Once seen as a manager only good for relegation battles, nobody has had a stronger 2013 than Roberto Martinez. First, he won the FA Cup with Wigan, a club that had previously not been anywhere near it, upsetting firm favourites Manchester City in the final. He might have been unable to prevent his team dropping out of the Premier League but I can’t think of anyone who would have on that budget, and his move to Everton has been a revelation. He’s popular with the players, has made great acquisitions in Romelu Lukaku, Gareth Barry and Gerard Deulofeu and the feeling around the club is better than it was in all of David Moyes’s decade in charge. None of that matters without good results, of course, but they are riding high and I don’t expect them to drop much in 2014.
VILLAIN OF THE YEAR
Luis Suarez underlined his villain status first by biting Chelsea’s Branislav Ivanovic and then flirting with a move away from the club that had supported him throughout all of his controversies, but I’m delighted he has redeemed himself since with some incredible performances and an exemplary attitude this season. Liverpool haven’t always got it right with Suarez, but they kept him on their terms and Brendan Rodgers deserves credit for getting the best out of him. He’s not quite in the Ronaldo and Lionel Messi bracket, but he’s up with Zlatan Ibrahimovic in the A-list.
COMEBACK OF THE YEAR
Twelve months ago plenty of Arsenal fans didn’t rate Aaron Ramsey; now I think he’s probably even ahead of record signing Mesut Ozil on the teamsheet and worth more than £20m. The Welshman’s improvement has been spectacular, honing every part of his game: from first touch to decision-making, stamina and of course finishing. I’ve always liked him but never thought he had so many goals in him. He has set a high benchmark but I fancy him to continue; once you go on a scoring run like that you always know you have it in you to do it again.
DISAPPOINTMENT OF THE YEAR
I loved watching Gareth Bale play so much I would watch Tottenham play anyone last season for that reason alone. He was extraordinary at times and it was a huge shame that he has departed. The market rules, though, and who would turn down Real Madrid? I’m pleased to see he’s settled in well but he’s been a major loss.
SHOCK OF THE YEAR
Listening to an Interpol briefing about match-fixing a few weeks ago, I never thought it would trouble these shores. Recent spot-fixing allegations suggest that in fact it has, and you can’t overstate how much of a threat it is. I’ve never been approached but you can see how some players who perhaps don’t earn huge sums might be targeted. As the Lance Armstrong affair in cycling has shown, people have to believe what they are seeing. Once they don’t, it’s a disaster and the football community has to focus on smashing the betting rings driving it.
Trevor Steven is a former England footballer who played at two World Cups and two European Championships. He now works as a media commentator.