The award for worst sox goes to Villa's Jack Grealish (R). Photo: Clive Mason/Getty Images
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Worst sox, duelling aeroplanes and the pull of the affluent south: it’s the year in football again

Next season, I hope for the return of gigantic sideboards, like what George Best and Malcolm Macdonald used to have.

It’s that time of the year when it’s that time of the year, so here goes . . .

Hats off for Chelsea
But come on, if they’re so brilliant, running away with the League, what does that say about the League? And most of all what does it say about the performance of Chelsea when it mattered, ie, in Europe? They were useless against a moderate PSG team who played most of the game with a man down. The rest of England’s so-called Premier giants were equally feckless and got knocked out early doors. Shame on them.

England in the World Cup
Yes, I know that was last summer, but I’m still in mourning.

Best fun
So let’s all cheer ourselves up again by remembering Dave the Aston Villa supporter telling us that his team was, er, now I do know this, no don’t remind me, yes, West Ham. Best laugh of the season.

Most Worrying Trend
The haves and have-nots in English football are now reflecting real life in England. It’s not just the foreign money that has put Chelsea and Arsenal where they are but their geographical position. Bournemouth and Watford coming up is another sign of the affluent southern influence – historically small clubs that are now benefiting through the pull of the south.

Poor old Newcastle and Sunderland, old megaclubs with massive crowds, can no longer attract decent players or managers. Who wants to go there? Not any foreign players who have a choice. Or their wives. They look at the map, never having heard of Newcastle or Sunderland, or Bournemouth and Watford, but notice that the latter are near London. They’re only passing through for a few years, so being near London is a huge attraction. Bugger the north. Sad.

Best Quote from a Manager
“Listen, lads, basically you’re shit. Try and enjoy the game. You’re probably going to get beaten. But just enjoy being shit” – Roy Keane at Sunderland, remembered by Danny Higginbotham in his memoirs.

Best Quote from a Hack
Barney Ronay in the Observer on Man United’s Falcao: “Performing a well-groomed variation on the basic idea of standing around quite close to some other people playing football.”

Best Quote from a Commentator
John Motson has been allowed a few of the more boring Match of the Day games this season, the 0-0 ones kept to the end, but he’s been on sparkling form. “It’s gone for a throw-in!!! No, it’s stayed in play!!!!! Goodness me . . .”

Fave Player
Chelsea’s Eden Hazard won the Player of the Year award but I preferred watching Sánchez of Arsenal – always in the game, always energetic and hopeful, running his little heart out. Even though I always want both Chelsea and Arsenal to lose.

Worst Sox
Jack Grealish of Aston Villa has had a fine season, coming good in the second half despite wearing his socks at half-mast. I bet coaches have been screaming at him all his life. Pull your bloody socks up, it’s bloody dangerous, we don’t play football that way. He reminds me of Just William, so I always smile when I see him.

Harry Kane
Was the Young Footballer of the Year, one of our own, so hurrah for Harry. But at the end he faded, just as Eriksen did. Hard luck for them being in such a mediocre team.

Plane-spotting at Liverpool
Their own fans hired a plane, which pulled a banner saying “Rodgers Out Rafa In”, while at Newcastle rival supporters, from Sunderland, had a plane pulling a banner mocking the Magpies.

We’ll soon have a game where both home and away supporters have hired a plane with a suitably rude banner. It could end in a dogfight over the pitch, planes looping the loop, dive-bombing, trying to damage the rival – just like the Luftwaffe did during the war, creating a cunning knife-edge on the tip of their wings which cut the cables on our barrage balloons. Could prove a better spectacle than watching the game down on the pitch.

Best Play
[Scene one] Van Gaal arrives, breath of fresh air, saviour of Man United, what a record, just look at what he’s done. [Scene two] What a mistake, doesn’t know what he’s doing, nor does anyone else, so arrogant, with his awful red face. [Scene three] Our saviour, why did we not trust him, he does have a plan and goodness, he’s handsome. [Scene four] Er, the jury is out.

Really Handsome Manager
Eddie Howe of Bournemouth, so young, so handsome, so yummy – and English. How often do those four things happen all at once?

Best Hair
No awards this season, so disappointing, why can’t someone do something really stupid? Next season, I hope for the return of gigantic sideboards, like what George Best and Malcolm Macdonald used to have.

Surprise of the Season
Seeing Emile Heskey still alive and playing for Bolton. Could have sworn he was in a home.

