With another Premier League season in the can (a contender for Sky's close-season slogan), it is time for Early Doors to blow the cobwebs off its filthy dinner jacket and substitute safety pins for cufflinks.
It's time for ED's legendary end-of-season awards: The Doorsies!
TWITTER TWIT OF THE SEASON
Joey Barton: Why do people always want to solve any conflict with a fight? As a pacifist, I find it incredible........ #mindboggles
This before peacefully getting sent off for an elbow on Carlos Tevez, then earning two violent conduct charges for apparently kicking Sergio Aguero and attempting to nut Vincent Kompany. ED can only dream about what might have happened had Mario Balotelli not been restrained by team-mates.
Ryan Babel: I don't know, I think the ref was on drugs.
Babel hits out at Thorsten Kinhofer, who sent him off during Hoffenheim's recent defeat to Hertha Berlin. Fortunately for Kinhofer, he was not given the full Howard Webb Photoshop treatment.
Nathan Eccleston: I aint going to say attack don't let the media make u believe that was terrorist that did it. #O.T.I.S. ['Only the Illuminati Succeed'].
The Liverpool youngster marks the 10th anniversary of the September 11 terrorist atrocities by blaming the masons. Way to cosy up to the club's American owners, Nathan.
And the winner is... JOEY BARTON!
BEST EXECUTIVE OR ADMINISTRATOR
The 29-year-old Still created a stir last September when Mansfield Town appointed her chief executive. Rejecting claims of a publicity stunt, Still insisted: "This has been a genuine appointment. I have worked hard to get where I am." Two weeks later she got engaged to Mansfield chairman John Radford. Earlier this month, Still was arrested and cautioned by police following an incident during a match against York.
In March, the Premier League chairman and FA board member showed the sort of diplomatic flair that has made him such a force in the national game. At a conference in Qatar, Richards accused FIFA and UEFA of stealing football from the English, and came up with this gem about the 2022 World Cup in Qatar: "In our country and Germany we have a culture, and we call it 'we'd like to go for a pint' and that pint is a pint of beer." He capped off the routine by tripping into a water feature. Richards confirmed he was not drunk. ED is not convinced that doesn't actually make it worse.
'Ravaged with it!' - Funny. Surprisingly didn't last the entire season at Manchester City.
Thousands of words have been written about Whyte's mismanagement of Rangers, but we will stick with five, from the man himself: "Good luck collecting the money."
With FIFA already under fire over its apparent insistence on running roughshod over national law (full tax exemption for the World Cup, anyone?) the organisation's general secretary insisted Brazil reverses its law banning alcohol at World Cup games. A law passed, by the way, to combat rampant hooliganism. "Alcoholic drinks are part of the FIFA World Cup, so we're going to have them," Valcke said. "Excuse me if I sound a bit arrogant but that's something we won't negotiate."
In unrelated news, Budweiser has signed a deal to sponsor the World Cup until 2022. In Qatar.
And the winner is... CRAIG WHYTE!
THE BEST OF BLATTER
Sepp dances with Shakira at the Ballon d'Or.
Sepp meets Robert Mugabe, exchanges pennants.
Sepp says victims of racist abuse in football should settle the matter by shaking the perpetrator's hand. Hits back at criticism with a picture of him hugging a black man. Gets called out by Rio Ferdinand. Responds with one of the finest Tweets of all time: "@rioferdy5 The 'black man' as you call him has a name: Tokyo Sexwale." And what a name.
And the winner is... MOHAMED BIN HAMMAM! Just kidding, it's Sepp of course!
Martin Tyler: JIIIII!!!
Mexican guy: Na na na na! Na na na na! Eh eh eh! Kun Aguero!
And the winner is... GARY NEVILLE!
BEST FOREIGNER (with multiple hat tips to the Observer's Said and Done)
A zero to hero to zero story for the unimaginably entertaining Montpellier president. Nicollin shed a reputation for anti-gay remarks when he appeared in an advert condemning homphobia, and won the Pierre-Guénin award from the gay press. However, the award was taken from him when he explained his absence from a game thus: "It was too stressful for me. OK yes, I'm a fag, but at the very last moment, I got scared." Earlier this season, Nicollin explained his reputation for rudeness thus: "Where I might say: 'I p*** in the a*** cracks of my critics,' the Toulon owner talks of being 'sodomised by referees'. That is, I suppose, more elegant."
The defender, who plays for Caldense in the Brazilian second division, missed a fortnight in January because of hiccups. Club spokesman Gustavo Mendanha said: "At first it was kind of funny and his team-makes were joking about it. But the hiccups did not stop."
