The English Premier League football season – without a shadow of a doubt the most unusual in the modern era – has been run and won.

Despite the strange season, it thankfully looks as though nature is starting to heal. Manchester City restored order by finishing back atop of the pile; Leeds reestablished themselves in the top flight; Everton flattered to deceive; and Spurs once again became so thoroughly Spursy.

There were some exceptions to the norm, however.

Arsenal missed European qualification for the first time since 1995; Liverpool were worryingly inconsistent; and West Ham were – for want of a better word – competent!

Without further ado, let’s get into Vendetta Sports Media’s end of season awards.

Team of the Season

West Ham United

If only there was some way to empirically decide who was the best team of the season. Some sort of table – a table of league results, perhaps. Maybe (stay with me, here) there could be points assigned based on the result of each match played and said points would rank the teams on the aforementioned table.

Alas, there isn’t anything like that, so we’re stuck with my completely unscientific findings. By those findings, the team of the season has to be the much maligned West Ham. After finishing 16th – a result that frankly flattered them – last season, the Hammers inexplicably dragged themselves up to a barely believable 6th place this campaign.

From their manager (more on him, below) on down, the Hammers defied expectation. Their transfer business was outstanding. Though Said Benrahma – their most costly acquisition – struggled, every other signing proved a masterstroke. Tomas Soucek and Vladimir Coufal were a driving force behind West Ham’s consistently good form, whilst veteran centre half Craig Dawson was an outstanding piece of business.

Perhaps the most extraordinary outcome from West Ham’s season, is that were talking about actual on-the-pitch West Ham. Not the board room. Not the stadium. Not the passionate/rebellious fan base. The fact that the players and the manager are the centre of attention, for all the right reasons, is a remarkable outcome for a perennial basket case of a club.

Player of the Season

Harry Kane – Tottenham Hotspur

In a close run race – my sincerest apologies to Bruno Fernandes and Kevin De Bruyne – how can you go past the man who lead the Premier League in both goals (23) and assists (14)?

Kane – it’s now 6 years since his ‘one season wonder’ label, by the way – has always been an elite goal scorer. This campaign, he showed off a newfound ability to dome deeper to get the ball, turn and create for teammates, especially Son Heung-min.

Despite playing for a manager that seemed pathologically averse to attacking football, Kane and running mate Son made Spurs (sort of) watchable. Seeing those two and longtime teammate Dele Alli embrace at the end of Tottenham’s final game only lends credence to the belief that the soon to be 28 year old has played his last home game at White Hart Lane.

Kane was the driving force behind Spurs push to the League Cup final (they lost to Manchester City, who always win it, so it’s kind of like a win for Tottenham). Kane and Son aside, the aging Tottenham playing list struggled to implement Jose Mourinho’s defensive game plan, nor more attacking style of his replacement Ryan Mason.

With a replacement level player in Kane’s #10 place, it’s frighting to think of where this club could have ended up.

That is the one black mark against Kane: the shit show of a team that surrounded him. It’s totally fair to wonder how much worse Tottenham’s season could have been without their talisman. In fact, it’s fair to wonder what Tottenham’s 2022 season will look like, should they fail to keep hold of their superstar.

Manager of the Season

David Moyes – West Ham

The Moysiah Lives!!!

As an Evertonian, I never thought I’d see the day where the dour Scot would once again be in the discussion for these sorts of plaudits. Even our assortment of experts expected Moyes to be a man of leisure by this point.

Moyes hasn’t really changed since his long – and long ago – Everton heyday. He was a dour, defensive coach who thrived at playing the underdog. That mindset made him unsuitable for the high expectations that come with managing Manchester United, nor positive enough to thrive in La Liga with Real Sociedad. To be fair, his failure at Sunderland probably had more to do with Sunderland. Prime Sir Alex Ferguson would struggle in that environment.

In West Ham, Moyes found a club remarkably similar to Everton in 2002: a traditionally big but downtrodden club that needed a steady hand and – importantly – an identity. Moyes tried to be expansive early in his tenure, but his success came when he embraced his most pure self: defensive, committed, physical and disciplined.

Moyes jettisoned creative but lazy types like Pablo Fornals and Manuel Lanzini to the reserves; Jack Wilshere was released all together. Dawson, a 31 year old journeyman, epitomised Moyes’s game plan. He kept it simple with the ball and threw himself in front of everything that came his way.

The hard running Michail Antonio provided the firepower up front, and the new signings bought into the Gospel of Moyes. Even Fornals and Lanzini were welcomed back into the fold. They were noticeably more active when the Hammers didn’t have the ball.

A career that looked like it was circling the plug hole has been restored. I, for one, am pleased for a good man.

Young player of the Season

Phil Foden – Manchester City

Remember all the hullabaloo over Pep Guardiola not playing Foden week in, week out when he was a 17 year old? Remember when it got worse as Foden turned 18? 19?

It turns out, the most credentialed football manager of the past 15 years – the man who ushered in Barcelona’s golden generation – knows a thing or two about developing footballers!

At the age of 20 (as a thought exercise, think of what you were doing at age 20) Foden is one of the best attacking midfielders in Europe. (It’s an indication of City’s astonishing riches that he’s not even the best on his own team, thank to Kevin De Bruyne)

None of us should be remotely surprised by Foden’s ascension to stardom, given he’s been touted as a future international since he was about 14.

Foden’s 14 goals and seven assists tell a story, but to get the full Foden experience you have to spend 90 minutes watching his grace a football pitch.

With the ball at his feet, Foden evokes memories of the late Diego Maradona with his combination of effortless changes of direction, deft touch, out-of-the-box creativity and rambunctious energy, as he bounces off a series of lunging defenders. He also offers a versatility that was similar to the Argentine legend, with his ability to play on either wing or up front augmenting his natural #10 stylings.

That’s not to say that Phil Foden is the new Diego Maradona – far from it, in fact. He still has an incredible distance to travel to even sniff El Diego’s status. But if Foden can even become 75% of Maradona, then Vendetta’s Premier League Young player of the Season will end up a footnote in a very, very long list of accolades.

Signing of the Season

Ruben Dias – Manchester City

Since long standing captain Vincent Kompany left for his native Belgium in 2019, City have been searching for an identity; a leader. In the just turned 24 year old Portuguese, City may have found their answer.

As a defender, Dias has solved City’s most glaring weakness from the 2020 season. The 6’2” centre half has stepped into Kompany’s old role as the blood and guts lead-by-example stopper whilst also using his extensive range of passing to launch so many City counter attacks.

Most remarkably he’s also proven to be able to raise the dead, with the late John Stones playing the role of Lazarus, as well as playing his way back into England international contention.

Perhaps the most telling example of Dias’ impact happened immediately before his arrival. Two days before he was signed, City lost at home 5-2 to Leicester City, conceding three penalties in a slapstick display that Benny Hill would have been proud of. In that light, Dias was seen as a £60 million panic buy. A talented, though unfinished prospect that wasn’t ready for the role he’d be thrust into.

For City to have finished the campaign with the best defensive record in the division reflects upon many at City, but mostly upon Ruben Dias.

Flop of the Season

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There was strong consideration given to Arsenal signing Willian (only saved by the fact he was a free transfer) and jettisoned Tottenham boss Jose Mourinho (that decay set in prior to this season).

In the end, however, the truly stupid and ultimately (for now?) aborted Super League takes the (hopefully arsenic lined) cookies.

From the ridiculous joint statement released by the ‘founding clubs’, the infamous Florentino Perez interview, the hilarious speed at which the whole circus unraveled, to the idiotic raging against the dying of the light by Real Madrid, Barcelona and Juventus, the ESL was the most horrific footballing event of the season and simultaneously the funniest.

The sheer arrogance of the clubs involved led directly to a fan uprising not seen for many a year. The ESL set out to ‘save football’ (read: save those clubs involved in it and damn the rest). Given the People Power they’ve unleashed, they might just have done so. Albeit in a way they would not have imagined.

Match of the Season

Aston Villa 7-2 Liverpool, October 4th 2020

Perhaps it’s the royal blue Evertonian blood running through my veins, but this 90 minutes was fucking hilarious! For those of a more neutral persuasion, it was astonishing.

The Champions were cut to ribbons with Ollie Watkins – a Championship striker only a few months prior – plundering the easiest hat trick he’ll ever likely score. Jack Grealish had a field day, leading the Reds on a merry dance. Even former Everton golden boy Ross Barkley got in on the act.

Whilst there was the notable mitigation of Liverpool missing 1st choice keeper Alisson – replacement Adrian’s shocking mistake lead to the opening goal – the Reds did have defensive rock Virgil van Dijk playing, though he was powerless to stop Villa on a most remarkable evening.

Goal of the Season

Erik Lamela Arsenal vs Tottenham, March 14th 2021

Lamela is an undoubted talent, though putting it all together for any extended period during his eight years in North London has proved beyond him.

If you can’t produce regularly, the best way to embed yourself in the hearts of the Spurs faithful is to score a worldie against hated rivals Arsenal. Lamela did just that. It’s not the first rabona of Lamela’s career, but it’s his most memorable.

Perhaps for the best, Lamela didn’t really have time to plan his shot after teammate Lucas Moura’s poor touch. Lamela instinctively planted his right foot and swung his stronger left behind his standing leg to drive a worm-burner across the keeper and into the bottom corner.

Most people would have swung their weaker foot at the ball and likely either spooned the ball over the bar or steered it into the waiting arms of the keeper. Lamela, instead, opted for genius.

That he got sent off later in the match as Arsenal came from behind to win seems churlish to mention, so I won’t. Forget you read this paragraph.

Celebrity Deathmatch of the Season

BT Sports presenter Des Kelly vs Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp.

Make it happen, MTV. Make it happen.

It’s All About ME, ME, ME of the Season.

Mike Dean. It’s always Mike Dean.

The most famous/infamous referee in the Premier League issued a league leading 91 yellow cards and eight red cards – double that issued by any other official. He did this in just 25 games, the 7th most appearances of any official.

Complaint of the Season

Social Media abuse

A stat that should make all of us feel utterly ashamed: Manchester United announced recently that social media abuse of their players has increased by some 350% since 2019. Three Hundred and Fifty Percent!!! What the shuddering fuck is wrong with people!

There is an argument to be made to the lack of social and moral responsibility of the platforms involved in not hunting down and removing these vermin, but it also points to a sad lack of social and moral responsibility that lies with us: the so-called fans.

Inevitably, much of the abuse is of a racist nature, though there is plenty that is misogynistic in it’s nature, body shaming, victim blaming….it goes on.

Yes, it’s only a small majority of the fans of the game that partake in this vile nonsense, but any abuse is too much. My message to anybody reading this: if you see it, call it out. I don’t care if it’s your friend, your colleague or your God damn mother. Call that shit out.

Agree? Disagree? These are just one man’s selections. Get onto the Vendetta socials to give us your EPL awards.