Much later than usual, we bring you our annual Premier League awards for the 2019/20.
It’s been a long old season all the same, and in many ways we are happy for the break, as short as it might be. This past year (and it’s almost been quite literally a full calendar year) has had many ups and downs, with records broken, achievements accomplished and depths plunged that we never thought possible.
Before we begin looking forward to the next campaign, let’s look back on the great, the good and the bad of the one just gone.
Premier League end of season awards for 2019/20:
Moment of the Season – Lampard loses his marbles
Awarded for the most entertaining and/or funniest moment of the 2019/20 campaign.
With no crowds at matches since the restart we’ve been able to hear the odd scream and shout from players on the pitch, most notably Matt Ritchie, but we got a real feel for what it can be like on the sideline when Frank Lampard had a right go at Liverpool’s bench during chelsea’s recent trip to Anfield.
The cameras caught Lampard in a confrontation with Jurgen Klopp, one which will surely go down as one of the all-time great manager meltdowns. That didn’t provide a whole lot of context, but thankfully someone in the stadium filmed the incident from the stand:
Big fan of Milner chuckling at Lampard while he goes absolutely ham on the sideline.pic.twitter.com/G4c2TzkH6h
— Ste McGovern (@TheNoveltyAct) July 23, 2020
While the audio quality is poor, we can make out that Lampard is obviously not happy with the free-kick that was just given (and subsequently scored by Alexander-Arnold), and is unhappy with Pep Lijnders for not sitting down. Klopp tells his counterpart that his assistant is in fact “sit down”.
Lampard walks away several times before coming back for more. On the last occasion he returns, Lampard can clearly be heard to say “it’s not a f*cking foul, I’m not asking you”, before telling someone else “you can f*ck off as well.”
The highlight comes when Lampard says “you have your party later on, giving it the f*cking big ‘un, f*ck off,” before saying something about “respect”. I think that ship sailed long ago, Frank.
Afterwards, the Blues boss tried to explain the confrontation by referring to the behaviour of the Liverpool bench, warning them not to “get too arrogant with” winning the league. Just an altogether incredible moment that we would never have otherwise seen so intimately.
"I am not asking you…" 😡
Frank Lampard was involved in a heated row with the Liverpool bench on Wednesday – and then saw Trent Alexander-Arnold smash one in to the top corner 🚀pic.twitter.com/HPjBLLKWbH
— Sky Sports (@SkySports) July 23, 2020
Honourable Mentions: Jose Mourinho’s mood change; Pep Guardiola’s sideline meltdown at Anfield.
Player of the Season – Kevin De Bruyne, Man City
Awarded to the player with the best performances throughout the 2019/20 campaign.
It’s simply bizarre that in the last decade in which Manchester City have been the best team overall, not one of their players has picked up the PFA Player of the Year award. It’s conventional wisdom that the champions will sweep up all the individual awards, but that hasn’t happened in the past two seasons as Liverpool players picked up the most cherished accolade.
There can be no other winner than Kevin De Bruyne, who has proven himself to be one of the very finest footballers in the world this past season. His ability to cut through a host of bodies in front of him with a finely weighted pass is phenomenal, as are his driving runs with the ball at his feet and his exquisite strike of a ball from distance.
But he’s not just aesthetically pleasing to watch, he’s also got all of the stats to back it up too. He finally equalled Thierry Henry’s mythical record of 20 assists in a single season (although he will argue he got more than that) and he did so having made a frankly ridiculous 135 key passes, 44 more than the nearest player Jack Grealish.
It's the crossbar crash that makes it… 🚀
— Manchester City (@ManCity) November 30, 2019
The Belgian topped the league for big chances created (33), successful passes in the final third (710), and goals from outside of the box (5). So phenomenal was his performance that if he doesn’t pick it up, we’ll look back in a few years time and wonder why the hell he wasn’t given the recognition he deserved at the time.
Runners-up: Sadio Mané, Trent Alexander-Arnold, Mo Salah (all Liverpool).
Goal of the Season – Heung-min Son, SPURS vs Burnley?
Awarded to the player with the best individual goal of the 2019/20 campaign.
Heung-min Son has created some spectacular moments since joining Tottenham Hotspur, but the one that will be replayed on every showreel once he’s retired will be the monster run and finish he completed against Burnley this past December. Unstoppable, unbeatable, sublime.
