The doomed European Super League plot leads the way, with a number of misfiring forwards also making out shortlist. Also: Players | Managers | Goals | Young players | Matches | Flops | Signings | Gripes | Pundits
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By Tumaini Carayol
European Super League
The sheer arrogance behind the attempted European Super League breakaway, the absurd joint statement released by the 12 clubs including (but not limited to) its incessant capitalisation of “Founding Clubs”, the speed with which the masterplan unravelled, thatFlorentino Pérez interview, the enduring delusion of Real Madrid, Juventus and Barcelona who still refuse to concede that this version will not work and the way the out-of-touch owners’ actions have led only to fan protests at their doors. All of these factors and more combine to make the European Super League and the owners of the Premier League’s “Big Six” clubs the biggest flops of the year.
Tottenham started the season with the heartwarming return of Gareth Bale and a 6-1 humiliation of Manchester United at Old Trafford all while José Mourinho’s hailed his “amazing squad”. Those good times did not last long. After months of gutless defensive football and an overreliance on Harry Kane and Son Heung-min, Mourinho was bluntly fired by Daniel Levy before he could contest the Carabao Cup final he had led his team to. Even his underwhelming spell at Manchester United provided enough success for Mourinho to retrospectively repackage his second place finish in 2017-18 as one of the great achievements of his career. This time, there was nothing to say. He spent the days after his sacking posting old throwbacks of great achievements on Instagram, trying to remind us all of the manager he once was.
A mural depicting José Mourinho riding a scooter has appeared on a street in Rome, where he will hope to rebuild his reputation with Roma. Photograph: Andreas Solaro/AFP/Getty Images
Arsenal’s technical director, Edu, introduced the free signing of 32-year-old Willian on a lucrative three-year contract with these words : “I’m convinced he’ll be the one to impact the team straight away.” Four months later, he sounded like a different person altogether: “What do you expect? Do you expect it straight away? Boom! Willian can be the best one?” he said. “But he needs a little bit of time.” That tonal shift alone reflects how dire Willian has been for the majority of this year, a miserable season for Arsenal saved from being even worse by Emile Smith-Rowe taking the Brazilian’s spot in the starting lineup. On the positive side, Willian will have plenty of time to settle down in north London – his contract runs out just before he turns 35.
With ample hype surrounding him, 21-year-old Rhian Brewster was bought from Liverpool by Sheffield United for £23m last summer. This season, he has started 12 games, with 14 substitute appearances, and has not scored a goal. AHis team were relegated with 29 defeats in 38 games. This could still turn out to be a brief misstep at the beginning of a long and fruitful senior career, but it is one that is best forgotten quickly.
As has been the theme for two seasons now, Graham Potter’s Brighton are capable of lovely football and they create so much more than they actually score. The blame for their poor finishing rests on more than just Maupay’s shoulders, but as their expensive star striker with a penchant for missing sitters, he embodies their attacking issues. Brighton were not under too much relegation pressure in the end and based on their budget and history they are doing just fine, but a third season of Maupay and others seemingly failing to reach their potential would be frustrating.