Hello and welcome to our highly-dubious end-of-season awards show! We’re going to take a stab at guessing who will win the awards, who should win, and we’ll toss in a spoiler who might upset the apple cart. It’ll be just like Academy Awards predictions except with less glamour! (Note: Make that “no glamour whatsoever)
The “should win” for each category will be determined by the player ratings on WhoScored.com. That’s not to say that we necessarily agree with their rating, but we wanted an objective third-party to handle that part. The “will win” and “wilcard” selections are entirely ours.
Kevin De Bruyne was the best player in the Premier League last year. That’s both the subjective opinion of pretty much everyone who watches football as well as what the numbers say. His 8.0 rating on WhoScored was a full half point higher than anyone else’s.
That said, Liverpool had a historic season that saw them essentially wrap up the title by Valentine’s day. Sadio Mane was head and shoulders above his teammates and he was the player who so often won them the full three points when they were in doubt.
Jordan Henderson is a strange choice here, but there’s been no small amount of banter suggesting he should win the award. He’s not the best player in the league. He’s not the best midfielder. He’s not in the top 5 on his club, but he’s a fan favorite and the club captain, so he could wind up winning the equivalent of a lifetime achievement award.
Adama was the 3rd best player in league and he just qualifies for the Young Player of the Year award, having been 23 at the start of the 2019/20 campaign. The scary thing about him is that he’s still very much a work in progress and he’s already this good.
Rashford blossomed this year for United, fulfilling his considerable potential and looking like a force to be reckoned with for a long, long time. As per the number, he’s not quite the best 23 and under player, and he’s just off being one of the top two strikers, but he’s very close in both cases. If he doesn’t win anything this year, his time will come soon enough.
Grealish is the hype choice, especially as he will likely be the subject of a big-money move this summer. He’s a top-20 player in the league, so even if he’s not the best choice, he’d be a solid one.
Manager of the Year:
Should Win: Jurgen Klopp - Liverpool
Will Win: Jurgen Klopp - Liverpool
Wildcard: Chris Wilder - Sheffield United
What a great year for managers! Brendan Rodgers guided Leicester to a 5th place finish after losing Harry Maguire and he’s not even a serious candidate. The same can be said of Nuno Espirito Santo, who proved Wolves weren’t a one-season wonder and kept his squad in contention for Europe in spite of their taxing Europa League schedule.
The most-overachieving side’s manager often wins this award, and if that were the case, Chris Wilder would win easily. Sheffield United were picked by the majority of pundits to go straight down to the Championship, but they didn’t just survive, the finished in the top half of the table and gave the big clubs a run for their money.
But, in the end, it has to be Klopp, doesn’t it? Liverpool, the figurative and semi-literal Boston Red Sox of the Premier League, ended their championship drought in swaggering style. He’ll win the award, and he deserves to.
TEAM OF THE SEASON (4-4-2 the way football is meant to be played):
Should Win: Bernd Leno - Arsenal
Will Win: Alisson - Liverpool
Wildcard: Dean Henderson - Sheffield United
Goalkeeper stats are...not especially reliable. WhoScored thinks Leno was the best and I won’t argue, but I won’t spend a lot of time defending the selection either. Alisson played for the top team in the league and the team with the best defensive record. He’ll win. Henderson was, to my eye, the best keeper we played against but unless there’s sentiment for making sure one Blades player is on the team, there’s little chance he’ll win.
Should Win: Ricardo Pereira - Leicester City
Will Win: Trent Alexander-Arnold - Liverpool
Wildcard: Aaron Wan-Bissaka - Manchester United
The stats say that Ricardo is the best right back in all the top European Leagues and the #2 player in England. He’s the best at winning the ball back and he’s a force going forward. He deserves the ranking, but he won’t win. Alexander-Arnold isn’t anywhere near the defender the Leicester man is, but his crossing, his free kicks, and his Liverpool-ness will ensure his selection and, in fairness, he’s not that far behind Ricardo. Wan-Bissaka is the opposite proposition in that he struggles in the attacking third but he’s a menace at the back.
Should Win: Virgil van Dijk - Liverpool
Will Win: Virgil van Dijk - Liverpool
Wildcard: Çaglar Söyüncü - Leicester City
Virgil is the best center-half there is. He’s going to win the award, and he should. There’s not much else to say about him. Slabchin deserves consideration for stepping in and taking over for Harry Maguire and not missing a beat, but unless the award goes to the defender who successfully performed the most Cruyff turns, he’s not going to win it.
