The PFA awards were announced last Friday with six players being nominated for the Player of the Year and six for the Young Player of the Year. The chosen six for the Player of the Year award were Gareth Bale, Luis Suarez, Michael Carrick, Robin Van Persie, Juan Mata and Eden Hazard.
Bale and Hazard were also included in the Young Player of the Year list, alongside Christian Benteke, Romelu Lukaku, Jack Wilshere and Danny Welbeck.
Since the nominations were revealed, a helluva a lot has happened that may sway peoples thinking but trying to focus on just the meaty action of football (awful pun on Suarez) I’ll discuss who should have made the list, who doesn’t deserve their nomination and my winner.
Firstly the notable exclusions, one player in particular who should have made young player of the year is Matija Nastasic. The 20-year-old has been phenomenal this year, whilst others around him have struggled, and he has nearly always maintained a high level of performances. Despite City ultimately having a poor season his breakthrough has been a shining light.
Moving over to the red side of Manchester and onto Rafael, who missed out on the YPOTY award, despite having a stormer of a season. I’m sure Gary Neville would be impressed with his performances this year, and for the first time in his career he’s made 20+ appearances in the league, and 30+ in all competitions. His return of three goals and three assists isn’t something to be unstated too for a defender.
Other players missing from the list are Southampton duo Luke Shaw and Morgan Schneiderlin. The pair have been part of the success story on the south coast this season and both played an integral part in helping the Saints have a fantastic year. Shaw, only 17-years-old, has established himself as the first choice left back and his energy, composure and talent should see him become a household name in the Premier League. Whilst Shaw could have been included in the list, Schneiderlin most definitely should be.
The 23-year-old is just eligible for the award, and has been outstanding this season for Southampton. He has the best average for interceptions per game in the Premier League, as well as coming second in the list for average tackles per game. He’s played the defensive midfield role to perfection and should have his name on the Young Player of the Year list.
Some stars have been left off the Player of the Year nominations too, one being Argentine Pablo Zabaleta. The City right back has been magnificent this season, and whilst some of his other teammates have lost interest, he has been focused and driven throughout. When he scored in the Manchester derby in December, you could see the ecstasy etched across his face, and when Van Persie scored the injury-time winner, his heartbreak was on show to everyone. It is this spirit and determination that has enabled him to be arguably City’s most consistent performer this term and whilst several players have failed to perform in the big matches, he has always delivered.
Swansea’s Michu has been left out, and although he has had a dip in form lately, he could have been nominated after an outstanding first season with the Welsh club. Another Spanish absentee is Arsenal’s Santi Cazorla. He has been fantastic, and contributed a hatful of goals and assists in the Premier League. He should have been acknowledged for his efforts towards the Gunners cause this season.
His teammate Jack Wilshere however shouldn’t have been picked. I think the England midfielder can be sensational on his day, but he hasn’t been consistent enough this season to warrant a place on the list and in several big games, gone missing. The 2010/11 PFA Young Player of the Year winner was disappointing in away defeats against Manchester United, Tottenham and even against weaker opposition hasn’t always performed to the dizzy heights he can. Wilshere’s international teammate Welbeck shouldn’t be on the list either.
He isn’t solely a forward, so his poor goal return isn’t the only reason, it’s his general play. He is a willing runner off the ball but hasn’t convinced me he always know what to do when in possession. He hasn’t been as consistent as team mate Rafael and only performed to his optimum a couple of times this, and some of those performances were in the Champions League.
Moving onto some correct inclusions, and someone who could win but won’t, is the enigma that is Suarez. Why he won’t win is because of the negative persona linked to him now but he has been outstanding this year and like Bale, has won games on his own for Liverpool but I don’t expect him to win this award.
Nomination had been submitted before his infamous bite of Ivanovic so that won’t have swayed people’s minds, but for future decisions it could do, and it is previous incidents, like the gesture to Fulham fans and the Evra episode, that may have swayed players minds this time too. Van Persie has had an excellent debut season with Manchester United, and his hatrick against Aston Villa reminded everyone of his talents but I don’t feel he has been as consistent as Suarez and Bale this season.
He went two months without a league goal, and although he has had some sensational moments, he won’t win back-to-back Player of the Year awards. Hazard has been sensational for Chelsea, and like Bale is in both lists, the Belgium has nearly achieved double figures in both goals and assists but has only performed well in patches, unlike teammate Mata who truly has been incredible for the West London club.
Mata has been consistent for much of the campaign and been a delight to watch this season, on his day he is capable of moments of magic and although I believe he won’t win this year, he thoroughly deserves the acclaim attached to his nomination. The Spaniard will go from strength to strength if he remains with the Champions of European and would be my tip for the award next season, if he continues to improve year on year like he has done.
Someone else that is finally getting the credit they deserve is Carrick, Manchester United’s best player this season. Everything the Red Devils do tends to go through him and as the Old Trafford fans sing ‘it’s hard to believe it’s not Scholes’. He keeps Sir Alex Ferguson’s side ticking over and has delivered several master class performances this season. Belgium bruisers Benteke and Lukaku have bullied defenders for Aston Villa and West Brom respectively, but both have also showed their subtlety on the deck and deserve their nominations. The duo without doubt have big futures ahead of them, even if they won’t win this year.
The overwhelming favourite to win both awards, is Tottenham Hotspur hitman Bale. He is in both lists because he has been unbelievable this season. Tottenham obviously aren’t a one-man team but at times Bale has single-handedly won games for his side, like not many other players this season. For the first time, he has hit double figures in the league, and the longest period he has gone without a goal in the Premier League is three games, a fantastic record for someone who primarily plays as a winger or behind the forward.
Nearly every time Spurs have needed him, the Welshman has stepped up to the plate and provided some breathtaking moments this season for his fans. In my opinion Bale deserves to do the double that Ronaldo did in 2006/07 season, and I expect him to win both the PFA Young Player of the Year, as well as the Player of the Year award.