Sportsmail’s reporters reveal their answers to the key questions in our end of season awards 

The 2018-19 season will be remembered for VAR, Spygate and dramatic European comebacks. Its highs and lows have included a title race which went down to the wire, a defiant Chelsea goalkeeper and the tragic death of Cardiff striker Emiliano Sala.

Vincent Kompany’s unlikely goal of the season contender and the sound of Tottenham’s new stadium have been symbolic of a campaign laden with compelling moments. 

As another thrilling football season draws to a close, Sportsmail’s reporters give you their answers to the key questions in our end-of-season awards. 

IAN LADYMAN – Manchester City 4 Tottenham 3 in the Champions League. It was already the best game of the season after 11 minutes when the score stood at 2-2. And then it got an awful lot better.

DOMINIC KING – Spain 2 England 3 in the Nations League last October. Brilliant venue in Seville, incredible atmosphere, historic result and the game that propelled Raheem Sterling forward.

MATT BARLOW – Tottenham 1 Manchester City 0. To see Spurs claim this big Champions League win and savour the din in their fabulous new stadium was memorable. 

SAMI MOKBEL – Tottenham 1 Manchester City 0 in the Champions League. First European night at Spurs’ new stadium – just wow. 

IAN HERBERT – Croatia 3 Spain 2.  Before a partisan crowd in Zagreb’s bouncing little national stadium, the hosts led Spain twice before a 93rd-minute winner that kept alive Croatia’s – and England’s – hopes of making the semi-finals of the Nations League.

CHRIS WHEELER – PSG 1 Manchester United 3. Bonkers game, stunning result. It’s been downhill all the way for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and his team since. 

ADAM CRAFTON – For atmosphere more than quality, Eintracht Frankfurt’s 1-1 first-leg draw with Chelsea was uplifting. The colour, sound, murals and bounce of the German crowd.

RIATH AL-SAMARRAI – Newport 2 Leicester 1 in the FA Cup third round. There were 74 league places between them and there should have been more than one goal. A brilliant game, a brilliant story. 

CRAIG HOPE – Newcastle 2 Manchester City 1. A team fighting for survival versus one fighting for the title. The second half was as loud as I’ve heard St James’ in recent years as Newcastle recovered from conceding inside the first minute to somehow claim victory.

JACK GAUGHAN – Manchester City 4 Tottenham 3 in the Champions League quarter-final second leg. One of the most dramatic games I’ve ever seen. 

LAURIE WHITWELL – Aston Villa 5 Nottingham Forest 5. Utterly bonkers with some great strikes.

IAN LADYMAN – The first one. Liverpool against West Ham. A Keita pass to Robertson on the overlap and a far post cross for Salah to tap in. A sign of things to come. 

DOMINIC KING – Spoilt for choice but let’s go for Mohamed Salah’s thunderbolt against Chelsea at Anfield. It was in from the minute it left his boot and the noise it generated was incredible. 

MATT BARLOW – Alvaro Morata’s goal for Chelsea at Southampton after 31 passes which could have fooled anyone into thinking Morata had turned a corner and Sarriball was the future. 

SAMI MOKBEL – Everton’s Lucas Digne’s own goal against Southampton at St Mary’s. Scoring an own goal from 20 yards takes some doing. 

IAN HERBERT – Substitute Daniel Sturridge’s stunning 30-yard strike which looped over Kepa Arrizabalaga to secure Liverpool an improbable 1-1 draw in the 89th minute at Chelsea. So utterly unexpected from a player whose Liverpool career had seemed over. He hasn’t scored again this season. 

CHRIS WHEELER – Lionel Messi’s opener for Barca against Man Utd in the Nou Camp, stealing the ball off Young, nutmegging Fred and bamboozling Jones before curling a shot around Smalling and De Gea. A privilege to be there.

ADAM CRAFTON – Aaron Ramsey’s picture-book goal against Fulham belonged in the happiest days of the Arsene Wenger era. There were one-touch tricks from four players as the Gunners travelled from the halfway line to goal in the blink of an eye. Ramsey applied the finishing touch with an exquisite backheel.

RIATH AL-SAMARRAI – Daniel James for Swansea against Brentford in the FA Cup. An 80-yard run and finish. Fantastic. 

CRAIG HOPE – Sean Longstaff, Newcastle 2 Burnley 0. The academy graduate raised the roof with his first at St James’ Park, an emphatic finish to climax a move he started.

JACK GAUGHAN – Andros Townsend’s 35-yard volley at the Etihad.

LAURIE WHITWELL – A howitzer from the above match by Nottingham Forest’s Joe Lolley. It swerved and soared from 30 yards. 

IAN LADYMAN – Ben Foster. The best goalkeeper in the division this season. Would be playing for England if only he wanted to. Bizarre he won’t be in Watford’s team for Saturday’s FA Cup final. 

