Another season has (finally) drawn to a close. With the identities of the Champions, European qualifiers and relegated sides now known, we decided to name our Alternative Premier League Awards 2019/20.
Alternative Premier League Awards 2019/20
Team of the Season – Sheffield United
They faded at the end, ultimately finishing ninth, but Sheffield United have been phenomenal in their first season back in the top flight since 2007 and deserve to be recognised in our Alternative Premier League Awards 2019/20.
To see Chris Wilder’s side pushing for Europe while West Ham spent the season struggling against relegation was poetic justice after the controversial circumstances which led to United’s last relegation all those years ago. The heavy favourites to be relegated at the start of the season have proved everybody wrong.
Player of the Season – Kevin De Bruyne
Kevin De Bruyne’s 20 assists, the joint most in Premier League history, in addition to 13 goals mean a combined goal contribution tally of 33 for the season, four more than Mo Salah in second place.
It has been De Bruyne’s best season yet and the Belgian wizard, who has surely cemented his status as the the best midfielder in the world, remains City’s best chance of wrestling the Premier League away from Liverpool again next season. He could yet lead City to European glory this season as well.
Manager of the Season – Jurgen Klopp
If Sheffield United are our team of the season, there’s no way that Jurgen Klopp can be ignored in our Premier League Awards 2019/20, after leading Liverpool to their first ever Premier League title.
They have understandably dropped off slightly since the restart. The title was basically wrapped up and they are clearly one of the sides who have been impacted by empty stadiums which have deprived them of the vociferous Anfield support. However, a third consecutive points tally in the high 90s and an 18 point gap to Man City, despite spending under £10m on transfers, is a sensational return.
Performance of the Season – Southampton 0 – 9 Leicester
It could have gone to Watford for inflicting Liverpool’s first defeat of the season but, after sacking three managers and being relegated, Watford don’t deserve any positive awards this year.
Instead Performance of the Season must go to Leicester for their absolute dismantling of Southampton away from home in October. Nine goals, five goalscorers, a hat-trick for Jamie Vardy, 73% possession, 25 shots, zero cards and zero offsides. It was an absolute demolition and looked as though it might cost Ralph Hasenhüttl his job. It didn’t and instead he wins the award for…
Comeback of the Season – Ralph Hasenhüttl
The Leicester game was a low point. The worst defeat in the club’s 135 year history dropped Southampton to 18th in the table and gave them the joint worst goal difference. The Saints looked set for a relegation battle.
Nine months later they finish the season in 11th with 52 points, just two shy of a top half finish. An unbeaten run of seven to close their campaign, including four wins, sets them up nicely for a far more comfortable 2020/21 season when they can afford to look up the table, rather than down. Credit should also go to the Southampton hierarchy who could easily have pulled the trigger on Hasenhüttl but kept the faith and have been richly rewarded. Watford, take note.
Signing of the Season – Bruno Fernandes
We’ve covered it already in our blog on the top five signings of the season but Fernandes is the undisputed numver. He joined a hopeless, rudderless Manchester United and dragged them to third place.
Breakthrough Star – Mason Greenwood
After the opening months of the season you’d have been brave to bet against one of the Chelsea youngsters like Mason Mount, Tammy Abraham and Reece James winning this award. However, while that trio have dipped in and out of form, Mason Greenwood has finished the season like a runaway train.
The 18-year-old became the first teenager to score ten or more goals in the Premier League since Michael Owen in 1997/98, with Robbie Fowler the only other player to achieve the feat. Alan Shearer has suggested that Greenwood could become the player to break his goals tally. Phil Foden, who plays alongside Sergio Aguero, has called Greenwood the best finisher he’s ever played with. No pressure lad.
Most Air Miles – Wolves
Wolves began their season in the Europa League qualification round against Northern Irish side Crusaders on the 25th July 2019. 367 days later while most clubs have finished their season and are looking forward to the six week break, Wolves have up to four rounds of European competition still to play.
They’ve travelled to Northern Ireland, Armenia, Italy, Turkey, Slovakia, Portugal, Spain and Greece on their European quest and are only at the last 16 stage. Nuno Espirito Santo deserves greater recognition for what he has achieved with such a small squad.
Bottlejobs of the Season – Leicester City
It feels harsh but Leicester’s collapse must be noted in our Alternative Premier League Awards 2019/20. Brendan Rodgers said he was very proud of his team, despite them giving up a 14 point lead over Manchester United to finish four points behind them on the final day of the season.
