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Monday 7 January 2013

Football Awards

I have to admit, I wasn't expecting a lot of surprises from the FIFA awards, especially not for the main award, the coveted Ballon D'Or (which is French for "ball of gold" or "golden ball", and is the name FIFA have given to the trophy, as well as, as we all know, the singular name for what David Beckham's scrotum houses a brace of). I was thinking before it was announced that it may as well have been called the "Forgone Conclusion of the Year" really (you know, only in French), because with Messi having beaten the all time goal scoring record previously held by Gerd Muller, and apparently also possessing the ability to make the blind see, anybody else winning would have looked fucked up and, FIFA don't do fucked up things (insert your own list of fucked up things FIFA have done here)...

There was the potential that the Women's Player of the Year award could have thrown up some surprises, if Abby Wambach had perhaps turned up wearing a J-Lo dress held on with toupee tape, but no, as expected she looked like she'd raided KD Lang's wardrobe circa 1995.

Still, watching the "gala", which was much gayer than Abby with its shirtless karate dancing men and weird "guy in an armadillo suit" mascot, I did find myself very surprised indeed to discover that overnight, every football league in the world except for La Liga had blinked out of existence. That's La Liga, the league that has become marginally interesting this year because it now has three teams instead of two, but is generally about as exciting from a competitive point of view as the SPL before Rangers went the way of the pear. That's right kids. It's just possessionball and tiki-taki (which is what all the houses that look just the same are made out of, isn't it?) and players with just one name from here on out. Everyone else is dead.

Sure, the players in the FIFPro World XI are all fucking great, but they are all from Real Madrid or Barca except for Radamel Falcao, who despite the media trying to link him with moves to everyone from Chelsea to Heart of Midlothian and Exeter City, plays for Atletico Madrid. And that kind of pisses on the Bundesliga, Serie A and the Premiership, and I imagine Zlatan Ibrahimovic's normally present erection withered in seconds when he heard. Christ, I bet even Heskey was a bit gutted he wasn't considered, now he is enjoying kinglike status in the A League, where his Newcastle Jets, last time I looked, were in a healthy 7th place (out of 10 teams).

So much for the players then, what about the managers? Well, the three finalists were Del Bosque, who lead Spain to win the Euros (despite employing that weird "we don't need a striker" strategy - not that that is a bad strategy when your best striker is Fernando Torres), Mourinho, who I quite honestly worship as a God but who they all hate at Real Madrid, and Pep Guardiola.

So, er, Pep Guardiola. For what he did in 2012. Well, at the start of 2012, Pep Guardiola was manager of Barcelona, who just about everyone agrees is the best team in the world, and featured The Great and Powerful (but quite short) Leo Messi, as well as fellow Ballon D'Or nominee Andres Iniesta, and over half of FIFA's World XI. With that team, in 2012, he won exactly fuck all trophies. Mourinho's Real, in stark contrast to this season so far, bettered them at every turn, and RDM's Chelsea managed to break his winning formula with their defensive tactics, knocking Barca out of the Champions League which as we know from experience, UEFA really, really like them to be in the final of. Pep then basically had a nervous breakdown and fucked off to New York, mumbling something about Andy Warhol. He is currently still on his little sabbatical, allegedly waiting for Fergie to retire so he can manage Man U (which I imagine is a bit like being Prince Charles, waiting for the Queen to die). Likes a challenge, then, our Pep.

Basically, the whole thing may as well have been called the Bola de Ora and the ceremony just have been replaced by an hour long broadcast of Sepp Blatter noshing off the King of Spain while a man in an armadillo costume pranced around awkwardly at the side. Though, in fairness, then we would have missed Pia Sundhage's surprisingly good country singing. They didn't even bother translating all the acceptance speeches that were in Spanish (though at least Cristiano Ronaldo telling kids to be "humble" if they want to become great players like him was in English, so no kids watching it in the UK or America have any excuse not to become legends of the sport now), and I was watching it on American TV - they give us subtitles to help us get through Being: Liverpool (and rightly so given Jamie Carragher's voice sounds like someone going at some pig iron with a chainsaw).

Given how the awards were a bit bollocks, then, I have decided to name my own award winners. There are no trophies and no gala, and no armadillos. I can do any dance off of Dance Central 2 on medium difficulty - you can picture that if you feel there absolutely needs to be some dancing.

Note - I'm not doing the women's ones, because a) I basically agreed with Pia Sundhage and Abby Wambach's wins, and b) other than Abby I can only name about five female football players, all of whom are American. Abby is my favourite. Mostly because she plays like a man and men's football is much better.

Ballon D'Or

This should be Messi, as I said before, it'd be fucked up if it was anyone else. Grant Holt has been doing quite well for Norwich, though... No, Messi - it's Messi. Having said that, as amazing as Messi is, he isn't the type of player I tend to like best from a personal taste perspective. I like the big, terrifying Drogba type players. In the same way as a lot of people will tell you boxing at lighter weights is much more impressive, and I will tell you I still prefer watching bigger guys hit each other. It makes a nicer sound. This is why I am looking forward to the future when Belgium dominates instead of Spain and I can give this award to Romelu Lukaku.

