City keep good Kompany in end-of-term honours
After a truly amazing final set of games in the Premier League, here are my awards to the teams, managers and players of the season.
It has to be Manchester City. Yes, they have spent a lot of money and, yes, they have the best squad in the league, but you still have to gel these players together. At one stage, they looked like they had blown it when Manchester United took an eight-point lead but then City changed gear and went on a demolition spree of everybody that crossed them and finally caught United on the home straight.
Even on Sunday, when it looked like they had thrown it away, you just have to admire their mental strength to score two goals in a matter of minutes in injury time to secure there first Premier League trophy. Something tells me it won’t be their last and it looks like they could dominate English and European football for years to come.
It has to be Alan Pardew, regardless of the fact that Newcastle United missed out on the much-coveted fourth position. Last summer, when the likes of Kevin Nolan and Joey Barton moved on to pastures new, many – myself included – thought that Newcastle were in for a long slog of a season with a relegation battle in wait. How wrong could we be?
The players brought in, mostly notably Demba Ba, Yohan Cabaye, Hatem Ben Arfa and, in the January window, Papiss Cisse, were probably not players well known in this country. But they have come in and taken the league by storm. For that, the players themselves deserve credit. But so does Pardew and the scouting system as well.
Add to this the emergence of Tim Krul and the ever-improving Cheick Tiote and you really have a team that is going places. They also have a great leader in Fabricio Coloccini at the back. Make no mistake, these are great players from all over the world and, to bring them together with their different backgrounds, takes a great manager with great man-management skill.
Pardew has shown that he has this in abundance. The toughest task, though, will surely be when the big boys of England and Europe come knocking. Can Newcastle afford to keep them? If not, can they then go and uncover a few more rough diamonds?
This was a tough one, with two outstanding candidates. The first was Robin van Persie, who has been a goal machine this season for Arsenal and surely the man who has finally filled the Thierry Henry and Dennis Bergkamp boots. His movement is so good to watch, the way he gets on the last man’s shoulder and the array of goals he scores. He has been the best striker bar none this season and Arsenal will do well to keep hold of him.
But my choice goes to Vincent Kompany. He has been a man mountain at the back for Manchester City and I don’t think I saw a centre forward get the better of him during the season. And that includes Van Persie. One of the main reasons I chose Kompany over Van Persie was the humbleness he showed throughout the season, after good and bad results.
OK, he has been guilty of a couple of misdemeanours, but who hasn’t in their career? I remember seeing Van Persie in one particular game against Wigan. Gary Caldwell, the Wigan captain, had had an exceptional game and had led Wigan to an unpredicted victory at Arsenal. As he went over to Van Persie to shake hands, Van Persie gave him only his left hand.
I can’t stand to see things like that. I see it as very arrogant and an act of “Who do you think you are beating me and my team?” It’s OK to be a great player, which he is, but you must also have a degree of humility about you, too. For me, Kompany has everything a captain should have – a leader who will run through a brick wall for his team and give every last ounce of energy for his team-mates.
He is a defender, first and foremost, and is not afraid to put his head in where it hurts but he is also cool, calm and collected on the ball. In my eyes, he is in the top three centre backs in Europe and I can see him only getting better and lifting more trophies with City.
When I saw Peter Crouch’s goal against Manchester City, I thought it impossible that that goal could be bettered … then along came Newcastle’s Papiss Cisse and scored another wonder goal to top Crouch’s wonder goal! Crouch’s technique was outstanding and the fact that it was from great distance, and left England’s No.1 goalkeeper, Joe Hart, with no chance, makes it even more special.
But I just feel that Cisse’s was better because of the sheer audacity of it and the trajectory of the ball and its movement. Now I know that people will say that it wasn’t meant but something that strikes me every time I see the goal, and what convinces me that he did mean it, was that there were no Newcastle players in the box so nobody can say that he was crossing the ball. It was a special goal by a special player who I think will only get better.
Anyway, enough from me. It’s been another whirlwind season of ups and downs for all clubs. I’m looking forward to a bit of a rest now but it won’t be long till pre-season comes back around.