Review – Season 2010-11

I haven’t done one of these for a while (some rants are in the pipeline), but while I was online I thought I should (somewhat belatedly) add my own contribution to the massive list of other such reviews available.

Goal of the Season:

Some notable choices (Messi v Real Madrid, Rooney v Man City), but for sheer drama and the icing on the cake of what was already a remarkable game, my selection has to be Chiek Tiote for Newcastle, in the 4-4 draw with Arsenal in the EPL. Just the sweetest volley you’re ever likely to see (Zidane in 2002 possibly excepted), and to do in that game, and to seal that kind of comeback, it was just magnificent. Plus he’s been an extraordinarily good piece of business for Newcastle, particularly when you consider their previous (Albert Luque for £9m, anyone?).

Team of the Season:

I’m going to be a tad controversial here. Yes, Barcelona are just ridiculously good, an utter joy to watch whether it’s an 3rd round Copa Del Rey match or the Champions League final. But that’s a tad too obvious for me, so instead I choose…Lille. Winning a first French title in 50 years, doing it rather decisively in the end, with a gaggle of very entertaining, classy players (Gervinho and Hazard being at the top of the list), and about to move into a new stadium which means they can finally play Champions League football at home? Lille’s star seems to be very much on the rise, regardless of the inevitable plundering of their squad by various English sides. Lille aren’t the only side rejuvenated to grace their domestic league in Europe – Borussia Dortmund’s win in the Bundesliga was another fantastic piece of news, and proving once again that the Bundesliga, despite Bayern’s apparently endless wealth, is still the most consistently unpredictable major league on the continent.

Transfer of the Season:

It may take a while (i.e. till December) to fully appreciate the genius of this transfer, but the award surely has to go to Liverpool picking up Luiz Suarez for (what is bizarrely a bargain) £22.7m from Ajax in January. Given the transfers that went on around him (Torres/Carroll’s combined £85m…) he almost snuck in under the radar, but the Uruguayan’s class shone through as Liverpool climbed the table. It excites me as to what he can do with a full season under his belt. Plus he’ll prove handy if Reina gets injured. Special mention also for the fantastic Javier Hernandez, who was brought over as a bit player but very quickly became anything but.

Idiot(s) of the Season/Best Schadenfreude Moment of the Season:

Probable mentions for Ashley Cole, Sepp Blatter and Ryan Giggs, but the award for Idiot(s) of the Season (as well as Best Schadenfreude) simply has to go to Richard Keys and Andy Gray for the marvellous resignation and sacking respectively. Gray’s absence in particular is a joy to behold: never again will I have to put up with him calling players he doesn’t know by their first names, using that wiggly player thing at the start of matches, using the drawing thingy on Monday Night Football, or listen to him doing that hideous internal monologue thing he occasionally did when someone on the field did something particularly impressive (“and he’s said, I’m gonna hit this, and he has.” Etc.)

To digress slightly, the other day I caught a little of an episode of “Sky Sports Years” on Sky Sports 1. Brilliantly, a good 5 minutes of it (obviously done pre-Sian) was devoted to the two pundits (the year in question was 1997), with focus on Gray getting 2 TV awards (!) and Keys receiving a magnum of champagne for presenting his 500th game (with Gray stating “now, we all love this man.”) Sickening. And brilliant in the circumstances.

Decision of the Season:

From a biased point of view, one of them has to be the demolition of Methil Power Station. But from a more worldy view, the prize has to go to FIFA’s Executive Committee in giving the 2022 World Cup to Qatar. A decision which not only blows FIFA’s previous hosting criteria out of the water (i.e. no more than 2 stadiums in any one city – at last count Doha will have a mere six), but just makes no sense whatsoever. A country with no history, no pedigree, no population and no fanaticism or love for the game, and a country in which it’ll be 50 degrees in the shade when the tournament is likely to take place…. I have no other words. The fact that there are 11 years to change this decision is the only positive factor of this shameless grab for Riyals.

Player of the Season:

I’m afraid I’m going to have to rigorously stick to stereotypes on this one and say, without question, Mr Lionel Messi. The guy simply knows no bounds. The goal against Real Madrid in the 1st leg of the Champions League semi was just utterly sublime, a beautiful piece of football from a player and a team who do footballing beauty in absolute spades. He continues to score goals for absolute fun, lay them on a plate for his team-mates (I can imagine David Villa will have enjoyed playing alongside him) but above all, not being a primadonna about it. He is the greatest player in the world at the moment, yet he almost doesn’t seem to realise it. He doesn’t go down easily, throw himself around on the ground or feel the need to get in the referee’s face constantly. Nor, indeed, does he own a boutique called LM10. He just exudes sheer class – the only thing he still has to do in football is win a World Cup with Argentina. Where better a place to do it than in Brazil.

Game of the Season:

Not one I watched live, I must confess, but the highlights were just briliant to watch. It’s already had a mention too – Newcastle United 4-4 Arsenal. Like Istanbul in 2005 but a whole goal more for both teams. Arsenal go 4 up at St James at half time, Abou Diaby gets himself hideously stupidly sent off, and then the rest is history, ending in that glorious Tiote goal.

I could think of more but it’s getting a tad late. Roll on 2011/12 – fixtures are out. Surely it’ll soon be time to start tinkering with those Fantasy Premier League line-ups too. Can’t wait.