Blowing Bubbles Awards 2015

Blowing Bubbles writers Geoff Hillyer, Danny Rust, Lucy Woolford, Andrew Hosie, Julian Shea, David Bowden, Liam Newman and Matt Santer give their votes for our 2014/2015 end of season awards

Player of the Season: Aaron Cresswell

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GH: Aaron Cresswell. Fantastic season for the left-back. Grown with every game, signed for peanuts and impossible to imagine a first eleven without him.

DR: Aaron Cresswell. The full back proved to be a fantastic signing, especially at only £3m. Cresswell had performed well in past seasons for Ipswich Town in the Championship and he adapted well to the Premier League. He looked good in defence and going forward, where he put in tons of crosses and created many goals. He also scored two good goals, particularly the free kick against Stoke City.

LW: Aaron Cresswell. He was consistent and ever present in his first Premier League season. You can’t ask for much more than that really. He showed his many abilities and didn’t falter. If he continues to have seasons like this one, Aaron will be a great asset to the club. His composure is something that can teach those around him a thing or two on occasions!

AH: Aaron Cresswell. Mr Ever-Present and Mr Consistency, what more could you ask of someone in their debut season? You have to hand it to the board for their signings last summer and Cresswell topped the lot. The great thing is he’s signed for five years so lets hope he can maintain his superb first season form

JS : Aaron Cresswell. Why? Why not? Barely a foot put wrong all season, and unquestionably the team’s most consistent performer. Now the players around him must rise to his level to keep the vultures at bay and persuade him West Ham is the place to be.

DB: Aaron Cresswell. He scooped up a hat-trick of awards at the Clubs official end of season awards night, and I suspect he will snap this award up too. To come from the Championship and play in every minute of every game and play so consistently well he deserves all the praise he is receiving.

LN: Agree with the official choice of Aaron Cresswell. You couldn’t ask anything more from a full-back’s maiden campaign in the Premier League. I’d go as far to say he was one of the top five signing that any club made last summer.

MS: Tough one really, because we had so many injuries. I could go for the obvious choice of Aaron Cresswell, but to give someone else a chance, I felt Diafra Sakho did a massive job for us this year. A very nice surprise to see a new forward hit the ground running for us. So I’ll give it to him (if not only for the ‘hammers’ celebration).

Young Player of the Season: Reece Burke

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GH: Reece Burke. Mainly because there’s not a lot to choose from in this category, and he’s the player who has broken through more than any other. He has a very bright future ahead of him – let’s hope that in the months to go, we might produce more players of his calibre.

DR: Reece Burke. The 18-year-old made a handful of Premier League appearances for the Hammers and he was particularly impressive on his league debut at Queens Park Rangers. He dealt with Charlie Austin, who scored nearly 20 goals last season and is now reportedly worth £15m. He looked steady and composed, while he also came across as one for the future.

LW: Reece Burke. It has to be Reece really, doesn’t it? At the age of 18, he’s come into a tricky position for West Ham on the field and showed that he has got some great potential. With James Collins at his side, Reece will learn quickly and hopefully continue to grow next season. I’m excited to see more of him.

AH: Reece Burke. Ignoring his official debut in the ‘lambs to the slaughter’ team in the FA Cup the season before, Reece is one of the few young players who’ve succeeded in rising up through the Academy recently. Hopefully a change of manager will help him progress further and other Academy starlets will blossom in the new regime

JS: By virtue of the fact he was the only one given a chance more than once, Reece Burke. I can’t wait to see what the fuss is about Reece Oxford, though.

DB: Reece Burke- Boring I know, but under Sam Allardyce it is especially hard to get called up to the first team, so there isn’t many to choose from! Burke came into the side towards the back end of the season and his performances bar one or two hiccups suggested he had played top-level football for a number of years, and that is the great compliment I can give him.

LN: Again, it’s a little boring but it’s hard to form an argument against Reece Burke. We’d been raving about him for some months, wondering when he’d get his chance. When it finally came, he made a very good account of himself. He should be an exciting prospect for future years.

