As sports go,
soccer football keeps it simple. Two teams of 11 players. Push em, kick em, stick it in the net. Yes, there are nuances and many, many, many technicalities, but at its core, it’s a simple game. In accordance, end of the year awards are also remarkably simple. There is a player of the year award, manager of the year award, and a young player of the year award. Nothing fancy, nothing too technical, just the best.
Jump across the pond, to the complex world of American sports, and it gets a bit more complicated. See, where England likes to award the best, America seems to believe more in participatory awards. For example, the NFL awards an MVP, Defensive Player of the Year, Offensive Rookie of the Year, Defensive Rookie of the Year, Coach of the Year, Assistant Coach of the Year, Comeback Player of the Year, and then a number of empty awards with big-name sponsors perfectly engineered to generate revenue. Genius, really.
That said, credit where credit is due. Thank you, NFL. Not for your ridiculous and pointless awards. Rather, for giving me the perfect article idea. What if the Premier League gave out these arbitrary awards?
Let’s start with the easiest one. Mo Salah. No ands, ifs, or buts. This man is the best thing to happen to Liverpool since the Beatles. That is by no means an exaggeration. I mean, come on:
Defensive Player of the Year
RAGNAR KLAVAN! Ok, let’s not hold the Premier League to too high of a standard here. There are a lot of great defenders in the premier league. Equally, there are a lot of bad ones. Most of them play for Liverpool. Even though he was embarrassed by Sadio Mane, Nicolas Otamendi has been the model of consistency for Manchester City this year. Big, good on the ball, sufficiently tattooed to qualify as being rather terrifying, giving him everything a modern center back should be.
Offensive and Defensive Rookie of the Year
Rookie is a hard word to define (shoutout Donovan Mitchell.) For the purposes of these two awards, a rookie shall be defined as someone who hasn’t played a minute of premier league football prior to this year. Sadly, that disqualifies our beautiful egyptian, but there are
plenty of other surprisingly few good options. Álvaro Morata (Chelsea) is my offensive rookie of the year for lack of a better option. He bangs one in every 188 minutes, which I understand as rather good. I mean, Salah averages 91 minutes between goals, but that’s none of my business. Lewis Dunk (Brighton) takes the defensive award home for being a great defender in a very mediocre team. He also did this (against Liverpool, hehe) which is just really, really, really funny.
Coach of the year
Heavy metal football, Jurgen Klopp. Enough said. There’s definitely an argument to be made for Pep Guardiola, and with good reason. Man city’s season has been historic. 100 points is pretty incredible. However, he’s done that with twice the money and about 3x fewer injuries. Klopp is also in the Champions League final. Take that, you exquisitely dressed Spaniard.
Assistant coach of the year
Not quite sure how you measure this one. I mean, no manager ever really gives credit to his assistants, and no assistant is ever influential enough to be, well, important. Short answer, no one cares.
Comeback player of the year
The one and only Santi Cazorla. World class, all season long. After almost not being able to walk, multiple surgeries, and many tireless hours of rehab, here he is! Oh. Well that one didn’t quite go as planned. İlkay Gündoğan (Manchester City) is probably the next best choice. After making only 10 appearances last year, the German played 30 times this campaign. Six goals from midfield is a solid haul, and his ball movement was insane all season long. So, well done or whatever.
Another year, another premier league season done. City with 100 points, Chelsea missing out on Champions League football, and Stoke finally realize they have outstayed their welcome. The big question is: do I think Liverpool can win it all next year?
You’ll never walk alone.