Russ Wareing provides us with our end of season TBT Awards again this year, as he did last.
Given how mad the season was, however, he had to ask for some help this time. Understandable.
It is that time again when we think about who did what during the season. The season was utterly crazy, just a rollercoaster of emotions but we ultimately got where we needed to be, back in the Champion’s League.
This year I have not just come up with the winners myself, I have asked a few fans to help me out, basically because too much happened in the season to digest it myself.
Most Improved Player Nominations:
Raheem Sterling: It started in pre-season with Sterling, he look incredible but a slow start to the league campaign for him had fans wondering whether he should have been loaned out to get some experience and West Ham came knocking, this was when Raheem found his feet and started running. From December onwards Sterling was electric from anywhere on the pitch, left, right, wing, centre, midfield or attack. Marking himself as the best youngster in the league, Raheem Sterling knocked in 9 goals and provided 5 assists. Most importantly, Sterling was huge at the end of the season, running the game against Man City and Norwich.
Jordan Henderson: The winner of the Most Improved Player last year, he has some how got better. Henderson played a vital role in that midfield and it is no surprise that during his three game suspension, Liverpool got over-run a couple of times in midfield by Norwich, Palace and Chelsea. His work rate, energy and passion really is the heart beat of the midfield and allows for everyone else to do their job.
Jon Flanagan: Rewind to the Arsenal away game when Twitter exploded because Flanagan was named as a starter. He held his own in that game, which was an overall poor game for Liverpool. He did not look back though; with Enrique being out injured Flanagan made the left-back spot his own. Solid in defence with full-blooded tackles and providing a bit of support going forward Flanagan being a bit of a cult hero, some see him as a Carragher figure. The bandwagon was full by the time Flanagan smashed home a great half-volley against Spurs away to make it 4-0. Flanagan went from a player with no future at LFC to an England reserve and a regular in defence.
Most Improved Player Winner: Raheem Sterling
It was a close call between Sterling and Henderson but Sterling has made the bigger improvement this year. Henderson had already cracked the starting line-up whereas Sterling went from an option off the bench to running the game. Perhaps the most impressive thing about Sterling is his versatility, you could probably stick him anywhere outfield apart from centre-back and DM and he would do a good job. In all honesty, Raheem Sterling could be in line to win the most improved player award next season as well, which is very exciting.
Defensive Player of the Year Nominations:
So if you thought last year was difficult to pick out a defensive player of the year, then this year is even harder. Liverpool let in 51 goals. That is beyond poor for a team that nearly won the league but here goes:
Steven Gerrard: Whether you believe that Gerrard is a “DM” or not, when he moved back into the deepest lying midfielder position, he provided some protection for the back four whilst being able to turn defence into attack very quickly. He became very valuable in that position and with the right players in midfield with him it became difficult for teams to play through us, they had to go around.
Mamadou Sakho: I am a big advocate of the Frenchman and when he was in at centre-back the defence looked more established. Sakho attacks the ball, using his size and speed to break up play and once he has possession back can ping a pass to wherever it needs to be to start the attack.
Simon Mignolet: Mignolet is a world class shot-stopper. Liverpool concede a lot of shots. It is that simple. Yes, there were question marks over his command over the area and his ability with the ball at his feet but from the first game of the season, Mignolet started earning Liverpool points. I honestly believe that if LFC had Reina in goal this season then instead of fighting for 1st, we would have just about been fighting for 4th; Mignolet was that influential at times.
Defensive Player of the Year Winner: Steven Gerrard
Wait a minute, I heard that Gerrard would not be able to be a defensive midfielder and help protect the back four. Well that theory was busted by his 2nd or 3rd game in that position. Gerrard quickly adapted to the deeper role whilst the extra time and space allowed for his passing ability to be utilised. Some refer to this role as “The Quarterback Role”; *vomits*. With the help of Henderson’s legs, Gerrard quickly became one of the better DMs in the Premier League.
Disappointment of the Year Nominations:
Luis Alberto: With the reputation of being one of Barcelona B’s best ever players, the Sevilla man has struggled on and off the field. Whilst he is clearly talented the pace of the game here is still a bit fast for him and it will take time to adjust. Off the field, Alberto got banned from driving for driving under the influence, being over the drink-drive limit. Whether he is here or not next season is yet to be known, he is clearly talented but perhaps Liverpool was not the right club for him.
