And so, with the exception of the postponed – and now pointless – Manchester United v Bournemouth game, we bid farewell to another Premier League season.
With Leicester City the shock winners, Aston Villa finally succumbing to relegation and Newcastle becoming arguably the biggest (read most expensive) casualties of the drop, it has been a season to remember.
As ever the plaudits have been rolling in for weeks now with Jamie Vardy and Riyad Mahrez rightly adding personal glory to the Foxes astonishing team achievements.
But where are the awards for the unsung heroes? The managers whose imagination shows no bounds when an excuse is needed or the dreaded Most Improved Player?
Right here is the answer. The Ladbrokes News team has pored through the past nine months of Premier League football to bring you the Alternative End of Season Awards for 2015-16.
Without further ado here are this year’s big winners…
Best Owners Award – King Power International Group
While fans send a near-constant stream of vitriol in the direction of the likes of Randy Lerner, Mike Ashley and the Glazer Family, mega-rich foreign investors can get it right and nowhere has that been more clear that at Leicester City this season.
Not only did they deliver an unfathomable Premier League title, with a manager thought to be on the scrap heap, a striker not long out of non-league football and a winger plucked from the obscurity of the French second division but they did it with dignity, class and with the fans in mind.
Nice touches such as free pies and drinks have helped the club retain an air of community spirit and should this be maintained throughout their Champions League campaign next year the so-called bigger clubs should sit up and take note.
Best Dive of the Season – Louis van Gaal
With just 24 appearances this season, and most of those coming from the bench, Ashley Young has been starved of opportunity to retain his crown but fortunately the award will remain at Old Trafford thanks to the barmy antics of his manager.
Fed up with perceived histrionics from Arsenal’s Oliver Giroud, Louis van Gaal protested to the fourth official in the most theatrical -and hysterical – way to provide one of the lasting memories of the season.
Biggest Villain Award + Worst Excuse Award – Joleon Lescott
While yesteryear offers us the likes of Eric Cantona (that kick), Cesc Fabregas ( that food fight) and a north London hotel ( that lasagne) 2016’s Villain of the year is very – well, 2016.
When your team is bottom of the league and hurtling toward relegation the least you expect is for the players to be hurting and doing everything in the their power to put things right.
This was not the message put out by Aston Villa’s Joleon Lescott however, Fresh from a 6-0 home drubbing at the hands of Liverpool, Lescott tweeted a picture of his £128,000 Mercedes AMG S63 seemingly saying “we might have lost but I’m still rich and happy”.
We must of course point out that the tweet was allegedly sent in error by Lescott’s backside but whatever the circumstances we still think it’s worth a gong.
Most Improved Player Award – Gabby Agbonlahor
If you ever received this award for your Sunday League team we’re sorry to break it to you but its name is a bit misleading. A more accurate name would be ‘Worst Player On The Team But We Need You To Turn Up Every Week And Pay Your Subs Award’.
And while Premier League stars don’t need to chip in £5.50 a week to play, their equivalent is the worst player of the year and with Villa going down with a whimper their – now former – captain and supposed striker is the clear winner.
Gabby Agbonlahor burst on to the Villa scene in 2005-06 with one goal from nine appearances;. That his tally this season was the same as in that debut campaign shows how much his off-field antics have seen him regress on the pitch.
Oddball moment of the year – Louis van Gaal (again)
Managers have defended their players since the inception of the game and while tempers can flare club bosses will hope to keep things relatively normal in the heat of the moment.
Not so Louis van Gaal. The Dutchman bemused – from his feet this time – in the wake of United’s 1-1 draw with Leicester when he had this to say about Marouane Fellaini swinging an elbow at Robert Huth.
“Every human being who is grabbed by the hair, only with sex masochism, then it is allowed but not in other situations. They did it several times I think.
“It was a very difficult match for the referee – when you see what Huth is doing with Fellaini, is that not a penalty?”
Should he keep his job at Old Trafford someone might want to explain to LVG what a ‘soundbite’ is!
The Steven Gerrard Slip Award – Tottenham
If Liverpool never win the Premier League it is likely that Gerrard’s slip against Chelsea will be the Vine to summarise their misfortune and so his name is bestowed on the award for biggest chance blown. While Man United throwing away a 2-1 lead at West Ham that would have left them fourth with a game to play is up there this season Spurs’ failure to not only build on their title charge but also to finish above bitter rivals Arsenal gets the nod.
With Harry Kane and Dele Alli in astonishing form Spurs seemed the only side capable of pipping Leicester to glory but draws with West Brom and Chelsea ended that dream before limp losses to Southampton and already-relegated Newcastle ensured the power of north London remains at the Emirates.
The Turn it on when it doesn’t matter Award – Olivier Giroud
While Arsenal finished above Spurs to salvage something from their season they could and possibly should have achieved so much more. Much of the blame in theirfailure to do so lies at the feet of Olivier Giroud. While he may have scored 26 goals in 58 games for club and country this term he has netted in just three games since January 17.
The Frenchman has had a 2016 to forget so far and while his hat-trick at the weekend ensured the Gunners finished above Spurs, Gooners will be wishing he had showed as much prowess in the box in the months leading up to a match that – local pride aside – was effectively a dead rubber.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.