All in the Game: It’s time for the 2020-21 awards

From finest analogy to comeback, we remember some of the season’s highlights

Quote of the year

“We [Newcastle] were doing very, very nicely until Covid.” - Weren’t we all, Steve Bruce, weren’t we all?

By the numbers

2,980: That’s in or around how many minutes the Super League lasted, from its launch to its death. We hardly knew ye.

Most Explaining To Do

We’ll go with the 18-year-old signed by Peruvian second division club Union Comercio, Osama Vinladen Jimenez Lopez. (Note: the letter ‘v’ is pronounced ‘b’ in Spanish). “My father just liked the name,” he said, “I am calm about it.” Hopefully his brother’s grand with his name too: Saddam Hussein. His sister? “My father wanted to name his third child George Bush, but it was a girl.” Close shave.

Most Honest

Dutch midfielder Mohamed Rayhi on his desire to leave Sparta Rotterdam for Saudi Arabian club Al-Batin. Did he just want to experience a new culture? No. “Saudi Arabia for every player is simply financially attractive. Anyone who says that he doesn’t do it for the money is lying. I am not going to there to see the oil industry.”


Finest Analogy

Paul Merson on Arsenal’s risky tendency to play the ball out from the back when, against decent opposition, they can end up conceding a heap of goals. “It’s like going to Woburn zoo and walking into the lion’s cage with a lorry load of steaks. You’re going to get eaten alive, aren’t ya? If you stay in your car you are going to be alright.”

Most Desperate ‘Come And Get Me’ Plea

Chelsea’s Jorginho’s SOS to his old club Napoli. “There are no words to describe how much I miss Naples. It’s so cold in London, they don’t even know what the sun is.”

Most Spursy

“Manchester United, Manchester City, Liverpool, Arsenal, Chelsea” Real Madrid’s Florentino Perez trying to list the six English clubs who signed up for the Super League, and completely forgetting Tottenham. Easy mistake.

When Doves Cry

Steve McClaren on getting the balance right while dealing with players - get it wrong and feathers will fly. “It’s like holding a beautiful white dove in your hand and if you squeeze it too tight, you’ll kill it. And if you relax, the dove will fly away. You’ve just got to get the right amount of squeeze.”

He Didn’t Say That, Did He?

beIN Sports co-commentator Ray Hudson after Lionel Messi hit the crossbar direct from a corner. “If Tiger Woods is watching maybe he could learn something about how to take a corner.”

Least Successful Stadium Re-Naming Effort

That would be Forest Green Rovers’ decision to ask their fans to suggest a new name for their ground after its rights were bought by Innocent Smoothies. The winner with 81 per cent of the vote? ‘Kevin.’ There was, alas, no respect for the democratic process, the team still playing their games at The New Lawn rather than, well, calling Kevin home.

Comeback of the Season

Take a bow, Mesut Ozil. “Let’s goooooo,” he tweeted before Arsenal’s game against Leeds.

Piers Morgan: “I wish you would, Mesut. For your sake and Arsenal’s.”

Ozil: “Piers, was that really you, or was your phone hacked?”

Runner-up (it would have been our winner, only for how the season ended)

Rangers fan Garry Carmody: “The last time Celtic won a match, people in Glasgow were still allowed to visit pubs.”

Celtic fan JFayTheYY: “The last time Rangers won a trophy you could smoke in pubs.”

Most Slanderous Question Put To A Manager

This one, as put to Burnley gaffer Sean Dyche. “Has anyone ever told you that you look like Mick Hucknall?”

Sacking of the Season

That would be Hamilton Academical’s decision to part company with Bobby Bulloch, a co-commentator on Accies TV. Why? He felt the need to explain to viewers why he was late back for the second half against Ross County. “I went away for a jobby at half-time ..... it was just a wee bit of poop but I had to squeeze quite a bit.” Now? He’s down the Jobby Centre.

Anti-Social Media

Steve Bruce was fully behind clubs temporarily boycotting Twitter and the like because of the abuse suffered by players, but he reminded us that it had its positives too. “On the flip side, social media got me my dog back after it ran away from a firework display.”