The Expat Eagle Awards 2016/2017 – Part 1
It seems like everyone who has any form blog, YouTube channel or podcast does a season review or awards post. So why should I be any different?
During the past 12 months my opinions have changed about a few things. People’s stock has risen or fallen and while some people have gone from hero to zero or visa versa it is important to recognise this.
So, forget the Premier League Team of The Year, the PFA Awards and whatnot, these are the awards that matter.
People aren’t actually going to get anything other than the warn feeling they’ll get from being mentioned here… What an honour!
Signing of The Season
It is difficult to ignore the impact that Mamadou Sakho and, to a lesser extent, Luka Milivojević since they joined the club at the end of January because I think both of them have been pivotal to us maintaining out Premier League status.
Sakho has been the biggest influence but after he got injured against Tottenham Luka’s contribution in protecting the back four was noticed more. He was the unsung hero who became more noticed.
That aside I think it would be a little unfair to give the award to either of them as they have been at the club for just four months and so it really boils down to the 5 players who arrived last summer.
With that in mind I have to give the award to Christian Benteke. It was between Benteke and James Tomkins who has been solid whenever he has played but at the end of the day Benteke’s goals have saved us and he has played pretty much every game.
It isn’t easy to out perform your price tag when you cost £28m but Benteke won me over during the course of the season, just don’t let him take any penalties!
Flop of The Season
There are only really two people in the running for this award, Steve Mandanda and Loic Remy. Mandanda wins the award fairly comfortably because Remy is only in the running because he’s been injured for pretty much the whole season. Mandanda on the other hand…
Back in September I stated that I thought Mandanda had been our signing of the season. I thought he would be our secret weapon and was a steal for a player who was and still is France’s number 2 goalkeeper.
What happened to the player who was so highly regarded in France? A player who is considered a legend in Marseilles and has won a number of awards in French football?
Whatever has happened it has to be more than simply being homesick. I acknowledge that homesickness can play havoc with your mental health and by all accounts Mandanda’s family stayed in France which couldn’t have helped, but it has to be more than that.
Last summer I thought it was a little strange that someone would want to swap the sun of the south of France for the pissy weather of (the) south (of) London but I put it down to the lure of
Alan Pardew’s mangerial style Premier League football.
Whatever the case Mandanda is the player who I think has let us down the most.
Goal of The Season
I’ll be honest and say I can’t recall every goal we’ve scored this season but the one that does stick in the memory the most is Andros Townsend’s goal against West Brom at the Hawthorns.
Townsend won the ball on the edge of our penalty area and runs the full length of the pitch before striking the ball into the left hand corner of the goal from just outside the 6-yard box, on the left hand side.
The goal was all the more remarkable because it came at the end of the game which he pretty much collapsed afterwards.
After a forgettable first half of the season he was much improved under Allardyce and was all the more sweat because it was against a Tony Pulis team.
(goal from 5 different TV angles)
Most improved player from last season
When talking about players who have improved from one season to the next I have to look at the whole season. Later on I give the award for the player who has improved the most during the course of the season, this award is the most improved player this season compared to last season.
So many of our players have had a terrible first half to the season that I almost decided not to give the award out but in the end I will give it to a player who I don’t rate at all. A player who I don’t think should even be in the team but he is a player who played better this season than he did last season, even during the first half because he didn’t do a lot wrong. He is also one who improved once Big Sam turned up.
The player in question is Wayne Hennessey.
Last season he was awful, this season he has been okay. He had a great game at Chelsea and arguably won us the game with the saves he made. In my opinion he wasn’t responsible for our poor run this season, least of all because Mandanda was in goal for 9 Premier League games.
Most disappointing player from last season
Scott Dann gets this one for me. I don’t know what happened to him but it seemed that once he got the captaincy after Jedinak left the club that the responsibility was too much for him.
Player who has improved the most during the course of the season
It was difficult to know which category to put this player in and when weighing everything up I thought he should be in this one because his performance wasn’t particularly improved during the first half of the season.
But like so many of our players, he had a dodgy first half of the season but seemed rejuvenated in the second half to the extent that he became the player we thought we were getting when we signed him.
That player is Yohan Cabaye.
Player who has regressed the most during the course of the season
It is a tough call but for me there are four players who have gone backwards during the season when the rest of the team stopped and improved after Sam Allardyce took over.
The four players are Joel Ward, Scott Dann, Damien Delaney and James McArthur.
Joel Ward had his best season two years ago when we had Warnock and Pardew as managers and it seems he has peaked and is finding it difficult maintaining the levels required to be a Premier League full back. It might not be all his own doing because Wilf isn’t famous for doing the defensive duties so Ward does get exposed a lot.
Scott Dann I mentioned above and I think it was the correct decision for Big Sam to drop Dann to the bench. Hopefully he will be back to his old self next season.
Jame McArthur seems to have lost something since his injury in January/February. While it isn’t enough for him to win this award he has been disappointing during the run in and like Dann I hope/expect it won’t hang over to next season.
No, the award has to go to Damien Delaney. While Delaney is my favourite Palace player and I am glad he’s signed a new one-year contract it has to be said that during the defeat at home to Sunderland that he lost something. He was not the worst or only player responsible for that first half performance but after being confronted by a fan while leaving the pitch something was lost and it resulted in him being left on the bench even preferring Schupp at centre back at Manchester City.
Part 2 will follow soon.