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Abdalla M. Taryam: A season in review
June 01, 2011
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The curtains have come down on a fantastic season in European club football and what a fitting end it was. Mesmerised by the beauty of Barça at the legendary home of football-Wembley.

Of course nobody can argue about who the best team in the world is right now but there is more to this 2010-2011 season than the champions.  End of season awards and acclaim have habitually been dished out by anybody involved in sport and never had two opinions been alike. That is why I stress on the word opinion. Had it been a fact that a player is better than another or a goal is more deserving than another then competition would cease to exist.

Here is my opinion on the best and worst of this past season across the big leagues of Europe.

Manager of the Season: A couple of thoughts went to a pair of Premier League managers that changed their team’s fortunes: Roy Hodgson and Kenny Dalglish. Although Dalglish had remarkable results since taking over in January, I have to say they seem to be enhanced by comparison to his predecessor’s shortcomings. While Hodgson’s great results with WBA is undermined by the state in which he left Liverpool in.

Which is why I chose to overlook both and go for Manuel Preciado of Sporting Gijon. How many managers out there can claim to have stopped both Real Madrid and Barcelona this season? Not only did he draw with Europe’s best, he beat Madrid at the Bernabéu thus ending Mourinho’s 9-year home record and only conceded 3 goals in 4 matches against the powerhouses. Adding to those achievements is a respectable 10th place finish for the small club from Asturias. Not to mention a very amusing public spat with Mourinho in which he came out on top. It’s easy to go for the likes of Guardiola and Ferguson but how would either of them fare at the helm of lowly Sporting?

Player of the Season: Messi, Ronaldo. Ronaldo, Messi. It seems like nobody comes close to these two. Well, I will make my choice without them.

The best player not named Lionel or Cristiano is Samuel Eto’o. Free of Mourinho’s shackles, the 4-time African Player of the Year netted 37 times for Inter this season. A goal short of the all-time Inter record but more notably, 1 more than any season he had at Barcelona.

He also set a personal best of 14 assists this season and at one point was actually leading the Champions League in goals scored and assists. A few names I considered here are Cavani of Napoli and Yaya Toure of Manchester City but after a blistering start, Cavani stuttered towards the end and Yaya’s lack of European play marked him down a little.

Young Player of the Season: When you are 19 and asked to hold the midfield against a pairing of Xavi and Iniesta, you must be something special. The highlight of the season for young Jack Wilshere is truly the 1st leg against Barcelona in which he bossed the midfield with the maturity of a veteran. With his coming of age he is the future of England if not the present already.

Best Signing: In my opinion the transfer value is an essential consideration here, so no matter how good Yaya Toure or David Silva were for City I can think of others more worthy of this accolade.

It was indeed a tough call with the likes of Mesut Özil and Chicharito arriving at their teams for such small figures. Not to mention season altering acquisitions like Malaga’s Baptista and Levante’s Caicedo for a little more than cab fare. However, the gong goes to Edinson Cavani and his 33-goal loan move to Napoli.

Flop of the Season: The Juventus team. Take your pick. The whole team has been a disappointment. Maybe we should just award it to their director who built this team. The pick of the bunch is probably Jorge Martinez. Who? That’s right, the unknown Uruguayan forward cost the Bianconeri a million Euros per game while scoring absolutely nothing.

Villain of the Season: He picked a fight with every manager in Spain. Accused the Spanish FA and the referees of favouring Barcelona. Questioned the integrity of Barcelona, UEFA and UNICEF. Caused internal rifts within Madrid that led to the sacking of Valdano. Reduced a 400 million Euro squad to a bunch of thugs. Jose Mourinho, ladies and gentlemen. 

Game of the Season: Crazy amount of goals? Check. Historic comeback? Check. Great goals? Check. Shocking refereeing decisions? Check.

It’s Newcastle 4-4 Arsenal. This game had absolutely everything for a fan to be on the edge of his seat for the entire 90 minutes. Arsenal’s capitulation after going up 4 nil was in itself a classic while a red card, 2 dodgy penalties and a 30-yard cracker for the equalizer just made it ever more pleasant. And yes you guessed it Arsene Wenger made excuses and blamed Newcastle players for the result.

Goal of the Season: Messi’s opener against Arsenal, Muller’s bender against Roma and Stankovic’s 50-yard stunner against Schalke were brilliant. The Golazo of the year though has to be the dismantling of Madrid by Messi at the Bernabéu.
 
Best League in the World: This is the most dim-witted argument ever. Just enjoy the different styles that each league brings. 
 
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The author, an engineer by profession and an amateur coach, employs his love of the game to comment on it
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