Dublin: 14°C Tuesday 28 June 2022
Advertisement

Worst signing? Best player? Our writers review the 2021-22 Premier League season

Reflecting on a memorable campaign.

29-december-brentford-v-manchester-city-premier-league-brentford-community-stadiumthe-premier-league-trophy-on-display-before-the-match-at-the-brentford-community-stadiumpicture-credit Source: Alamy Stock Photo

Gavin Cooney

What will be your defining memory from this season?

The hastily-printed A4 sign slapped on the door of the Chelsea club store in the frantic hours after the UK government announced the sanctioning of Roman Abramovich. “Due to the latest government announcement this store will be closed from today for further notice.” A neat encapsulation of the extent to which the Premier League has become wrapped up in the tendrils of power and geopolitics. What on earth is this competition becoming?

Who was your Player of the Season?

Mohamed Salah.

Name the best and worst signing of the season.

Well, the best was not Romelu Lukaku, as I confidently predicted at the season’s start. I’ll say Cristian Romero for Spurs, edging out Luis Diaz and Bruno Guimaraes.

The worst was Cristiano Ronaldo. The best-paid player in the league joined a team that finished second and was part of a hysterical, wretched slide that has seen one manager fired, two hired, and an endless stream of damaging stories leak from the dressing room. Ronaldo’s goal record has been good, but his introduction coincided with the team’s implosion, his teammates’ slumps in form, and a dressing room reportedly brimming with discord. If United were run solely to win football matches, it’s clear they would have been much better off without him. But, of course, United no longer exist solely for that reason.

Best individual performance you witnessed this season?

Harry Kane against Man City at the Etihad in February.

Which Irish player has impressed you most?

The usual slim pickings, but I’ll pick Nathan Collins. Burnley might go down but he deserves to stick around.

Which team did you most enjoy watching (aside from the club you support)?

Everton have been the gift that keeps on giving, but I’ve hugely enjoyed watching West Ham this year.

Name your favourite moment from this season.

Mohamed Salah’s goal against Manchester City at Anfield. Breathtaking.

Describe the season in one sentence.

An endless, internal negotiation between the sheer adrenal thrill of the football and the creeping, sickly unease of how it’s all paid for.

file-photo-dated-12-03-2022-of-liverpools-mohamed-salah-celebrates-scoring-the-20212022-premier-league-in-numbers-issue-date-sunday-may-22-2022 Source: Alamy Stock Photo

Paul Fennessy

What will be your defining memory from this season?

There’s a lot wrong with the sport in general and the Premier League in particular — the lack of regulation in terms of who owns clubs is one big issue and cannot be ignored — but the actual quality of the football on display on an aesthetic level is arguably better than ever. Watching Liverpool and Man City, particularly when they came up against each other, was often a feast for the eyes.

Who was your Player of the Season?

It’s hard to look past Mo Salah. He has more goals and assists than anyone else and is one of the few players you could confidently say would improve any team in the world. Honourable mention too for Son Heung-Min, who may yet pip the Liverpool star in the Golden Boot race and has been regularly scoring goals in a team who are clearly inferior to the Reds.

Name the best and worst signing of the season.

Best has been Cristian Romero, who has improved the Tottenham defence immeasurably and is a key reason why they are on the verge of securing a Champions League spot that looked unlikely for large portions of the season. Honourable mentions for Brentford’s Christian Eriksen, Liverpool’s Luis Díaz and a couple of Newcastle’s astute mid-season acquisitions.

There have been far worse players signed than Romelu Lukaku, but the Belgian has arguably been the most disappointing, given his two superb seasons at Inter beforehand. Much more was also expected from similarly high-profile signings like Jack Grealish and Jadon Sancho, who could still turn out to be good buys but have so far only shown glimpses of their potential.

Best individual performance you witnessed this season?

Two spring to mind.

Harry Kane looked a pale shadow of himself in the early parts of the season, but Antonio Conte has got the best out of him since taking over, and his performance in Spurs’ 3-2 win over Man City, in which he scored two and had a hand in another, was a reminder that the England international is one of the best players in the world, at least in that kind of form.

There has been plenty of debate over whether Man United should have signed Cristiano Ronaldo (I don’t think they should have), but the Portuguese star remains capable of winning matches virtually by himself, as was particularly evident when he hit a phenomenal hat-trick in United’s 3-2 win over Spurs back in March. The more optimistic fans would have hoped that display would inspire the Red Devils into securing a Champions League spot, but instead, it proved a rare highlight amid a miserable campaign that subsequently petered out in pathetic fashion.  

Which Irish player has impressed you most?

Matt Doherty and Shane Duffy have had some good moments, but for sheer consistency and given the circumstances he has been up against, it has to be Nathan Collins. Burnley may still be relegated, but that shouldn’t detract from the 21-year-old’s generally excellent displays, which were recently rewarded with a Player of the Month nomination. In total, the Ireland international has made 18 appearances in the top flight alone — an incredible achievement at his age — and there are likely plenty more to come down the line.

Which team did you most enjoy watching (aside from the club you support)?

The sheer chaos and unpredictability intrinsic to Frank Lampard’s Everton meant they were usually an enjoyable watch, while Brentford — especially when you consider their relatively limited resources — were consistently impressive in how they tried to play, and Thomas Frank is surely a strong contender for manager of the season, having guided them to a far-better-than-expected 11th place (as it stands) this season.

Name your favourite moment from this season.

Source: Sky Sports Football/YouTube

It was long overdue but there were some signs that football is finally willing to confront sportswashing and ownership issues. The fact that a show as high-profile as Monday Night Football (see above) was willing to openly discuss these problems in some detail was heartening to see.

Describe the season in one sentence.

Heavy investment invariably leads to success unless you’re as poorly run as Man United or Everton.

kevin-de-bruyne-17-of-manchester-city-makes-a-break-with-the-ball Source: Alamy Stock Photo

Exclusive NZ - IRE
Rugby Analysis

Get Murray Kinsella's match analysis and Garry Doyle's updates from New Zealand exclusive to members

Become a Member

David Sneyd

What will be your defining memory from this season?

Newcastle United tweeting this: 

A true fairytale.

Who was your Player of the Season?

And just so Newcastle fans won’t get annoyed: Joelinton. What a transformation.

Name the best and worst signing of the season.

Best: Luis Diaz. Injected even more quality and strength into a side that has fed off his energy during the second half of the season. Christian Eriksen is a very close second.
Worst: Raphael Varane. Injury-prone and unable to find any kind of rhythm in a season that promised much more.

Best individual performance you witnessed this season?

The one that jumped straight out was Declan Rice for West Ham away to Everton last October. Was a complete midfield display, one which made it obvious he is far more than just a defensive operator.

Which Irish player has impressed you most?

Adam Idah was threatening something really impressive before his injury. Seamus Coleman made the most appearances but Nathan Collins’ displays in the latter part of the campaign for Burnley offers real hope that Ireland will have a top-level centre back for years to come.

Which team did you most enjoy watching (aside from the club you support)?

Liverpool. It just means more to them.

Name your favourite moment from this season.

Christian Eriksen’s return with Brentford and then continuing his masterclass to make sure they didn’t get dragged into the relegation fight.

Describe the season in one sentence.

How much lower can Manchester United sink after this latest gutless performance?

Originally published at 07.30

About the author:

The42 Team

Read next:

COMMENTS (61)

This is YOUR comments community. Stay civil, stay constructive, stay on topic. Please familiarise yourself with our comments policy here before taking part.
write a comment

    Leave a commentcancel