Friday, 4 June 2021

The AFONI's (A Fan of No Importance's) End of Season Awards

I think we can conclude that it's the end of the domestic season. It's not always easy to tell, but the Champions League Final being played is a strong clue. I've been feeling sad ever since that match, and presume this is because it's all come to an end, rather than anything specific happening in that final 90 minutes itself.

Anyway, my instincts tell me that I must make a few judgements, comments and fact-free insinuations on all (well not all, some) of what has happened on football pitches over the last eight months, and more importantly off it in batshit-crazy places like punditry areas and opinion studios. My own opinions on other people's opinions will be restricted to opinions projected on BBC output due to my continued rejection of satellite channels that explicitly sell football and ruin it (although BT Sport did show the Europa and Champions League Finals for free, so I can take down Savage and Ferdinand at least).  ITV doesn't have football anymore (they might have England games come to think of it, but that doesn't affect my participation as a viewer) although their supply of The Big Match Revisited is vast and impressive.

So here we go...

English team Manager of the Season: Brendan Rodgers     

Now before Pep Guardiola comes after me accusing me of just trying to be different, well, he can talk (no defensive midfielder in the CL Final other than your top scorer, eh?). Of course you're great PG, but it's Brendan Rodgers I'm going for here. I couldn't have imagined naming the pearly-whites smoothie in this category even just a few months ago, as frankly I didn't like him. He loved himself at Liverpool didn't he? Had an extra-marital affair with his tactics board; told the world about Arsenal's interest in him to secure a better contract at Leicester not long after being there. Bit full of himself. But I have come round to him, he'll be delighted to hear. He's coped excellently and uncomplainingly with a succession of different injuries, long and short-term, found the all-important "solutions" with the squad he has, kept City in the top four every week, often the top two, until the very last match when it was all just a step too far, Cruel that they should end up 5th, their fans mocked by Gareth Bale, a narcissist who I will never bend to, City's desperate search for a winner perfect prey for a man who preserves all of his energy for individual glory. 

But Leicester had won the FA Cup by then, a memorably uplifting early evening (groan) in front of fans, whose joint reaction with the players was a better advert for the competition than the endless justifying of it's heritage by the Beeb. Had Rodgers not done the honourable thing in dropping James Maddison and Ayoze Perez for West Ham away late in the season for attending an illegal party during Covid restrictions, City may have held on to that 4th place, but these were the actions of a man setting a great example and putting principles before himself. 

Guardiola may have remarked that Man City's title win wasn't just down to "f***ing money", but it helps doesn't it, Pep, both in normal times and in a pandemic, in fact particularly a pandemic when teams have to play every six hours.

Worst Pundit: Jermaine Jenas      

Having already slated a Spurs player above, cynics may allege that team bias has directed me to my decision above. This may well be true (it is true) but Jenas only narrowly takes this award ahead of Danny Murphy...what's that, he played for Spurs as well, did he? Oh is that why he never criticises them?  Yes, makes sense now I think about it, why else would he focus so much negativity on Arsenal winning 3-1 at Palace but not say anything about Spurs haplessly losing at home to Villa? 

Anyway, Jenas. Honestly, sometimes I agree with things that he says, but then some people agree with things Boris Johnson says. Somebody at my work once declared that Jenas "gets on my tits", because of his array of criticisms of players. "You weren't Pele", the work friend added, and that's defo true, he wasn't Pele, still isn't. He wasn't even Abedi Pele. Nowhere near The Romford Pele. Indeed, how come this unremarkable Premier League footballer gets to co-commentate on Champions League and FA Cup Finals? But it is his MOTD2 appearance talking about/crying over the North London derby at The Emirates this season that lands him this highly contested gong. Six hours elapsed between the final whistle of Arsenal's 2-1 win and the beginning of the highlights show and still he failed spectacularly to find his professional hat. Such tantrum-based indignity leave me no choice. 

He probably wasn't even the Nottingham Pele.    

Best Use of a Famous Children's Book Saying During Half-Time of a Champions League Final - Rio Ferdinand           

Having taken time away from merking the grateful BT Sport crew, Rio identified the difficulty Manchester City faced in breaking through the Chelsea 'block' and informed the viewer that "you can't go through it, you can't go round it, you have to go over it." The omitted 'Under it' may actually have been an option, like the POW footballers in Escape to Victory digging a hole beneath the playing surface and would certainly have bemused the nasty German Tommy Tuchel far more than City not picking anyone who could tackle. But canny Rio realised just in time that he wasn't reading a bedtime story to the little Ferdinand's and was actually live on air, so quickly plucked out "round" before anyone noticed. Unless this is a new variant on players naming song titles in interviews and commentators saying naughty words during matches...

Best co-commentator: Chris Waddle

Simply because he challenged Ian Dennis' astonishment at Man City going several games unbeaten by making the point that they have the most money and the best players.   

Worst Judge of the Viewer's Mood: Robbie Savage

"Go on David De Gea!" Savage implored during the marathon penalty shoot out between Manchester United's and Villareal in the Europa League Final. Rob, we've been here with Tyldesley, most English people want the other team to win, mate.       

A few words on VAR    

I've stopped moaning about VAR, not just because I hate it, but because everyone else is doing the moaning for me, like younger legs doing all my running on the pitch. I actually find it entertaining and quite relaxing to hear all the pundits and fans slaughtering it, as it means I don't have to get all worked up myself. It's here to stay, and unlike the doomed Super League, people actually wanted it, so I hope they're enjoying it.   

That's all for now, might do a Part 2 to this, but it will soon be Euro 2020 (2021) and I'll need time to iron my Croatia, Scotland and Czech Republic shirts.  

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