Delight of the Season
Carlisle United surviving in League Two. For another season, anyway.

What we’ve learned this season That Queen of the South is the only football team mentioned in the Bible. (“The Queen of the South shall rise up . . .” Matthew 12:42.)

Adverts Burnley has graced the Premiership with a large advert that says “CWR Scaffolds – For the Perfect Erection”. They will be missed.

Next Season
Will Bale return? Tragic, his loss of confidence and form. Will we even notice if he does?

Meanwhile, I’m off to Loweswater for the summer. Back in September.

Hunter Davies is a journalist, broadcaster and profilic author perhaps best known for writing about the Beatles. He is an ardent Tottenham fan and writes a regular column on football for the New Statesman.

This article first appeared in the 14 May 2015 issue of the New Statesman, The Tory triumph

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Donald Tusk is merely calling out Tory hypocrisy on Brexit

And the President of the European Council has the upper hand. 

The pair of numbers that have driven the discussion about our future relationship with the EU since the referendum have been 48 to 52. 

"The majority have spoken", cry the Leavers. "It’s time to tell the EU what we want and get out." However, even as they push for triggering the process early next year, the President of the European Council Donald Tusk’s reply to a letter from Tory MPs, where he blamed British voters for the uncertain futures of expats, is a long overdue reminder that another pair of numbers will, from now on, dominate proceedings.

27 to 1.

For all the media speculation around Brexit in the past few months, over what kind of deal the government will decide to be seek from any future relationship, it is incredible just how little time and thought has been given to the fact that once Article 50 is triggered, we will effectively be negotiating with 27 other partners, not just one.

Of course some countries hold more sway than others, due to their relative economic strength and population, but one of the great equalising achievements of the EU is that all of its member states have a voice. We need look no further than the last minute objections from just one federal entity within Belgium last month over CETA, the huge EU-Canada trade deal, to be reminded how difficult and important it is to build consensus.

Yet the Tories are failing spectacularly to understand this.

During his short trip to Strasbourg last week, David Davis at best ignored, and at worse angered, many of the people he will have to get on-side to secure a deal. Although he did meet Michel Barnier, the senior negotiator for the European Commission, and Guy Verhofstadt, the European Parliament’s representative at the future talks, he did not meet any representatives from the key Socialist Group in the European Parliament, nor the Parliament’s President, nor the Chair of its Constitutional Committee which will advise the Parliament on whether to ratify any future Brexit deal.

In parallel, Boris Johnson, to nobody’s surprise any more, continues to blunder from one debacle to the next, the most recent of which was to insult the Italians with glib remarks about prosecco sales.

On his side, Liam Fox caused astonishment by claiming that the EU would have to pay compensation to third countries across the world with which it has trade deals, to compensate them for Britain no longer being part of the EU with which they had signed their agreements!

And now, Theresa May has been embarrassingly rebuffed in her clumsy attempt to strike an early deal directly with Angela Merkel over the future residential status of EU citizens living and working in Britain and UK citizens in Europe. 

When May was campaigning to be Conservative party leader and thus PM, to appeal to the anti-european Tories, she argued that the future status of EU citizens would have to be part of the ongoing negotiations with the EU. Why then, four months later, are Tory MPs so quick to complain and call foul when Merkel and Tusk take the same position as May held in July? 

Because Theresa May has reversed her position. Our EU partners’ position remains the same - no negotiations before Article 50 is triggered and Britain sets out its stall. Merkel has said she can’t and won’t strike a pre-emptive deal.  In any case, she cannot make agreements on behalf of France,Netherlands and Austria, all of who have their own imminent elections to consider, let alone any other EU member. 

The hypocrisy of Tory MPs calling on the European Commission and national governments to end "the anxiety and uncertainty for UK and EU citizens living in one another's territories", while at the same time having caused and fuelled that same anxiety and uncertainty, has been called out by Tusk. 

With such an astounding level of Tory hypocrisy, incompetence and inconsistency, is it any wonder that our future negotiating partners are rapidly losing any residual goodwill towards the UK?

It is beholden on Theresa May’s government to start showing some awareness of the scale of the enormous task ahead, if the UK is to have any hope of striking a Brexit deal that is anything less than disastrous for Britain. The way they are handling this relatively simple issue does not augur well for the far more complex issues, involving difficult choices for Britain, that are looming on the horizon.

Richard Corbett is the Labour MEP for Yorkshire & Humber.