A contender for headline of all-time: 'P*** tantrum earns player $1000 fine'. That is how newzimbabwe.com reported the punishment handed to FC Platinum's Sibanda after he doused Chicken Inn coach Adam Ndlovu coach with urine.
And the winner is... LOULOU NICOLLIN!
Here is the £5 million signing's first Premier League season in summary: Games - 1, Minutes - 6, Touches - 4. The good news; we can expect another six minutes per season of excellence from Park until 2022, which is when he has had his compulsory military service deferred until.
Fighting off fierce competition for the Liverpool nomination from Jordan Henderson and Sebastian Coates (pronounced 'Kwat-ezz') is Downing. A man who produced in 36 Premier League matches roughly what Park Chu Young did in six minutes. No assists, no goals, and even missed a sympathy penalty with Liverpool cruising against Chelsea. Kenny Dalglish has made some truly shocking signings. Downing might just be the worst.
It was a toss-up for this final nomination between two supposedly promising youngsters. Going by the maxim: 'It is worse to have played and failed than never to have played at all', Savic just edges Romelu Lukaku out on the grounds that the Belgian might be good - we just haven't seen him yet. We have seen Savic, and while foreign defenders often improve from their second season (Vidic, Koscielny), we can be sure that this term Savic was dreadful. Nervous, unsteady, always out of position - Savic was a comedic yang to Vincent Kompany's yin.
And the winner is... PARK CHU-YOUNG!
THE MR LOOPHOLE AWARD FOR BEST SPEEDING BAN AVOIDANCE
Escaped a driving ban last July after being clocked at 107mph in a 70mph zone. His excuse? He was unemployed after leaving West Ham and needed his car to find a new club. Like a man with 10 years at top clubs and 52 Germany caps can't afford a taxi. Happily, Thomas is now back in work, and Early Doors is sure he drove all the way to Wolfsburg to sign up for his latest club.
The Stoke boss was clocked doing 96mph in a 60mph zone last November, but avoided a ban after his lawyer successfully argued it would cause "the manager, Stoke City and the people of Stoke-on-Trent exceptional hardship." Basically, it was 'ban me and we'll get relegated'. Pulis argued he could not have a chauffeur, because it would jeopardise confidential phone calls about transfers. Magistrate Donnie Clark told Pulis: "You will not be able to use this defence again in any other proceedings in the next three years." But from 2016, he is presumably clear to break the land speed record on the M42. It seems to ED like precedent for anyone in an important job to do whatever they want with impunity, but hey, that might just be the unimportant job talking.
The striker showed his Stoke manager a thing or two about watertight alibis when his Land Rover was clocked at 62mph in a 50mph zone last August 25. Jones successfully argued he was not driving, because at the time of the offence he was scoring twice for Stoke against FC Thun in the Europa League. Boom.
And the winner is... TONY PULIS!
MANAGER OF THE YEAR
In The Prince, Machiavelli said it was better to be feared than loved. But did he say anything about being pitied? That seems to be the main emotion when you bring up Connor, a man more out of his depth than a midget in a tidal wave. Stories like this are typical (it's The Sun - Liverpool fans you have been warned) of the man who won none of his 13 games in charge and is right up there (sorry, down there) among the least successful top flight managers ever.
Too much has gone on at Blackburn this season for one blog - so here's the ultimate demonstration of Kean's imperviousness to criticism, delivered moments after Rovers were relegated: "I will sit down with the owners and discuss a plan on how to assemble a squad to help us bounce back up straight away." And Early Doors isn't going to go anywhere near that latest YouTube video.
Brought into Stamford Bridge and given a mandate to shake up the squad, AVB was shown the door on March 4 for attempting to do just that. Mind you, ED might opt for a panic sacking if it had to put up with all that management-speak. And what about the crouching on the touchline, gesticulating like a deranged curler? Then there was his rejection of criticism directed at John Terry ("You should be proud of your England captain."), his withering assessment of ref Chris Foy ("He was too emotional. I hope this is not a pattern forming - we have suffered in three games.") and his bizarre ostracising of Alex and Nicolas Anelka. Chelsea paid £28 million to sack Carlo Ancelotti with Villas-Boas, plus about another £10m to ditch AVB. Just think, they could nearly have had Fernando Torres for that money.
