• Saturday, 24 December 2011

    The Euroballs review of 2011

    Over our traditional festive drink-a-thon, we've started to get all emotional and retrospective. Here's how we saw events of the past 12 months.

    Coach of the year

    There are lots of contenders for this. Young coaches with fresh ideas and philosophies - Jurgen Klopp, Thomas Tuchel - old masters still being absurd and brilliant in equal measure - Marcelo Bielsa - but it's from the first bracket we pick our man: Heiko Vogel. The former PE teacher wasn't ruffled by the departure of his boss Thorsten Fink, quietly took the reins at FC Basel and guided them to the knockout stages of the Champions League without fuss and without worrying about the club talking to other potential gaffers.

    Worst run club of the year

    What a competition we had for this award. Kettering Town went close, Portsmouth have become perennial contenders, but our winners go that bit further because they go against an entire nation's stereotypical reputation for efficiency: Neuchatel Xamax. Run by a egomaniac gangster who seems to want to rival Palermo's prolific Maurizio Zamparini in terms of sacking coaches.

    The 'shouldn't this have been sorted months ago' award

    Strong competition for this, especially over the English FA's lengthy deliberations over a pair of racism charges and the Luis Suárez bird-flip at Fulham, but the case of FC Sion dragged on past christmas before a final resolution. That resolution was the Swiss FA docking the club 36 league points for their use of ineligible players - players signed during a transfer ban. Had the Swiss FA not acted, FC Basel's tremendous run to the knockout stages of the Champions League was under threat. Nobody has come out of this well. It could and should have been apparent before the Europa League qualifiers and dealt with then. Sion's recourse to as many courts as possible looks costly and wasteful and now they're about to be relegated, 16 points adrift at the bottom of the league on a QI-esque score of -5.

    Teaboy of the year

    Paul Dickov, handing out refreshment on a freezing Oldham afternoon - one chap had to be taken to hospital with hypothermia - as Latics fans queued for tickets for the big FA Cup tie at Anfield.

    The 'you didn't want to do that' award

    The lad that got booted by Esteban Alvarado at the Amsterdam ArenA. Sore bollocks and a six-month sentence. And while Bas Nijhuis was probably correct to send Alvarado off, the red card has been rescinded. Common sense reins at the KNVB.

    Dick-swingers of the year

    Strong showings here by Barcelona, Chelsea, even Liverpool. New boys PSG and Anzhi Makhachkala rose to the task, but in posting a £195m loss for the year, it's a retention of the title by transfer-market distorters extraordinaire, Manchester City.

    Man Of The Year

    Well it should probably be someone who has given us huge amounts of pleasure like Lionel Messi, Dimitar Berbatov, Bryan Ruiz or Esteban Alvarado. Instead, we'll take the cynics route out and say Sepp Blatter. A Machiavellian delight, he survives by smearing all potential opposition as corrupt while continuing a cosy arrangement over World Cup rights sales through his nephew's company. Which is quite an impressive trick to pull off when you think about it.

    Here's hoping for more strong contenders in these categories in 2012.
    Best wishes to all (both) our readers and keep it here for the best in football nonsense.

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