A season filled with riveting twists and enthralling turns- the 2011-12 Barclays Premier League has thrown up many a delightful game and many a star performance. Some of the “star performers” apparently played football as well, I’ve been told. In a season more notorious than ever before for the vastly important diving issue (and the far less important racism issue) and for refereeing decisions so blatantly confusing that even Chris Nolan would struggle to understand them, there were some players who really stood out (and for their football) and these lucky gents have made my team of the season. The official ceremony is on the 18th of May in my living room, where each of them (or their posters if unable to attend) will be presented with a plastic gold star. I am pleased to announce that I have already upstaged the Balon D’or.
Picking a team of the season is a tricky issue because you inevitably end up leaving a worthy candidate out and suddenly he’s the best player in that category in the comments section. “HOW can you not have Frank Lampard?! He’s the best EVER CM!!” “You left out Martin Skrtel?! ARE YOU MAD?!!!” The multiple exclamation points are intended to add emphasis but ironically end up diminishing any respect anyone had for your vocabulary. So this paragraph (though seemingly redundant) is insurance for my sanity in not having to read such bunkum. If you have an opinion (I can tell you already do) communicate it appropriately if you want me to read it before I completely ignore it. Your co-operation is appreciated.
Goal-keeper: Tim Krul (Newcastle United)
The Magpies have had an outstanding season (irrespective of where they finish) and Tim Krul is one of three Newcastle players who make my team of the season. The Dutch shot-stopper narrowly tipped Swansea’s Michel Vorm and Man City’s golden-glove favourite Joe Hart. Krul has been more consistent than Michel Vorm and on an average has had a harder task than Joe Hart, given the defence in front of Hart. Perhaps most pertinently though, he has fabulous hair and you can’t put a number on that.
Left Back: Leighton Baines (Everton)
From taking free-kicks and penalties, to supplying crosses for Fellaini and now Jelavic, Everton’s supply line on the left hand side for many months this season has been Leighton Baines. He’s currently injured but still for me narrowly pips out close contenders Alexander Kolarov, Benoit Assou-Ekotto and Jose Enrique because he is a better defender than all three of those players put together. England, though, will still pick Ashley Cole above Baines. Poor lad, I’m sure most people by now have forgotten Baines is English.
Centre-Back: Fabricio Coloccini (Newcastle United):
Another Magpie who has been immense this season. And another Magpie with spectacular hair. Coloccini’s sublime form, inspirational leadership and magnificent hair have propelled him into the team ahead of Laurent Koscielny, Jonny Evans (I didn’t even know he could defend till this season) and Martin Skrtel (though admittedly his name is by far the finest).
Centre-Back: Vincent Kompany (Manchester City):
Captain and defensive stalwart of one of the best teams this season (arguably the best), the difference has been visibly transparent (much like the rest of the City defence) when he hasn’t been involved. Easily one of the most obvious inclusions, though devoid of spectacular hair.
Right-Back: Kyle Walker (Tottenham Hotspur):
This was a hard decision to make. Micah Richards and Kyle Walker have both been rampaging down the right flank all season- and both have no hair. But the difference comes out when we compare the number of games played. Walker has played more games than Richards owing to the latter’s injury earlier this year which meant Pablo Zabaleta would take over the role pretty much till the end of the season. And Walker, rather contrarily to his name, sprinted up and down the flank for the England under-21s as well (though not to much avail). And he’s scored two of the best Spurs goals this season (Arsenal and Blackburn).
Left-midfield: Gareth Bale (Tottenham Hotspur):
Bale is not one of my favourite players in this league to be honest because he’s about as reliable on the pitch as Mario Balotelli is off it. But his performances this season have (on an average) been better and more evenly spread out than the last. Wingers who miss out are Nani and Ashley Young. They should be used to it though, considering Park-Ji-Sung gets picked above them for all the big games anyway.
Central-midfield: David Silva (Manchester City):
Another obvious inclusion after a fantastic season. Silva’s passing, movement and vision have been vital this season for City, even though he has been on a bit of a slide recently. For me he’s still their most dangerous mid-field player and should also (rightfully) earn his place in the Spanish national team- sometimes also known as FC Barcelona.
Central mid-filed: Yohan Cabaye (Newcastle United)/Joe Allen (Swansea City):
This was an extremely difficult one again and one that is sure to draw a lot of the exclamation-filled, emotion-laden, grammar-deprived admonishment I had referred to earlier. I will justify, though you can feel free to comment nonetheless. Who misses out? Big names are Paul Scholes and Mikel Arteta. Truth-be-told they could just as easily be in this team so if that’s your point I sympathize. Don’t exclaim!!! In Arteta’s case, he is bound to score more goals than the others given the way Arsenal play. And it cannot be denied that his all-round game is benefiting from having the likes of Rosicky and RVP around him. Cabaye, though, has played more games than Arteta and scored some scorching goals this season. And he came into the Premier League into a side that most had labeled mid-table to bottom-table. For me, Paul Scholes is the best central mid-fielder to have played in the league in the last 20 years (Oh no! Gerrard and Lampard ignored? ARE YOU MAD?!!!) but he has played only half-a-season and with better players than Cabaye has had around him. And Joe Allen, well, he’s the Xavi of “Swanselona”. Under-rated and ignored by the PFA, he gets his deserved plaudits in my team.
Right-midfield: Luis Antonio Valencia (Manchester United):
Again a tough one and to be honest I wanted to include Daniel Sturridge here as well. The difference though, is that in a right-winger I look for pace, strength and crossing ability, all of which Valencia has. I also look for intelligence (so Walcott misses out), and the occasional goal. Although Sturridge has scored a lot of goals (11 to be exact), his assist tally (4) is significantly lower than Valencia’s (15). Valencia’s absence was especially noticeable in a recent first half at the Etihad where United looked about as threatening in attack as I do in my Bruce Lee night-wear (mail me if you want pictures).
Strikers: Wayne Rooney (Manchester United) and Robin Van Persie (Arsenal):
Arguably the two best players in the league this season- so once again, obvious inclusions. Aguero, Dempsey and Ba miss out. Shockingly so do Bendtner and Heskey.
That then is my team of the season. This team would win the Champions League but for the fact that I have no money left now for any manager other than Steve Kean. So we’re currently in 19th place and Steve’s assuring me that “luck will change” and “chances will be taken”. And also that the “fans will stop mauling me”. So I’m just going to mosey on, pick up my tub of fried chicken and watch the IPL.