MS: Considering the average age of our squad is far from young, I’ll have to pick one of the only youthful players. Reece Burke didn’t have enough overall game time to nick it for me (although he made a fantastic account of himself) so I’ll pick out Carl Jenkinson. Did a great job for us and I hope we can keep him.

Goal of the Season: Enner Valencia v Hull (A)

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GH: Valencia v Hull. Perhaps because the goal was out of seemingly nothing, it makes it all the better. Watch it again: there are three Hull players standing in a line in front of him, he’s 20 yards from goal, and there’s such power generated the goalie gets nowhere near it. Fantastic goal – it was his first of the season, and I doubt he’ll score many better ones.

DR: Stewart Downing v Leicester City. The pass into Downing was inch perfect and then his first touch out of his feet set it up nicely. His finish was fantastic, with the curl and power beating a helpless Ben Hamer, who was between the sticks for Leicester City on the day. The finish was brilliant and he gave the goalkeeper no chance.

LW: Diafra Sakho V Liverpool. I absolutely loved this goal at the time, and for me it was one that stood out for the season. Alright, it was against a lazy looking Liverpool defense, but I’m glad he had the ambition to try the lob and it paid off. (If I was voting with my heart though, Adrian’s penalty against Everton tops the lot for pure emotion!)

AH: Enner Valencia v Hull. A goal so good it inspired whole Blowing Bubbles articles about it. A Monday night game away to Hull live on TV may not have attracted many neutrals but those that did tune in were treated to a pulsating match topped off with Valencia’s cut to the right and unstoppable drive past a helpless McGregor in the Hull goal. It was West Ham’s first shot on target on the night too. Might as well do it in style!

JS: Diafra Sakho’s lob in the 3-1 win over Liverpool. At first it looked like a cross that got lucky, but the more I look at it, the more I think he meant it. Quick, positive counter attack and a brilliant finish. What’s not to like?

DB: Andy Carroll vs Swansea. Carroll receives a lot of stick, and has the tag of being a one trick pony. His goal at the Liberty Stadium though showed he is far from being the man you just launch balls into the box too. His close control and curling finish was a thing of beauty. Predictably pundits under rated it, but mark my words had Rooney or Ronaldo scored that goal we would still be hearing about it today.

LN: This one isn’t even up for debate in my eyes: Enner Valencia v Hull. Even now, after watching it dozens of times, I’m not quite sure how he managed to generate such power and velocity from that position. Hopefully we’ll be seeing plenty more of that in 2015/16 and beyond

MS: Very tough choice between Diafra Sakho v Swansea or Morgan Amalfitano v Man City. The first was a piece of individual brilliance (Gazza-esque), but the latter was a determined and unselfish run from Enner Valencia capped by a nonchalant finish in front of the away fans. Enner left every single one of the back four on their behinds! Let’s go with the Amalfitano one.

Best Team Performance of the Season: Man City (H)

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GH: There’s a few to choose from in the first part of the season, and many will plump for the home match v Manchester City, but I’m going with the home fixture v Liverpool (W 3-1). This was the match where everything clicked into gear, at least for a while: I remember being shocked enough that we were two up within ten minutes, but when Liverpool threatened to get back into it, we stayed firm. It was a terrific all-round performance. And it felt like retribution for 2006.

DR: Home v Manchester City. We played brilliantly against the then-Premier League champions. We controlled the midfield despite them having players in there like David Silva and Yaya Toure. Alex Song, Cheikhou Kouyate, Enner Valencia and Diafra Sakho were particularly good that day. That was a fantastic day for everyone at the football club.

LW: FA Cup Third Round Replay V Everton. Yes ok, this might be another vote with my heart and not head, but this game had everything you could want from a cup tie and more. It was one of those games that you will genuinely remember for years to come. To say that the FA Cup is meaningless was certainly a false statement that night – the players came together as a team and really wanted that win.

AH: Home v Manchester City. One of those matches when even your mum commented on how good West Ham were. The pinnacle of the season that put every West Ham fan on the planet and possibly beyond into dreamland. It was exilirating, fraught, determined, invigorating. A team combining attacking flair, midfield mastery and a stoic rearguard action. Where did it go wrong?

