Football: And The Winners Are…

With the football season coming to an end – later than expected – it is only right that I announce the inaugural winners of the The Sports Gent (TSG) awards for the 2019/2020 season. 

The awards will be given in the following categories: 

Most Entertaining Team of the Season
Most Improved Player of the Season
Biggest Overachiever of the Season
Biggest Disappointment of the Season
Young player of the Season
Senior of the Season
Game of the Season
Manager, and Player of the Season
Top 5 Memorable and/or Ridiculous Incidents of the Season
Special Achievement Award

The winners of the TSG awards will come from one of the leagues or competitions listed below, as I have either personally seen or followed the winner;

Premier League & Championship (England)
Ligue 1 (France)
La Liga (Spain)
Bundesliga (Germany)
Seria A (Italy)
Super Lig (Turkey)
Champions League & Europa League (UEFA) 

So, here goes…

Most Entertaining Team of the Season

ATALANTA B.C.

Absolute no brainer! I have made sure to watch every game this team has played in the second half of the season, and they didn’t disappoint whatsoever. Serie A’s Atalanta B.C. have been excellent, both in the Italian domestic league, and the Champions League. They have failed to score on four occasions all season, and only had one goalless draw (vs Sampdoria) which we can forgive them for. So far, there have been 148 goals in the 38 Serie A fixtures they’ve played, with a further 32 goals in the 8 Champions League games, and a 2-1 loss in the cup, to Fiorentina. 


Most Improved Player of the Season

PAULO DYBALA (Juventus)

There were talks of Dybala leaving Juve after a poor season. The arrival of new coach, Muarizio Sarri (recently relieved from his post), wasn’t going to make it easy for Dybala to break into the team as he would be competing against  none other than Cristiano Ronaldo, and fellow Argentine Gonzalo Higuain (the latter is a favourite of Sarri’s who he has worked with on many occasions). As predicted, Dybala started the season as a sub, but is arguably the second-most effective player in the Juve line-up right now. Once again, that line-up includes CR7, who we will come to later. Dybala has scored 17 goals, provided 11 assists so far and continues to make a mark in every game he plays…


Biggest Overachievers of the Season

SHEFFIELD UNITED F.C.

The blades were one of the favourites to be relegated at the start of the season, yet they ended the season in 9th. As if that isn’t impressive enough, they achieved this with a squad that is mostly made up of home-grown talent, whether it be the players, or the manager. What an achievement! Could they do it again next season?


Biggest Disappointment of the Season

ASTON VILLA

Villa were one of three promoted sides – along with Norwich and Sheffield United – trying to avoid dropping straight back down to the second tier of the English football ladder. In the end, they managed to stay up on the final day of the season thanks to an unconvincing draw at West Ham. If I was an Aston Villa fan (glad I am not), I would have expected a lot more from my side after spending over £100 million. I would be even more disappointed after seeing the video of the players celebrating survival as if they had won the league. Roy Keane’s facial expression tells you all you need to know…


Young player of the Season

JADON SANCHO (B. DORTMUND)

Dortmund has been very entertaining this year, and they play a great brand of football, and Sancho is one of the key members of the team despite his young age. The 20 year old has played in 50 games this season, with a return of 22 goals, and 21 assists. It is a matter of time before this young man’s name starts appearing on the Ballon D’or list.


Senior of the Season (Not inc. Messi or Ronaldo)

JOSIP ILICIC (ATALANTA BC) 

Throughout his career, Ilicic has never had the recognition he truly deserves which is a real shame. He has been a part of Serie A for the best part of a decade, and has proven himself to be a leading player. Ilicic is very unpredictable, and a real delight to watch on the ball. He has amassed 21 goals and 5 assists in the 34 games he played. Not bad for a 32 year old!
Note: It just hit me that despite being the same age as Ilicic, I have run less distance in kilometres this year, than he has scored goals. Sigh…

Game of the Season

CHELSEA 4-4 AJAX (Nov, 6th)

It is very rare the award for “game of the season” to go to goalless draw, and this selection isn’t going to break that trend. No one cares about quality defending, and being solid at the back. What we as football fans want are two teams with absolutely no respect for keeping a clean sheet, and a desire to rack up a final score that makes newcomers to the world of football to double check whether or not they clicked on the correct webpage…

Manager, and Player of the Season

Manager: Chris Wilder (Sheffield United)
An incredible job by the Englishman. Don’t believe me, check the premier league table.

Player: Kevin De Bruyne (Man City)
I realise that Jordan Henderson won the player of the season award in England, and I can see why he was victorious, but come on! I will stick my neck out and say that given the opportunity,  even the most die-hard Liverpool fan would happily swap Henderson for De Bruyne! De Bruyne broke the premier league record with 20 assists, and scored 13 goals, too. Henderson, in contrast, hit four goals and five assists. Yes, Henderson offers much more than goals and assists, but can you really tell me that his overall play is superior to that of Kevin De Bruyne? De Bruyne is the best midfielder in Europe, and has been consistently one of the best on the planet for some time now.

Top 5 Memorable and/or Ridiculous Incidents of the Season (Reverse Order)

5.
Istanbul Basaksehir Belediyesi (IBB) managed to become the 6th team in Turkish Super Lig history to lift the trophy, a great achievement following a poor start to the season. The government funded side have been knocking on the door for a few seasons, so the success wasn’t that surprising. The real shock of the season was avoided on the final day after Sivasspor lost, allowing Besiktas to finish 3rd with a 3-0 win away to Genclerbirligi. If Sivas had won, it would have been the first time in 61 years that the ‘Big 3’ – Galatasaray, Fenerbahce and Besiktas – would have ended the season out the top three. 

4.
A night to forget for Southampton at St. Mary’s Stadium. Leicester City managed to put 9 goals past the Saints, making it the joint-largest victory in the history of the premier league, equalling Man UTD’s 9-0 home win against Ipswich Town, in 1995. 

3.
One of the biggest honours a team can give a player is to retire their number as a thank you for the years of service they have provided for the club. So, the utter stupidity, and a lack of brain cells it must have taken to retire the number 22 shirt worn by Jude Bellingham, is baffling. Bellingham, who only made 44 appearance for Birmingham City, just signed for Borussia Dortmund for £25 million, making him the most expensive 17-year-old in history. The club officials said, the decision taken is “to remember one of our own and to inspire others.”…Give it a rest!

2.
No list can be completed without the mention of Liverpool’s record breaking season. Be interesting to see if they can do it again next year.

1.
The biggest joke of the year is Manchester City’s UEFA ban being overturned. They broke financial fair play rules. They got banned (Click for more information). They appealed. The ban got overturned. The final result is that Man City have been fined a substantial amount of money, which the club officials celebrated. I am sure PSG, Real Madrid and other wealthy clubs are licking their lips at the prospect of not being held accountable for their actions. In the meantime, less wealthy sides, who have appealed their bans, have not been so lucky. What an absolute joke!

Special Achievement Award

CRISTIANO RONALDO

First player to score at least 50 league goals in three different leagues (and broke Juventus’ scoring record over a season, too)…an unbelievable achievement considering that CR7 managed this in three of the world’s best leagues. If Ronaldo wanted to, he could probably move to a Bundesliga side, and within a couple of years, add a fourth league to that record! What an absolute legend, and arguably, one of the best ever…

And with that, we wrap up the first TSG awards. I am positive that all of the winners are very proud, want to thank their parents, siblings, agents and friends, then follow that up with a speech about the current political climate, and wish for world peace…

Who would be your selections?

 


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