Leicester would have taken fifth at the beginning of the year so in the wider context it isn’t a total disaster but the nature of their collapse has been frightening. The Foxes won eight straight games between October and December and were second in the table as recently as the tenth of January. However, four wins in their last 17 matches will see them playing in the Europa League next season instead.
Biggest Shithouse – Jose Mourinho
On the 1st March 2015, when asked whether he could ever take over at Tottenham, Jose Mourinho said: “I couldn’t go. I couldn’t train in England for two years. I love Chelsea supporters too much, I’m Chelsea.”
Fast forward to November 20th 2019 and, following a bitter second sacking from Chelsea, Mourinho had changed his tune. The extent to which he actually wanted to manage Tottenham or just wanted to annoy Chelsea remains unclear.
— Tottenham Hotspur (@SpursOfficial) November 20, 2019
The Stand by your Manager Award for Disloyalty – Watford
Watford began the 2019/20 Premier League season with Javi Gracia in charge. Three defeats in their opening four games meant curtains for the spaniard, who was replaced by his compatriot Quique Sánchez Flores, returning for a second spell at the club. Flores lasted an entire ten matches before receiving his own marching orders.
With the club rooted to the foot of the Premier League and looking set for the drop, they brought in Nigel Pearson, a man with experience of winning relegation battles. Pearson got to work and it wasn’t long before Watford were 16th and within touching distance of safety. However, in the most Watford-esque move of all time, he was unceremoniously given the boot with two games remaining. The Hornets inevitably lost both and went down. You can’t say they didn’t ask for it.
Shambles of the Season – VAR
In a season with a three month break due to a global pandemic, that VAR is the single biggest shambles is telling. It’s not been good, has it?
VAR was supposed to alleviate pressure on referees and eliminate controversy but it has done anything but that. From a lack of clarity over exactly when it can and can’t be used, referees seemingly not being allowed to use the pitch side monitors, lengthy waits for decisions interrupting the flow of games and, worst of all, continued incorrect decisions such as the ‘ghost goal’ which has arguably cost Bournemouth their place in the Premier League. It needs huge reforms and improvements next season.
Biggest Disappontments – Arsenal
A first finish outside the top six since the 1994/95 season when Paul Dickov played 13 games for them up front. Arsenal now need to win the FA Cup to qualify for the Europa League.
They have been wretched for large swathes of the season, with much of the blame resting with Unai Emery who assembled an unbalanced, disorganised and unmotivated squad. There were definite signs of improvements under Mikel Arteta but he desperately needs a big transfer window to get close to the top four. It’s not going to happen, is it?
Tweet of the Season – Coleen Rooney
There have been plenty of entertaining football-related Twitter shenanigans but nobody can top Coleen Rooney’s effort in October. Dubbed the WAGatha Christie saga, it caused a storm and the legal consequences are rumbling on nearly a year later. It spawned some absolutely priceless reactions as well.
This has been a burden in my life for a few years now and finally I have got to the bottom of it…… pic.twitter.com/0YqJAoXuK1
— Coleen Rooney (@ColeenRoo) October 9, 2019
Benjamin Button Award – Jamie Vardy
While Rebekah Vardy may not have enjoyed her inclusion in our Premier League Awards 2019/20, Jamie Vardy certainly should.
At the venerable age of 33, Vardy became the oldest Golden Boot winner in Premier League history after holding off late challenges from Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Danny Ings to finish top of the pile with 23 goals. He seems to be getting better as just when he should be winding down which is a frightening prospect for Premier League defences next season.
Dick Move of the Season – Players breaking lockdown
At a time when people were (and still are) losing their lives to Coronavirus, the government enforced a mandatory and unprecedented lockdown on the population in a bid to curb the spread of the virus. So what did several Premier League footballers do? Broke lockdown by going to parties, inviting escorts to their abodes, getting haircuts and meeting up with friends. The hall of shame includes Kyle Walker, Jack Grealish and Moise Kean among others.
Biggest Hero – Marcus Rashford
While the aforementioned players were selfishly flouting lockdown regulations, Marcus Rashford raised over £20m to provide meals to 2.8m children living in difficult financial situations, who were faced with going without food due to the closures of schools depriving them of dinners.
If that wasn’t enough, Rashford then led a campaign which forced the government to implement a policy of continuing to provide meal vouchers to children during the summer holidays.
On top of all this, Rashford put in his best footballing season as a professional so far. A leader on and off the pitch, he has endeared himself to the nation with his endeavours. An absolute hero.
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