Recapping a tumultous year in football, courtesy of the Guardian’s daily Fiver.
MAN OF THE YEAR
Jose “Fingers” Mourinho, take a bow. At the start of the year, the Porto boss was just one name being linked with the Spurs job. A phenomenal 12 months later, he’d smashed the Big Cup monopoly of European football’s titans and was going for the quadruple. “Please don’t call me arrogant because what I’m saying is true,” he said after joining Chelsea. “I’m European champion, so I’m not one of the bottle. I think I’m a special one.” These days, with the exception of our daily fix of Countdown, few TV broadcasts cause as much excitement in Fiver Towers as a televised Mourinho press conference.
MOMENT OF THE YEAR
The time: 9.37pm. The date: Tuesday, March 9. The place: Old Trafford. With Manchester United mere seconds away from qualifying for the Big Cup quarter-finals, Tim Howard palms a harmless Benni McCarthy free-kick straight into the path of Costinha, who promptly rifles home the rebound to put Porto through in dramatic fashion. As they celebrate deliriously in the corner, their normally unflappable manager – one Jose Mourinho – bounds ecstatically down the touchline flicking V-signs at the anguished Manchester United hordes. Pure class.
PLAYER OF THE YEAR
Ronaldinho, of course.
MISJUDGEMENT OF THE YEAR
The unnamed member of Real Madrid president Florentino PÃ©rez’s inner circle, who said in January 2004: “How ugly is Ronaldinho?! There was no point buying him, it wasn’t worth it. He’s so ugly that he’d sink you as a brand. Between Ronaldinho and Beckham, I’d go for Beckham a hundred times. Just look how handsome Beckham is, the class he has, the image. The whole of Asia has fallen in love with us because of Beckham. Ronaldinho is too ugly.”
CHAV COUPLE OF THE YEAR
Despite late competition from Arsenal full-back Ashley Cole and his new squeeze, convicted Girls Aloud nightclub-toilet brawler Cheryl Tweedy, the gong goes to Tabloid Wayne Rooney and his long-suffering girlfriend Colleen McLoughlin. Renowned for her ability to wear seven different designer labels simultaneously and make them all look cheap, Colleen has stood loyally by her meal tick … fiancÃ©e, despite his myriad well-documented infidelities with the senior citizens of Liverpool’s red-light districts.
THE VINNIE JONES AWARD FOR INNOVATIVE RILING OF OPPONENT
Sevilla’s Pablo Alfaro – a qualified doctor – romped home by using his fingers to perform a rectal examination on AtlÃ©tico Bilbao’s TochÃ©. While marking him. “Alfaro never takes off his white coat,” cooed Marca’s Roberto Palomar. “He’s a real urologist, always on call. You go up for a corner and suddenly he’s checking your prostate. Not many doctors would do that.” Alfaro’s explanation? “I was defending my team to the limit.”
MOST SHAMELESS U-TURN OF THE YEAR
“Anyone who questions Michael Owen’s ability is a cretin” – AS columnist Tomas Roncero, August 12.
“Owen is a galÃ¡ctico de pacotilla (junk galÃ¡ctico). This newspaper said so on that ill-fated 12 August, that desperate day of self-inflicted pain when Madrid signed Owen, sold Samuel Eto’o to Barcelona and missed out on Patrick Vieira. Let’s face it, Owen is not a galÃ¡ctico. No, no, no” – AS columnist Tomas Roncero, October 4.