Half-Wit of the Season: Which player, referee, club or manager takes the coveted prize?
Alas, the English football season is over. But it hasn’t gone by without incident. Players have been sent off, referees have been ridiculed, managers have been sacked and clubs have gone through crisis. In this article, I’ll be handing out Half-Wit of the Season awards in those four categories, as well as crowning an overall winner, including documenting who has featured the most in the Half-Wit of the Week shortlists since this column began.
Half-Witted Player of the Season
In terms of appearing most frequently in the shortlist over the season, the likes of Wayne Rooney, Dele Alli, Miguel Britos and Troy Deeney have each featured twice. After diving against Liverpool, a rather explicit video of Alli was shared on social media for the world to see while Deeney missed a penalty against a team that he said lacked ‘cojones’. Rooney’s Everton career looks to be coming to an end this summer and it included being charged for drink driving and almost ruining his marriage, so the former United skipper had to feature. Britos was prone to a rash challenge, flinging himself into Anthony Knockaert sticks in the memory.
Tiemoue Bakayoko also deserves a mention due to his horrendous first season in England having spent most of the year lumbering about and giving the ball away. However, despite the consistency of these four players, another four players deserve this award for what they did on a mid-season training camp. West Brom, desperate to escape their inevitable downward spiral, went to Barcelona for some winter training but came back a national disgrace after four of their senior players stole a taxi on a night out. Club captain Jonny Evans, Premier League record appearance maker Gareth Barry, England International Jake Livermore and long-serving goalkeeper Boaz Myhill ousted themselves as the culprits and each were heavily sanctioned for their roles in the ordeal.
Half-Witted Referee of the Season
Being the Premier League, there are no shortage of contenders for this prestigious prize. Jon Moss gets his fair share of abuse and has featured once in a shortlist this season but three contenders stand out above the rest. Firstly, on three shortlist appearances, we have Lee Mason. Mason seems to be one of the most incompetent officials around and you wonder how he’d get a game in League 2 let alone the Premier League. Just a couple of weeks ago, he allowed Willian to come within milliseconds of taking a corner for Chelsea before blowing for half-time during the Brazilian’s run-up.
Another referee on three appearances is Mike Dean. The ultimate showman of Premier League officiating. A very debatable handball call against Arsenal on New Year’s Eve placed him at the top of Twitter’s UK trends ahead of ‘Happy New Year’ while missing Marcos Alonso’s obvious stamp on Shane Long another personal highlight. However, if you ask most football fans that watch their team play live, most of them will mention Bobby Madley’s name if they were asked this very question. In fact, Madley has featured four times in shortlists this season and continues to ruin every game he’s ever in charge of. Getting annoyed after repeatedly having to apologise to Newcastle players after missing a handball tells you all you need to know about this year’s Half-Witted Referee of the Season.
Half-Witted Club of the Season
Arsenal and West Ham come to mind in this department after both had fan revolt during the season. West Ham’s inability to settle into the London Stadium culminated in a pitch invasion from several supporters during their home defeat by Burnley. Meanwhile, in North London, Arsenal struggled to fill the Emirates even halfway after fans became disenchanted with the team’s poor performances with the Gunners finishing in their lowest ever Premier League position, constantly being chased by Burnley for 6th.
But, one club whose downfall has been as rapid as it was expected is Chelsea. Despite winning the FA Cup in the most boring final in the competition’s history, Antonio Conte’s team have slipped from dominant champions to a 5th-place finish, ending up 5 points off the Champions League places. Since the opening-day defeat against Burnley, Conte’s position as manager has come under intense scrutiny while the signings have proved to be not up to replacing the likes of Diego Costa and Nemanja Matic. Heavy defeats against Bournemouth and Watford were compounded by miserably tepid performances away to the two Manchester clubs and a home defeat to Tottenham. But hey, at least they’ve got a trophy eh Spurs?
Half-Witted Manager of the Season
Right then, the one you’ve all been waiting for. The Premier League has seen several sub-standard managers take to the dugout over the past nine months, from Frank De Boer to Paul Lambert. In terms of consistency, Mark Hughes takes the prize for the most shortlist appearances with a whopping five, followed by Arsene Wenger and Jurgen Klopp interestingly. In fact, Alan Pardew comes in with just the one appearance (I guess I had to leave him out most weeks for the sake of change), behind Pep Guardiola! Pardew has been instrumental in West Brom’s shortfall in the league this season, winning just one of his 18 matches in charge. Not only that but he led one of the least successful mid-season training camps of all time in Barcelona where four of his most trusted playing staff found themselves on the wrong side of the law.
Jose Mourinho has failed to keep up with Guardiola and has bored some United fans even more than Louis Van Gaal did while Antonio Conte seemed to give up on Chelsea’s title defence after the first few games. At the other end of the table, Ronald Koeman and David Unsworth left Everton in a mess while Mauricio Pellegrino almost took Southampton from 8th to the Championship. If the Saints had gone down under Mark Hughes then he would’ve certainly claimed this award but it has to go to Alan Pardew, I don’t think he’ll be getting a job offer anytime soon.
Half-Wit of the Season
Outside of these categories we’ve got contenders in the shape of Jamie Carragher, for spitting over a teenage girl, Leeds in the Championship tried to unveil one of the worst badge changes of all time and the Irish Herald mistook a picture of Stormzy for Romelu Lukaku. But, since this site practically lives off the actions of Alan Pardew, he is the fully deserved winner of Half-Wit of the Season.