Manager of the Year

I would like to give this award to Roberto Di Matteo for doing what nobody else had managed to do and winning the Champions League with Chelsea, as well as for breaking Pep. It might seem a bit mental to give the Manager of the Year award to someone who was only actually a manager for a part of the year though, so I offer up a couple of other names for those of you who don't agree with me to choose from:

Roberto Martinez - A lot of clubs have tried to lure him away from his beloved Wigan, but he's not having a bar of it. He's just bloody adorable, isn't he? During the Euros, he appeared on American coverage to let us know what was going on on the scene like the BBC's Kate Adie in the first Gulf War, reporting with her army hat on from some shithole. It was great. Granted, that's partly because it meant Michael Ballack wasn't talking. Ballack is a lot more boring than you expect when he speaks, even when arguing with Alexei Lalas. By the way, Alexei Lalas doesn't like it when people say "cunt" on Twitter. Use that information as you see fit.

Alan Pardew - I just like him.

Roy Hodgson - Clearly attempting to troll Kenny Dalgleish, he attempted to do well in the Euros with King Kenny's (sorry, what is he king of exactly? Mount McTwattybollocks?) sorry assed Liverpool team. The Liverpool team in question, when reduced to only its English members, being the saddest thing imaginable. Did better than most people expected. Comes across like a nice uncle who might give you a fiver when you go and visit him.

Paolo di Canio - Fucking mental, and therefore amazing.

Jurgen Klopp - Will nobody think of the Bundesliga?

World VI of People Who Don't Play in La Liga


Joe Hart (Manchester City, England), even though he's been a bit crap lately. Not as crap as Reina has been, but you know... He gets extra points because he's English, and we were despairing (and that's not hyperbole - it was genuine despair) that there might never be a good English goalkeeper again after David Seaman, and we'd be condemned to use Rob Green forevermore.


Ashley Cole (Chelsea, England) - The best left back in the world, and one of the hardest working players. Sure, he likes putting his Nokia where no Nokia should have to go, up his actual arse, but he saves both Chelsea and England's metaphorical arses just as regularly.

Jamie Carragher (Liverpool, England) - HA! Just kidding.

John Terry (Chelsea, England) - I know it's a bit predictable that a Chelsea supporter would choose JT and Ashley Cole (hell, why not throw a Gary Cahill in there for good measure?), but Ashley really is the best left back in the world, and JT adds a level of leadership you really miss when it isn't there (especially when Frank Lampard isn't there either). He is also one of the most hated and divisive players in the world, and that's cool.

Mats Hummels (Borussia Dortmund, Germany) - Will nobody think of the Bundesliga?

Vincent Kompany (Manchester City, Belgium) - Belgium is TEH FUTURE. But Kompany's pretty good now. Very tall too.


Juan Mata (Chelsea, Spain) - Little Juan Mata is Spanish, but he doesn't play in La Liga so he can be in the "anti FIFA XI" XI. In a team in a league full of excellent midfielders, Mata is still one of the greatest and most reliable guys you could ever want on your team, and his patience trying to feed a struggling Torres shows what a team player the little 'un is.

Andrea Pirlo (Juventus, Italy) - Just fucking outstanding in the Euros, and for Juve, Pirlo shows that if you treat a player in his mid thirties well, he can outplay other guys in their prime. This is something Chelsea's board should pay attention to - Andrea and Frank Lampard are roughly the same age.

David Beckham (formerly LA Galaxy, formerly England) - If you're reading this in the UK or elsewhere in Europe and aren't all that familiar with MLS, perhaps believing Piers "the cunt" Morgan when he compares it to a pub league, you're missing out; it's actually pretty fucking tough. Beckham's now former team, the LA Galaxy, won a second consecutive MLS Cup in 2012 despite fierce competition (and as a Seattle Sounders supporter I am still pretty butthurt that we didn't get past them in the Western Conference final, but it's Beckham, and you can't stay mad at Beckham, it's like kicking a puppy), and while he did have a lot of help from Landon Donovan (while he wasn't off writing emo poetry and generally having a sad) and Robbie Keane (who in America is somehow really good - like actually good, not just perceived as good like our Heskey down under), Becks was still in a class of his own. Neglected by Stuart Pearce for a spot in the Olympics, Beckham deserves some recognition for what will probably end up being his last year in a major league, so here you go, mate!

Bastian Schweinsteiger (Bayern Munich, Germany) - It was a bit of a toss up for me (and the one person I discussed this list with - see, I have a panel, just like FIFA) between Schweinsteiger and Arjen Robben, and in league and Champions League play both had serious merits. However, Robben and his whole team were a bunch of arse in the Euros, and Arjen was simply unable to score against his former team, Chelsea, in the Champions League final, so that decided it.


Robert Lewandowski (Borussia Dortmund, Poland) - Lewandowski was on fire in the Euros, and the link to Manchester United that never came to fruition over the summer sounded like it was going to lead to some pretty terrifying things. Man U probably don't mind too much given how well Robin van Persie has bedded in so far (and if I do one of these next year, it's going to take a quite horrific slump between now and then to keep RVP off the list), but Dortmund's Polish striker would be a tasty proposition for any top flight club.

Edinson Cavani (Napoli, Uruguay) - While a lot of what made Cavani so impressive in 2012 at Napoli was his partnership with Lavezzi, who has since left the club to become a feature in the Paris St Germain menagerie, even alone his work rate and prolific scoring mark him out as one of the stand out strikers of the year.

Goal of the Year

Papiss Demba Cisse for Newcastle, against Chelsea on May 2nd 2012. Why? Well, because I remembered it, so it must have been the best one I saw all year. Flawless logic. In any case, it was better than that Neymar goal that was on FIFA's shortlist.

So there you go. Feel free to argue with me below if your favourite player/team/manager wasn't represented.


  1. "Jamie Carragher - HA! just kidding!" - absolute gold.

  2. Well, did you know no current Premiership player has scored more goals against Liverpool than Jamie? If there was a Ballon D'or for own goals, he'd have to win!