Sheffield United's end of season awards - the alternative version

Aaron Ramsdale was player of the year, David McGoldrick the players’ player and Chris Basham would have retained the Consistency Cup if it had been awarded.

Wednesday, 26th May 2021, 5:05 pm

After Sheffield United handed out their official end of season awards following Sunday’s game against Burnley - which saw last term’s European contenders bow out of the Premier League - The Star’s James Shield names the winners of the trophies the club could doled-out but didn’t.

The Oli McBurnie Award for Services to Technology: Whoever invented VAR; a system whose only saving grace is that it allows those of us who knew it was going to be a shambles but were labelled dinosaurs by folk who thought otherwise. After finding themselves on the wrong end of some ridiculous decisions last season, United have benefited from some this term. There’s so many examples of when it’s gone wrong, I can’t even be bothered to list them. Well apart from the penalty that should have been ‘was’ but turned out to be ‘wasn’t’ Chris Basham thought he won at Fulham in February. I’m not sure what makes my teeth itch more: The people who called for it to be introduced or the assumption, because it’s here despite being a train wreck, we can’t just sack it off and start again.

The Oliver Burke Trophy for Frustrating the Hell out of People: If the Scot could finish, he’d be worth more money than an Edinburgh landowner. The only trouble is, he can’t. Which probably explains why someone with his skill set spent last season on the periphery of United’s squad rather than qualifying for Europe with Chelsea. Or Liverpool. Or Manchester United. But not Manchester City, who prefer to look abroad for their signings. But Burke has been pipped to this particular piece of silverware by another member of Bramall Lane’s overstocked attack. Step forward Lys Mousset - a lovely kid who you desperately want to see do well but, thanks to his off-the-pitch issues, isn’t. He should be worth north of £50m. But if he leaves this summer, United will struggle to recoup the £10m they paid to sign him from AFC Bournemouth.

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The Biggest Footballing Mystery Medal, as not sponsored by Ian Rankin: In December Chris Wilder apparently had a job for life, so long as Prince Abdullah bin Musa’ad bin Abdulaziz Al Saud remained owner of United. In March, the manager who twice led them to promotion and then a ninth placed top-flight finish was gone. Yes, the two men had their differences. Yes, in the end a parting of the ways was probably spared them both from a police charge. But none of the issues which fractured their relationship were unsolvable. So why on earth someone at Bramall Lane didn’t have the wit to simply lock them in a room and keep the key until they’d thrashed them out, heaven only knows.

The Greatest Disappointment Since Nigel Adkins Cup: It probably should be relegation. Or Rhian Brewster, who after signing for a club record fee of £23.5m has still yet to score a goal. But it isn’t. Instead the winner of this award, by some considerable distance, is again Mousset; a player who should be the first name on United’s team sheet rather than rarely featuring at all. Can someone please have a word in this lad’s shell-like before his career passes him by.

The Danny Cullip ‘What the Heck was that all about?’ Gong: Those of us of a certain vintage will remember how Neil Warnock chased the Brighton defender for longer than a spetsnaz hell march before, after finally securing his services, discarding him quicker than Warren Beattie did bedmates. And those of us of a certain vintage still in possession of all our marbles know exactly why. But we won’t go into that here. What we will is another one of those horrible moments when we sit back to watch a car crash we can all tell is going to happen. A car crash like United’s performance en route a 5-0 defeat at Leicester City in March; 48 hours after parting company with Wilder but only 24 before admitting the most disorderly exit in the top-flight this season had actually happened. The divorce was terribly handled. The performance which followed was even worse.

The Chris Morgan Award for Sheer Bloomin’ Bottle: Let’s be right, at the start of the season he was utterly useless. Worse than useless in fact. He also wasn’t Dean Henderson, which seemed to be the greatest crime he had committed in the eyes of those who had convinced themselves that a player on the verge of England honours and earning an absolute packet at Old Trafford was within reach of a club embarking upon only its second top-flight campaign since 2007. He was when United went up from the Championship. But after ignoring the pleas of coaching staff to offer him a deal, by the time others at Bramall Lane realised just how good he was, that particular window of opportunity had closed. Still, enough about Hendo. Let’s talk about Aaron Ramsdale who overcame a difficult start to life back at his first professional club to become its player of the year. That took guts. Even more than agreeing to replace Henderson in the first place. His England call is deserved.

Daniel Jebbison ensured the season finished on something resembling a positive note: Andrew Yates / Sportimage

The Aaron Ramsdale Right Place, Right Time Certificate: Whipping boy turned wonderkid, Ramsdale has developed a wonderful habit of knowing where to be at exactly the right moment. The same goes for Daniel Jebbison too, After impressing on his debut against Crystal Palace, the teenager striker scored on his first start at Everton eight days later. Together with a number of other development squad graduates who made the breakthrough last season, Jebbison’s emergence ensured something positive came out of a season which will live long in the memory - for all the wrong reasons.

Sheffield United's interim manager Paul Heckingbottom: Tim Goode/PA Wire.
The lesser spotted Lys Mousset: Andrew Yates / Sportimage