The CUAS Review of 2006
Well. Where shall we start? Perchance a mixture of the sublime and the ridiculous?
Team of the Year
Buffon, Sagnol, Lahm, Cannavaro, Thuram, Figo, Ribery, Gattuso, Zidane, Klose, Torres.
OK, so not strictly permitted, but hey. They're my rules.
Person Least Likely To Send Ben Thatcher A Christmas Card
Pedro Mendes. Oh come on, you must remember this.
Image of 2006
The Coldest I Have Ever Been At A Football Match Ever
Best Goal Scored In Training Perhaps Not This Year But Still Deserves Some Admiration
Paolo di Canio. You can see an unbelievable volleyed rabona here.
Roll Call - 2006
Premiership - Chelsea
Championship - Reading
League One - Southend Utd
League Two - Carlisle Utd
Conference - Accrington Stanley
Scottish Premier - Celtic
Scottish First - St Mirren
Scottish Second - Gretna
Scottish Third - Cowdenbeath
FA Cup - Liverpool
League Cup - Manchester Utd
Football League Trophy - Swansea City
Scottish FA Cup - Hearts
Scottish League Cup - Celtic
Champions League - Barcelona
UEFA Cup - Sevilla
World Cup - Italy
Goal of the Year
Despite Matt Taylor and Didier Drogba's valiant attempts, and certainly excluding Javier Mascherano's effort for Argentina in the World Cup (oooh! twenty backwards passes!) my Goal of the Year goes to Palermo's Guiseppe Biava for this outrageous flying backheel scissor kick. Absolutely amazing.
3rd March 2006. A Friday evening at the de Goffert Stadium, Nijmegen. I genuinely thought I might die of frostbite in the company of NEC and AZ Alkmaar. Or be buried alive in the snow surrounding the ground on the way out.
(photographic evidence of this here)Underperforming Flop Letdown XI
Robinson, Neville, Cole, Terry, Ferdinand, Hargreaves, Gerrard, Beckham, Lampard, Cole, Crouch.
oh come on. It could hardly have been anyone else, could it?
Managers Who Aren't In The Job They Were In At The Start Of 2006 But Who Suddenly Look Actually Quite Good In The Light Of Their Replacements
Sven Goran Eriksson
Best German Football TV Presenter Met In A Pub In Cologne
This is Gisbert Baltes who bought me and my good friend Sarah some kolsch during the Spain v France match at this summers' World Cup. A very, very nice man.
Oh My Word! You Have So Much Larger An Opinion Of Yourself And Your Varying Talents (Such As They Are) Than Anyone Else
Not content with his "hilarious" TV wind-up show (read all about it here), he proceeded to release his autobiography with the tag line "The Most Talked about footballer Of His Generation".
What a load of old b*llocks.
World Cup, and you f***ed it up, World Cup, and you f***ed it up....
Graham "Three Cards" Poll.
Ha ha ha.
Post Match Interview Of The Year"This is just amazing. F***ing hell, I just can't believe it. It is a brilliant experience and a great feeling to have kept us in the Cup."
A young Micah Richards shocks Garth Crooks into "pretending to be his Dad mode" after his last minute equaliser kept Manchester City in the FA Cup.
Most Unfortunate Moment For The Big Screen At The Cologne Fanfest To Go Off During The England v Ecuador World Cup Match
Hows about this one?
Player of the Year
OK, so he did a reasonable job in Juventus' defence (for all the good that did), had three or four useful games at the World Cup before failing to plug an increasingly shambolic Real Madrid defence. So, Fabio Cannavaro, close but no cigar.
Similarly, I can't possibly go for Didier Drogba. He may (finally) be showing what he is capable of, but until he quits the histrionics and the diving, he'll never be anyone's idea of Player of the Year.
Who else? Candidates from Barcelona's Champions League triumph have been let down by their form since or their World Cup showing (Ronaldinho, Xavi, Messi), Henry was sublime until Big Games came along (and then got the hump) and Cristiano Ronaldo has proved that Ferguson's your manager of choice post World Cup based vitriol but still a bit tetchy and selfish for my liking.
So, in a vaguely partisan way but also in an overdue "lifetime achievement" type way, I think it's time to salute one of our own. A little fella who has been, I would argue, England's consistently best player over the past ten years. Unassuming, tough, talented, skilful, undemonstrative, magical and with great vision. A guy who (with the exception of his sometimes mistimed tackling) is a great role model for young footballers. A man who Zinedine Zidane claimed was the best English footballer of his generation. Indeed a man who, had he been given Zidane's role in his international line-up, may have been able to have a similar impact.
Yep, my Player of the Year is Paul Scholes.
Any other highlights of 2006 that deserve a mention?...
Happy New Year.