Each and every English Premier League season brings with it many twists and turns, and 2013-14 was no different. The manager with the most pressure upon him before he even took his latest gig, David Moyes, didn’t make it through the end of the campaign. One club pressed the proverbial “reset button” for the umpteenth time. Two franchises that have barely managed to hang in the top flight of English football for years were mercifully dropped into the division where they have, for years, belonged.
Needless to say, it was a busy and a long season.
Money once again bought happiness in sports, as Manchester City went on a tremendous end-of-season run to win the league. The question now has to be asked: Is Financial Fair Play going to change world football, or will it remain nothing more than a myth that is filled with empty threats?
Here are our choices for the 2013-2014 English Premier League Season Awards:
Player of the Year: Luis Suarez
The roller coaster ride Suarez has been on since May of 2013 has been fascinating, undeniably one of the more intriguing stories in all of professional sports. Suarez was, one year ago, perceived to be a racist who also happened to bite an opposing player during a match. That particular crime cost the Uruguayan ten contests, a ban that continued through the start of this past season.
There were some who believed at the time that Suarez should never again take the pitch as a Premier League player.
Suarez has since completed a magnificent transformation. He buried 31 goals in 33 league matches, turning into the top striker in the world – yes, in the world – in the process. He was, in December, deemed to be worthy of wearing the Liverpool captain’s armband.
Yaya Toure had an incredible season. City would have, at the very least, still made it into the Champions League without him. The same cannot be said about Liverpool, who are “back” thanks largely to Suarez.
Do whatever you must to keep him, ‘Pool, because selling your best players is not the way to win a title. Speaking of…
Biggest Disappointment: Tottenham Hotspur
While Suarez thrived in what was to be his most important year as a professional footballer, Spurs crumbled under the pressure before crumbling under the pressure. The questionable transfer methods used by Real Madrid aside, Tottenham chairman Daniel Levy and Spurs technical director Franco Baldini had no clear plan for replacing Gareth Bale, bringing in seven players and leaving then coach Andre Villas-Boas with a bunch of pieces from all sorts of puzzles.
Needless to say, the club spiraled into chaos. Front man Roberto Soldado was an absolute flop. Erik Lamela has become a meme. Tottenham may have been nothing more than a pit-stop for Paulinho. Christian Eriksen was certainly a hit (and at a bargain price, no less), but there are already rumors out there that multiple Champions League clubs could be in for him this coming summer.
AVB and Tim Sherwood after him were both dismissed from their duties. Spurs, having been relegated to Europa League play for the third straight season, are once again starting over in an offseason. The song remains the same at White Hart Lane.
Manager of the Year: Tony Pulis
The comparisons of Pulis to Liverpool boss Brendan Rodgers are absolutely ridiculous. Rodgers deserves all of the praise he has received for helping turn Liverpool into a side that could compete for the league title up through the final day of the season, and he has them back in the top club competition on the planet. Rodgers also had, in Suarez, one of the best players on Earth in his weekly teams.
You can’t say the same for Pulis. Pulis took over a Crystal Palace that was seemingly headed for the bottom of the table (and also relegation), and he turned it into a middle-of-the-road club. Palace ended the season at 45 points and 11th overall in the league, just six points off of what could have been a ninth-place finish.
Just as noteworthy as Palace rising to the middle of the table was what the club achieved on May 5. They rallied back from three goals down at home versus Liverpool, ultimately earning a point and crushing Liverpool’s title aspirations.
The days of Pulis being responsible for boring football while at Stoke City are now memories; at least they are for now.
Goalkeeper of the Year: Artur Boruc
Stats often lie in professional sports. Tottenham ‘keeper Hugo Lloris is, talent-wise, the best in the business in the Premier League and quite possibly on Earth, and that he was routinely betrayed by his back line throughout the campaign is downright criminal (best of luck on that Barcelona dream after your latest season, Jan Vertonghen).
You cannot, however, ignore the numbers when handing this honor to Boruc.
Boruc held 14 clean sheets, good for fourth-best in the league. The three goalkeepers who had more shutouts all feature for clubs who will be playing in European competitions next season, and two of those sides will be in the Champions League. Only Petr Cech of Chelsea had a better goals against average. That he managed to return to action with such form following his suffering a broken hand makes the Boruc story one that is even better.
It should also be pointed out Boruc did not have the likes of Gary Cahill and John Terry playing in front of him on match days.
Young Player of the Year: Daniel Sturridge
One could easily give this award to Eden Hazard of Chelsea. Hazard is a brilliant play-maker on the ball, and that manager Jose Mourinho would even consider selling him for any price at this stage of Hazard’s career is madness. He could have used a bit more help from his forwards, though, and that above anything else is why Sturridge gets the award in place of Hazard.
While Suarez rightfully so earned headlines for all that he achieved in 2013-14, Sturridge himself had a banner year. He netted 21 tallies and assisted on seven, and he accumulated those stats despite the fact that he missed nine matches. If Sturridge ever learns to dodge the injury bug, he could develop into a special player.
Goal of the Season: Fulham’s Pajtim Kasami at Crystal Palace, October 2013
There were no fewer than five real candidates for this award. Both Wayne Rooney and the previously mentioned Suarez buried incredible goals from distance. Jack Wilshere completed what was a sparkling team-tally for Arsenal against Norwich City.
Kasami’s highlight-reel hit was an all-around beauty for multiple reasons. The sequence began with Sascha Riether dropping an over-the-top ball on a dime for Kasami, who was in the right corner of the penalty area. Kasami teed himself up by chesting the ball into position before unleashing a right-footed volley that sailed into the far corner of the net.
An impossible angle. A spot-on pass. The perfect strike. Enjoy it again and again so long as the Internet gods allow you to do so.