For the third successive year, Outside of the Boot recognises the individuals who stood above & beyond the rest in their respective leagues. With Europe’s top five leagues the focus of our End of Season Awards, we pick out the best players across their respective positions, the best manager, the exceptional Talent Radar young player, and of course the sole man standing above the rest.
Each individual award (like every previous season) has been decided by a combined vote of our readers, and the editorial team on this website.
MANAGER OF THE SEASON
Criticism echoed from all corners when Claudio Ranieri was appointed as Leicester’s manager. Yet somehow, the Italian managed a solid back hand and silenced all of them by leading the club to the top of the Premier League. Ranieri’s work involved keeping much of the squad that he inherited from Nigel Pearson and used motivation rather than 21st century convoluted tactics to keep his plan straightforward. We’re pretty sure Claudio took inspiration from Man Men’s Don Draper when he employed his philosophy of “make it simple, but significant.”
Mauricio Pochettino who led a young Spurs side in the title race finishes in second place, followed by Eddie Howe who impressed with his newly promoted Bournemouth side. Claudio Ranieri becomes the first Premier League winning manager to win this award with the previous two editions going to Ronaldo Koeman and Brendan Rodgers.
KEEPER OF THE SEASON
2015/16 was supposed to be the season Manchester United returned to winning ways. While much of the squad have put in below par performances for significant parts of the season, a certain David De Gea couldn’t care less about Louis Van Gaal, his philosophy and that notebook he keeps scribbling in. The Spaniard has had one of the best seasons of his career so far (individually of course), managing to save United on multiple occasions. Given the remarkable performances he has had this season, other clubs are going to be ready to yank out their fax machines and double check if they’re working.
Premier League winning Kasper Schmeichel missed out on top spot, beating off competition from Stoke’s Jack Butland. David De Gea retained his crown having won this award last season; Crystal Palace’s Julian Speroni who impressed in the 2013-14 season was the first recipient of this award.
DEFENDER OF THE SEASON
Harry Kane and Dele Alli have been the main focal point in the media but a large portion of the Spurs’ title charge is due to their excellent defense throughout the season. At the heart of their defence is Toby Alderweireld, who played a big role in Spurs having the best defensive record in the league. The Belgian has had an excellent first season in London, featuring in every league match. Looking forward, the 27-year-old has enough experience in Europe to help guide Spurs from the back.
Leicester City’s Premier League winning duo of Wes Morgan and Robert Huth were the primary challengers to Alderweireld’s spot, finishing second and third respectively. John Terry remains the only defender to win the award in the season his side won the Premier League as well, with Seamus Coleman being the other award winner.
MIDFIELDER OF THE SEASON
When French midfielder N’Golo Kante moved to Leicester City from Caen last summer, being a key part of a title winning side was probably one of the last things that crossed his mind. Steve Walsh, the man who scouted Kante, found that his strengths were a perfect match for this Leicester side that powered itself on grit and persistence. The 25 year old may not have the stats to show for his influential role in Leicester’s title charge but was certainly the driving force in the Foxes’ midfield throughout the season. Kante was named in the PFA Team of the Year and had a record breaking one-forty-nine successful tackles in the season.
The closest threat to Kante’s hold of this award was his fellow team-mate Riyah Mahrez, who won named PFA Player of the Year. Spurs’ Dele Alli, despite his incredible season, took third spot. Traditionally, this specific award has resided with Premier League winning midfielders, as Eden Hazard and Yaya Toure won it during their sides’ league winning campaigns.
FORWARD OF THE SEASON
Despite an outstanding effort by Harry Kane this season, this year’s award belongs to Jamie Vardy, who was the focal point of Leicester’s title charge. The England international managed to score twenty-four goals and provide eight assists, making him directly involved in nearly half of Leicester’s goals this season. Jamie Vardy is by no means a world class talent but makes up for that lacking with his astonishing work ethic that fits directly in Ranieri’s approach to keep things simple. His record breaking eleven successive goal-scoring games further pushed him towards this award, ahead of his competitors.
Premier League Golden Boot winner for the season, Harry Kane took second spot as last season’s winner Sergio Aguero finished in third place, just ahead of Everton’s Romelu Lukaku. Jamie Vardy is the first player to win this award without having finished as the top scorer. Not that far fetched when you consider the season he’s had.
TALENT RADAR YOUNG PLAYER OF THE SEASON
After returning from his loan spell at MK Dons, majority of the folk out there were sure that Dele Alli wouldn’t be a significant part of Spurs’ plans for the year. Alli managed to feature for the London club a total of 46 times across all competitions and managed to score 10 goals in the Premier League and provide 9 assists. The 20-year-old has surprised many with his confidence and maturity in play and even managed to earn an England call up. This was a timely season for Alli, who may be an integral part of England’s plans for the Euros.
His Spurs team-mate and last season’s winner of the award, Harry Kane, finished in second place ahead of Stoke City’s impressive keeper – Jack Butland. Raheem Sterling was the first winner of this award which has since been dominated by Spurs’ excellent young set-up.
PLAYER OF THE SEASON
Having come through from the unknown and taken the Premier League by storm, there was only one winner for the Player of the Season award on Outside of the Boot. While other midfielders stood out in the goals & assists category, Kante’s hold of Leicester midfield and his command of Premier League games was remarkable. A solid enforcer in every regard, Kante’s rise in the footballing world has been incredible, even managing a call-up to the France national team.
An award dominated by Leicester City players, no one would fault us for giving the award to any of those individuals. Riyad Mahrez and Jamie Vardy were ultimately the individuals that finished in the top three, but besides some competition from Spurs’ players, it was very much an award dominated by Premier League winning Leicester City. Kante’s in special company as well, with Chelsea’s Eden Hazard and ex-Liverpool star, Luis Suarez, the previous winners of the award.