Honourable Mentions: Jordan Ayew, Crystal Palace (vs West Ham); Kevin De Bruyne, Man City (vs Newcastle); Jamie Vardy, Leicester City (vs Southampton); Bernard, Everton (vs West Ham); Mo Salah, Liverpool (vs Newcastle).
Young Player of the Season – Trent Alexander-Arnold, Liverpool
Awarded to the player under the age of 23 with the best performances throughout the 2019/20 campaign.
Thus far, Trent Alexander-Arnold’s senior career has consisted of: winning the Champions League, being a key cog in two title challenges, being one of the most vital players while Liverpool win their first league triumph in 30 years, breaking the assists record for a defender and then going and breaking that record again this past season.
And he is only 21-years-old.
It is bonkers to see what he has achieved in his career in such a short space of time and it’s even more mind-boggling to think what he could still achieve in the next decade. With playmaking ability that would make David Beckham flutter, Alexander-Arnold could be the lynchpin of Liverpool and England for a long time to come.
Anything Keita can do… 🚀
Alexander-Arnold scores a wonderful free-kick but Frank Lampard is NOT happy! 😡
Was it a foul on Mane?
— Sky Sports Premier League (@SkySportsPL) July 22, 2020
Honourable Mentions: Marcus Rashford, Man United; Tammy Abraham, Chelsea; Jack Grealish, Aston Villa; Dean Henderson, Sheffield United; Bukayo Saka, Arsenal; Todd Cantwell, Norwich City; Dwight McNeil, Burnley.
Manager of the Season – Chris Wilder, Sheffield United
Awarded for the best managerial performance over the course of the 2019/20 campaign.
As alluded to earlier, there is a tendency to reward the winning team with the individual prizes but what Wilder has achieved with Sheffield United has been nothing short of remarkable.
Last season they weren’t even in the conversation for promotion before the campaign got underway. Two years later and the club was within sniffing distance of the Champions League places pre-lockdown. And Wilder has achieved this without spending very much money in the transfer market at all.
The eye-catching thing about the Yorkshire native is that he has the air of a proper football man, an old school manager with a style of football to match, but he himself refutes that characterisation out of hand. Not only is his approach to the game innovative and unique, but he has been a breath of fresh air in his media dealings too.
Jurgen Klopp has done phenomenal work with Liverpool and is arguably the top manager on the planet right now. But Wilder’s rise from the lower leagues to his boyhood clubs highest ever finish in the top flight is simply too hard to ignore.
Runner-up: Jurgen Klopp, Liverpool.
Best Signing – Bruno Fernandes, Man United
Awarded for the best piece of business completed by a club in the 2019/20 season.
There have been a few excellent signings from the past season, but none of them compare to how well buying Bruno Fernandes paid off for Manchester United.
Before the Portuguese playmaker signed for the Red Devils in January, the team were a solid but slow and methodical side who found it hard to break down the opposition without Paul Pogba in the lineup. His injury problems this season meant they were dependent on the likes of Jesse Lingard and Andreas Pereira for creativity, which meant they had no creativity.
Once Fernandes arrived, the outlook completely changed for United. All of a sudden they possessed a player who was willing to take risks with the ball, teeing up Anthony Martial, Marcus Rashford and Mason Greenwood for a multitude of chances, while finding the net on eight occasions himself.
Before his arrival, United had scored 36 goals in 24 games; their scoring rate of 1.3 goals per game was sixth best in the league. Not bad, but nothing special. Since then they have scored 30 in 14, the second most in the league at a rate of 2.14 per game.
So great has his impact been that he is already being compared to Eric Cantona in terms of the instant lift he has given the club, helping them leapfrog Leicester City and Chelsea into third after being 14 points adrift of the Foxes pre-lockdown.
Honourable Mentions: Danny Ings, Southampton; Youri Tielemans, Leicester City; Gabriel Martinelli, Arsenal; Christian Pulisic, Chelsea.
Worst Signing – Joelinton, Newcastle United
Awarded for the worst piece of business completed by a club in the 2019/20 season.
It should be noted that this decision bares very little reflection on Joelinton, who is clearly a talented and very useful player – just not in the manner he has been deployed.
