The Manchester United penalty of the week award has officially been scrapped.
I know, I know, it’s a sad day for the awards community. It feels tantamount to Leonardo DiCaprio finally winning his first Oscar, only to break the statuette over his knee and call for the abolishment of the Academy Awards.
I don’t doubt for one second that my phone will be gridlocked with missed calls from Bruno Fernandes, wondering in sheer hysteria how he’s possibly going to continue his footballing career without this irreparable change to the GIVEMESPORT Awards.
Goodbye Man Utd penalty of the week
But alas, with the men’s senior team at Old Trafford failing to win penalties on a weekly basis, we just didn’t have the heart to continually dish out our prestigious, gold-plated, historic accolade to the lesser-spotter penalty taker ‘N/A’.
He’s a top player, though, not going to lie.
But it’s a massive victory for the Facebook commenters who have been calling me various iterations of human genitalia over the past few weeks, duly exposing my uncontrollable, raging hatred for everything United.
Deep from within the cave in which I write my articles, decked out with Ole Gunnar Solskjaer pinned to a dartboard and a shrine to Graeme Souness, it’s taken some real emotional strength to dump this award on the scrapheap.
I don’t know how I’m going to function without it, I’m not going to lie, so feel free to send flowers, chocolates or iPhones to PO Box PleaseLord, LetReaders, SpotTheSarcasm, IAM2 FunE.
Ok, jokes aside, welcome to the new-year-new-me version of the GIVEMESPORT Awards, looking slimmer than ever in the spirit of those pumping the iron and ditching the booze throughout January.
But if you think we’ve gone all classy on you – a natural assumption to make, I’m sure – fear not because we’re still decking it out with the sort of silliness and light-heartedness that you can check out below:
Goal of the week
Luuk de Jong vs Valencia
The football purists out there must have been wetting themselves when Sevilla scored one of the greatest team goals in modern history in the Copa del Rey, completing 37 paces in a stunning move that featured all 11 players.
And it took a goal of such world-class proportions to defeat some tough competition this week with Lionel Messi and Luis Suarez scoring stunning free-kicks and Dani Parejo notching an absolute screamer for Villarreal.
Player of the week
Look, we’ll admit it, we’re guilty of leaning on Europe’s top five leagues here at the GMS Awards, so it’s about time we corrected our course and Doncaster Rovers’ Balcombe gave us the perfect excuse to.
Back-to-back clean sheets are a solid place to start, but it was Rovers’ second victory, over fellow promotion chasers Lincoln City, that saw Balcombe shine with two fantastic penalty saves, denying Jorge Grant and Anthony Scully.
That being said, we’d be remiss not to mention the likes of Mohamed Salah, Joshua Kimmich, Callum Hudson-Odoi and Suarez for their own magical displays over the last seven days.
Manager of the week
Levante had a week to remember with Lopez barking orders from the dugout, progressing to the Copa del Rey quarter-finals, something that La Liga leaders Atletico Madrid couldn’t achieve, with a 4-2 win at Real Valladolid.
But things got even better when Lopez’s men returned to league action, securing a memorable 2-1 win at Real Madrid with José Luis Morales Nogales and Roger Marti cancelling out Marco Asensio’s opener.
However, we couldn’t hand the award to Lopez without giving a special shoutout to Chris Wilder, whose Sheffield United team secured just their second league win of the season with an admirable triumph at Manchester United.
Game of the week
Inter Milan 2-1 AC Milan
Where do we even begin!? For starters, Zlatan Ibrahimovic opened the scoring for AC Milan, only to become embroiled in a viral altercation with Romelu Lukaku and earn himself a red card for fouling Aleksandar Kolarov.
Then, just to inject some extra drama, Lukaku himself drew the score level with an anger-fuelled penalty, teeing up Christian Eriksen, of all players, to secure the win with a glorious free-kick deep into stoppage time.
Outrageous skill of the week
Tanguy Ndombele vs Liverpool
There’s not been a lot to cheer about at Spurs recently, let’s face it, but the renaissance of Ndombele has certainly been one of them and he even channeled his inner Zinedine Zidane during the Liverpool defeat.
It had to take something special to dislodge Nicolas Pepe’s double nutmeg at Southampton from the top step of the podium, but the Frenchman sucking the soul out of James Milner with a gorgeous pirouette did just that.
Rodrigo vs Newcastle United
Thankfully, unlike early replays of the incident implied, Rodrigo didn’t spit at Fabian Schar, but he most certainly provided one of the most dramatic dives we’ve seen in the Premier League this season.
Don’t get me wrong, Schar was always asking for trouble tapping his opponent and leaning forward with his head, but if that’s all it takes to make Rodrigo fall over, then I guess he doesn’t leave the house whenever it’s windy.
Strangest punditry of the week
Harry Redknapp on Thomas Tuchel
According to The Sun, Redknapp mused on Sky Sports News: “Who says he’s a great manager? Winning titles at PSG in France doesn’t make you a great manager. What does that prove?
