We hand out our special awards to the stars of the last English Premier League season.
The Premier League may well be over, with all the trophies handed out and the celebrations underway. But what truly matters are the 101 India End of Season Awards, which we have meticulously compiled after an exhaustive year-long process of research, data analysis, blind votes, and several under-the-table payments.
The Adhyayan Suman Golden Boot in Mouth Award
Winner: Jose Mourinho
Who else? The man went on a rampage as he began to lose control of his team, throwing his own team doctor, Eva Carneiro, under the bus right at the beginning of the season. It led to a spectacular fall from grace for Mourinho and his Chelsea team, defending champions at the time, before he was ultimately sacked (again). Roberto Martinez comes a close second for his deluded optimism in the midst of a terrible season for Everton.
The Double Samosa Pao Award for Excellence in Eating
Winner: Wayne Rooney
Wayne Rooney was the subject of intense heat this season for his abysmal early season performances, and Louis Van Gaal’s insistence on shoehorning his captain into every single game, often at the expense of more exciting, less high-profile young players, was much discussed. In fairness, Rooney did an adequate job in the second half of a season hampered by injury. That said, the goals have shrunk, unlike his waistline.
The Prime Minister of India Award for Excellence in Rags-to-Riches
Winner: Jamie Vardy
Just a few years ago, Jamie Vardy was a humble, hard-working tea seller. Today, he is the second most powerful man in the world. No wait, that sounds off.
The tale’s been told enough times, but eight years ago, Vardy was a non-league player who’d been convicted of assault. He had an ankle monitor fitted, and a curfew that was to be followed at all costs. So he’d play 60 minutes of away games, jump over the fence and into a waiting car, and rush home to meet his deadline. As recently as last season, Vardy was a journeyman striker at best, playing in a team battling relegation. The transformation has been Clark Kent-esque, as this season he’s been one of the most feared strikers in the country, becoming his team’s star man and only narrowly missing out on the Golden Boot to Harry Kane, scoring 24 league goals to Kane’s 25, even being an almost certain starter for England at the upcoming Euros. Much like our Prime Minister, we’ll refrain from commenting on Vardy’s rather colourful past outside of football.
The BJP-Congress-AAP-Left More Things Change, The More They Stay The Same Award
Winner: The League
There was a time when it looked like Arsenal might compete for the title for once. Like Tottenham might finally break their jinx and finish the league ahead of Arsenal, and end the tedious St. Totteringham’s Day gloating by Arsenal fans once and for all. Like Manchester United might actually play some fun, attacking football. Like Liverpool might get their shit together. Like West Ham United could actually claim one of the Champions League spots since none of the other contenders seemed interested. Like Sunderland might finally, finally lose steam and get relegated. Not a single one of those things happened. And yet, this was still the most exciting, unpredictable season in living memory.
The Graceful Swan Dive of the Season Award
Winner: Louis Van Gaal
Vardy’s valiant effort against West Ham, which led to a second yellow card in a critical game, also followed by him mouthing “fucking cunt” at the referee leading to an extended ban, would have been a frontrunner if that braintfart had resulted in a late-season Leicester City collapse. But they held their nerve in his absence, which means there can only be one winner: Sir Louis Van Gaal.
Van Gaal took offence to what he thought was a dive by an Arsenal player in a game against Manchester United. So naturally, the Dutch madman went to the fourth official, and naturally, he decided to express his annoyance in the most bizarre possible way: By tumbling to the floor theatrically. Because actions always speak louder than words. Because imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.
The Some Men Just Love To Watch The World Burn Award
Winner: Manuel Pellegrini
Manuel Pellegrini, the Manchester City coach, was without doubt treated poorly when the club announced that Pep Guardiola would be taking over as the City coach next season, at a time when the team were still in contention for four trophies, and doing reasonably well. He was respectful and dignified in the wake of the announcement, but we suspect that, privately, he just decided to stick it to the man. City went on a worrying slump as they crashed out of contention in the league, also whimpering out of the Champions League. He did just about everything he could to make sure Pep wouldn’t get to manage in the Champions League. And yet City somehow still crawled into fourth in what was a truly mental season.