Iago Aspas: So in preseason I was excited by the way Aspas played, he linked up play well, looked like a useful player to have if we needed a change of tactics. When the regular season rolled around though he struggled with cameo appearances that left nothing to be desired. It was a difficult start for him and he never quite found his feet in the Liverpool squad. He probably will be at another club next season.
Glen Johnson: So well Glen Johnson plays his best he is one of the best right/wing backs in the league, but when did we consistently see this from Johnson? His season was disappointing because he is capable of so much better. We would see flashes of his top form but then it would be gone as quick as it came. Johnson took some time off in January which helped him, whether he was carrying an injury or needed time away for other reasons, the rest did him good but for a player on his wages and such an important position, we need a bit more from him.
Most Disappointing Player:Glen Johnson
I suppose this is a testimony to what Johnson is capable of. Whilst he was not atrocious, he just was not that good. We do not know what is going on with Johnson, whether he is distracted or carrying injuries, but we all hope he can get back to his best in 14/15 because when he is playing close to his best, he is one of the best right-backs in the league.
Young Player of the Year Nominations:
Raheem Sterling: This is an obvious nomination. As said previously, he has become the best youngster in the league in my and most other people’s opinion.
Jon Flanagan: I love Jon Flanagan, the kop loves Jon Flanagan and Cafu loves Flanagan. If being loved by Cafu does not make you qualify for a YPOTY nomination then I am not sure what does?!
Philippe Coutinho: An up and down season from the gorgeous Philippe Coutinho but when he is on form then he is a joy to behold.
Young Player of the Year Winner: Raheem Sterling
He ran away with this one and it is not surprising, especially how he ended the season. If the world cup does not take too much out of him (hopefully not, England will be home after three games) then he can continue his 2014 form into the start of next season and teams will have to specifically game plan for him like they have to for Suarez.
Dick of the Year Nominations:
Kolo Toure: Oh Kolo. We loved him at the start of the season; he played great too, holding down Benteke in the Villa away game. His leadership in the dressing room seemed to be apparent, someone who has been all the way before helping a fairly young squad but as the season went on his play just deteriorated. Defensive errors, costly errors, own goals, utter craziness were all common parts of his game. We still love him, but only when he is on the bench.
Victor Moses: Hello Victor, this was quite clearly the only end of season award that you were getting nominated for. Debut goal for Moses made us think he was decent at first, he could run in straight line quite well but from there he just seemed disinterested in playing. It was probably difficult for him knowing he was not actually owned by Liverpool, but failures to pass the ball 5 yards or just track a runner made him a liability at times. Do I think Moses is a bad player? No. I think he could have a chance in a team that first of all, owns him and secondly, a manager that has great man-management skills.
Ihor Kolomoyskyi: You probably have not heard of Kolomoyskyi, or had not until 31st January. Kolomoyskyi is the Dnipro acting president who pulled the plug on the Yevhen Konoplyanka deal at the last minute on transfer deadline day. Whether it would have made a difference having Konoplyanka in the Liverpool squad, we will never know, but Kolomoyskyi really screwed us over that time. Ihor, you are a dick.
Dick of the Year Winner: Victor Moses
Congratulations Victor, you won something! I think most Liverpool fans’ blood pressure raise and they’ll grit whenever they see Moses again.
Game of the Year Nominations:
Spurs 5-0 (A): The first time in the season when I went into a game very unsure about the game and came away from it in a state of shock.
Man City 3-2 (H): Looking back this is a cruel one as this one made us believe.
Arsenal 5-1 (H): Quite possibly the best 30 minutes of football I have ever seen Liverpool play. The game was done, and Arsenal looked like a fighter who had lost his legs.
Everton 4-0 (H): They definitely thought they had us this time. This game produced the best picture of the season for me too; Sturridge and Suarez stood, arm around each other, other arm in the air in celebration, just looking and Everton fans as if to say “Look what we just did to you team”.
Man Utd 3-0 (A): Putting the proverbial nail in the coffin of Moyes was pretty fun to be honest. Still think Gerrard missed the third penalty to keep Moyes in a job for an extra game or two.
