The fan - Hunter Davies rounds up the football season
Mourinho shows that even rubbish players can get respect as managers
That's it then, almost. Another season drawing to a close. Another load of memories and images, highlights 'n' lowlights, talking points and tunnel incidents to be carefully stashed away and, well, lost. Now, was it last season or the season before that Arsenal went all season without, er, something or other? No, I tell a lie. It was in 1889. And Preston North End, the Invincibles. I can see them now. Ted Drake was the manager, Fatty Foulke was in goal and Brian Glanville was in short trousers, still to say his first word, which was, of course, catennacio. So, better round up this season, before it all goes yellow in the mind.
Most successful team of the season. Chelsea, obviously.
Most attractive team of the season. On form, in spells, Arsenal were more entertaining, exciting, creative. Too often Chelsea were holding on to 1-0. In that deciding game against Bolton, they were 1-0 up with 25 minutes to go when they took off their main striker, Didier Drogba, and put on that lump, Robert Huth. They were desperate to keep their fragile lead. I don't call that attractive. It's pragmatism. The London-based football hacks now love Chelsea, going on about the magic of Damien Duff and Arjen Robben, yet they contributed so little to the season. Duff is Darren Huckerby with O-levels. Down goes his head, knows not where he's going to.
Manager of season. Jose Mourinho. Obviously. No competition there. He's done it with will-power, cunning, personality, not just the money. He's provided brilliant copy and also finally laid to rest that old football dressing-room cliche - "Show us your medals." Players will give managers respect even if they had rubbish or non-existent playing careers.
Team what has done bloody well. Wigan Athletic. I love it that they didn't get into the Football League 'til 1978 - and yet have progressed through all the divisions. Yes, they have a sugar daddy, but a modest one compared with Roman Abramovich. There's no chance ever again of any team, like Carlisle United did in 1974, rising from the bottom division to the very top without a mega-moneybags in sight.
Tune of the season. I do like Charlton trotting out to the strains of "The red, red robin goes bob, bob, bobbin'". Makes me smile. Everton's "Z Cars", that brings a warm glow as well, and Spurs's "MacNamara's Band". Oh, what a sentimental old fool. On the other hand, if I hear those inane Man United fans singing "Oooh, ahh, Cantona" once again, I'll puke.
Nice image of the season. Several groups of Norwich City fans, old and young, men and women, taking photos of themselves standing outside Arsenal's Highbury stadium. "You'll never play here again," some uncouth Arsenal yobs immediately started singing. I don't think it was just that. I like to imagine they were capturing a bit of football history, knowing Highbury, the stadium, will soon be no more.
Sad image of the season. Callum Davidson, veteran defender, now with Preston, who has had terrible injuries. He came off in the game against Wigan with a damaged calf. Later, we caught the briefest glimpse of him on the bench, ice pack on his leg, but it was long enough to see he was bent over, his head in both hands. "Is that it?" I could feel him thinking. Poor lad.
Commentator of the season. Big Ron has not returned, not to my living room, but Chris Kamara is creating a distinctive style for himself. In moments of excitement, he speaks not in tongues, like Big Ron, but dialogue. For example, instead of telling us, in the third person, that a player is arguing with a ref over a free-kick, he will suddenly go into the first person, imagining what each is saying. "Oi, ref, this is far enough back, innit?" "No, it's not! I'm in charge, I know what I'm doing . . ."
Missing person. James Beattie? Did he go to Everton? Or space?
Phrase of the season. "Little bit of afters". A mild understatement meaning that a player has tried to kill another player.
Haircut of the season. Not awarded. Beckham has had other things on his mind. Right, see you next season . . .