Remember when a few celebrities dies in 2016 and we were convinced it was the worst year in history?
2020 has made an absolute mockery of 2016.
We’re not quite sure we can find the words to sum up the year – so we’ll leave it to some others from across the world of football and beyond to do it for us.
Nick Cushing announced he was stepping down as Manchester City Women’s manager in January to take up an assistant coach role with New York City.
However, City still had five games to play between Cushing’s announcement and departure in February. What were they like, Nick?
“These last five games have felt like I’ve split up with my girlfriend but I’m still living in the same house as her.”
Often, pundits hit the spot when it comes to analysis.
Sometimes, we should just leave it to well-spoken British actors.
Hugh Grant attempted to explain who Norwich City were to co star Matthew McConaughey during Football Focus‘ Premier League predictions in January, and summed up Daniel Farke’s likeable but ultimately very beatable top flight outfit perfectly.
“Oh they’re charming. They play in silly yellow.”
Crowds have largely been absent from football grounds since March as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.
For supporters, the absence of football on a Saturday afternoon left a void in their lives – and the absence of fans left football feeling similarly empty.
Leeds manager Marcelo Bielsa and his trusty translator best articulated the importance of fans to football (via Leeds Live).
“Everyone who is a part of this business that football has become is replaceable. The only people who cannot be replaced are you, the fans. The people who don’t ask for anything in return, only emotions.”
Sometimes the shortest quotes are the best.
In June it was announced that Everton full-back Luke Garbutt would be leaving the club at the end of the month following 11 years at Goodison Park (although admittedly punctuated by six separate loan spells).
Carlo Ancelotti was asked for his thoughts on the player. He paused to carefully consider which words would be most befitting of Garbutt, before replying:
Bury have had a rough old time of it over the past 18 months, and in August the club released a statement keeping fans updated on their latest attempts to regain their EFL status.
So far, so normal.
The statement then concluded with:
“Finally, in an unrelated matter.”
And when they said unrelated, they meant unrelated.
An attack on the BBC, the licence fee and the Last Night of the Proms controversy then ensued.
“The Suits that wander the corridors of power at the BBC decide that one of our greatest events, which when watching makes you proud to be British of what we were but certainly not at what were at risk of becoming. It would now seem they have determined we can no longer sing rousing songs that bound our once GREAT COUNTRY together, again it seems the moral compass of the few control the many. ITS WRONG”
Bayern Munich’s 8-2 win over Barcelona in August was one of the most ridiculous, outrageous and iconic footballing moments of 2020.
Bayern headed into the fixture on an outstanding run of form, unbeaten in 2020 and with a 100% record in the Champions League during the 2019/20 campaign. However, Barcelona’s Arturo Vidal was quick to warn Bayern not to be complacent.
“Tomorrow they are not playing against Bundesliga teams but they are playing against FC Barcelona, the best team in the world.”
Hindsight is a wonderful thing.
Antonio Conte was in a chipper mood after Inter’s Champions League exit.
The Serie A outfit drew 0-0 with Shakhtar Donetsk in their final group game to crash out of Europe, and when asked by a journalist how his side had managed to play out two stalemates home and away against Shakhtar, having beaten them 5-0 in August, Conte replied:
“They lost 5-0, so that’s why they changed. Think before asking questions.”
Scotland provided one of the feel good moments of 2020 as the men’s side qualified for a major tournament for the first time in 23 years via a dramatic penalty shootout victory over Serbia.
Celtic’s Ryan Christie gave a beautifully emotional interview at full time that captured what every Scot was feeling as he attempted to describe watching the spot kicks, before simply concluding:
“Ohhhhh. I’m gone.”
Most footballers feign modesty when asked about individual awards – they don’t really matter, all about the team etc.
However, Chelsea Women’s boss Emma Hayes very refreshingly admitted that she was absolutely thrilled to be nominated for the Best FIFA Women’s Coach award (via the Sun) – before bringing herself back down to earth when discussing her outfit choice for the ceremony.
“I have got a lot of musician friends who lived in America when I lived there. And I say to them, ‘this is like being nominated for a Grammy, or an Oscar’. Apparently I have to wear formal attire. But because I’m going to be at home on a computer, I think I’m going to put something over my pyjamas.”
Football lost a true great in November as World Cup winner Diego Maradona passed away.
Summing up the flawed genius of Maradona is impossible, but a conversation between an Uber driver and journalist Roberto Lioi is the best way to describe why the imperfect Argentinian was so infectiously adored.
“Messi is what every Argentine would like to be. Maradona is what we are.”