It’s football awards season so time for this column to deliver the real Premier League prizes.
Player of the Year: N’Golo Kante should have won this last season. In fact he’s the only member of this season’s Chelsea title-winning squad to be able to say he’s put a proper shift in for two successive campaigns.
Manager of the Year: Only Chelsea boss Antonio Conte of the top clubs has enhanced his reputation this season. Pep Guardiola has found a competitive league difficult, Jurgen Klopp has made the top four because he’s had no European football to further stretch his threadbare Liverpool squad and Spurs are not really any better than last season under Mauricio Pochettino - it’s just that everyone else has become worse, most notably Arsenal.
All-star team of the year: (a very attacking 4-3-3).
Goalkeeper: A left-field choice in Jordan Pickford of Sunderland. It is often easy to look good when you’re playing for one of the worst teams in Premier League history as you’re always busy, but Pickford will surely still be in the top flight next season, unlike his current team-mates.
Right-back: Kyle Walker is one of a pair of Spurs full-backs who bomb forward with great elan every game.
Left-back: Marcus Alonso has been key in Chelsea’s romp to the title. Strong defender, scorer of quality goals.
Centre-back: Who would have thought signing David Luiz would transform Chelsea from flaky to rock-solid at the back? He’s improved dramtically on his previous spell at Stamford Bridge and yet Chelsea signed him for £10 million less than they sold him for. Great business.
Centre-back: Even with George Boyd in their side I wouldn’t cross the road to watch boring Burnley, but Michael Keane has been a huge, commanding presence at the heart of their watertight defence.
Midfield: N’Golo Kante. Every team needs one of his type, but he’s the best.
Midfield: Spurs ‘stole’ Dele Alli for £5 million from MK Dons which is rather hilarious. If he stopped diving he’d be one of my favourite players.
Midfield: Clever of Chelsea’s Eden Hazard to stroll about for most of last season. He’s been a rejuvenated presence for the title winners this season and he’s a joy to watch as he glides effortlessly past outclassed defenders.
Forward: Chelsea top scorer Diego Costa is a horrible, snarling Premier League presence. He goes to ground and whines far too easily and far too often for a supposed hard man, but he’s also rather good.
Forward: Everton have been much better this season thanks to a top boss in Ronald Koeman and a star striker in Romelu Lukaku. He scores all sorts of goals, tap-ins and screamers, which is the sign of a top forward.
Forward: Harry Kane is the best English forward by some distance. Our national team’s chances of getting out of a World Cup group in Russia next year will be greatly enhanced if he rests for three months before the tournament and if he’s not allowed to take corners.