DOMINIC KING – Bernardo Silva. He is a joy to watch. He’s got wonderful skills but his work rate and relentless running are something else.

MATT BARLOW – Eden Hazard, a genius, and the best player in the country, has hauled Chelsea back into the Champions League. Will be missed if he leaves.

SAMI MOKBEL – Son Heung-min. Stepped up to the plate when his needed him.

IAN HERBERT – Andrew Robertson, Liverpool. Unerringly consistent, phenomenally accurate delivery, defensive technical excellent and a way of discussing Liverpool which reveal a fundamental humility. A revelation this season.

CHRIS WHEELER – Bernardo Silva edges it ahead of Sadio Mane. The margins between Man City and Liverpool have been so close all season. 

ADAM CRAFTON – Bernardo Silva, who I would actually put ahead of Sterling. Manchester City have not missed Kevin De Bruyne and it’s all down to their relentless and gifted Portuguese midfielder.

RIATH AL-SAMARRAI – Sadio Mane – 22 goals and a habit of delivering in games when Mo Salah was quiet earlier in the season.

CRAIG HOPE – Bernardo Silva. He could be the Premier League’s best attacking midfielder for the next five years at least.

JACK GAUGHAN – Bernardo Silva is a little genius, a pleasure to watch.

LAURIE WHITWELL – Sadio Mane has been consistently excellent and worthy of recognition. 

IAN LADYMAN – Nuno Espirito Santo . It is hard to remember the last time a promoted team played quite as bravely and ambitiously as Wolves. Nuno’s stylish team have left a lasting impression and it is the coach who sets the tone.

DOMINIC KING – Impossible to split Jurgen Klopp and Pep Guardiola. The teams they have built and the results they have obtained put them on another level. Important, however, to also mention Nino Espirito Santo at Wolves.

MATT BARLOW – Sol Campbell: Macclesfield were down and out when he turned up at Moss Rose.

SAMI MOKBEL – Jurgen Klopp. To push Manchester City all the way and reach the Champions League final in THAT manner…extraordinary.

IAN HERBERT – By some distance, Nuno Espirito Santo, Wolves. Has assembled an attractive, well-balanced side on a fraction of the budget of the six teams who sit above his own. Only City and Liverpool have taken more points from top six sides. And all of this in his and the club’s first season back in the top flight.

CHRIS WHEELER – Nuno Espirito Santo for a fantastic job at Wolves. Just a shame they aren’t in the Cup Final. 

ADAM CRAFTON – Obvious candidates aside, Nuno Espírito Santo is my pick. Some teams you watch and wonder what they do in training all week long. Santo’s team are the opposite; well-drilled and perfectly prepared.

RIATH AL-SAMARRAI – Mauricio Pochettino. He continues to deliver the most with the least.

CRAIG HOPE – Chris Wilder, Sheffield United. Proof that canny management and shrewd recruitment can get you out of the Championship.

JACK GAUGHAN – Nuno Espirito Santo at Wolves for how they handled the top six.

LAURIE WHITWELL – Chris Wilder has worked miracles against a backdrop of boardroom turmoil.

IAN LADYMAN – Romelu Lukaku’s first touch. (Usually the first of at least three)

DOMINIC KING – Lionel Messi’s free-kick against Liverpool in the Champions League semi-final. It was a privilege to be there and see it.

MATT BARLOW – Watford’s comeback in the FA Cup semi-final.

SAMI MOKBEL – Kepa Arrizabalaga refusing to be substituted in the Carabao Cup semi-final. Outright defiance.

IAN HERBERT – Eden Hazard’s performance in the 3-0 home win over Bournemouth, back in the autumn. Lost in the mists of time now but it was virtuoso. The levels Hazard reached last autumn were as high as any since he arrived from Lille seven years ago.

CHRIS WHEELER – The climax to Tottenham’s Champions League quarter-final win over Man City after Raheem Sterling’s late goal was ruled out by VAR. Never known drama like that.

ADAM CRAFTON – Manchester United ending a football match at Huddersfield with Ashley Young and Phil Jones as their centre-backs. If ever a moment summed up their decline.

RIATH AL-SAMARRAI – Bournemouth beating Chelsea 4-0 – the latter’s biggest defeat in 22 years. Chelsea have had some very good games under Sarri, but this, against a team that typically gets battered by the top four, was surely the worst.

CRAIG HOPE – Leeds boss Marcelo Bielsa allowing Aston Villa to walk through for an equalising goal.  

JACK GAUGHAN – It can only be Chelsea goalkeeper Kepa Arrizabalaga’s refusal to come off in the Carabao Cup final

LAURIE WHITWELL – Does a cabbage being thrown at Steve Bruce count?


IAN LADYMAN – Newcastle and Leicester recently showed us that it is possible to play openly against Liverpool and Manchester City. Not enough teams do it.

DOMINIC KING – Seemingly weekly reports of racism, discrimination and appalling behaviour. We cannot go back to the dark ages.

