Have you caught your breath yet? Well, we sure haven't! The 2021-22 Premier League title came down to the last day. Hell, it came down to the final 10 minutes. And both the relegation battle and the fight for top four were up for grabs all the way until the end, too. Matchday 38, though, was just a microcosm for the season as a whole: endless drama, mind-melting peak performance and a widespread inability to avoid stepping on rakes. Everything happened, all the time.
So, to sum it all up, Ryan O'Hanlon and Bill Connelly have teamed up to hand out a bunch of mostly made-up awards for the 2021-22 season. Congrats to all the winners. Actually, congrats to most of the winners; some of these "awards" are the kind you really don't want to win.
5. Antonio Conte, Tottenham Hotspur. One of soccer's most successful managers turned Spurs down over the summer, then changed his mind after some rest. When he took over on Nov. 2, the team was in ninth place, with 15 points and a minus-7 goal differential from 10 league matches. But from that point forward, Spurs were easily the third-best team in the league, earning 56 points and a plus-36 goal differential from their last 28 matches, well ahead of everyone but City and Liverpool in both categories. We'll see what kind of transfer funds he can coax from Tottenham's ownership this summer, but he proved himself once again this winter and spring.
4. Eddie Howe, Newcastle. Yes, Newcastle's controversial new owners brought in a healthy batch of talent in January -- midfielder Bruno Guimaraes, left back Matt Targett and veterans Chris Wood, Dan Burn and Kieran Trippier -- to help save the team from relegation. But while those are solid players to be sure, the team's play improved far more than its talent did after Howe's hire. From mid-January onward, Newcastle averaged 2.0 points per game, third-best in the league and ahead of Tottenham Hotspur, Arsenal and Chelsea, three teams that almost certainly still had more talent.
3. Thomas Frank, Brentford. In its first season back in the top flight since 1947, Brentford was a betting favorite to go right back down. But the Bees finished a healthy 13th, 11 points from the drop zone. Frank's team played occasionally attractive ball, pressuring in key moments, getting key contributions from the forward tandem of Ivan Toney and Bryan Mbeumo (combined: 16 goals and 12 assists) and providing an inspired landing spot for Christian Eriksen in the winter. After a February funk, Frank guided them to 22 points in their last 11 matches to cruise to safety.
Things might not get any easier next season, but Frank was more than up to this task.
1-2. Jurgen Klopp, Liverpool, and Pep Guardiola, Manchester City. Honestly, put them in whichever order you want. Yes, they both worked with ridiculously talented rosters, but other Premier League clubs are rich and deep with talent, too, and Liverpool and City lapped the field this season. They might be the best in the world at what they do.