Of course there are some actual awards in football. Teams who score the most so-called “points” win a trophy, managers who manage to string together more than four decent games are given sacred purple aftershave bottles, and Erling Haaland wins boots made of gold for the rest of eternity.
But beyond the meat of any season is the glorious chaff, the stuff which adds color to all the dreary excellence and the dubious source of its funding.
So let us forget about the actual winners and losers and celebrate the outskirts of this Premier League season with a series of highly prestigious and entirely made up awards.
The Watford FC award for the most unforgettable Iberian manager
A healthy field this year, with an outbreak of even hotter seats than usual, and a clutch of teams whose squad members blend into an amorphous gel:
Bronze: Bruno Lage
Spent more than a year in charge of Wolves in the end, but if you think you will be able to remember the missing name in a list between Julen Lopetegui and Nuno Espirito Santo 10 years from now you’re a Bull short of a Steve.
Silver: Javi Gracia
Did actually do a stint in charge of Watford, so immediately becomes blurry at the edges. Just conceded a lorra lorra goals with a forgettable Leeds team.
Gold: Ruben Selles
This is the age of the capable, respectful but terse manager from Europe’s favorite peninsula and Southampton’s version offered nothing beyond the regulation smart sweatshirt and a vague sense that he probably cared deeply about pressing.
The Augustus Gloop award for a complete lack of restraint
Nottingham Forest in the transfer market.
The telescoping effect award for the moment which somehow happened this year
Antonio Conte and Thomas Tuchel’s turbo-alpha handshake bust-up on the touchline at Stamford Bridge. If you include Spurs caretakers and interims this was a combined five managers ago, so it seems as if it came from another age entirely. It happened in August. Stupid World Cup break.
The Kim Kardashian award for most overexposed pundit
Gary Neville was revelatory when he arrived in the Sky Sports studio. That was 12 years ago and, like most football pundits who do the job for longer than a decade, Neville has said his piece. Not that it stops his multi-platform assault, which reached an odd new territory last week with the news that he considers what most of us would call a holiday as a “mini retirement”
A sure sign that we have reached peak Neville when we also know his deepest thoughts about potatoes: “Mashed potato, jacket potato, boiled potato, dauphinoise potato, parmentier potato. All these things that they do with potatoes… just cut them, fry them and stop putting f—— truffle and oregano on them and all that salt and pepper and s—.”
The Michael Fish award for worst prediction
Everyone said Spurs would be good this season. Some even expected them to contest the title. Was this writer among that number who became carried away about the combination of Antonio Conte, Harry Kane and the ostensibly exciting signing of Richarlison? Who can say… No, don’t look up any pre-season predictions on Telegraph.co.uk. You are wasting your time.
The Rio Ferdinand award for most successful wind-up
Joachim Andersen goading Darwin Nunez until he headbutted him at Anfield in August.
The David Bowie award for best reinvention
Bronze: Jason Steele
Previously most noted for consecutive Championship relegations with Blackburn Rovers and Sunderland, now the all-singing all-passing first-choice goalkeeper in the bizarre world we inhabit, in which Brighton have secured European football.
Silver: John Stones
Frequently doubted, sometimes mocked despite being a talented center-back. Now operating in a sophisticated hybrid role and a vital cog in one of the most impressive teams the league has ever seen. A real sense that Pep Guardiola is just showing off now.
There can be no greater indication of Eddie Howe’s brilliance than the successful transformation of punchline striker Joelinton into a complete midfielder. A heartwarming story about what can be done for the knock-down price of £40 million.
The Keanu Reeves award for best dodged bullet
Jury duty preventing Sammy Lee from joining Sam Allardyce’s last ride at Leeds.
The Garden Bridge award for the most questionable use of funds
Leeds United spent £35 million to bring in Georginio Rutter from Hoffenheim in the hope that he would make their centre-forward position his own. Instead the role he played most frequently was unused substitute. Was called upon on the final day and contributed an assist. Not much of a silver lining when your team has just lost 4-1 at home to be relegated.
The La La Land 2017 Oscars award for premature celebration
Richarlison took his shirt off to celebrate goals which were then overturned by Var on two occasions this season. Of course that offense carries an automatic booking, which means Richarlison ended the season with more yellow cards for celebrating disallowed goals (two) than Premier League goals (one).
The Prince Andrew and Emily Maitlis award for reputational damage
Frank Lampard began the season as a manager for Everton to build around after helping to steer the club away from relegation. He ended it with people spelling his surname with 17 Ls, for the number of defeats he had racked up in charge of Everton, then broke Chelsea. Genuine intrigue about his next job.
The Krusty The Clown award for least convincing celebrity endorsement
“This will go down as one of my favorite mornings… It’s one of the best spice markets that I have ever been to”
David Beckham in a promotional video urging people to visit Qatar. World awaits his definitive top 10.
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