The Kulfi Falooda Award for Excellence in Enthusiasm
Winner: Jurgen Klopp
The hyperactive, manic German came as a breath of fresh air to Liverpool — and to the league at large — after the darkness of Brendan Rodgers’ last few months in charge. His animated, enthusiastic, cheerful, good-humoured disposition in the dugout is a welcome antidote to the persecuted/dour leanings of most of his peers. He’s a six-year-old on a sugar rush in a room full of boring old adults.
The Cinderella Fairytale Award for Excellence in Blowing us all Away
Winner: Claudio Ranieri/Leicester City
Of course it’s Leicester City; their win can arguably be considered the single greatest achievement in modern sport (let alone football). But let’s also give some credit to Southampton, a club that continues to progress with each passing year. There’s also West Ham, who played high-energy attacking football after appointing Slaven Bilic as coach, in what was considered a risky move at first. And, of course, Tottenham. Poor old Tottenham. They ended the season a distant third, but for the longest time the title was a two-way battle between them and Leceister, and they have an exciting young side and an exciting young coach at the helm. If only they could manage to finish above Arsenal for once.
The WTF! Versova Damp Squib Moment of the Season
So there was this security training session conducted by an outside firm at Manchester United’s stadium, Old Trafford, before the final game of the season. United had to win the game and hope Manchester City lost in order to make the Champions League next season. Half an hour before kick-off, reports that the game had been delayed by 45 minutes because of a “suspicious package” began circulating. Soon enough, it was announced that the game had been cancelled, and would be rescheduled. One half of the stadium was evacuated because there was a legitimate security threat. Then the entire stadium was evacuated. A “controlled explosion” was conducted at the ground to deal with the threat.
Turns out, one dumbass from the previous training session had forgotten to take back the “suspicious package”, leading to the absurd cancellation, all while City duly did their job. Evacuations, panic, refunds, rescheduling. Imagine the kind of shit that poor fellow must have gotten for his howler.
The Dilly Ding Dilly Dong Award for Excellence In War Cries
Winner: Claudio Ranieri
His cry was so good we had to dedicate an entire award to it. The goofy old Italian spent most of the season tempering expectations even as the world around him exploded in anticipation. And then he finally obliged. There were some incomprehensible non-sequiturs, before he delivered his memorable war cry: “Dilly ding! Dilly dong! Come on man!” I think that’s when we all started to believe just a little bit more.
The Brendan Who? Award for Excellence in Anonymity
Winner: Brendan Who?
Liverpool’s former manager Brendan Rodgers is a distant memory in the wake of Jurgen Klopp’s appointment at the club, and the subsequent wave of optimism around the club, despite the odd stumble or two. But we’ll still give this award to Aston Villa, a club so mind-numbingly dull and disinterested that it’s almost a blessing that they’ve been relegated. Good riddance to them.
The Sad Old Ginger Award for Excellence in Nothing, Really
Winner: Steve McClaren
McClaren gets a lot of stick in the press for his management skills (or lack of). At Newcastle too, he was blamed for the club’s descent into almost-certain relegation before he was sacked. And he was, of course, at fault. But we still retain a soft-spot for the mild-mannered ginger goof. And it’s not his fault that the club owner, Mike Ashley, dithered for too long before getting rid of him, or that his players basically stopped trying until Rafa Fact Benitez was appointed. We’ll miss his mug.
The Steve Jobs Award for Excellence in Technological Advancement
Winner: That fax machine.
It was a dodgy fax machine that resulted in David De Gea’s transfer to Madrid not meeting the requisite deadline, since the paperwork got delayed. The gods of technology smiled on Manchester United as they got to keep their star man for the whole season, and, as always, De Gea was the difference between Manchester United’s season being an FA Cup win away from salvageable, and not a complete debacle as it often threatened to be. We also give De Gea the Sachin Tendulkar in the ’90s Award for carrying an entire team on his frail shoulders for two seasons running.
Disclaimer: The views expressed in this article are independent views solely of the author(s) expressed in their private capacity and do not in any way represent or reflect the views of 101India.com.
By Akhil Sood
Illustrations by Eshna Goenka