“You’re quite entitled to win the league in France when you’re managing PSG. Only time will tell how good he is.”
We love you, Harry, we really do, but judging Tuchel solely on the basis of winning every trophy under the sun with PSG, which is apparently a piece of cake, makes it look as though you’ve just skimmed through his Wikipedia page.
Disasterclass of the week
Newcastle United shooting drill
Before their gleefully unexpected win at Everton, Newcastle, in general, could well have occupied this award with a dark cloud hovering over St. James Park before, after and during their 2-1 defeat to Leeds United.
Besides, the writing was on the wall when Callum Wilson and Jacob Murphy had a nightmare in the pre-match shooting drill just as the commentary bemoaned Newcastle’s ‘tough time’ and how the players had to ‘step up.’
Tweet of the week
Martin de Roon mocking Zlatan Ibrahimovic
Yeh, so, it’s been something of a busy week for Ibrahimovic with the AC Milan striker sucked into a spat with the opposition long before his exchange with Lukaku made international headlines.
That’s because Atalanta’s De Roon roasted ‘Zlatan’ for telling Duvan Zapata: “I have scored more goals than you have played in your career,” by mixing footage of their 3-0 win at the San Siro with hilarious music.
Craziest bet of the week
Massive win in horse racing
Truth be told, the last seven days haven’t been all that dramatic when it comes to football fans winning small-fortunes for jammy ten-million-team accumulators, so you’re going to have to forgive us for swapping sports.
But we couldn’t ignore Twitter user @Liamcarr_3 going viral for a massive £17,897.29 win from just a £4.28 stake, correctly predicting results at Lingfield and Wolverhampton. You love to see it.
Sunday League award
Serge Aurier vs Liverpool
There’s an element of Sunday-Leagueception about Aurier’s winning performance against Liverpool, showing both the sort of defending and behaviour that you’d expect to see from a pub team.
The Telegraph reported that Aurier, who was woefully at fault for Roberto Firmino’s goal, left the stadium after a half-time interval that saw the defender substituted and per the Daily Mail, things kick off in the dressing room.
Now, we don’t pretend to know everything that went on behind closed doors at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium, but let’s just say we wish the Amazon captures captured the moment that Mourinho and Aurier went toe-to-toe.
Lorient mocking Paris Saint-Germain
We might be approaching the one-year anniversary of PSG mocking Erling Braut Haaland with his trademark celebration, but a bunch of multi-millionaires trying to one-up a 19-year-old still seems just as pathetic.
So, yes, I’d be lying if I wasn’t a little smug when Lorient decided to rub PSG’s nose in it by revisiting the meditation pose upon Terem Moffi’s stoppage-time winner, completing a late comeback from 2-1 down.
The Roy Keane award
David Luiz celebrating a block
As you’d expect, Keane was on top form during Sky’s coverage of Arsenal vs United, so we don’t need to infer what might have p***ed him off this week because he told us all on live television.
After seeing Luiz react to blocking a free-kick with a cheeky fistbump, he couldn’t help joking: “And this is the highlight for Arsenal – Luiz looks like he’s scored a goal there himself!
“He’s obviously delighted with the job he’s done there, yeah. That’s the highlight for him.”
Urban Dictionary of the week
Word: Abramovich (verb)
Definition: Bringing an end to something the second that things get difficult
In a sentence: For as long as I live, I will always regret abramoviching my first love in 2014. We had the most beautiful, caring relationship and were ready to consider marriage and children. But all of that had to end when we had our first argument because, well, she left hair grips absolutely everywhere.
Managerial innuendo of the week
“Wow, you are really digging deep. But that was one of my first experiences and I wasn’t even aware that it was a club from London.”
Wowsers. We’re sorry to hear that, Thomas, we wouldn’t want a club digging deep into us either, regardless of whether it’s from London or Timbuktu.
TV Burp Award
Most star-struck Years 7s after a comfortable thrashing by superb Year 11 of the week
Ah, we’re only kidding, Lionel, you classy so and so. It’s good to know that arguably the world’s best player still has time for the youngsters even when he’s six Ballon d’Or trophies deep.
The spectre of racist abuse
Welcome to the end, GMS troopers, we sincerely hope that we’ve provided a light-hearted beeline through the last seven days of the beautiful game.
But as much as we started this article with a swash of sarcasm and slapstick about United, we’d be remiss to ignore the more serious and troubling events that have befallen the Reds Devils this week.
The likes of Anthony Martial, Axel Tuanzebe and Marcus Rashford were all subject to inexcusable racist abuse that simply has no place in football nor wider society.
It remains perpetually gutting and horrifying that so-called football fans, cowardly veiled by social media monikers, chastise players for their race and ethnicity.
And with the hydra of discrimination wielding countless, emetic tentacles that see players attacked for their nationalities, religions, sexual orientations and more, the need for retaliation, resilience and education could not be clearer.
In a year where we long for the unity of standing alongside our fellow supporters again, we cannot allow the hatred of a few to propagate division in the many.