C’mon, it’s nigh on the end of 2015, I’m full of turkey, booze and minus about three million brain cells. I know, I know, I have been running on empty on that front for a wee while now. Anyway, it’s time to choose the best & worst of football stories for 2015
The Matty Lawrence Best & Worst of 2015 Awards
There’s no better way to get this column under my belt, before I jump into my glad-rags and chisel a couple of extra noughts onto my bar tab, than by compiling ye olde end of year list. List may be pushing the boundaries a tad, but I have a few favourites that I would like to get off my chest.
Best team – Leicester City
I realise that they have had favourable reviews in every end-of-year poll and I hate following the flock, but you just can’t ignore them. Bottom of the EPL last Christmas; yet top of the EPL this Christmas.
Yes, I realise that they waivered recently, but let’s raise the trumpets and herald in the New Year with a hearty back-slapping for Leicester City Football Club.
I am loathe to single out individuals, but I’m going to anyway: Vardy for his goals, effervescence and all round I-don’t-give-a-fuck-about-your-reputation-I’m-going-to-steam-roller-you-anyway bravado, Mahrez for his rise from the second division in France to the heady heights of the EPL and Kante for his sweeping up in front of the back four and ability to cover every blade of grass on every pitch he treads on across the land.
Honourable mention – Watford
As I type Watford FC sit eighth in the EPL. In Ighalo and Deeney they have one of the most feared strike partnerships in the league and a manager (Quique Flores) who has cobbled together a whole host of new players and together they have been a breath of fresh air.
Just about every pundit, critic and journo’s favourite to go down, Watford beat the mighty Liverpool FC 3-0 last week and it could have been more: Stick that in your pipe and smoke it!!
Worst team – Chelsea
Highlighting the inevitable lacks total imagination, but when you can wheeze out a chesty laugh in the West Londoners direction it seems so much more appealing.
Of course they’ve been the worst team this season. Yes, worse than Bolton, worse than York and a helluva lot worse than Dagenham & Redbridge. Their chairman plundered half of Russia for cash and yet they had still lost nine games before Christmas and currently sit only three points above the drop-zone.
A fortnight ago 90% of the team looked like they would be rather playing for Dagenham & Redbridge. 99% of them looked like they’d rather be with Tim Peake in the outer stratosphere, than driving their Rollers towards Stamford Bridge.
I’m sure Hiddink will come in and turn things around, but for now I’m content to witness them parking a fleet of buses at Old Trafford to cling on for a point.
Dishonorable mention – Manchester United
Talking of Old Trafford: have you seen the bloody state of Manchester United this year? No, neither have most of the crowd at OT because they’ve lapsed into a coma at the state of the style of play on show.
I remember the moving pictures of Law, Best and Charlton: I remember Cantona with his collar upturned, beguiling defences and generally wreaking havoc: I remember Scholes, Keano and Giggsy-wiggsy winning trophy after trophy. Love or hate the buggers, boy were they a joy to watch. Now? Flatline. Enough said.
Best Manager – Claudio Ranieri
The “Tinkerman” swept back into England and nobody gave him a chance. Many people, including myself, thought Nigel Pearson had been treated despicably and after working miracles at the back-end of last season should have held onto his job.
I thought justice would be served upon the LCFC board when they brought Ranieri in. My assumption was that Ranieri would struggle at Leicester and they would get relegated. Boy, am I happy to eat humble pie.
Ranieri has worked bloody miracles and the smiles across the face of every Leicester player and fan tells its own story. The players are loving to play for Ranieri and the fans are loving to watch.
The “Tinkerman’s” press conferences are funny, self-deprecating and in complete antithesis to the car crash Mourinho pressers of recent months. Long may Claudio Ranieri, survive.
Honorable mention – Eddie Howe
Bournemouth FC have been well and truly overshadowed by Watford and Leicester this season, but I feel that Eddie Howe should come in for a great deal of praise.
Howe has dealt with promotion to the “big league” without any fuss. Add to this the fact that he saw three of his best players (Gradel, Mings and Wilson) suffer long-term injuries early on and I think he should be a contender for manager of the season.
We are, of course, only halfway through the season, but let’s give Eddie an early round of applause.
Worst Manager – Jose Mourinho
Jose, Jose, Jose. I realise that a few months cannot cast a shadow over all of his previous achievements, but he gave it a damn, good go. I don’t think I need to go into details, we all saw it.
The Doc, the physio, the whining, the car-crash press conferences, the loss of the dressing room and the terrible league position. The only way that Mourinho would have gained any credibility, would have been if he’d resigned and walked away from his contract. He didn’t.
Dishonorable mention – Steve McClaren and Louis Van Gaal
I can’t split these two: they are both still in a job (at time of press) and both stinking out their respective clubs.Words are only words, but results and style of play speak for themselves. Go quietly, we beg you.
All that’s left for me to do is wish you all a very Happy New Year and indulge myself with a couple of personal categories. I hope that 2016 is an amazing year for all and I leave you with this:
Best gig – The Maccabees @ Poisson Rouge, NYC
A favourite group of mine, but never better than in this small, sweaty venue on Bleecker Street.
‘Marks To Prove It’ never sounded so good.
Worst tweeter – @KayBurley
Now, this Sky journalist, was described by a person way more intelligent than me, “as auditioning for Fox News every time she’s on screen.” If she was blonde and from Alabama she may stand a chance: her politics are certainly in order. I follow her on twitter for the jokes. I really wish it was a parody account because it would be so much funnier.
The most recent hoot came with the recent floods of Northern England: “Phone lines still down in York City centre. Use a mobile if you have one,” our intrepid reporter tweeted. No. Shit. Sherlock.
Happy New Year.