Should Win: James Tarkowski - Burnley
Will Win: Harry Maguire - Manchester United
Wildcard: Willy Boly - Wolverhampton Wanderers
Tarkowski is the very picture of the old-school, non-nonsense center-half who does everything within his considerable abilities to ensure that no ball goes into the back of his team’s net. If Virgil is a Rolls Royce, Tarko is Ford F-350 truck (that’s a very solid vehicle for those of you who live outside the American south). But, Maguire captained Man U back to the Champions League and was quite solid over the course of the season. It’d be an upset if he didn’t win. Boly was magnificent anchoring the Wolves defense, but like Söyüncü, he’s just too far back in the line to have much chance of winning.
Should Win: Lucas Digne - Everton
Will Win: Andy Robertson - Liverpool
Wildcard: Ben Chilwell - Leicester City
I’m thrilled that Digne was the statistical choice because I absolutely love watching him play and hate playing against him. He is everything a modern fullback should be and just so smooth. Robertson, on the other hand, is the opposite of smooth but he has the engine to run around like a madman for 90+ minutes every week and absolutely wreak havoc. Chilly had a fine season for the Foxes and rumors of a move to Chelsea may help his reputation, but he’s not going to win this one.
Should Win: Adama Traore - Wolverhampton Wanderers
Will Win: Raheem Sterling - Manchester City
Wildcard: Riyad Mahrez - Manchester City
As mentioned before, Adama is the third-highest rated player in the Premier League and he’s a true right wing, so he’d be an ideal choice here. But, Raheem Sterling reached the 20 goal mark and, while he doesn’t actually play on the right, I had to list him somewhere because he’s going to be in the team. Mahrez is actually the next player on the overall list after Adama, but he only started 21 matches for City and is a long-shot for this spot.
Should Win: Kevin De Bruyne - Manchester City
Will Win: Kevin De Bruyne - Manchester City
Wildcard: David Silva - Manchester City
KDB is the best. 13 goals and 20 assists only tell part of the story, but they tell enough of it to ensure he gets this spot. Silva had a fine season and, as it was his last in England, he may get some support, but it won’t be enough to displace his teammate.
Should Win: James Maddison - Leicester City
Will Win: Jordan Henderson - Liverpool
Wildcard: Bruno Fernandes - Manchester United
It didn’t seem like Madders was quite as good as last year, but while he didn’t score as many goals, his overall game improved mightily. That said, Henderson will be in the team. He had a good season and was one of top 50 players in the league, but he’ll be in the side for his role as Liverpool’s captain. Fernandes shouldn’t really be in contention for this award since he played less than half a season, but his impact on United was undeniable and stranger things have happened (see: Palmeiro, Rafael and the Gold Glove).
Should Win: Sadio Mane - Liverpool
Will Win: Sadio Mane - Liverpool
Wildcard: James Maddison - Leicester City
Sadio Mane was the best team’s best player. Even if he doesn’t win Player of the Year, he’ll be in the team of the season and deservedly so. Brendan Rodgers thinks that Maddison is a natural left winger so I listed him here as a wild card, but this is Mane’s award.
Should Win: Anthony Martial - Manchester United
Will Win: Jamie Vardy - Leicester City
Wildcard: Raul - Wolverhampton Wanderers
Martial had one of those sneaky-good seasons where he’d drift in and out of games but pop up with huge goals at important times. However, it would be an upset if the Golden Boot winner didn’t make the team of the season, so Vardy will get the nod. Raul carried Wolves at times this year and would make a worthy choice, but he’s probably not going to get quite enough support.
Should Win: Harry Kane - Tottenham Hotspur
Will Win: Mo Salah - Liverpool
Wildcard: Marcus Rashford - Manchester United
Leicester’s makeshift defense had a huge impact on the final rankings, as neither Martial nor Kane were at the top of the list through 36 matches. Kane is so consistent it’s easy to take it for granted when he scores 20 goals yet again, but give the man his due: He’s one of the all-time greats. That said, while Mane was Liverpool’s best player, Salah is still their talisman and he’ll win take the award in what I expect to be close voting. Rashford is just off the pace statistically, but his importance to United and his role in their great finish may get him in the team.
So, what do you think? Let us know who you think will win, or deserves to win, or just who you want to talk about in the comments.