That was the season that was

Manchester United boss Sir Alex Ferguson with Rio Ferdinand and Ryan Giggs.
Manchester United boss Sir Alex Ferguson with Rio Ferdinand and Ryan Giggs.
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In this week’s Soapbox, Steve Simpson takes a sideways look at the football season that is now coming to a close.

Smallest book of the year

My greatest Manchester City moments by Scott Sinclair. Sinclair would make an ideal magistrate because he is used to sitting on the bench...

Biggest injustice

The claim, clearly trumped up, levelled against referee Mark Clattenburg that he made a racial slur towards a Chelsea player.

Worst tackle

Callum McManaman’s over-the-top assault on Newcastle’s Massadio Haidara, which went unpunished. If there had been any justice he would have missed the rest of the season and a man-of-the-match appearance for Wigan in the FA Cup Final.

Goal of the season

Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s overhead strike for Sweden against England, which completed a lamentable night for England, who are dicing with non-qualification for the Brazil World Cup next year.

Best actor

Swansea ballboy Charlie Morgan for his histrionics after Chelsea’s Eden Hazard tried to retrieve the ball from under his bulk in a League Cup semi-final.

‘Cocoon’ award for the secret of eternal youth

Ryan Giggs, still going strong at 39 and doing well enough to earn another one-year contract. It’s down to yoga apparently. After tying defenders in knots for so long, seemingly he is doing it to his own legs now...

Handbags at dawn

Roberto Mancini and Mario Balotelli, right, grappling on the Manchester City training-ground – they could have sold the Manchester Arena out if they had put it on in a boxing ring.

Flop of the year

Samir Nasri, of Manchester City. Bet Fergie is glad he didn’t sign him...

Biggest put-down

Sir Alex Ferguson decrying Newcastle as a ‘wee club in the North East.’ Rather like saying that Mount Everest is a bit of a hump in the Himalayas.

Biggest fool’s errand

West Brom’s Peter Odemwingie turning up at Queens Park Rangers’ ground in the forlorn hope that the Hoops were going to sign him on deadline-day.

Most careless talk

Roy Hodgson confiding to a fellow traveller on the tube about Rio Ferdinand’s future – or rather lack of it – with England.

Most puzzling decision

Chelsea loaning Romelu Lukaku out to West Brom when he could have done the job for the Blues.

Heaviest hint

“I want to be where I love to be, where people love me to be.” So said Jose Mourinho, indicating that he still had Chelsea blue-blood in his veins.

We didn’t learn any more as ITV Sport, in their infinite wisdom, cut the interview short.

Player to watch in the Premier League next year

Aston Villa wing-back Joe Bennett.

Worst move of the year

Goalkeeper Rob Green to Queens Park Rangers, only to be usurped before his feet hit the floor by Julio Cesar, who came not to praise him but bury him on the bench,

Bargain buy

Swansea’s Michu, who cost only £2m , but maybe he will suffer second-season syndrome next year as rival clubs suss him out. Could be the same with another emerging marksman Christian Benteke, of Aston Villa?

Goal combo of the season

(Sean) Marks and (Dan) Sparks getting on the scoresheet for Conference side Braintree in the same match. For the love of (St) Michael, you couldn’t make it up. But Hartlepool, from League One, tried to top it – for their match with Notts County, (Peter) Hartley and (James) Poole got the goals.

Saves of the season

Reading’s Alex McCarthy earns the accolade for the best single goalkeeping display of the 2012-13 campaign when he kept out Liverpool virtually single-handed at Anfield.

McCarthy, called up to the England squad, was also the Premier League’s busiest goalkeeper, 1,000-plus minutes on the pitch and a save every 12 minutes.

Turn-off of the season

The ‘battle’ for fourth place between Arsenal and Spurs, BBC’s Match Of The Day joining in the charade because there was nothing much else interesting on the final day. A bigger drag than Grayson Perry at the BAFTAs

Long service award

To Waterloo Dock FC manager Jimmy Davies, who bowed out after being in charge at the club for 50 years – he makes that lesser-known retiree Sir Alex Ferguson seem like a short-timer.

Head-banger of the year

Everton’s Marouane Fellaini for his butt on Stoke’s Ryan Shawcross – but he seems like Simon Pure compared to Luis Suarez after his nibble on Branislav Ivanovic.

Top of the strops

By Nathan Dyer in the League Cup Final at Wembley against Bradford City. He went off on one as he was denied the chance of netting a hat-trick as team-mate Jonathan de Guzman pulled rank and insisted on taking a penalty ahead of him. Dyer’s histrionics were heartfelt – but hilarious to watch.

Saddest relegation

By Wigan Athletic to the Championship – when they were on their A-game, as in the FA Cup, they were a top 10 side, but they were made to pay the ultimate penalty for dreadful defending and giving the ball away too cheaply in dangerous areas.

Most banal statistic

Liverpool were the only side not to have conceded a goal in either first or second half stoppage time in the Premier League – well, would you credit it?