters but Southampton left back Luke Shaw has managed to live up to expectations. Just announced in Roy Hodgson’s England squad, Shaw is very much the modern fullback possessing pace, skill, positional awareness and sound decision making. While there are still a few aspects of his game to be fine-tuned (remember Seamus Coleman’s goal against Saints?), it is clear Shaw is a star of the future and performs with the consistency of someone well beyond his 18 years.
Manager of the Season:
Winner: Brendan Rodgers (Liverpool)
Taking a team that finished 7th last season to 2nd place (and in with a shot of the title on the last day of the season), and scoring over 100 goals in the process, is no mean feat. Rodgers showed that coaching still has a place in modern football, getting remarkable improvements out of youngsters Raheem Sterling, Jon Flanagan and Jordan Henderson, and produced impressive tactical flexibility throughout the season. A worthy winner of the LMA Manager of the Year Award.
Runner Up: Tony Pulis (Crystal Palace)
Running a very close second to Rodgers was Crystal Palace’s Tony Pulis, winner of the LMA Premier League Manager of the Year Award. When Pulis took over Palace had endured a six-game losing run and found themselves well and truly in relegation contention. Their turnaround was incredible, taking points off some of the biggest clubs in Europe and finishing the season well and truly safe in mid-table. Hats off to Mr Pulis, even though he rarely takes his off.
Top 5 Goals of the Season:
A great goal can be different for everyone, with some preferring slick team moves and others a powerful long range strike. We’ve tried to cover all angles with our top five.
Arsenal vs Norwich (Wilshere)
Words cannot do this goal justice and the Englisher commentator undersold it massively by saying “one of the best team goals of the season so far”. No mate, that is one of the best team goals in the history of football, and as such we’ve opted for some foreign commentary that was rightfully excited. Absolutely sublime passing interchanges, taking the ball from deep inside their own half finished off with backheels, flicks and a first-time finish a few yards out passed into the net. Proper Arsenal football innit?
Jonjo Shelvey vs Aston Villa
Taking a mis-hit clearance on the chest inside the centre circle, not many players would think of shooting. Fortunately for us, Jonjo Shelvey tends not to think most of the time and he slams a 50-yarder into the top corner, way out of reach of Brad Guzan. Unlike Wayne Rooney’s effort earlier in the season, where a lost goalkeeper slightly aided his cause with the ball bouncing before crossing the line, Shelvey’s shot was simply unstoppable.
Luis Suarez vs Norwich (third of four)
John Ruddy must wonder what sins he committed in a past life to deserve the sort of torture Luis Suarez regularly dishes out against him. While his 40 yarder earlier in this game may be some people’s pick, this goal had it all. Dribbling between four defenders Suarez chips the ball up and over Leroy Fer as he jinks around him. He then drops his shoulder and delays his shot, sending another player away from him, before unleashing a rocket of a half-volley from the edge of the area into the far corner of the net. Woof.
Pajtim Kasami vs Crystal Palace
With a long ball pumped into the channel Fulham’s Pajtim Kasami would even do well to hold the ball up with a defender sending him wide. Instead, the Swiss takes the ball on his chest and rifles it into the far top-corner in a goal reminiscint of Fernando Torres’ effort against Blackburn Rovers in 2009.
Adam Lallana vs Hull City
A jinking run by the Southampton attacking midfielder was one of the best individual efforts of the season. Picking the ball up a good 30 yards from goal Lallana twisted a turned past four Tigers defenders before cutting along the byline and coolly slotting past the keeper.
Honourable Mentions: Ross Barkley vs Manchester City, Alexander Tettey vs Sunderland, Ross Barkley vs Newcastle United, Luis Suarez vs Norwich (the first one) and Fabio Borini vs West Bromwich Albion.
Signing of the Season:
Winner: Dejan Lovren (Southampton)
Runner Up: Gareth Barry (Everton – loan)
Honourable Mentions: Wilfred Bony, Nemanja Matic, Fernandinho, Jason Puncheon and Romelu Lukaku.
Flop of the Season:
Winner: Ricky van Wolfswinkel (Norwich)
Runner Up: Marouane Fellaini (Manchester United)
Honourable Mentions: Iago Aspas (Liverpool), Kostas Mitroglu (Fulham), Erik Lamela (Tottenham)
Save of the Season:
David Marshall vs Aston Villa
The Joey Barton Memorial Award:
Alan Pardew wins this prestigious award for the season’s best brain-snap when the Newcastle manager went toe-to-toe with Hull City’s David Meyler in what is the best manager-on-player headbutt since Tony Pulis (allegedly) nakedly planted one on James Beattie. A great back-to-back for Newcastle after last season’s infamous “man punching the horse” episode so congratulations to the Geordies.
Best Goal Celebration:
David Meyler headbutting the corner flag.
Fashion Item of the Season:
The Gilet. A real hit with the younger managers in the fraternity, offering warmth and flexibility. Tim Sherwood and Gary Monk were repping these bad boys for the majority of their time in charge at Spurs and Swansea.
Tantrum of the Season:
Tim Sherwood vs The Gilet, with an honourable mention to Mourinho’s sidekick, Rui Patria.
Ironic Moment of the Season:
Steven Gerrard’s choice of words during his inspirational team huddle following victory over Manchester City and subsequent slip against Chelsea.
Mistake of the Season:
Many would say the mis-control and slip by Steven Gerrard but this award instead goes to the Fulham ownership for their removal of the “lucky” Michael Jackson statue outside Craven Cottage. Fulham won 34% of their games with the statue and only won 25% after its removal. Surely it’s no coincidence that the Cottagers went down this season?
Worst Refereeing Decision of the Season:
Sorry Jose, but this has to go to Andre Marriner for sending off Kieran Gibbs instead of Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain – who, in fairness, tried to plead with Mr Marriner that he had the wrong man.
Best Chant of the Season:
Stoke City fans on matchday one: “We’re Stoke City, we’re passing the ball”
Worst Fan Action of the Season:
Flying planes over stadiums. Seriously, why does this happen?
Game of the Season:
Everton 3-3 Liverpool.
Two managers who play attacking football went toe-to-toe in the Merseyside derby with Blues and Reds sharing the spoils after a pulsating, back and forth encounter at Goodison Park. Romelu Lukaku’s late impact nearly won it for the Toffees before Daniel Sturridge’s 89th minute header rescued a point for Brendan Rodgers’ men.
Honourable mentions: Cardiff City 3-2 Manchester City, Crystal Palace 1-4 Fulham, Manchester City 6-3 Arsenal, Aston Villa 4-3 West Bromwich Albion, Liverpool 5-1 Arsenal , Liverpool 3-2 Manchester City, Crystal Palace 3-3 Liverpool.
Season 2014-15, no pressure.