As the #Premier League season enters its final stages, several of the clubs are holding their annual awards nights. #Liverpool and #Manchester United held theirs this week and the fans' response to the winners provided an insight into how the two clubs have fared this campaign. While Raheem Sterling's naming as Young Player of the Year was booed by several fans present, there were smiles and amusing banter in evidence as their rivals United presented their prizes.
United and Liverpool's fortunes seem to have switched around this season in the Premier League. Brendan Rodgers' troops almost took their first title since 1990 last season, as Luis Suarez and Daniel Sturridge formed an irresistible alliance. Manchester City ultimately edged ahead but there was plenty of optimism around Anfield for the new season. 2014-15 has been very different for the Reds, as Suarez moved on to Barcelona and Sturridge spent much of the time on the side-lines with injury. Fifth place seems likely with Europa League action seemingly the height of their current ambitions.
Sterling looking to move on
Sterling seems determined to look elsewhere to further his own ambitions, sensing that the club are back in transition again. Nevertheless, after a steady season for the club he was rightly awarded his prize at the yearly party.
The 20-year-old England international seems to split opinion among the fans, with others present at the ceremony countering the jeers with calls of "Stay, Raheem." There were similar outbursts recently at another public event for the club, when they unveiled the new football kit for next season.
Sterling will no doubt have some reservations about his best option going forward. Rodgers has nurtured him and provided an opportunity in the first team. Yet, Sterling is ambitious and will have no doubt looked on enviously at where Suarez is twelve months on: a La Liga title already secured and the possibility of a Champions League winner's medal to go alongside it soon.
Solidity at United
By contrast, United seem to have become a more solid unit under Louis van Gaal. After the shockwaves from not playing in the Champions League this term, they have rallied under the Dutchman's stewardship and ensured no repeat of that 'blip' next season. A top four finish is confirmed and while star keeper David De Gea seems another likely to move on in the summer, van Gaal did not seem overly concerned at the awards night. He was in ebullient mood as he followed the presentation of both the Players' Player and Fans' Player of the Year accolades to his (for now) number one keeper.
Van Gaal was expected to improve United's fortunes and has done just that, perhaps even exceeding the minimum requirements placed on him when he joined them. The title was a step too far this time around, but he will feel that they can mount a stronger challenge next time. To have been challenging for second spot until the last few matches will seem a massive step forwards. He seems to be enjoying his period in charge, stealing the show at the awards evening with his speech and demonstrating that he seems to have the full support of the club. His comment at the ceremony to "pay attention to the manager" ably illustrates his confidence as the man in charge.
Time will tell how the clubs' respective seasons map out next campaign, with the expectation that both of the English footballing giants will delve into the transfer market to strengthen their squads.