Game of the Year Winner: Everton 4-0 (H)
Well, we do love smashing Everton. This game probably wasn’t the best for the neutral, that would have been the City game, but I remember being worried for the first time in years that we could get beat at Anfield by Everton. It was glorious seeing all those annoyed Everton fans in the Annie Road end, just in a bit of shock, their expectations in tatters at their feet.
Signing of the Year Nominations:
Tiago Ilori: Right, bear with me here. Some think Ilori is a bust because he went out on loan and did not play first team football. This was always the plan for Liverpool, bring him in, settle for 6 months, and go out on loan. I have written about Ilori before and believe he has unlimited potential, so whilst it might not seem like a signing of the season, I think and hope we can look back at the shrewd business that was done for him.
Mamadou Sakho: Liverpool capitalised on PSG’s thirst for big-names and signed their boss centre-back. I do not need to go on about Sakho; he can be a Liverpool player for 8-10 years.
Aly Cissohko: LOL.
Simon Mignolet: He’s our keeper, our Belgian keeper! So the season started great for Mignolet, three straight clean sheets and a game-saving penalty save vs Stoke. Mignolet justified his price tag from the off but as soon as he made a mistake or two, there were some ready to throw criticism at him, some of those who just pined for the mythical entity that was Pepe Reina circa 2009. We got used to his limitations though; command of the area, coming for crosses and distribution although his kicking did improve and rarely did it lead to chances for the other team. The most important thing about Mignolet is that he is a world class shot stopper, and Liverpool concede an awful lot of shots.
Signing of the Year Winner: Mamadou Sakho
Whilst Simon Mignolet may have had the better debut season, Sakho can provide a lot more in future for the club. Next season should be Sakho’s break-out year for Liverpool, a settled defence and him having adjusted to the league, Sakho will hopefully blossom.
Goal of the Season Nominations:
Sturridge vs WBA (H): Disguised lob
Suarez 1st vs Norwich (H): 40+ yard lob
Suarez 3rd vs Norwich (H): Flick around Leroy Fer, right-foot half-volley
Flanagan vs Tottenham (A): No description needed
Sturridge 2nd vs Everton (H): Lob
Suarez vs Everton (H): Half pitch run
Sterling vs City (H): The shuffle
Coutinho vs City (H): Volley on the turn
Sterling 1st vs Norwich (A): Bullet
Goal of the Season Winner: Luis Suarez 3rd vs Norwich (H)
35th minute, Suarez flicks the ball around Leroy Fer and drills the ball low into the net. It was a glorious way to complete his hat-trick. I’ll miss Norwich being in the Premier League, just for the Suarez goals.
Most Valuable Player/Most Outstanding Player Nominations:
Daniel Sturridge: Daniel Sturridge was awesome for most of the season. Scored vital goals at the beginning of the season when Suarez was out for trying to eat Ivanovic. He tore apart teams with his pace and power, providing extra space for Sterling and Suarez to do their thing too. He was over-shawdowed by one of the best players in the world but do not be mistaken, Daniel Sturridge was huge for Liverpool and is one of the best strikers in the Premiership and possibly Europe.
Luis Suarez: Is there anymore words to use that can describe Luis Suarez and what he does? The one thing I tell people who do not watch Liverpool on a regular basis or football; Luis Suarez does at least one thing a game that makes me draw breath, stare at the screen and think “How the —- did he do that?”.
Jordan Henderson: Probably the most consistent Liverpool player all season. He did everything and more. You need protection on the wing, Jordan will do it. Need support in attack? Need to solidify the midfield? Need another player marked out of the game? Henderson can and will do anything Liverpool needs him to do, and he will not stop running.
MVP/MOP Winner: Luis Suarez
Well this was obvious. I thought after last year it could not get any more obvious than Suarez winning but this year he stood out even more, despite players and the team around him player at a higher level. It is just a pleasure to watch him every week and I will be telling the future generations about the seasons I spend watching Luis Suarez tear apart everyone in his way.
So there it is, the end of another season.
Do you disagree with any of the awards? Let me know, I want to hear your opinions.
Thanks to Dan, Ste, Tucker, Charlie, Will and Adam for helping me out with this piece, you can blame them if you vehemently disagree.