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SPORT

English Premier League 2020/21 alternative end of season awards

Words by Nathan Irvine and Rob Chilton

Full time

So that’s it for another season. Manchester City have officially been crowned EPL 2020/21 champions. Manchester United, Chelsea and Liverpool will join them in the Champions League next season, while Leicester City and Tottenham Hotspur will contend the Europa League.

Down at the bottom, Sheffield United, West Brom and Fulham slipped through the trapdoor and into the Championship.

Spurs’ Harry Kane took the Golden Boot and Man City’s Ederson grabbed the Golden Gloves. But these are all known, annual awards. Here’s a look at some of the more leftfield ones that we’ve come up with.

Shutterstock Fans uniting against greedy owners was a high point... even if the apostrophe placement on the sign is not

Best “man management” award – Ruben Dias, Manchester City

The Man City defender is known for his no-nonsense approach to defending. It’s a philosophy that stretches into approach with his team-mates, especially when constructing a defensive wall. When he picked up Oleksandr Zinchenko and moved him into position like an old school draught excluder we couldn’t help but laugh.

Most entertaining new player award - Eberechi Eze, Crystal Palace

Eberechi Eze, Crystal Palace’s jinking midfielder has been a joy this season. Did you see his goal against Sheffield United in January? Every time we watched Palace, he would do something magical, gliding effortlessly across the pitch and slipping past defenders in the blink of an eye. We hope his Achilles injury doesn’t hamper his progress next season.

Surprise package award – Sheffield United

For all the wrong reasons. From bloodying the nose of the Premier League elite during the 2019/20 season and achieving an admirable 9th place finish, the Blades transformed into basement dwellers that seemingly couldn’t buy a win. The squad was largely the same, but manager Chris Wilder – who got the boot – couldn’t get a tune out of them. Weird.

Not a dry eye in the house award - Guardiola and Aguero

We thought Pep Guardiola and Sergio Aguero’s relationship was meant to be frosty but seeing Pep break down as he spoke about the striker leaving Manchester showed a warmth and humanity you don’t always see from the obsessive manager. Aguero is a player we’ve adored since day one and we’re sad to see him leave the Premier League. Is someone cutting onions in here?

Best Arsenal transfer award - Troopz from AFTV to Barstool Sports

In a move that shocked the footballing world, AFTV’s chief banterman, Troopz departed his London chums after having his head turned by US sports giants Barstool Sports. He’s left Robbie and the gang behind to host his own show in the States and is reportedly earning a tidy salary. Not bad work if you can get it – you get me?

Couldn’t hit a barn door award – Chelsea’s forwards

Of all of Chelsea’s recognised forwards, the numbers they put up this season are abysmal. Timo Werner (6), Tammy Abraham (6), Olivier Giroud (4) and Callum Hudson-Odoi (2) conspired to net just 18 goals between them. Top scorer for Chelsea in the league? Jorginho (7) who was taking penalties. No wonder they’re linked to Harry Kane this summer.

Most annoying player award – Gareth Bale, Tottenham Hotspur

While we applaud 11 goals in 20 appearances this season, we still sit here today and think: what is up with Gareth Bale? We were excited to see him play this season, but he has seemed so sleepy and disinterested to us in games that we feel disappointed. Playing under Jose Mourinho clearly sucked the life out of him but, come on Gaz, put a shift in.

“Not that type of player” award – Thiago, Liverpool

Thiago started slow for Liverpool and managed to be more productive as the season closed. But he was consistent with naughty little challenges - up from 2 to 3 per game since his move to the EPL – and put in some “reducers” on some unsuspecting. Expect the refs to be watching him with a keen eye during the 2021/22 season.

Invisible man award – Phil Jones, Manchester United

Yes, he still has a contract at Manchester United. No, he didn’t play a single game during the season. To be fair, he has been injured for most of the campaign, but even when pundits and management are talking about United’s centre back options, Phil Jones and his many comical facial expressions, are never mentioned. Surely a move away is on the cards next term.

Fantasy football hero award – Stuart Dallas, Leeds United

Just beating his similarly bargainous team-mate, Patrick Bamford, to the award, Stuart Dallas has been legend for much of the season. In terms of points in the Official Fantasy Football league he topped the defenders’ table with a majestic 171 points thanks to his glut of goals and assists. His price will no doubt have a few more millions added to it next season.

Pipped at the post award – Leicester City

Here’s an interesting stat: Leicester City only spent two weeks outside of the Top 4 Champions League spots all season. Unfortunately for the FA Cup winners, one of those was the final week of the season and they’ll play Europa League instead.

What does he do? award – Granit Xhaka, Arsenal

Granit Xhaka – discuss. Is he good? Is he rubbish? Is he solid and reliable or an utter carthorse who’s hopelessly out of his depth in modern football? We honestly don’t know. The Arsenal midfielder has been selected consistently by every manager during his club and international career so he must be doing something right. But then he makes horrendous errors and we’re back to square one.

“Oh yeah, that was this season” award – Jose Mourinho getting sacked... again

In amongst all the actual on the pitch business, we completely forgot that Jose Mourinho was given his marching orders again. This time it was Tottenham Hotspur who sent him packing as the now predictable Mourinho meltdown cranked into gear. Ostracizing the likes of Dele Alli and playing lifeless, defensive football saw Jose pick up his final salary and hefty payoff, before joining Roma a few days later. We doubt he’ll be back in the EPL.

Rage against the machine award - Football fans

Seeing fans rip up the European Super League plans and shove them somewhere uncomfortable was marvellous. The speed at which fans from many clubs mobilised, protested outside stadiums, made posters, broke into Old Trafford and sang rude songs was impressive and a powerful signal to rich owners that football is an integral part of our culture and social fabric that must be carefully preserved.

We need to talk about this guy more award - Youri Tielemans

We could watch Youri Tielemans all day. Such an intelligent footballer, he always seems to have more time and space than the other outfield players on the pitch. He reminds us so much of Thiago (though maybe not the version above) at Liverpool – whose play is all about darts of movement, flicks of the foot and perfectly-weighted passes. Tielemans’ goal to clinch the FA Cup was beautiful.

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