2020 has been a truly memorable year for Liverpool and one that will live long in the memory of our fans across the globe.
But while the team has made history with their first Premier League crown and their first top division title since 1990, several individuals have also had years to remember (or forget!).
With 2020’s curtain soon closing, it’s time to look back and bestow our prestigious honours on those that have contributed to a calendar year we won’t soon forget.
Player of the year
The nominations for this award read like the nominees for Best Picture at the 1994 Oscars.
Forrest Gump, Pulp Fiction, Shawshank Redemption… The Lion King. Whichever movie won, it was deserved, but there really were no losers when the field was so strong.
Sadio Mane, Trent Alexander-Arnold, Andy Robertson, Alisson Becker and Virgil van Dijk (without the injury) could all have staked a viable claim to being Liverpool’s player of 2020. But when the running is so close, you must go with cold, hard facts.
The Egyptian King Mohamed Salah has comfortably outscored even Mane in the calendar year.
His 26 goals are almost double Mane’s 14, and Alexander-Arnold’s incredible assist numbers have dropped off a step in the current campaign.
The energizer bunny incarnate Robertson would be our second choice, but is it REALLY worth arguing against King Mo?
We thought not.
Young player of the year (under 23)
Curtis Jones’ time will come. Indeed, we have recognised him on more than one occasion further down. But for the time being, this gong is heading for Alexander-Arnold’s mantlepiece… again.
His defensive improvement has been nothing short of extraordinary over the last 12 months.
The odd lapse rears its ugly head now and again, but there was a time when the mere sight of a one-two down his side brought an excruciating wait to see if he’d remembered to track his runner.
Now, we watch the 22-year-old with a sparkle in our eye and joy in our hearts.
Gary Neville recently said there is no better full-back for TAA to learn from than the man on the opposite flank.
The scary thing is Alexander-Arnold is four years younger, and despite his otherworldly talents, is still improving month after month.
When he’s Robertson’s age he’ll be a regular in the award above.
Worst player of the year
Subjectivity plays a huge part here. There will be those that will immediately say Divock Origi. Then there’ll be some that say Naby Keita. Has the under-fire Guinea man been THAT bad? No, but has he been £52.75m levels of good? Oh hell no.
The safe option would be Adrian. Every time he dons the gloves we’re filled with a great sense of dread usually reserved for horror movie premieres. But we don’t do the safe option at @LFCUncensored, which is why we’re opting for Origi.
We love Divock, we really do. But it’s no secret that his last 12 months have been underwhelming to say the least.
His only two goals in the year came against Newcastle in a July dead rubber, and Lincoln City in the EFL Cup.
Present a CV like that to an employer and you’d be lucky if you’re offered a janitor’s role.
Not good enough Divock.
Worst young player of the year (under 23)
This feels wrong on so many levels. By their very nature, young players will make mistakes. It’s as inevitable as the sun rising or Sam Allardyce squeezing a point out of us. Every. Goddam. Time.
But we’ll not shy away. It’s Neco Williams.
He’s shaky, rash and at times looks downright lost from a positional sense. But he’s 19 and he’s learning. There’s plenty of time left yet. Keep your chin up and ignore what the haters say.
Curtis Jones by a landslide.
The midfielder has thrust his name to the forefront of Klopp’s selection plans and it’s not just because he’s local. It’s not just because he’s young. It’s because he’s damn well earned it.
His recent performance against Tottenham showcased how far he has come since the turn of the year, and it’s not as if his year started badly (we’ll get to it).
Curtis Jones vs. Tottenham
94% Pass accuracy (106/113)
2/3 Accurate long passes
2 Chances created
1/3 Shots on target
4/5 Aerial duels won
Jones moves from strength to strength. First he didn't look out of place, then he looked comfortable, now he stands out. pic.twitter.com/YSKBAaklKm
— The Tactical Times (@Tactical_Times) December 16, 2020
Jones has gone from a player you HOPE will produce, to a player you now EXPECT to produce. And week in week out he does just that.
There are a few question marks hanging over some of Liverpool’s current midfield options. Injury (Ox), performance (Keita), age (Milner). Whichever player’s future you pick out for questioning, the answer is simple. Curtis Jones.
A toss-up between Roberto Firmino and Joe Gomez.
The Brazilian has dipped from his lofty high standards in 2020, notching just seven goals in the year. His recent resurgence has given fresh optimism that his once-elite levels can again be reached, but what really saves him here is just how stark Gomez’s decline has been.
While Firmino continues to compliment others and provide for the team even when not firing in front of goal, some of Gomez’s displays since the title was won in late-June have been truly eye-opening.
Error-strewn, indecision, reckless. Think of any negative trait around the art of defending and Gomez has unfortunately exhibited it in the last six months.
There’s no doubt in our minds that this is just a phase, and that Joey G will once again become a top-class centre-half. But if Liverpool currently had a clean bill of health, Gomez would be fourth choice centre-back behind Van Dijk, Joel Matip and Fabinho.
Oh what a difference a year makes.
Best performance of the year
Three matches spring to mind, and they’re all recent.
November 3, UCL: Atalanta 0-5 Liverpool
December 6, EPL: Liverpool 4-0 Wolves
December 19, EPL: Crystal Palace 0-7 Liverpool
The Premier League victories were decisive, but the 5-0 away demolition of last season’s Champions League quarterfinalists stands out.
That display was as complete as they come. The Italian outfit are a team that notched 98 goals in Serie A last season. They’re like Kevin Keegan’s Newcastle or Brendan Rodgers’ Liverpool. They’ll go toe-to-toe with Europe’s best and more often than not, land the heavier punches.
Against Liverpool that night, they were systematically beaten to a pulp.
It was an outclassing the likes of which you usually expect to see against teams from Bulgaria or Cyprus. Not Italy, not Atalanta.
The reverse 2-0 defeat at Anfield three weeks later goes to show just how impressive this particular performance was.
Worst performance of the year
The signs were there five days earlier versus West Ham, but Salah and Mane were able to overcome the Reds’ defensive errors on that Anfield night.
Five days later, there would be no comeback as Liverpool sunk to a shambolic 3-0 defeat to Watford on February 29.
The most disappointing aspect of the defeat was that all three goals were avoidable.
#1: A throw-in that Lovren allowed to bounce over his head for reasons unbeknownst to man.
#2: That deadly set piece – the throw-in – once more as Van Dijk and Lovren were caught on their heels as Ismaila Sarr raced away.
#3: A sloppy back pass from Alexander-Arnold.
You need relative perfection to achieve an unbeaten season. This was the opposite.
Honourable mention: Chelsea 2-0 Liverpool (FA Cup fifth round, March 3)
Goal of the year
No need to rabbit on about this, it’s Curtis Jones v Everton (FA Cup third round, January 3).
Let the pictures do the talking.
What a year it has been for young Curtis Jones.