Every match this season has been covered front to back here at The Mane Land, from previews and how to watch, to live tweeting and Facebook banter, to takeaways, and the always debated player grades and Man of the Match. This season, I decided to compile the grades throughout the season, and run them through an extremely complex algorithm (called an average) as well as log the MotM winners, both as voted by the staff, as well as the reader’s poll winner. Writers and readers agreed most of the time, but not always.
To make it a little more fun, instead of just releasing a list of the players who were given the MotM honors the most, why not look at what the starting XI would look like if we used the players at the top of the MotM table for the season? For clarity, this does not take into account the position the player was in when they won MotM, as a few players to be named momentarily have played at numerous positions throughout the season. Also, for ease, let’s fill out a 4-2-3-1 formation.
Do you start the young gun who came into the team after all hope was effectively lost, or the veteran who was solid during the shining moments in the early parts of the season, but fell from grace when the losses started mounting? Joe Bendik, who received one MotM award early in the season, or Adam Grinwis, who received two from the writers and one from the readers? Honestly, I would go with Grinwis.
Two of the four names should be fairly obvious, but the other two might come as a bit of a surprise. Let’s go ahead and get the obvious choices out of the way. The left and right back positions we can go ahead and fill with Mohamed El-Munir and Scott Sutter. El-Mo had the highest number of MotM nods with four and Sutter was tied for second on the defensive crew with three. Picking the center backs is where things get a bit interesting.
One slot is very obvious, and that goes to Amro Tarek. Amro was given MotM by the writers once, but recognized four times by the readers. In 34 matches, Amro was recognized by the readers more than any other player as their pick for MotM. The second center back position is a bit more difficult to choose. There is a tie between Lamine Sané and Shane O’Neill. Sane received one nod from the writers, and one from the readers while O’Neill received both of his from the readers. I’m going to use average grade for the year for the tiebreaker, which means Lamine Sané rounds out the back four.
Defensive mids, central attacking mid, and a left and right mid are all that are needed, but it may be a little difficult to pinpoint without a bit of imagination, and math. For the purposes of this article, I will not place players into specific positions, but would like to hear from you readers how you would position them. Similar to the defensive list, the midfield list has a few players that jump out immediately. Sacha Kljestan is one of three players with four MotM nods from the staff. Cristian Higuita also has four nods, with two coming from the staff and two coming from the readers. The final name that jumps out is Yoshimar Yotún, with three nods from the staff and one from the readers.
As we scour the list, Chris Mueller is the next player to jump out. Mueller received two nods from the staff and one from the readers early this season. Picking the final body to round out the midfield comes down to three choices: Oriol Rosell, Josué Colmán, and Carlos Ascues. All three players received a nod from both the staff and readers, so that doesn’t help to make the choice, so I think that once again we will have to leverage the final season grade. By the slimmest of margins, a difference of 0.02 to be precise, Carlos Ascues will round out the five-man midfield.
The most obvious of all the positions to fill will be this one, as the Lions have really limited depth at striker, and one name will rise to the top quickly, and with four nods from the staff, it should surprise no one that Dom Dwyer will hold the lone striker position up top.
If pressed to define a formation, here is how I would have them line up.
As you dig back through the haze of clouds that surround this past season, did I miss anyone in your mind? Would you line these XI up differently? Who would think would be on the bench? Let me know in the comments below.