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The 2009-2010 Gary Neville Awards

By Guest Contributor Brian Knapp

2009-2010 Gary Neville Award for Worst Passing 

Being a Liverpool fan can be excruciating at times. It’s particularly difficult watching a team go from breaking the league record for most points earned while coming in second last year, to a team that struggles to complete consecutive passes. This award could easily have gone to a favorite Manchester City midfielder, yet I felt it better to award not one single poor passer but the whole conglomerate that is Liverpool’s midfield. Javier Mascherano, Lucas Leiva, Dirk Kuyt and whoever the sucker is that had to play with them that match, i.e. Benayoun, Babel, Rodriguez, Gerrard, Aquilani… I often look at Mascherano as a pre-teen adolescent with ADHD. When he gets the ball, he becomes so excited that he doesn’t actually know what he’s going to do with it. Thus leading to him losing the ball and tracking down the next unfortunate player on the other team. God bless his tireless work rate and two footed, red card tackles. His passing still leaves a lot to be desired. Lucas could also be up for a number of other awards including Worst Face and Worst Overall Ability, but being lumped in with the whole of Liverpool’s midfield, gives him the same slack that the fat Spanish waiter gives him each week after his poor performances. Which brings us to Dirk Kuyt. Kuyt is more or less the engine of the team. His tireless blue-color hustle helps inspire the team. But let’s be honest if the engine of a nice car isn’t as good as advertised, the truth is it’s a shitty car. And that sums up Liverpool’s season. They’ve performed about as well as a brand new, shiny…KIA.

2009-2010 Gary Neville Award for Worst Whining

It’s always a challenge narrowing down the final winner for each category and 2009-2010 was no exception. It was another stellar year for whining, bitching, complaining and throwing temper tantrums around the world of football. This year’s award goes to Manchester City and Santos FC’s forward, Robinho. A constant critic of his managers and teammates, Robinho also managed to be part of one of the funnier moments in football this season, by being brought on as a substitute and off again in the same match. This led to more of his incessant bitching and eventual move back to Brazil where he could do endless step-overs without the threat of being flattened by real defenders.

2009-2010 Gary Neville Award for Worst Coordination

“Worst Cordination you say? But these are professional football players. How could they have poor coordination?” It’s a question non-Korean’s ask themselves every time they turn on a Manchester United match and are unlucky enough to see Korea’s #1 Best-Hero-Man-Highting!, Park Ji-Sung. In South Korea, he is known as “The Oxygen Tank” or “Three-Lung Park” for his ability to run industriously from 18 to 18. Everywhere that is not South Korea, he is often referred to as Park Ji-Slip or “잠수함“ “submarine” for his remarkable falling and diving abilities. Usually you can credit an Italian or South American footballer for their fantastic ability to fall when it doesn’t look remotely possible, but this year Park Ji-Sung has brought home another award for all Koreans to be intolerably proud of.

2009-2010 Gary Neville Award for Worst Hair

This award can be picked up annually by Portsmouth goalkeeper David James, however last summer’s passing away of Michael Jackson caused a change not only in pop music but also in football. It was not simply the death of the King of Pop, but it was at that time that the jheri-curl was officially retired. Unfortunately Manchester United’s midfielder, Nani, did not get the memo. While made extremely popular by Michael and his white glove in the 1980s, Nani continues to sport this greasy look all around England. A close second place was Liverpool’s Sotirios Kyrgiakos who has been known to have watched Frank Miller’s “300” over 1000 times and reverted back to the hairstyle of his Greek ancestors.

2009-2010 Gary Neville Award for Worst Face

Carlos Tevez. Scar or no scar.

2009-2010 Gary Neville Award for Worst Transfer (retrospective)

Many players under the rein of Rafa Benitez are very capable of taking this award. However, there is one player who has been more active over the past few transfer periods than a brothel in South Korea. That lucky man is Robbie Keane. After making his dream move from Tottenham to Liverpool in the summer of 2008, Keane did everything he could, to regularly miss gifted chances on goal and make a speedy return to White Hart Lane. Once again back at the helm of good ol’ Harry, Keane was re-established as captain where he continued to perform like a lowly Middlesbrough player. After realizing their dear captain may be out of his prime, the Spurs once again decided it was time to give Robbie a chance to excel on a level more fit for him; The Scottish Premier League. Thus keeping a consistent streak of 3 transfers on the trot with an inevitable return from loan to Tottenham in the next window making it a solid 4 for 4. My hat goes off to you Robbie Keane. You made almost as many transfers as you did goals for Liverpool.