JS: Manchester United away. Only a controversially ruled out late equaliser denied us a point, but the spirit and strength of character shown at a place we rarely enjoy visiting teed up a run of just one defeat in 11 which arguably went on to save the season.

DB: Manchester City at home. Having already beaten Liverpool, West Ham seldom often grab two big scalps a season so when City turned up to the Boleyn you just assumed it would be a routine away win. It wasn’t to be and what followed in the ninety minutes was nothing short of extraordinary. Song was pulling of Rabonas, Amalfitano was celebrating goals with the away fans. It was incredidable to beat the then champions of England and fully deserved to as well is the reason this game gets my vote for Performance of the season.

LN: It has to be the win over Liverpool for me. That opening 20 minutes was probably as good as anything any Premier League team produced in 2014/15. We had to hold on at times but nobody could argue that we didn’t deserve the points. Amalfitano’s late strike was the cherry atop of the sweetest of cakes.

MS: The Manchester City win at home. Perfect and flowing attacking football. Probably Alex Song’s standout performance for me, but as an overall team performance it was extremely encouraging. It was supposed to lay a marker down for our season, but of course, the usual string of injuries and drying-up of goals put the brakes on that!

Best Individual Performance of the Season: Cheikhou Kouyate v Manchester United

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GH: Hard to argue with Cheikhou Kouyate’s win in this category at the Player Awards. It was a game that we were so desperately unlucky not to win (this was one of those matches where we lost a lead in injury time) – but Kouyate not only played marvellously as a makeshift centre-back, but scored a goal where he juggled the ball with his back to goal, before smashing a volley past De Gea. The more you watch it, the better it gets.

DR: Cheikhou Kouyate v Manchester United. With West Ham struggling in terms of being able to name two fully fit central defenders, the Senegalese international filled in at the back. He was fantastic on the day and this game showed how versatile Kouyate can be. He was good defensively but then he also scored a brilliant volley to put the Hammers ahead.

LW: Cheikhou Kouyate v Manchester United. Kouyate was moved into a centre-back position for this fixture and showed his true calling in life! There was never any fear that he was going to do anything stupid and it was going to take something special to beat him. But not only did he defend, he scored and made himself present across the whole pitch. Definitely one of the stand-out performances by any West Ham player last season.

AH: Cheikhou Kouyate v Manchester United. A terrific game overall from an injury hit team. How often do we have to use ‘injury hit’ when describing the Hammers. A great goal and a masterful performance by a player who rose to the occasion when asked to play out of position and was a powerhouse in defence, he did more than he could possibly have been asked for.

JS: Cheikhou Kouyate v Manchester United. Superb individual display, stunning goal. He deserved better than to be let down by the team’s season-long habit of clocking off two minutes early and conceding yet another late goal – something Slaven Bilic must ensure is sorted out for next season.

DB: Alex Song vs Manchester City. This is a tough award to give out, it could of gone to a number of players, Adrian in that cup match, Carroll against Swansea at home in the league. But Songy just edges it for me, against a team as good as City you need your big players to step up and the former Arsenal man did just that. His defence splitting ball to Amalfitano for the opener set us on our way, and his midfield dominance went unnoticed consistently breaking up play in the centre of the park. So Alex Song gets my vote probably just for the Rabona alone to be honest!

LN: Andy Carroll v Swansea at home. When he’s on his game, the big man is unstoppable and glimpses like this match really do make you wonder ‘what if’. The frustrations are understandable but in my eyes those injuries are the only thing holding him back for both club and country. The goal at the Liberty Stadium wasn’t half bad either.

MS: Alex Song had an absolute breeze of a game against Manchester City and their backline apart at will. Like the Song of old when, in his Arsenal days, his range of attacking pass put teams on the back foot without even breaking stride. He ran the show

Click here to view the winners of Blowing Bubbles Awards 2012/13

Click here to view the winners of Blowing Bubbles Awards 2013/14

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