The Eurovision Song Contest brought Düsseldorf if not the entire continent to a standstill last weekend. The Bundesliga Blog Gongs may not quite hold the same lustre and definitely boast significantly less lycra, but with all the impartiality of an Olympic figure skating judge, we have unilaterally decided to hand out some silverware of our own.
The Golden Boomerang for Best Comeback Frozen out at Hannover at the season’s start, contender Jan Schlaudraff came in from the cold and, er, thawed out nicely, to stretch the metaphor to breaking point. He doesn’t win it though, nor does another Hannover reject, Mike Hanke, who single-headedly saved Mönchengladbach from automatic relegation with some deft flick-ons and bulky lone striker play. My wholly arbitrary vote goes to Michael Rensing. Left out with the rubbish at the Allianz Arena, Rensing showed that if he can’t be the next Oliver Kahn, he can at least be the next Faryd Mondragon with some stoic displays after his arrival in January.
The Felix the Cat Award for Falling on your Feet Just one name on the judges’ list here – OK, judge’s list – Felix Magath, whose motto must be ‘Have green tie and tea, will travel.’ No sooner had he been sacked by Schalke – with Cup final and Champions League places already sown up – than Magath is up and at ‘em at Wolfsburg, just two days later, resplendent in the pale green tie that he wore in taking them to the title. Despite stuttering more than Colin Firth, ‘Quälix’ saved Wolfsburg, and may now happily drive off into the sunset in a VW.
The Brothers Grimm/Leo Tolstoy Memorial Bookend for Longest-Running Saga Manuel Neuer’s move to Bayern Munich has had more chapters than the Hells Angels. “I only go abroad on holiday,” said Neuer, subtly batting away potential foreign suitors a few months ago, before the season’s first tearful farewell press conference left everyone still asking whether he would go south or not. ‘Koan Neuer’ may have become the mantra of the Bayern hardcore, but with Thomas Kraft on his way to the Allianz Arena exit, and cuddly Uncle Jörg Butt happy to warm the bench and keep young Manuel on the straight and narrow, Neuer’s fairytale move to Bavaria will surely end as happily as a lederhosen-clad tourist’s outing at Oktoberfest.
The Platinum Deep-Fried Mars Bar for Outstanding Achievement in the Face of a Slightly Expanded Waistline Mario Götze’s puppy fat gives hope to every oversized ‘modern teenager’ that they too can have fame and fortune – if they’re blessed with insane oodles of world-class footballing talent. Comparisons with Lionel Messi are certainly not over-stating Götze’s case to be the most exciting young player in the world, and when he’s old enough to shave, he’ll be even better.
The ‘Home Sweet Home’ hand-crocheted Plaque for Travel Sickness The Brazilians call it saudade, a longing for home that their footballers experience when they head across the Atlantic. I don’t know what the Slovenian equivalent is, but Milivoje Novakovic clearly suffers from it in spades. Just one of his 17 goals this season came outside the confines of the Rhein Energie Stadion, though his partnership with Lukas Podolski – particularly after the turn of the year – promises domestic bliss next season.
The Chris Waddle Lifetime Achievement Award for Outstanding Contribution to Hairdressing Despite a late charge for glory from Arthur Boka, who kept a promise to dye his hair red-and-white if Stuttgart stayed up, Kevin Grosskreutz’s mullet has been the hirsute story of the season. The Dortmund midfielder’s flowing locks were promptly shaved off following the win over Nuremberg that sealed the title, but his retro hairstyle will live long – and painfully – in the memory.
The Golden Dummy for Limitless Immaturity Not sure of having sown up this one, Diego added to his ‘I’m taking the penalty or I’ll take my ball home with me’ contretemps with Patrick Helmes by stalking out of Felix Magath’s teamtalk. After learning Thomas Kahlenberg would replace him in the starting line-up for Wolfsburg’s last game of the season, Diego stomped off. “We don’t know if he’s in the stadium or whether he bought himself a ticket,” said Gerd Voss, Wolfsburg spokesman. “I’ve got a contract here and a solution will have to be found,” added Diego, who presumably spent the 90 minutes against Hoffenheim using his My Little Pony calculator to tot up just how many matchtickets he could have bought with his €6m annual salary.
The Pablo Picasso Quick-on-the-Draw Pencil Case No competition in this category. The 12 Bundesliga clubs who have changed or who will change coach this season have shown themselves to be rather adept at the art of hiring and firing. Top dogs are Cologne and Stuttgart, though the latter have the edge for me – appointing Jens Keller, whose name means ‘cellar’ and is also used to refer to the ‘relegation zone’ in German, when the team was struggling near the foot of the table was manna from Heaven for pun-loving journalists.
Eurosport 2 Bundesliga commentator
The season may be over, but there is still some LIVE Bundesliga football coming your way this week with Mönchengladbach and Bochum duelling in the first leg of their play-off on Thursday at 20:30CET before Dynamo Dresden and Osnabrück go head-to-head on Friday (LIVE 20:30CET) as they start their tussle for a second-division spot. The return in Osnabrück will be LIVE from 20:30CET on Tuesday with Bochum v Mönchengladbach (LIVE 20:30CET) rounding out the season on Wednesday.