What? No Giggs?! – A Guide to the PFA Player of the Year Award.

15 04 2010

So, we have once again arrived at the time of year where the Professional Footballers’ Association debates the cream of the crop within the Premier League, and this year’s nominations juxtapose the usual suspects with an Argentinian new entry and one rather large Gerrard-shaped hole. I wouldn’t be so naive as to suggest that anybody else other than a certain goal-hungry Red Devil will win the award, but a fair and even analysis would not go amiss.

I don’t believe anybody would argue Cesc Fabregas has had the season of his life. A central midfielder by trade with a return of fifteen goals from twenty seven games illustrates his absolute dominance over his position ahead of Messrs Lampard and Gerrard in 2009/10. With a lack of Robin Van Persie in a striker’s role for Arsenal, and an out-of-position and misfiring Andrei Arshavin filling in for the Dutch striker, Fabregas has got the most from his Arsenal team-mates also, with fifteen assists bringing out the best from previous strugglers such as Nicklas Bendtner and Abou Diaby. Without him, the Gunners suffer, and with him (fit), they play the kind of football which makes the assembled media and ‘fans of football’ gush at regular intervals.

Moment of the season: Arsenal 3 Aston Villa 0. A half an hour to sum up Fabregas’ season. Cesc arrives from the bench in an unfit state and scores two in a one-man show to put Arsenal in everybody’s minds in the battle for the Premier League, but limps off after over-exerting himself to face another two weeks on the treatment table. Dogged class at its best from the Spaniard.

Didier Drogba joins the nominations list despite missing six weeks of the Premier League season due to his exertions in Africa in an unsuccessful Ivorian campaign. Twenty five goals from twenty eight appearances, setting up eleven more in the process, has proved Drogba’s weight in gold to Chelsea. Although there have been occasional flashbacks to the Drogba of old, it seems at thirty-one the diving and theatrics that frustrates Chelsea supporters and opposition fans alike have begun to disappear from the Ivorian’s game, with the focus turning to goal-poaching and providing. Many will also wonder how many more goals could have flowed had new manager Carlo Ancellotti discovered Drogba playing alone up front alongside Florent Malouda and Joe Cole/Solomon Kalou earlier in the season, as opposed to struggling to find his role alongside a similarly strugging Nicolas Anelka.

Moment of the season: Arsenal 0 Chelsea 3. Drogba scores a brace, including a glorious free-kick from long range, in a game that, in hindsight, will fuel Chelsea’s charge to the Premier League title.

Another player in the list playing alongside a struggling partner is Manchester United’s Wayne Rooney. A key sign of how good a player is, would be how much a team struggles without him, and Rooney has been sorely missed by United in disappointing games against Blackburn and Chelsea as of late, with a haphazard Dimitar Berbatov looking a mere morsel of the player he was at Tottenham. A goal record similar to Drogba’s (26 in 29) seems to put both players on a plateau, yet Rooney has lost his main provider in Cristiano Ronaldo this season and yet continued to prove himself as a goal-machine. Didier Drogba is playing in essentially the same side as a successful Chelsea side from last season, where as Rooney has needed to bond with Antonio Valencia, a growing Nani and a frankly useless Dimitar Berbatov.

Moment of the season: Manchester United 4 Hull City 0. Four of those twenty-six arrive in a glorious performance at Old Trafford, flummoxing a lacklustre Hull defence to move United back to the top of the league.

Finally, a player who, if he remained Wayne Rooney’s partner in crime, may have changed the destination of the Premier League trophy. Carlos Tevez has justified whatever the undisclosed transfer fee was (rumoured at £47 million at the time) in his transfer from Manchester City’s rivals across the city with an outstanding 22 goals in 30 appearances in a team not riding in the top two of the Premier League. He visually puts his heart and soul into every performance in a sky blue shirt, and has been the rock in a team essentially put together at the beginning of the season. Whilst his South American teammate Robinho struggled with games away from Eastlands and any form of physical confrontation, Tevez saved his best performances for the big games, and together with Lionel Messi, be in a bright spotlight in South Africa this summer.

Moment of the season: Chelsea 2 Manchester City 4. Tevez grabs a brace in a physical encounter at Stamford Bridge, putting City’s case for fourth to the fore and aiding his former employees in the process.

Considering this award is voted for by the players of the Premier League, the conspiracy theorist/realist within me believes that in a World Cup year, Wayne Rooney is a shoo-in for this award. If I were to hop off the fence, Carlos Tevez is the most-improved player in the Premier League, almost single-handedly grabbing a Champions League place for Manchester City in the process of his growth. However, this doesn’t take away anything from the exceptional performances and goals of Wayne Rooney throughout the season; performances which probably deserve a title at the end of it. If Manchester United do not provide this in his absence, a PFA Player of the Year award will provide a marker from which his career can grow to even dizzier heights.

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5 responses

15 04 2010
j2theb

no gomes? or anyone that isnt a striker? u can make a massive difference to a game without scoring goals

16 04 2010
Nick

Just forgot that I forgot to reply to your last one again. It’s pretty hard to say much about this season’s list, however Drogba doesn’t deserve to be there. Basically every Chelsea fan I have spoken to, who actually go to the games and see these players play, are voting for Ashley Cole or Malouda for Chelsea’s player of the season, Drogba doesn’t get a look in for team player of the season, let alone the best in the league.

I’m surprised you didn’t write about the young player of the season. What is the age limit? Rooney at 24 is almost half-way through his career! Fabregas is even debateable too. It should be an opportunity for a young player who is unlikely to otherwise win an award to get recognition.

16 04 2010
dkdickson

J – I’ve only chosen to look at the nominations. To analyse the entire league and who I think actually deserves to win it (as Nicky says below you, Chelsea fans are split!) would take days! John Terry did win the award a few years back so defenders have been recognised in the past.

Nick – I agree re: The young player. I would analyse those nominations too, but the crossover between the two awards has become increasingly irritating, so it seems fruitless to debate it since if Wayne Rooney wins one, surely he must win the other?! In a day and age where footballers seem to get younger and younger, to say a player that is 23 at the start of the season gets a look-in is madness.

20 04 2010
David Hand

Let me bring you down to my end of the league, firstly Steven N’Zonzi bought from a relegated French side for £500,000 has been great this year and only 20 when Spurs buy him for £15 million then people may take notice. But it is another Steven who should be player of the year Steven Pienaar, Arteta is an amazing player, and great eye poker, but they have not missed him because of his form. The case begins with this goal against Arsenal if this was Rooney then MOTD would have hailed him the greatest player of all time, wait Messi had a similar goal and everyone did hail him the greatest player. Just because he wears a crap kit doesn’t mean he should be overlooked.

20 04 2010
dkdickson

Steven Pienaar has been consistently immense this season. The whole award scheme has been a bit pointless since its inception, but you feel that if the PFA have a four-player shortlist that includes Steven Pienaar and not Tevez, people will immediately point fingers at Tevez’s goal in shock at his omission.

I would scrap the entire award in favour of ‘Goalkeeper/Defender/Midfield/Striker Of The Year’. I know there is a ‘Team of the Season’ at the end of the year, but I think the PFA reward goals far higher than anything else, and needlessly at that.

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