While other clubs were getting up to seasonal merriment last December, Liverpool chose to forgo the festivities in favour of concentrating on a congested fixture list. They'd wait until the end of the season, they said, and hope that if everything fell into place they'd have more than just a several months late holiday shindig to celebrate.
With this in mind it's odd that the club chose to hold its first annual Players' Awards Dinner with one game left to go in the season, and although it's been planned for quite some time, coming hot on the heels of the draw against Crystal Palace makes the timing of the event feel more than a bit of awkward. Photos from the event show a not entirely chipper group of players, but members of all areas of the club dutifully attended the event to honour one another's achievements in the past year.
Luis Suarez was the unsurprising runaway winner with three awards: two Player of the Year gongs (one voted for by fans, the other by his teammates), and Goal of the Season for his incredible volley against Norwich City.
"Luis seems to be cleaning up at the moment," Steven Gerrard said on his teammate. "He's won everything, and we are lucky to have such a world-class talent like Luis playing here with us and helping us to great things and be successful. I have played with some top players over the years at this club, world class players but for me this player is in a league of his own.
"He is out there by a big distance and that is no disrespect to all the players I've played with, there has been some top talent for club and country, but this fella can do the lot, he is different to most footballers. He has a heart as big as anyone's and I don't have to mention his talent, you can see it out there and he is a fighter who doesn't give up. There is some disappointment looming around but if this fella stays around for a few more years I think there will be some really big nights."
Other first team players who were recipients of awards were Raheem Sterling, who was named as the Young Player of the Year, and Lucas Leiva, who won the Bill Shankly Award in recognition of a player "who has upheld the club's values, showing dignity, unity, commitment and ambition" through his work with LFC's foundation. Brendan Rodgers also took home the prize for Outstanding Achievement for what should hopefully be very obvious reasons.
The awards might be perceived as consolation prizes by those who were hoping for the team to win slightly more important silverware this season, but for the players it's a chance to be recognized by their peers within the organization. It's certainly not the same as winning the title, but it's at least a small pick-me-up after two disappointing results.
Whether the players feel any lingering disappointment over the title slipping from their grasp remains to be seen only in the length of their depression beards.
- Fans’ Player of the Year – Luis Suarez
- Players’ Player of the Year – Luis Suarez
- Young Player of the Year – Raheem Sterling
- Ladies Players’ Player of the Year – Nicole Rolser
- Academy Players’ Player of the Year – Jordan Rossiter
- Goal of the Season – Luis Suarez v Norwich City
- Bill Shankly Award – Lucas Leiva
- Outstanding Achievement Award – Brendan Rodgers
- Lifetime Achievement Award – Ronnie Moran
- Staff Recognition Award – Matt Walker
- Fan of the Year – Rado Chmiel
- Supporters’ Club of the Year – Paris