And the 2009-2010 Gary Neville award for Worst Overall Ability goes to none other than Shaun Wright-Phillips. SWP has once again shocked the world with his incredible lack of footballing ability. The real question however is how he continues to be employed as a professional footballer. It’s been rumoured that due to his staggeringly short stature, managers and fans have often felt the need to sympathize with him. Fans and managers tend to close their eyes to SWP’s forgetfulness, both in dribbling and remembering the colour jersey his team is wearing. Falling out of grace with Manchester City, SWP looks ripe for the picking in the next transfer window. A dream move for him would be to join other washed up professionals in the SPL or possibly Middlesbrough. One can’t count out the chance of him looking to reunite with his undersized relatives from the land of OZ.

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Betting: Fun for all the Family

By David S. Wills

Some people are against betting. I think that makes these people uptight fools, but that’s just my humble opinion. I’m not saying betting is a good thing. On the contrary, betting is foolish, but so is drinking and smoking, and they’re both pretty cool.

For some people it’s a religious thing, and for others it’s common sense. I can understand the common sense factor. After all, I rarely bet. It doesn’t make much sense. Betting is silly. But it’s fun. And as I mentioned above, silly things are often fun.

What pisses me off is when people apply their morality to others. Religion is the biggest perpetrator of this foul deed. Just because your book says don’t bet doesn’t meant that others have to follow suit. You can find out soon enough that betting is silly. Try losing all your money to a faceless casino.

That makes me think that the sensible thing to do is to encourage betting. Why not have mandatory field trips to the casino for school kids. Let them lose their lunch money and go hungry for a few days. See if they still think betting’s cool.

I used to bet on the World Cup, even from a young age. I did it with my family and my friends, and I’ll do it again this year. (Just don’t go telling the authorities. That sort of thing doesn’t fly in Kimchi Country.)

The best bets involve small amounts of cash, or freakishly good odds. They also involve short waits. I wouldn’t want to stick $100 on Man Utd to win the Premiership. I’d rather choose teams for the World Cup with the winner buying drinks, or put a few pennies on the newly promoted team from the Championship to make it into Europe.

My favourite bet of all time (not involving myself – something another person did) was an old guy who bet that Xabi Alonso would score a goal from within his own half. He did, and the old gent made off like a bandit.

My own betting triumph came a few years back whilst watching Liverpool. Javier Mascherano walked onto the field looking more like a rapist than normal and I shouted to my dad. “Dad! Phone the bookies! Tell them he’s getting sent off by halftime! What odds?!”

I put a measly pound on Mascherano’s red card and he was sent off in about half an hour. The money meant nothing. The pride came in simply being right.

Which is why I enjoy Fantasy Football. I’m keenly aware that that makes me a nerd and a loser, but it’s also a glowing light in my life. I can bark at the TV all I like, but when I pick the perfect eleven and shoot to the top of the league I feel invincible.

(It should be noted that I’m currently bottom of my Fantasy Football league. The lesson: Never bet against Frank Lampard, regardless of how much you hate him.)

Here are some bets I plan on making in the coming years, with the odds I anticipate being given. They may not make me rich, but I like to back the right fighter.

Top non-Old Firm SPL player to sign for Rangers or Celtic and spend the rest of career on the bench – 1/10

Shaun Wright-Phillips to sprint past the ball at least five times during a game – 1/5

Arsenal to lose a key player to injury, having based their entire team around him all season, consequently costing them their title bid – 1/4 (Quote from Legbrokes.com)

Arsene Wenger to blame the injury on a conspiracy – 1/4

Craig Bellamy to switch teams in a storm of animosity – 1/3

Real Madrid to attempt to unsettle key Premiership player by having his friends claim he’s already agreed to move to Spain – 1/2

Alex Ferguson to say something racially/culturally/socially unacceptable, then to apologise and walk away without punishment – Evens

Sex scandal involving top Man Utd and Chelsea players – Evens

Rafa Benitez fired – 5/1

Non-Old Firm SPL team to win the league without Rangers or Celtic being penalized for sectarian abuse – 1000/1

North Korea to win World Cup – 2000/1 (this is an actual quote from William Hill)