Welcome back gentlemen,
Yes, the word “Annual” in The First Annual Franjo Award For Unappreciated Excellence wasn’t just in there to make the acronym more fun to say. We’re back for The Second Annual Franjo Award For Unappreciated Excellence, or… The SAFAFUE…
Looking back with the benefit of hindsight, the FAFAFUE was a bit of a hypocritical award to give out last year, wasn’t it? I mean, I think my heart was in the right place, but what’s “Unappreciated” about a title winning side? All of those players were obviously top performers in the league, which is why we won the bloody thing! We were spoilt for choice in the amount of excellence available to us.
But anyway, Phil Foden eventually won the award and we marched into Ligue 1 full of hope and optimism, before being swatted back down to Earth like a fly. It’s been a gruelling season, in the end probably not on the level of Katowice but at least somewhere in that area. But apart from a couple of notable exceptions, we got through it together. It’s in seasons like this that we see true unappreciated excellence.
One small caveat I’ll make this year is to change the award’s criteria to consistently overlooked by the mainstream media despite the outstanding contributions that each of them have made throughout the player’s entire season at Auxerre. If a player has only been at the club for a month, or 6 months, or 9 months but they’ve performed excellently, they’re eligible.
So with that sorted, it gives me great pleasure to announce the SAFAFUE shortlist for 2022/23:
Baptiste “Captiste” Aloé – No 2 – Centre Back
Oh Captain, my Captain. Again. Captiste is one of only two players from last year’s shortlist to reappear on this one. The thing about Captiste is that he’s just so fucking unshakeable. He’s been the rock at the heart of a defence that’s leaked just 6 fewer goals than the league’s top 3 teams combined, but through it all he’s adjusted, whether it be alongside Doucouré, Kakuba, Sohna, Goujon, sitting in front of the defence or sweeping behind. And what’s more, he’s once again kept unity behind the scenes by performing his captain’s duties admirably. Albeit using questionable techniques.
Isaac Sohna – No 19 – Centre Back
Isaac Sohna spent the first half of the season playing sparingly and poorly for Karabükspor, before an injury crisis at centre back prompted me to bring him back. He performed admirably after making the leap to Ligue 1 football, having only made 1 previous appearance for Auxerre in Ligue 2 and he instantly struck up a fairly solid partnership with Captiste that kept us from completely collapsing towards the end of the season. What’s more, when we lost goalkeeper Xavier Lenogue to injury while 1-0 up against AS Nancy Lorraine in something of a must-win game, Isaac stepped up, put on the gloves and went in net for over an hour. Did he concede 2 minutes later from Nancy’s only subsequent shot on target? Sure, but we won the match so who gives a shit. Judge this man not on his shots saved percentage, but on the pure cojones he displayed that day and over the last 5ish months.
Arturo Vidal – No 35 – Defensive Midfielder
It took me 4 entire months to find Arturo and a further 2 to work out how to get the best out of him, but in the end I’d say he’s been more than worth destroying our wage budget for. Like Captiste, our veteran Chilean ringer has helped keep the squad together and organised with his experience and undeniably infectious work rate and determination. He’s always put in a shift and despite the fact that he’d be beaten handily in a footrace by a whale that was beached about 2 weeks back, I’ll be sad to see him hang up his boots.
Abdoulaye Sissako – No 16 – Ball Winning Midfielder
Abdoulaye, as I’ve said many times before, is my kind of player. Out of everyone in the squad I’d say that he’s had one of the smoothest transitions to top flight football. His job hasn’t really changed since our Ligue 2 games and still entails running for 90 minutes solid every week, winning the ball and keeping things simple. It makes me very proud on behalf of Auxerre to see one of our own have such a great season under such testing circumstances.
Phil Foden – No 8 – Right Sided Inside Forward
The winner of last year’s award. Phil’s contribution to our survival is probably unequalled. He may not have been quite as prolific as he was in Ligue 2, but his 6 goals and 6 assists have almost all changed games. Without Phil’s goals alone we’d be 9 points worse off, which would have put us 5 points clear at the bottom of the table. He also got us off to a flyer with the only goal in our 1-0 win over Lorient and sealed our promotion with our 4th against Stade Rennais. With such an impact, could Phil become a… Cereal winner?
Other – Please Specify
These are the contenders.
As last year and as it will be every year… As long as people vote I suppose… The winner is up to you. Please send your 1st, 2nd and 3rd place winners to firstname.lastname@example.org (Or as a comment wherever you read this) before the Year 7 Review on Tuesday 31st July, where the winner will be presented with this, truly the most coveted of prizes: The SAFAFUE.