While it was lacking in quality, it is impossible to deny that last season was one of the most entertaining in years, culminating in one of the greatest moments since its inception. So what was the response from England’s top tier of clubs? To do away with the entertainment and keep the lack of quality. A thoroughly mediocre Manchester United sealed their title with plenty of time to spare and a relegation battle shaping up to include the entirety of the lower half of the league was wrapped up a game early. All that was left on the final day of the season was the race for the final Champions League spot, so Arsenal and Tottenham served us up performances that had us all eagerly anticipating the 2012-13 season being over at last.
Player of the Season
One of the main debates of the season came from the success of Robin van Persie and Luis Suarez. As the pair surged ahead of everyone else in the league, whose performances were more impressive became a major talking point: Suarez was perhaps doing more despite being surrounded by lesser players, but Van Persie was more significant, leading his team to a Premier League title. The debate ended early however as Van Persie’s form took a dip that saw him go ten games without a goal.
Suarez celebrated his superiority by sinking his teeth into Branislav Ivanovic’s arm, earning him a ban long enough for everyone to notice Gareth Bale had been pretty handy. Nevertheless, although he was far more deserving of his PFA award this season than he had been the year before, Bale didn’t quite match Suarez or Van Persie’s high standards.
Young Player of the Season
After years of selling the decent squad they had accumulated under Martin O’Neill and doing a shoddy job of replacing them on a budget, Aston Villa fell into a relegation battle that they narrowly escaped from last year. Failure to learn from these mistakes put new manager Paul Lambert in a similar situation this year, however they did get part of their transfer dealings correct. Importing Belgian striker Christian Benteke from Genk was the difference between the drop and another year in the Premier League for the Birmingham club – the dynamic young forward’s 19 goals key to Villa’s survival.
Goal of the Season
Despite having the widest selection to choose from, the frequency of Robin van Persie‘s goals didn’t affect their quality. The best of the lot was probably his stunning volleyed finish from Wayne Rooney’s inch-perfect pass against Aston Villa.
Manager of the Season
The announcement of his retirement and the league win makes Sir Alex Ferguson the obvious choice, but it seems odd for it to go to him when he failed to address the problems in his side that left them second best the year before, even if they finished first this year, and mainly relied on Van Persie choosing United over City to claim the trophy. There isn’t really much other choice though: Rafa Benitez fought the odds at Chelsea but only really managed what was expected of him in the league despite success in Europe, Andre Villas-Boas set up a good Tottenham side but ultimately didn’t meet expectations, David Moyes impressed initially at Everton but faded away as the season went on, while Michael Laudrup and Steve Clarke did the same more spectacularly.
With no real worthy candidates, it’s worth giving a shout out to Chris Hughton. Norwich may have been dragged back into the relegation battle after a poor run, but the fact they had looked safe in the first place is impressive: Hughton took a mostly Championship-tier squad to a respectable 11th place after a tricky start.
Disappointment of the Season
With so much to choose from, it seems fair that everything gets this dubious honour. In an agonising race to the bottom, half of the league deserved to get relegated but only three clubs managed it, and those above them weren’t that much better. At least things can only improve. Please.
Team of the Season
Honourable mentions: Julio Cesar, Sebastien Bassong, Phillippe Coutinho, Michu, Romelu Lukaku