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Monday, April 17, 2006


Player of the Year (as long as you play for a 'big' club)

I have some issues with the PFA Player and Young Player of the year nominations. Firstly, let's have a look at the shortlists:

2006 PFA Player of the Year contenders:

Joe Cole (Chelsea), Steven Gerrard (Liverpool), Thierry Henry (Arsenal), Frank Lampard (Chelsea), Wayne Rooney (Manchester United), John Terry (Chelsea).

2006 PFA Young Player of the Year contenders:

Darren Bent (Charlton), Cesc Fabregas (Arsenal), Anton Ferdinand (West Ham), Aaron Lennon (Tottenham), Cristiano Ronaldo (Manchester United), Wayne Rooney (Manchester United).

You will note that with three exceptions, the twelve players listed represent the big four (Chelsea, Man Utd, Liverpool and Arsenal), that's 75% of the shortlist picked from four teams. Laughably, Rooney has been included in both categories; surely if he is good enough to be Player of the Year then he must be the Young Player of the Year also? Anyway, let's have a look at the nominations for last season:

2005 PFA Player of the Year contenders:

Petr Cech (Chelsea), Steven Gerrard (Liverpool), Thierry Henry (Arsenal), Andrew Johnson (Crystal Palace), Frank Lampard (Chelsea) and John Terry (Chelsea).

So we have Terry, Lampard, Gerrard and Henry again and we've switched Cech for Cole (both four letter names beginning with C, hmm). Sure these are good players but let's not kid ourselves that they've had exceptional seasons. Rooney didn't score once in any competition from December 29th until February 26th and his performances whilst sporadically brilliant or also still erratic. By their own standards, Henry, Gerrard, Terry and Lampard haven't had outstanding seasons and quite why Joe Cole has been included, I know not. His show pony tendencies have been cut down but he's far from a complete midfielder, I would argue that there are numerous players in Cole's position that have had better seasons - Malbranque and Gamst-Pedersen for example.

It seems that similar to the selection of the England team, the PFA Awards depend largely on what team you play for not how well you play for them.

I suppose after all that, I have to list an alternative selection. My choices then:
Given has had another great season and for Newcastle to be top-half with Bramble and Boumsong in defence says a lot about his importance to the side. Arsenal have had many well documented problems with their defence this season but Toure has always been dependable no matter who he was paired with, Arsenal's record run of cleansheets in Europe is testament to his quality. Nolan has been a strong leader for Bolton and chipped in with 9 league goals from midfield. Bellamy has been in magnificent form for Blackburn and it's his goals that have fired them up the table and into contention for Europe. Carrick has been a key player in the Spurs team this year and has really come of age. Makelele is the heartbeat of the Chelsea team and he plays the most important role in the system employed by Mourinho, another fantastic season for Claude, the unsung hero of the Chelsea dominance.

Ach, just give it to Jonothan Stead, he's come good now hasn't he?

Must... resist... go into long, impassioned pro-Carrick sermon...!

These are voted for fairly early in the season, and you can't really argue with Chelsea's pre-eminence when looking at the table.
But still: does all seem a little unimaginative...

Cole has been excellent - especially alongside the "disappointing" (not to me, obviously, but "neutrals" - whatever they are) Duff and Robben - and indeed Lampard, though he (like van Nistelrooy) still has plenty of goals for someone supposedly having an off-colour season. But Cole seems to have gone a little wayward and ineffective in recent weeks.
Henry has been phenomenal this year - but pretty much disappeared for a long while in the first half of the season.

Doesn't seem right to still have Rooney in the young players' list, somehow - but still, best of the lot although Fabregas, Lennon and Bent have perhaps been the most impressive young revelations...

Possibles missing: Lehmann, Dawson, Keane, Bellamy, Gabbidon (more impressive and important to West Ham's defence than Ferdinand, I reckon...)
Oh, and yes Nolan, though I did enjoy his improbable, injury-time miss last night...!

What happened to the car, then?

Unimaginative is the keyword for me, these lists and awards always, always end up featuring the same tired names, there are many great players in the country, let's see some recognition of the others once in a while!

Strange you should mention Dawson, I had thought to include King over Carrick initially.

The car ended up in a hedge with two flat tyres pointing outwards (in this sort of fashion \ / ). It's a long story but all being well my 'written off' comment may have been a misinformed exaggeration, the garage will let me know tomorrow hopefully. For better or worse.

Funny how the manager of the year award often tends to hail the brave over the fortune-favoured - eg. recent-ish winners Clark, Burley, Moyes - while the player awards set into their patterns...

I named Dawson as a young player contender, by the by - King has had a superb season, especially considering he's been putting off a crucial groin operation - and potentially jeopardising his World Cup place - to key up our defence, and we've missed him so whenever he's missed a game - a very cruel, cruel irony that another injury entirely has suddenly placed his Germany hopes in jeopardy...
That thug Big Dunc...!

Best of with the car-recuperation, not nice...

Another interesting point of discussion there - the manager of the year award. I think in recent years the managers of the big 4 clubs haven't been all that special when you consider the resources available to them, for instance, Liverpool may have won the Champions League but they were awful domestically and shouldn't even have qualified for the next years CL. For me, the vast resources available to Chelsea mean that for Mourinho to be manager of the year he must win the league by a huge distance and the CL as well. Utd are struggling (although they have looked more convincing recently) and Arsenal have had problems of their own. It's my opinion that the Burley season (before they blew all the money on Finidi George) and Moyes' 4th place finish last year are far greater achievements in view of the meagre resources available and the expectations that both teams would be involved in relegations battles.

I'd quite like to see Jol, Pardew and Jewell contest this years award - although if the cups go to Middlesborough, McLaren might be a worthy candidate.

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