EPL Season Review: Awards That Should Have Been Given
Now that the the 2011-2012 EPL campaign has ended and the domestic trophies have been awarded, it's a great time to reflect on the season that was.
From beginning to end, this last Premier League season was one of the most unpredictable on record. Beginning with Arsenal's dismal start, to Newcastle's amazing surge and Manchester City's eventual title winner scored in "Fergie time," the EPL offered up many surprises.
We now know that Manchester City captain Vincent Kompany was awarded the Barclay's Player of the Season honor while Newcastle's Alan Pardew picked up the Manager of the Season award. Of course, we also know that Arsenal's Robin van Persie was the winner of the Golden Boot Award with 30 total goals.
While the following awards don't actually exist, here's a look at some of those that could have been awarded for the recent Premier League Season.
The North American Who Can Score Goals Award
This award would have to go to Fulham's Clint Dempsey. In his sixth season in England, the native Texan firmly established himself as one of the EPL's most consistent strikers by tallying 17 goals and six assists in 37 league games.
Another forward who made a name for himself this year is 21-year-old Canadian Junior Hoilett. In 34 appearances with the recently relegated Blackburn Rovers, Hoilett scored seven goals and picked up five assists. While Blackburn will be playing in the Championship next season, it's expected that Hoilett will remain in the top flight with a number of clubs already showing interest.
The Most Likely to Land in Jail Award
Already known throughout the league as a loose cannon, Joey Barton outdid even himself this season.
His 2011-2012 CV includes goading Gervinho into receiving a red card on the Arsenal player's EPL debut, being red-carded for headbutting Norwich's Bradley Johnson and this final act, which occurred this past weekend at the Etihad Stadium. After elbowing Carlos Tevez in the jaw, Barton proceeded to kick Sergio Aguero and then attempted to lash out at Vincent Kompany. Finally, just to make sure everyone knew what a remorseless thug he really is, Barton turned to Twitter to hurl obscenities and insults.
The Great Escape Award
After 28 games, Wigan were sitting at the bottom of the EPL table on 21 points. From there, the Latics went on to win seven of their last 10 matches with one draw and secure their EPL survival with a 15th-place finish.
The Best Animal on the Pitch Award
Nearing the end of a miserable season, Blackburn fans were fed up with the way their club was being run. During Rovers' last home match of the season, a fan let loose a chicken wearing a team flag with the word "out" written on it. This was a not too subtle message directed at Blackburn's owners, Venky's, an India-based poultry company.
The Not so "Special One" Award
Having served under the self-appointed "special one," Jose Mourinho, Andre Villas-Boas arrived on the managerial scene with instant success. After reviving Académica de Coimbra of the Portuguese Primeira Liga, Villas-Boas went on to lead Porto to four trophies during the 2010-2011 season.
With Villas-Boas being referred to as the new "special one," Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich hired him to replace Carlo Ancelotti at the start of this past season. By March, the Chelsea owner's love affair with Villas-Boas was over and the manager was fired, following a string of bad results.
The Most Underestimated Team Award
Clubs that are promoted from the Championship to the Premier League are often considered easy prey for already-established EPL clubs. In fact, in many instances, clubs that are promoted to the top flight are often relegated soon after their promotion.
Prior to the start of this season, most pundits predicted that the newly promoted sides, QPR, Norwich and especially Swansea City, would find life tough in the Premier League. While QPR only managed to avoid relegation on the last day of the season, both Swansea and Norwich experienced impressive success throughout the campaign. As first-time EPL members, Swansea takes this award with victories over Arsenal, Manchester City, Liverpool and Fulham.
The Why Did They Even Bother Award
As manager of Birmingham City during the 2010-2011 campaign, Alex McLeish oversaw a club that was unable to avoid relegation. Despite their disappointment, the higher ups at City stick with McLeish. So what did McLeish do to thank them? He quit and, five days later, was appointed manager of City's bitter rivals, Aston Villa.
How a manager that oversees a relegated team gets rewarded with a new job is beyond me.
McLeish took over a Villa squad that had finished ninth the previous season. Under their new boss, Villa struggled and avoided relegation by just two points. McLeish was fired the day after the last match of the season.
The Most Underperforming Award
Perhaps trying to live up to the transfer price, Torres seemed a shell of his former self for large portions of the season. The striker went 24 games without a goal and often found himself on the substitute's bench.
After scoring his first Premier League goal of the season on September 24, Torres went six months before scoring his second on March 31.
Torres appeared to be regaining his confidence as the season drew to a close and scored a hat trick against QPR at the end of April. Torres ended the campaign with just six league goals.
The If Only They Could Get off to a Good Start Award
For some unknown reason, Everton always seems to get off to a bad start and then finish the season strong. This was again the case in 2011-2012.
After 10 matches, Everton sat in 16th place on just 10 points. Through 24 rounds, they were in 11th position with 30 points.
Following the January signing of Croatian striker Nikica Jelavic, Everton played some impressive football. In addition to victories over Manchester City, Chelsea and Tottenham, the club came from behind to secure a historic 4-4 draw with Manchester United.
Everton ended the season in seventh place and with four points more than their crosstown rivals, Liverpool.
The Flip Flop Award
Roberto Mancini wins this award for two incidents in which he talked tough but then caved in.
When Carlos Tevez refused to play for Manchester City during a Champions League match, Mancini rightfully vowed that Tevez was "finished" and would never play for the club again.
Months later, with the title slipping away, Mancini invited Tevez back in to the team.
Then there's Mario Balotelli. Mancini's "final straw" with the Italian came in early April during Arsenal's 1-0 victory over City. Balotelli was sent off after committing several vicious tackles. City's grip on the title looked to be slipping away. Following the match, Mancini expressed his frustration with Balotelli and said that he would probably not play for City again and would be sold in the summer. Now, Mancini is saying "Balotelli will remain at Manchester 101 percent."