Newcastle United spent a whopping £40m on him last summer, but Steve Bruce has used him as a target man which is, plainly, not the best use of him. His game is more suited to build-up play and playing off of a partner upfront, rather than battling for aerials, holding it up and leading the line as a lone striker.
The Brazilian attacker did at least improve towards the end of the season, ending the campaign with two goals and two assists, but hopefully next year the club buy someone with whom he can actually link up.
Dishonourable Mentions: Danny Drinkwater, Burnley; Angelino, Man City; Wesley, Aston Villa.
Assist of the Season – Christian Pulisic to Tammy Abraham, Liverpool vs CHELSEA
Awarded for the best pass or cross that lead directly to a goal in the 2019/20 campaign.
There were quite literally a dozen Kevin De Bruyne assists that we could have chosen from for this award, but we’re giving it to Captain America for the outstanding piece of skill he pulled out of the bag against Liverpool in July.
Christian Pulisic had barely been on the pitch before the substitute slalomed between three defenders, before entering the box and putting the ball on a plate for Tammy Abraham to score Chelsea’s second of the night. The American winger also scored a brilliant goal in that game, giving a performance reminiscent of Eden Hazard in his pomp.
Honourable Mentions: Jorginho to Tammy Abraham, Watford vs CHELSEA; every time Kevin De Bruyne swung in a ball from the right-hand channel.
Most Improved Player – Adama Traore, Wolves
Awarded to the player who has shown the greatest improvement upon last season in the 2019/20 campaign.
Adama Traore has always been blessed with tremendous pace and strength, which is what attracted Barcelona to him when he was a youngster, but he’s never been able to realise his true potential. Until this season, that is.
Wolves manager Nuno Espirito Santo has been able to get the very best out of the winger, using his unique frame and build for maximum effect. Traore has provided four goals and nine assists in 27 starts (and ten substitute appearances) for the club, whereas last season he only provided a goal and an assist in eight starts (and 29 sub appearances).
The Spanish-Malian player has been a menace for opposing defences trying to deal with his near unstoppable dribbling, completing 156 successful dribbles – second only to Wilfried Zaha (162). He also moved the ball a total of 13,212 yards this season, the fourth most in the league behind Jack Grealish, Zaha and Harry Maguire.
18. Adama Traore set a new Premier League record for most take-ons (beating his man) in a single Premier League campaign (183) surpassing Eden Hazard’s previous record (180).
Stat via @Squawka
— Football on BT Sport (@btsportfootball) July 27, 2020
Best Newcomer – Emi Buendia, Norwich City
Awarded to the best new player to arrive in the Premier League in the 2019/20 campaign.
Teemu Pukki and Todd Cantwell may have garnered the most headlines with regards to Norwich City‘s Premier League campaign, but Emiliano Buendia demonstrated that of anyone in the Canaries team he is the one with the highest ceiling.
The Argentine playmaker was integral to Norwich’s promotion campaign and was similarly important to their survival hopes, even if the Norfolk outfit were relegated with a whimper in the end. He contributed seven assists across the campaign, the joint-11th most in the league. Not bad considering his team only scored 26 goals.
If Buendia can improve upon the defensive side of his game then he can look forward to a long career at a top-six Premier League club.
Just @Em10Buendia doing Emi Buendia things…
Check out this goal from training today! 👏 pic.twitter.com/Ee2OMk9uS4
— Norwich City FC (@NorwichCityFC) June 6, 2020
Honourable Mentions: Christian Pulisic, Chelsea; Bruno Fernandes, Man United; Gabriel Martinelli, Arsenal.
Best Pundit – Micah Richards
Last year we gave this gong to the excellent Alex Scott – who was disappointingly demoted to co-presenter on Sky’s Goals On Sunday programme for this season. So hopefully giving this award to Micah Richards won’t jinx his fledgeling media career and we continue to see more of him next season.
The former Man City and Fiorentina defender has been a breath of fresh air this year, bringing an energy and enthusiasm that is often lacking in television studios on matchday. You can clearly see he actively enjoys his job and talking about football, rather than just doing it to earn a few bob.
Although Richards is a bit raw and perhaps needs a bit more experience, his laughter is incredibly infectious and everyone can appreciate how much he puts into his work. And he might be the one to finally crack Roy Keane.
— Man City Report (@cityreport_) July 26, 2020