The votes have been cast and counted and this year’s shortlist for PFA Player’s Player of the Year award has been decided. There are seven players nominated for the main award previously won by such stars as Cristiano Ronaldo, Thierry Henry, Alan Shearer and Eric Cantona. This year however, there seems to be no stand out player or obvious winner. The shortlist consists of: Gareth Bale, Charlie Adam, Scott Parker, Samir Nasri, Carlos Tevez, Rafael van der Vaart and Nemanja Vidic.
Surprisingly omitted, Nani was included in the Young Player of the Year category, along with apparent front-runners for the main award, Nasri and Bale. It would be interesting if Nani were to win Young Player of the Year while Nasri or Bale wins Player of the Year and would further my confusion as to why players like Nasri or Nani, who have seven seasons of premiership football and some 66 international caps between them, are even eligible for Young Player of the Year, when they are two of the best players in the Premier League. Gavin suggested to me that a Rookie of the Year award, similar to those handed out in many American sports, would be a much better and more interesting award. I have to agree.
So, let’s have a look at our contenders.
The Welshman has had an incredible season. Though he was previously something of a joke figure, as he had to wait until his 25th game for Spurs to taste victory, he is now a feared opponent whose incredible pace, quality delivery and fierce shot have earned widespread praise.
Personally I think he is a very good player, but from what I have seen, he doesn’t deserve the award, as it is to be based on performances in the English Premier League. Sandwiched between two superlative performances against Inter Milan, which left last year’s European Team of the Year right-back Maicon looking like he would fit into a hungover Sunday league side, were matches against Everton and Manchester United in which both Rafael Da Silva and Phil Neville kept Bale very quiet. I believe that Bale has been the Premier League’s best representative in Europe, but not the Premier League’s best player.
Charlie Adam has had an amazing career thus far. As an exciting young left winger at Rangers, who just couldn’t hold down a place in the team with talent such as Nacho Novo at the club, he can now be a beacon of hope to the many young Scots who don’t make the grade/aren’t given the chance at the Old Firm clubs. His form this season was a catalyst in Blackpool’s early success and a reason to hope as they slip ever closer to the bottom three. Adam has scored nine goals and made eleven assists this season. His two goals against Blackburn recently saw him almost single-handedly earn Blackpool a vital away point and included March’s goal of the month, a quite beautiful free kick. Are these credentials enough to make him the Player of the Year? Well, Nani has nine goals and some eighteen assists, so those two statistics alone cannot be enough. I think what has been so amazing about Adam has been his importance to Blackpool. In the two games he missed, Blackpool were awful and his importance can not be undermined. I’d be jappy for him to receive the award, as he would be the first Scot to win it since Dalglish in 1982-1983.
West Ham’s talisman Scott(y) Parker has been brilliant, again, this season. Parker put on a one man show for much of the season and, without him, it is perhaps unlikely West Ham would have had any points before the return of Thomas ‘The Hammer’ Hitzlsperger and the signing of Demba Ba. Parker is the defintion of a box-to-box midfielder and his tenacity and reliability earnt him a place in England’s starting 11 against Wales. This is not all Parker has in his locker though. He has come up with some important and high quality goals for the Hammers this season. Perhaps this year there could have been a first; much more interesting than a Young and (actual?) Player of the Year double, how about Scott Parker for Player and Manager of the Year, after he apparently took over and inspired the West Ham dressing room when they found themselves trailing relegation rivals West Bromwich Albion 3-0 at half-time.
Samir Nasri, somehow overlooked from France’s World Cup squad in favour of teammate Abou Diaby, appeared to benefit greatly from this exclusion, along with Theo Walcott, in the first half of the season. Nasri scored his ninth goal of the season on the 1st of January and had the votes been cast at this point of the season, there could only have been one winner. However, he has not scored since and I believe this has been indicative of a slight decrease in the level of his performance as a whole. As this is a Player of the Year award, as much as I would like him to win, I don’t think Nasri’s season quite merits this award.
Well, I mentioned tenacity in terms of Parker’s performance and there are few players in the Premier League who are as tenacious and dogged as Carlos (and I’m not just talking about his attempts to earn more of Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan’s easily earned money). Tevez almost feels like too much of a big name for this list. He was fantastic last year and has been similarly impressive this year. It seemed for a long while that if Tevez scored Man City won, or certainly didn’t lose, this was great for City, as he scores often, but I just can’t advocate a player who had a tantrum when substituted, handed in a transfer request (citing homesickness) and then signed a lucrative contract extension, as the Player of the Year.
Rafael van der Vaart
A wonderful addition to the Premier League, van der Vaart delighted fans at the start of the season with his performances in the playmaker role for Spurs, and delighted me by proving Sir Alex’s claim that there was no value in the transfer market to be quite wrong*. With ten Premier League goals, van der Vaart is the top goal scorer amongst the midfielders on this list, however, I can’t rule out Nasri on the basis of his form since new year without doing the same to van der Vaart. Hindered by injuries and Harry’s propensity to substitute him midway through the second half, he has failed to light up the league as he did in the early months of the season.
Nemanja Vidic is an interesting and worthy inclusion in this list. While the more flamboyant and obvious Nani and Berbatov have been overlooked, along with the sentimental choice of Van der Sar, those who play with and against Manchester United have selected Vidic. I can see why: he is a rock. He never seems to make an error and at times this season has had to make do with make-shift defensive colleagues, and yet United have battled, huffed and puffed to becoming champions elect with him as their backbone. When you look at United’s main rival, Arsenal, what is the separating factor? Is Nani better than Nasri? Not according to the players. Is Berbatov better than Van Persie? No. Can Djourou or Kolscielny be compared to Nemanja Vidic? Not a chance. He hasn’t single-handedly won United the league by any stretch of the imagination, but I bet they’d be a good few points worse off without the battling Serb.
So, time for me to get off the fence.
I’m going for Charlie Adam, not only because he is a fellow Scot, but because he has been playing in a very bad team and is almost solely responsible for the fact that Blackpool still have a fighting chance of retaining their Premier League status. Perhaps the same can be said about Parker, but before the aforementioned players joined the party, West Ham did look down and out – perhaps Scott Parker’s one man team was a little worse than Charlie Adam’s. Maybe we should wait for the relegation battle to be decided and if either player manages to keep their club in the top flight, they should be rewarded with the PFA Player’s Player of the Year award.
*Sir Alex, of course, proved himself wrong through signing Chicarito, who Jamie Redknapp last night described as “undoubtedly one of the signings of the century.”