Carra and Neville’s end-of-season MNF awards
Jamie Carragher and Gary Neville revealed their end-of-season awards in the final Monday Night Football of the campaign.
The Sky Sports pundits each selected their player of the season, young player of the season, signing of the season and manager of the season for the 2020/21 Premier League campaign.
They also named their teams of the season, and while they both included Ruben Dias, Luke Shaw, Kevin De Bruyne, Bruno Fernandes, Phil Foden and Harry Kane, they differed on the remaining five. Read on to see their selections in full.
Carra’s player of the season: Ruben Dias
“I said on this show at the start of the season that if this signing didn’t work, it would be the end of City and Pep. You might think that’s a huge statement, but he was a £65m defender. They never replaced Vincent Kompany and last season that was a huge blow for them but he has come in and been the best defender in the league – and for me the best player.
“He’s like Puyol. The amount of blocks he made in the Champions League game the other day, it reminded me of John Terry. Also, his leadership qualities for such a young player. To go into that big a team and look like the leader of the team, I think that’s pretty special.”
Neville’s player of the season: Ruben Dias
“Dias has surprised me, dominating like he has for someone so young. I played with Jaap Stam, Gary Pallister, Steve Bruce, Nemanja Vidic, Rio Ferdinand… Dias is one of those who makes the rest of the team safe.
“The impact of the great centre-back is not just what they do in terms of their own performance, they impact everybody else in that back four and the people in front of them. Dias is exceptional.
“At the start of the season I didn’t think there was any way that City back four could win the league, so for him to do what he’s done, he’s been the most important player this season.”
Carra’s young player of the season: Phil Foden
“He is a player who is classed more as a midfielder, but wide left is the position he has played for Pep and it’s his actual performances there where you are thinking ‘wow’. He’s not just a great player, we have lots of great players, but he is different – and not just in terms of being English, but in the Premier League.”
Neville’s young player of the season: Phil Foden
“When was the last time we saw an exceptional English talent like Phil Foden? Wayne Rooney? Foden is a once-in-a-generation type player, he’s that good. He’s unbelievable.
“Let’s not forget, he’s played at Manchester City, to get into that team, with that manager, you’ve got be something unbelievably special. Foden could be something outrageous in the coming years if he gets it right on and off the pitch.”
Carra’s signing of the season: Tomas Soucek
“I’m just thinking about the impact of West Ham. I must say that he had a taste of the Premier League before, he was on loan last season. But he is a typical David Moyes player and he has had a huge impact.
“The goals he gets from the midfield and the combination with Declan Rice. We can talk about teams having great seasons, but the turnaround at West Ham has been huge.
“This is a team that was fighting relegation now going for the Champions League and I think he, for me, is possibly the most important player around that and what he is like in both boxes, which is a huge part of West Ham’s success.”
Neville’s signing of the season: Edinson Cavani
“If Cavani hadn’t worked and it had become another Falcao then they would have become a laughing stock – ‘United have got it wrong again’. It was such a risk, they must have been a little anxious. There was a risk and it has paid off handsomely.”
Carra’s manager of the season: Pep Guardiola
“If you go back to the last game of last season for Manchester City, that Champions League defeat to Lyon, it was a real bad one. Everyone blamed Pep Guardiola for that. They came back for the following season without having much break.
“When Leicester beat them 5-2, as a Liverpool supporter I fully expected Liverpool to win the league, the problems were there for City and I didn’t expect to see what they have done this season.
“I actually think this is one of Pep’s greatest achievements because that spine of Vincent Kompany, David Silva are not there and even Sergio Aguero hasn’t played that many games. The legends who have built City’s success over the last decade are not there, Pep has created something different.”
Neville’s manager of the season: Pep Guardiola… or Thomas Tuchel!
“If Tuchel wins the Champions League, the FA Cup and Chelsea finish in the top four then it’s him. If you said to me three or four months ago that Chelsea would win the FA Cup, the Champions League and finish in the top four, I would have said ‘no chance’. To win a Champions League is a massive thing.
“Brendan Rodgers has done brilliantly and you do have to balance off the budget and the players these managers have. Rodgers and Sean Dyche are exceptional managerial performances – and David Moyes at West Ham has been exceptional too.
“But I would still go with Guardiola or Tuchel because to win the Champions League and the league in the same season takes some doing.”
Carra’s team of the season
Carra’s XI: Martinez, Coufal, Stones, Dias, Shaw, Kante, De Bruyne, Fernandes, Foden, Son, Kane.
“It would have been easy to go for Ederson in goal, he’s got the most clean sheets, but I think he’s had very little to do because City’s back four has been so strong. But if I think of a team who almost went down to a comfortable top-10 team, Aston Villa, their goalkeeper Emiliano Martinez jumps to mind. He’s had 17 clean sheets, the best saves-to-shots ratio in the league and he’s just been a brilliant signing and one of the top goalkeepers in the league.
“At right-back I’ve gone for Vladimir Coufal, I love him. He plays week in, week out, has been brilliant and typifies West Ham’s season. Then there’s Luke Shaw at left-back, he’s been absolutely outstanding.
“In midfield I’ve gone for N’Golo Kante, who since Thomas Tuchel has come in has been as good as any player in the league – some of his Champions League performances have been outrageous!
“And up top, I went for Heung-min Son. I know Mohamed Salah is top scorer but in terms of goals and assists, Son has more. Next to Son I’ve gone with Harry Kane, both of their numbers are brilliant considering they’ve played most of the season in a team which is defensive.”
Neville’s team of the season
Neville’s XI: Mendy, Walker, Dias, Maguire, Shaw, Gundogan, De Bruyne, Fernandes, Rashford, Foden, Kane.
“For me, it’s Eduoard Mendy in goal because I think, with the goalkeeper they had, Chelsea had massive issues and would not be where they are now. Since Thomas Tuchel has come in, their fortunes have changed defensively and he’s been a big part of that.
“Kyle Walker has become an outstanding performer in a defensive position for Manchester City. He’s been a lot more disciplined in how he’s played. I think he’s been an important part of what they’ve done.
“I think John Stones has had a fantastic season, but he’s ‘cuddled’ by Dias and Walker and that’s a big thing – the pace on one side and Dias outstanding on the other. I think Harry Maguire is the outstanding centre-back other than Dias in the league and that’s nothing to do with him being Manchester United. I think he’s been reliable, he’s been consistent, he’s started to show authority and I think Manchester United have got a very good player there. If City had him and Dias together, they would be almost unstoppable.
“The reason I went for Ilkay Gundogan is that I think he transformed Manchester City’s season. At the period when they weren’t playing well, in that two or three-month period, I thought he was the main man. He was absolutely out of this world in this period and what they’ve gone on to do since is because of him.
“On the left, I went for Marcus Rashford. When he was doing all that stuff off the pitch, which was incredible, I thought there must be a consequence of that on the pitch, that he would start to falter and that the injuries would pick up or he would be distracted. But he just kept going and kept performing and he’s still there. Sadio Mane has obviously been outstanding for the last three weeks, Son is a brilliant player, but I went for Rashford because of his overall contribution on and off the pitch. Maybe there’s a bit of emotion there.”