Christmas is right around the corner and Santa is on his way. But which footballers deserve a present from the man in the red suit, and who will be getting nothing more than a lump of coal?
2016 has certainly been a year quite unlike any other. We saw a 5000/1 shot win the Premier League, while the European Championships in France saw underdogs Wales and Iceland steal the headlines.
And in amongst this footballing melee, heroes and villains have emerged.
At Ladbrokes News, we’ve had little look back through the year, and come up with our guide to Football’s Naughty and Nice of 2016.
Last season’s Premier League winner has proved that you can spend five years in Non-League football, and still reach the top.
En route to inspiring every lower league footballer worldwide, Vardy was a sensation with his 24 goals leading Leicester’s 5000/1 shots to one of the greatest all-time fairytale successes.
The forward became an England hero too, netting the equaliser in the European Championships clash with Wales. He’s already had one present this year – a brand new BMW from Foxes chairman Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha – but there’ll be more presents under the Vardy tree this Christmas.
It can’t have been easy to leave Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool revolution, but Joe Allen hasn’t looked back since joining Stoke City.
The midfielder has already scored more goals this term than any other in his career, and received international acclaim for his role in Wales’ run to the European Championships semi-finals.
He’s even made the 40-man shortlist for UEFA’s Team of the Year. Not bad Joe, not bad.
Is there a nicer man in football than Juan Mata?
The Manchester United midfielder repeatedly goes the extra mile to spend a few moments with adoring fans.
Few players are as aware as the Spaniard that a few minutes of their own time can make someone’s year and produce a moment they’ll never forget.
Whatever Mata has written on his Christmas list this year, Santa won’t let him down.
Portland Town FC/ Feyenoord & Den Haag / Yeovil Town
These four clubs are definitely in the good books up in the North Pole.
Portland Town FC allowed 81-year-old Dickie Borthwick to roll back the years earlier this month, and their new signing didn’t disappoint by scoring a goal on his debut!
Dutch sides Feyenoord and ADO Den Haag also used football as a force for good. This was brilliantly evidenced when the two sides came together to provide hundreds of teddy bears for Rotterdam’s Sophia Children’s Hospital.
This is fantastic: ADO Den Haag fans throw 100s of stuffed toys at Feyernoord guests, children from a local hospital pic.twitter.com/oP3YVQqSO2
— Cristian Nyari (@Cnyari) September 11, 2016
And Yeovil gave something back to their fans who made the 660-mile journey to Cardiff – a pie and a pint. A small gesture can go a long way.
Once seen to behold angelic status with football fans, the Man City striker’s two-footed attack on David Luiz showed us a nasty side few had seen coming.
A four-game ban and a move onto Santa’s naughty list is a fitting punishment for the man whose mask has slipped.
What is it with Argentinean footballers in Manchester in the run-up to Christmas?
No player has tried harder to be suspended for the festive period than Manchester United’s errant defender and Sergio Aguero’s international colleague.
A succession of wild – and dangerous – two-footed lunges have gone unseen by referees, who have clearly decided Rojo must play on Boxing Day. Santa was watching though, and there’ll be no presents under Rojo’s tree this year.
We understand the cutthroat nature of football, but to ditch the manager who kept your club up last season always seems a tad harsh.
But to do it on the man’s birthday? That’s just mean Huw. Poor Francesco Guidolin. At least it wasn’t Yaya Toure…
When he’s good he’s very, very good, but when he is bad he is horrid.
We’ve seen the best and worst of Diego Costa this year, leaving Santa with a tough decision.
The Spaniard was a disciplinary fiend last season, but this term has been much-improved, although five bookings shows a Leopard can’t change its spots. With 13 goals and five assists however, nobody has been more productive so far this season.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing