Eden Hazard the stand-out favourite for Player of the Year
It says an awful lot that when it comes to individual awards in a team sport, even eternal managerial enemies Jose Mourinho and Arsene Wenger agree that they’re not quite right.
The PFA Player and Young Player of the Year nominees were announced this past week, and the list of candidates for the awards themselves was an obvious one. The BBC Match Of The Day Facebook page even pointed out that Robbie Savage had got his selection of who would be up for it right, which says a lot.
But the list, which is done on voting by the players themselves, shows that players perhaps have short memories. The likes of Eden Hazard and David De Gea are deservedly on there, as is Harry Kane for young player, because they’ve had a fantastic season from start to finish.
But the inclusion of Philippe Coutinho goes against that; as impressive as the Brazilian has been in the past few months, fully stepping into the Luis Suarez-shaped hole of limelight that had been vacated by the Uruguayan’s £75m move to Barcelona the past summer.
Yet Coutinho, it’s hard to forget, has been on this run of form since December; before that, the former Inter man was struggling to make an impression on a team that was, having been on the cusp of glory this time last year, now immensely struggling to even come close to those standards.
Considering it’s named the “player of the year” award, perhaps Coutinho should be in with a shout for his excellent 2015 so far. But winning award based on the whole campaign? Not sure. He’s not even been the most consistent this year; that would be Tottenham’s Christian Eriksen.
The list also shows up another rather obvious trend, in that in the list of eight nominees (four of the Seniors also being up for Young Player of the Year) only two defensive minded players are selected, and both of them are goalkeepers in David De Gea and Thibaut Courtois
It’s obviously difficult to compare defenders to attackers, attackers to midfielders, etc. But if we’re looking at players who have had great seasons, surely a Chelsea defender has to be up there, or a Southampton defender?
The likes of John Terry and Jose Fonte, who both have had excellent seasons marshalling their defences and leading as captains in memorable campaigns for their teams, should be pretty aggrieved.
And there has to be real sympathy heading towards the East End of London for West Ham’s Aaron Cresswell; who has gone from a real prospect playing for Ipswich in the Championship last season, to having his name linked with England call-ups in his first Premier League season.
But yet if he was stilling starring in the division below, he may not have even had a sniff. The three nominees for Football League Player of the Year in the Championship were all strikers, with Middlesbrough’s on-loan Chelsea striker Patrick Bamford taking that gong ahead of Daryl Murphy from Ipswich and Watford’s number nine Troy Deeney.
Going further down a level, Joe Garner who well deserved his Mitre Goal of the Year award, but surely for a Preston player to have won it in a season which Bristol City have dominated the league and Johnstone’s Paint Trophy, you’d wonder just how Luke Freeman or Aden Flint hadn’t got close to that award.
What it perhaps shows is that English fans and players alike are obsessed with the sight of seeing the ball ripple across the net; I have to admit, there are fewer more satisfying sounds than the sound of a ball flying into the top corner, to roll down the net. You know the one I mean.
But as the saying goes, goals may win you games, but defences win you titles, or at least promotion; Preston’s Joe Garner should be pretty thankful for his teammates making sure his goals have not only won him awards, but also steered the Lilywhites into automatic promotion contention.
However, perhaps being rewarded for your defensive displays perhaps goes against the idea of an individual award; all of the nominees have had eye-catching displays this season, whereas it’s useless having a season like John Terry has if his fellow defenders are at pub team standard.
Yet that argument comes around again; should there really be awarded based on individual brilliance in a team sport? The fact that Atletico Madrid won the La Liga title, and were just a man on the back post away from winning the Champions League last season shows the real importance of the strength of the team, it wasn’t just the Diego Costa show.
It doesn’t matter anyhow; I’m sure Jose Mourinho won’t mind Hazard being recognised for the season he has had, providing Hazard’s displays bring home yet another League title for the trophy cabinet.