AKA the angriest man in football. More than anything, the nomination is for 'King' Kenny's permanently aggravated approach to interviews. Dalglish is tetchy, defensive, and treats every question like an attack on the sacred Liverpool Way. This recent effort was typical (though, in mitigation, it was with Andy Burton). On the pitch his team are a mid-table mess, winning precisely as many league games as they lost, and with a truly atrocious transfer record propped up only by Luis Suarez, of whom more below.
Yes, he kinda sorta kept QPR up, but goodness, Hughes gets ED's goat. This is a man who declared himself too ambitious for Fulham (who have just finished ninth) and preferred six months watching Cash In The Attic in his underpants, followed by a relegation dogfight. Of course, that's not how Hughes sees it. Here's what he recently told Football Focus: "I don't just build football teams, I build football clubs." And this, after his side tossed away three points at Manchester City in stoppage time: "If we had pulled it off and won the game, it would have been the greatest Premier League performance in history."
And the winner is... well, it comes down to who is the most deluded here, doesn't it?
Connor's tragedy was that he knew he was out of his depth so he is out, and Villas-Boas, annoying as he was, seemed to possess at least a modicum of self-awareness. Not the other three. Hughes is a good manager who apparently considers himself a legend, while Dalglish's staunch defence of all things Liverpool has actually inflicted serious damage on the club. But there can be only one winner, and it has to be the least-loved man in Lancashire - STEVE KEAN!
PLAYER OF THE YEAR
The big one, here are your nominees:
At last year's Doorsies, ED simply listed all this website's Balotelli headlines. Never shy of flogging a dead horse, here is the potted Mario from June 2011 onwards.
Balotelli's Lake District getaway
Balotelli shown round Naples by mafia mobsters
Balotelli buys motorbike, immediately banned from riding it
Mancini hauls off disrespectful Balotelli in LA
Balotelli: I don't like Manchester
Balotelli hit by team-mates' kipper prank
Balotelli 'sets fire to house with firework'
'Why always me?'
Balotelli scores the coolest goal of the season
School named after Balotelli
Balotelli's £150,000 curry
Balotelli in training-ground bust-up
Balotelli urged to quit smoking
Balotelli visits school to use toilet
Balotelli charged with violent conduct
Prandelli warns Balotelli after Italy axe
Meet Balotelli's Raffaella
Balotelli in strip club gaffe
Balotelli fined for late night
Balotelli gatecrashes Inter press conference
Mancini: I'd punch Balotelli every day
Balotelli sent off as City crash
Balotelli spoofed in 'rescue' video
Balotelli 'unhurt' after car crash
Balotelli escapes rap for Song challenge
There's a court case pending, buy ED suspects you know the details. The upshot of it all is that Roy Hodgson is now England manager, and John Terry is now Chelsea manager.
This season Joey dropped the Orwell-quoting bookish hipster thing and concentrated on numerous petty beefs. Mike Ashley, Derek Llambias, Gervinho, Bradley Johnson, Neil Warnock, Alan Shearer and Gary Lineker (?) all got a studs-up Twitter shoeing. Barton could start next season with a 10-game ban.
Partly for the racial abuse aimed at Patrice Evra that earned him an eight-match ban, but mainly for the mayhem that followed the verdict of an independent disciplinary panel.
Liverpool took leave of their senses and backed their man to the hilt with a deeply paranoid, misguided and plain incorrect statement (the accusation that Evra had 'played the race card' previously was entirely false). Meanwhile, the players warmed up in those infamous 'Suarez' t-shirts, and Suarez's lawyer produced a photo of his man hugging a black child. When Liverpool next played United the Uruguayan refused Evra's offer of a handshake, and a new conspiracy was born (fuelled by Glen Johnson), accusing Evra of withdrawing his hand a nanometre while ignoring the fact Suarez did not offer his at all. Suarez finally said sorry, but not to Evra or United - who cheekily accepted the apology anyway. A shame, because Suarez is quite a player.
The turd in the punch bowl of Manchester City's title success. Who can fail to have been sickened when Tevez got his grubby mitts on the Premier League trophy? Even now, Early Doors still struggles to comprehend just how unacceptably Tevez behaved, and for how long. Having dumped all over last season's good work by demanding a transfer, Tevez failed to engineer a move and sat sullenly on the bench before 'refusing to warm up' (wink wink) against Bayern Munich, then disappearing to Argentina without permission. Tevez's extended golfing holiday lasted three months (and cost him £9m), while his advisers insisted 'all Carlos wants to do is play football'. No move came in January, so Tevez returned to Manchester with a scripted apology, while telling Argentine TV that Roberto Mancini treated him 'like a dog'. Strange, since dogs are loyal.
And the winner is... CARLOS TEVEZ!
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