(Warning: Story contains coarse language)
An eventful Premier League campaign is in the books, and amid the abundant end-of-year awards and honours, it’s also important to recognise all things off-beat in the English top flight.
Burnley boss Sean Dyche eats worms, Mamadou Sakho fancied a daft backheel, and Manchester City won the league despite the release of the most cringeworthy celebration clip in the history of video. In that spirit, theScore – with the help of Harry Kane – presents the Alternative Premier League awards.
Shortest stay: Frank de Boer
He came, he saw, he lived out of a suitcase. Frank de Boer’s attempt to transform Crystal Palace into a quick-passing, attacking side lasted all of 77 days before the Dutchman was handed his P45 papers. That means his Croydon tenure outlasted his calamitous spell at Inter by eight days.
In De Boer’s five matches, the Eagles were outscored 8-0. After the tactician criticised Marcus Rashford’s role at United, Red Devils boss Jose Mourinho responded: “I read some quote from the worst manager in the history of the Premier League, Frank de Boer. … If he was coached by Frank, he would learn how to lose because he lost every game.” Hard to argue with that.
Best Twitter: Peter Crouch
Champions League final-bound James Milner has gotten plenty of love for a late move to Twitter that plays on his trademark boring ways, though no footballer excels on social media like Stoke City striker Peter Crouch.
His royal baby tweet was good for a chuckle, but Crouchie was at his best in craftily responding to a Manchester City fan who made a promise that the angular former England man truly appreciated.
Worst signing: Davy Klaassen
Everton set the standard for poor transfer windows last summer when the Merseyside lot splashed £140 million on Gylfi Sigurdsson and a dozen microwaveable meals. Among a litany of silly signings, though, Davy Klaassen stands out.
Fresh off an influential string-pulling role with Europa League finalist Ajax, the Steven Naismith doppelganger arrived at Goodison Park for £24 million, immediately slid down the No. 10 depth chart behind the Icelandic free-kick savant and born-again midfielder Wayne Rooney, and was banished to Under-23 training.
Best sending-off: Charlie Adam
It’s difficult to blame Sunday League Casanova Charlie Adam for wanting nothing to do with a mid-March visit from Everton played under a blanket of snow, and the Scotland purveyor of horrid corner kicks apparently decided he’d had enough by the half-hour mark.
The 32-year-old went studs-up on Rooney, and as Martin Atkinson reached for the red card, Adam sprinted from the bet365 blizzard at a nimble clip, becoming the first Scot to run a sub-10-second 100 metres.
Best celebration: Troy Deeney
Part of the appeal of Watford’s Troy Deeney is that he tends toward candor in a sea of formulaic player responses. It doesn’t hurt that he has a trucker’s physique either. After a victory over Arsenal at Vicarage Road in October, Deeney stated the obvious by saying the Gunners “lack cojones,” but he saved his best for a visit from another London side.
After opening the scoring for the Hornets from the spot in a 4-1 February drubbing of Chelsea, Deeney flipped a pair of birds at Blues supporters. Somehow, the forward escaped punishment after having already picked up three- and four-match bans earlier in the season.
Best song: Mo Salah, ‘La La La’
Borrowing from Dodgy’s hypnotic ’90s hit “Good Enough,” Liverpool fans got creative in honouring PFA Player of the Year Mohamed Salah, the third Muslim to win English football’s biggest individual honour on the bounce.
The player has come out in support of the tune, as has the Muslim community. Perhaps it’s The New York Times’ Rory Smith who best conveyed the importance of the free-scoring Egyptian’s stardom: “At a time when Britain is fighting rising Islamophobia, when government policy has been to create a ‘hostile environment’ for illegal immigrants, he is a North African and a Muslim who is not just accepted in Britain, but adored.” Get in, Mo, you beautiful man.
Most gracious: Neil Warnock
Cardiff City boss Neil Warnock was in no mood to shake hands with his Wolves opposite Nuno Espirito Santo following an April victory by the Championship-winning Wanderers. You don’t need to be much of a lip reader to realise the record eight-time promoted gaffer was working blue for his Bluebirds. These two will be perfect for the Prem.
“I don’t accept it at all. They’ve had a great win and I thought it showed a lack of class,” Warnock said post-match. “I went to shake his hand and he ran off. If that’s how they’re taught in Portugal then fair enough, but not in Britain.” Ah yes, the acclaimed British standards for etiquette in football. Let’s check in with Warnock in 2002 as boss of Sheffield United for a shining example of that civility.
Best accessories: Matt Ritchie
Tyneside-founded bakery Greggs makes some decent pastries, and according to Newcastle dead-ball whiz Matt Ritchie, sausage rolls = goals. But that wasn’t working out for the Scottish winger, who had gone the first 24 matches of the league campaign without registering a goal.
Ahead of a February visit from Manchester United, Richie admitted he was considering changing his shin pads. Then, like dough gloriously rising, the Magpies man scored the lone goal in a massive victory over the Red Devils in one of the performances of the season. How do you make a sausage roll? Push it down a hill.
(Photos courtesy: Getty Images)