Having revealed the highly-anticipated first part of the Football Diaries Awards 2010, the time has now come to release the Kraken and dazzle you with the equally spectacular and wholly fantastic Part 2. As those of you who have had the common decency to read Part 1 will know, four awards have been dished out thus far; here we have the final three awards for your delectation. Hush now please, as the winners are announced – and, yes, before you ask, there was an above-board and entirely transparent voting system that validated these results. Drum roll please…
Manager of the Year - Ian Holloway (Blackpool F.C.)
Having already appeared once in this textual awards ceremony, Ian Holloway has only gone and done the double. The Blackpool manager will no doubt be over the moon to receive this second honour, even if it does pale in comparison with his other gong, which is very much the blue riband award of this ceremony: Most Extraordinary Rant of the Year. Nevertheless, Manager of the Year is of some merit also and so it is that I must explain my…I mean the widely-respected and hugely influential panel’s, decision to provide Holloway with this glorious apotheosis.
Having been a journeyman manager who had drifted around various Championship outfits in the last ten years (Leicester, Plymouth, QPR and Bristol Rovers), the appointment of Holloway as Blackpool manager prior to the start of the 09/10 season was met with little fanfare, or indeed interest, outside of the Golden Mile. Holloway was more famous for his madcap interviews and bizarre statements than his managerial abilities and Blackpool were a club punching above their weight, scrapping for survival in the Championship. How things were about to change. Holloway started his time in the North-West by bringing an infectious enthusiasm and attacking football to a club in need of belief, and would end up leading them to the most glorious chapter in Blackpool’s history since the cup-winning exploits of 1953. The Tangerines, who were tipped for relegation pre-season, snuck into a final position of sixth in the Championship, a fine achievement in Holloway’s first season in charge and one that also brought the exciting prospect of the playoffs. Nobody gave Blackpool a chance of promotion, yet wins home and away against Forest put them through to the final against Cardiff. Dave Jones’ ‘bluebirds’ were unlucky not to be promoted automatically, yet despite being favourites, even they could not halt the march of the unremitting Blackpool. Having been behind twice, Blackpool won 3-2 to send their fans into raptures and complete one of the great footballing achievements of recent years.
The story could end there, the Tangerine dream made a reality through the glory of promotion, but it does not. Blackpool are, it is accepted, the smallest club yet to appear in the Premier League. Bloomfield Road has a capacity of just 16,220 (60,000 fewer seats than Old Trafford) and the club’s record signing is DJ Campbell at just £1.2 million. Such information suggested that Blackpool’s seat at English football’s top table would swiftly be vacated, perhaps in the manner of the catastrophically dreadful Derby County side of 2007/8. However, Holloway brought a pleasingly refreshing brand of attacking football to the Premier League and his currently lie in a relatively prosperous 13th place in the league, on the same points as the mighty Liverpool, with a game in hand. What an achievement, what a year, what a deserved award; Ian Holloway we salute you and your bizarre ways.
Least Impressive Debut Goal – Javier Hernandez (Manchester United)
Following an impressive turn at the World Cup, young Mexico forward Hernandez, who had already secured a dream move to Old Trafford, arrived in England desperate to announce himself on the European scene. What better way to do this than a goal on your debut in front of tens of thousands of fans at Wembley and millions watching at home and in the pubs?
‘Chicharito’, as he shirt ludicrously boasts, did just that. So, a precious goal against rivals Chelsea in the season’s curtain-raiser, could it be a 35-yard piledriver that almost ripped the net? Perhaps it was a masterful, mazy run through the entire Chelsea defence followed by a cheeky lob? Surely it wasn’t an outrageous overhead kick in the last minute? No. No it wasn’t. It was one of the most comical goals you’re likely to see. As Valencia’s teasing cross arrives from the right, Hernandez adjusts his body as the low pass is slightly behind him, he reaches his leg out towards the ball, surely to slot into the gaping net… Except that the timing of his shot was out, the ball bounced straight up, hit the Mexican square in the face and bounced into the goal. What an extraordinary debut goal and what a bizarre statement of intent by our deserving winner, Javier Hernandez.
Most Impressive Dinosaur Impression of the Year – Michael Dawson (Tottenham Hotspur)
As we look at his accurately mimicked little dino-arms, the ref’s eyes can’t help but focus on his big old dino legs.
It’s universally accepted that these awards have been the best and most welcome newcomers to the football world since Qatar and as such they may well be reborn as a Mid-Season Awards, a Cup Competitions Awards etc. in the near future, you lucky, lucky people. Until then, thanks very much for reading, check back for more soon and have a delightful opening to 2011.