Jim White

Year in Review: Pirlo’s Panenka

Jim White

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We are asking all of our experts to give us their picks of 2012. Here Jim White reviews the year in football, with a little help from Alex Chick and Tom Adams.

Best Match

JW: Manchester City 2-3 Manchester United. A derby that had everything, fizzing with energy, anger and emotion from first to last.

AC: Reading 5-7 Arsenal. Just days after the poisonous Chelsea-Man Utd game, this was the ultimate palate-cleanser. Just a fantastic, fun game of football.

TA: Spain 4-0 Italy. This wasn't even close to being a contest. Instead it was the crowning glory of the greatest side international football has ever seen, their masterpiece, a performance for the ages.

Best Moment

JW: Andrea Pirlo's penalty against England in the Euros: as outrageous a demonstration of technique as you will ever see.

AC: Jim took my one, so I'll go for another Italian - Mario Balotelli's Incredible Hulk impression after scoring against Germany.

TA: Manchester City scoring twice in injury time to take the league title away from United. Will English football ever see a more dramatic conclusion to a season?

Funniest Moment

JW: Alan Pardew manhandling the fourth official moments after telling his players that they had to learn from the Olympic spirit.

AC: Ashley Cole's '#bunchoft***s' tweet.

TA: During his court case a QC asks how many times John Terry has been sent off in his career: "Can you say, please? Four times?" John Terry: "Please, please, please, please."

Best Player

JW: Robin van Persie.

AC: Luis Suarez.

TA: Lionel Messi - there are 91 good reasons for this.

Biggest Surprise

JW: When Van Persie signed for United not City.

AC: Chelsea's Champions League campaign stretched the limits of credulity like nothing else.

TA: Liverpool's bemusing failure to sign a striker on the final day of the summer transfer window.

Worst Moment

JW: The sacking of Roberto di Matteo was not a good thing for those who believe in small matters like loyalty, decency and integrity.

AC: That sickening feeling as Fabrice Muamba lay on the turf at White Hart Lane.

TA: A senior referee being accused of racism was a pretty low moment for the Premier League.

Biggest Disappointment

JW: England's slide towards elimination from the World Cup qualifiers. Yet more evidence that the growing prosperity of the richest league in the world comes at the expense of the national side.

AC: The increasing negativity pervading football — not racism or violence necessarily, just the general feeling of bitterness and anger that characterises fans.

TA: Arsene Wenger's continuing and alarming decline at Arsenal. To hear him receive abuse from his own fans is hard to stomach.

Unsung Hero

JW: Leighton Baines. Although, in truth, the volume of singing about him is increasing.

AC: In a world where players and managers go from underrated to overrated and back with dizzying frequency, about the last unsung hero I can think of is Jonas Olsson.

TA: Herve Renard. It came right at the start of the year, but his success in leading Zambia to the African Cup of Nations title has not got the credit it deserved.

Who to look out for in 2013

JW: Wilfried Zaha will clearly be going places in January and could electrify the Premier League.

AC: With Rio Ferdinand on his last legs and Nemanja Vidic worryingly injury-prone, it could be a big year for Phil Jones.

TA: Real Betis midfielder Benat. Has impressed over the past 12 months but this could be the year Spain's new midfield hopeful gets a move to a big club.

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