MATT BARLOW – Strong category, especially at Man United but, hat’s off to Alexis Sanchez, pound for pound the runaway winner.

SAMI MOKBEL – Manchester City’s VAR disallowed last minute winner in the second leg Champions League loss to Tottenham. The decision was right – but the feeling of being robbed of one of the moments of the season was deflating.

IAN HERBERT – Cardiff City’s failure to meet their contractual agreements and pay Nantes for Emiliano Sala, after the player’s death in a plane crash – or to adequately look after his family. The blame game which followed that tragedy, with insurers calling the shots, has been despicable.

CHRIS WHEELER – Alexis Sanchez. Jose Mourinho said we would see the best of him this season. Instead we’ve probably seen the last of him.

ADAM CRAFTON – Fulham. A lesson in everything a promoted side should not be. Signed recklessly and alienated those who did so much to drag them back to the Premier League.

RIATH AL-SAMARRAI – VAR. Its introduction, its application, the discussions about its introduction and application.

CRAIG HOPE – Kenedy. Newcastle would have done a permanent deal of around £20m last summer had Chelsea allowed it. What a lucky escape that proved to be. The winger has look disinterested all season and will return to Chelsea with his value greatly diminished.

JACK GAUGHAN – Burnley’s uneasy relationship with the Europa League. They should’ve gone for it.

LAURIE WHITWELL – David Wagner’s story ending at Huddersfield, who have gone down with a whimper.

IAN LADYMAN – Am I allowed to talk about Lukaku’s first touch again?

DOMINIC KING – It is more the funniest moment I gave everyone else. Getting the time wrong of a press conference and walking through the door after the manager had just left on Good Friday caused no end of amusement to my colleagues.

MATT BARLOW – That Charlie Austin Parklife clip.

SAMI MOKBEL – The bromance between Gary Neville and Jamie Carragher on the box. I love the banter – and they love each other.

IAN HERBERT – The shirtless Newcastle fans and their rendition of Wham’s Last Christmas with Rafa Benitez lyrics, sung at a bitterly cold Huddersfield in December.

CHRIS WHEELER – Marouane Fellaini’s wayward shot at Anfield in December that knocked a steward sitting by the corner flag off his stool. Reminded me of that scene in Dodgeball where the innocent bystander is knocked out cold next to the jukebox.

ADAM CRAFTON – Spygate. Wound up all the right people.

RIATH AL-SAMARRAI – I wasn’t there, but anyone could appreciate the marvellous of Neil Warnock saying ‘to hell with the rest of the world’ in front of a Visit Malaysia sponsor board at his own club.

CRAIG HOPE – Terry Hurlock. I met him in a London pub for an interview and laughed from the minute he walked in and I asked him what he wanted to drink. ‘Well I don’t want a f****** latte, do I?’.

JACK GAUGHAN – The sheer contempt in Kevin De Bruyne’s face when asked to assess Tottenham’s new stadium. ‘Everybody has a stadium. Everyone has fans.’ De Bruyne just stopped short of rolling his eyes.

LAURIE WHITWELL – My pathetic attempts to beat Matt Doherty in a chipping contest during our interview at the golf course. He was very sympathetic, obviously…

IAN LADYMAN – Hamza Choudhury. Confident, quick, energetic and two-footed. The young Leicester midfielder will only get better under Brendan Rodgers.

DOMINIC KING – Rhian Brewster. He has recovered from a serious knee injury and the 19-year-old is held in high regard by Jurgen Klopp.

MATT BARLOW – Norwich full backs Max Aarons and Jamal Lewis. Two to watch.

SAMI MOKBEL – Reiss Nelson – will return from his loan spell at Hoffenheim. Could be exactly what Arsenal need.

IAN HERBERT – Ben Chilwell, Leicester City. Expect the club to reach new levels under Brendan Rodgers and under his tutelage Chilwell to emerge as one of the Premier League’s top defenders. Has all the attributes.

CHRIS WHEELER – Harvey Barnes. He’s been excellent for Leicester since returning from a loan spell at West Brom in January and establishing himself in the first-team.

ADAM CRAFTON – David Brooks. I half-wonder if his second half of the campaign, hindered by inconsistency and injuries, may derail a major summer move but he’s an exceptional, gliding talent and will only improve.

RIATH AL-SAMARRAI – David Brooks. He’s been outstanding for Bournemouth this year and if he maintains his form he’ll go to a top-six club.

CRAIG HOPE – Sean Longstaff, Newcastle. Rafa Benitez stumbled upon him because of injuries but the 21-year-old is a class act in the mould of Michael Carrick, except with a better engine and an eye for goal. An England call-up awaits.

JACK GAUGHAN – Dwight McNeill. Others garner more attention than the Burnley winger but he has a wicked left foot and still only 19.

LAURIE WHITWELL –  Diogo Jota. He’s already done superbly this campaign but his recent improvements suggest next year will be big.  


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