New Times,
New Thinking.

  1. Culture
  2. Sport
22 May 2024

A dramatic Premier League finish – plus Postecoglou, pin-ups, and a distinguished pigtail

Man City win again, but at least I can produce a shock in my end-of-season awards.

By Hunter Davies

Another season, another reason, for not making whoopee. So let’s begin with the Biggest Disappointment. Hard to believe that just a few months ago this was the season in which Europe and the world would finally acknowledge that the Prem is the best league ever, that our players and teams are totally fab. The back pages were salivating. Sky was orgasmic. Every football fan was aglow. We are going to stuff the rest of Europe and win everything.

Then what happened? Nothing. Not one of our three so-called world-beating sides – Man City, Arsenal and Liverpool – even managed to get into the last four in Europe. What went wrong? Did we all delude ourselves? You tell me. You’re clever.

Smaller Disappointment. All Spurs fans told themselves that Ange was the saviour: at last, a manager who was an ordinary bloke, sensible and down to Earth, loved and admired, who would make Spurs great again and finally kill off the dreaded “Spursy” tag. This was the smear used by Arsenal fans to describe how Spurs will always be flaky: just when things appear to be going well, they revert to type. Which basically means shite.

Ah well, let’s get on to important matters.

Team of the year. It must be Man City, four Prem titles in a row, so well done them and hard cheese Arsenal. Man City gave us a fab end to a tight season with a great last game. The God of Football is good, sometimes, not letting us know till the very last day who will win the Premier League.

Select and enter your email address Your weekly guide to the best writing on ideas, politics, books and culture every Saturday. The best way to sign up for The Saturday Read is via The New Statesman's quick and essential guide to the news and politics of the day. The best way to sign up for Morning Call is via
  • Administration / Office
  • Arts and Culture
  • Board Member
  • Business / Corporate Services
  • Client / Customer Services
  • Communications
  • Construction, Works, Engineering
  • Education, Curriculum and Teaching
  • Environment, Conservation and NRM
  • Facility / Grounds Management and Maintenance
  • Finance Management
  • Health - Medical and Nursing Management
  • HR, Training and Organisational Development
  • Information and Communications Technology
  • Information Services, Statistics, Records, Archives
  • Infrastructure Management - Transport, Utilities
  • Legal Officers and Practitioners
  • Librarians and Library Management
  • Management
  • Marketing
  • OH&S, Risk Management
  • Operations Management
  • Planning, Policy, Strategy
  • Printing, Design, Publishing, Web
  • Projects, Programs and Advisors
  • Property, Assets and Fleet Management
  • Public Relations and Media
  • Purchasing and Procurement
  • Quality Management
  • Science and Technical Research and Development
  • Security and Law Enforcement
  • Service Delivery
  • Sport and Recreation
  • Travel, Accommodation, Tourism
  • Wellbeing, Community / Social Services
Visit our privacy Policy for more information about our services, how Progressive Media Investments may use, process and share your personal data, including information on your rights in respect of your personal data and how you can unsubscribe from future marketing communications.

Players of the Year. Declan Rice was the back-page pin-up for most of the season, justifying his huge fee and transforming Arsenal, who fell away so badly last year. Cole Palmer of Chelsea has been great to watch, confirming his promise, but Phil Foden of Man City has to be Player of the Year with his educated left foot, brilliant in the last game. Foden and Palmer are so thin and skinny, as if still at primary school, compared with the monster Haaland.

Mystery of the Season. What is Discovery? It was bad enough when BT Sport suddenly became TNT; now they are trying to get us to sign up to Discovery+, whatever that is.

Sky’s Graphics. So annoying, shoving dopey graphics on the screen telling us stuff we didn’t ask for… such as teams that score the first goal and lose, teams without a Brazilian, teams that were sick on the coach. Just as bad as Apple constantly updating or VAR taking over our lives – they do it because they have the technology. I suppose it keeps statisticians in work and out of the pub.

Commentators’ clichés. Don’t you love ’em? “Lots of red shirts in the box” – makes me think it’s washing day. “Arsenal have an extra body in midfield” – oh no, it’s a murder mystery. “Liverpool’s subs are now stripping off” – ooh, Ivy…

Haircut of the Year. Since 1996, the Fan has awarded this prestigious honour each season. You must remember Mohicans crawling round the back, crazy razor-cuts down the side. It’s been a bit boring this year on the pitch. Or have the young stars got more sense, like Foden and Palmer, keeping the haircuts their mums gave them? Even Grealish has calmed down his crop.

So let’s give the award to someone who really deserves it, who has made an effort to have something new on top. Not a player, but a mad, dopey, craven, lumpen, slumpen, couch-potato football fan. Yes, I am thinking of… MOI. I have acquired a pigtail. Just a little one. It does give my grandchildren a laugh. I find it is so useful when moaning at Spurs to distract myself by twiddling it, checking the elastic band has not slipped.

Hurrah. We do have some real fun to look forward to this summer, perhaps even excitements and triumphs – the Euros. We will have 24 teams playing 51 games, all live on BBC or ITV. It kicks off on 14 June with Scotland against the hosts, Germany. Obviously, Scotland will stuff Germany and go on to beat England in the final on 14 July. You read it here first. And last…

[See also: At its midpoint, this season is shaping up to be one of football’s oddest]

Content from our partners
Peatlands are nature's unsung climate warriors
How the apprenticeship levy helps small businesses to transform their workforce
How to reform the apprenticeship levy

Topics in this article : ,

This article appears in the 22 May 2024 issue of the New Statesman, Spring Special 2024