PFA Awards Preview: Are the nominees worthy?

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By Lee Savery

The nominees for the two top player’s player awards in English football for 2011 have been officially announced. With the announcement of the winners coming up this weekend, do the players nominated deserve their place on the list?

PFA Player of the Year:

Charlie Adam (Blackpool FC) – The Blackpool captain has been excellent for The Seasiders this season in his, and their, first season in the Premier League. His return of 10 goals & 7 assists in 28 league appearances highlights his importance to the team’s efforts this season. With his excellent passing range, technique and a talent for set-pieces blended with a hunger and desire to win every game, Adam rightfully deserves his nomination.

Gareth Bale (Tottenham Hotspur) (also nominated for the Young Players award) – This season has been the season more and more people in football have been talking about Gareth Bale. His hat-trick in the San Siro certainly had heads turning. That head-turning performance aside, does Bale deserve his nomination? I don’t think so and the statistics will support this. With a measly return of 7 goals & 1 assist in his 24 league appearances, you can’t help but think that those who voted for him only had THAT performance from the Champions League in mind and not his inconsistency. Bale is a talent there is no doubt about it but he does not merit a double player of the year nomination this season (the last double winner was Cristiano Ronaldo in 2007).

Samir Nasri (Arsenal) – Nasri has been Arsenal’s best player this season. With frequent injuries to the likes of Fabregas & Van Persie, Nasri has been a consistent constant to the Arsenal midfield/attack this season. His 14 goals in all competitions (9 in the league) highlights his importance to Arsenal’s trophy challenges this season. Some eye-catching goals and performances are enough to justify his nomination.

Scott Parker (West Ham United) – Scott Parker’s industrious and combative performances have led him to be a key player in The Hammers fight for survival this season, in fact for the last few seasons (Voted fans player of the year for the past two seasons). Sections of the press and fans across the country have called for him to be included in the England squad (which happened just last month). Parker has been one of the most consistent performers in the Premier League this season and deserves his nomination.

Carlos Tevez (Manchester City) – The Old Trafford hero turned zero, now Manchester City captain, is on the shortlist for the second season in succession. His 19 league goals leave him just two behind Dimitar Berbatov (21) while they are joint-top scorers in all competitions on 22 a piece. The fact is, we can all hate him but he has been City’s best player and one of the most consistent strikers in the Premier League, yet, his form has dipped recently and that may hinder him in the pursuit of this prize.

Rafael Van der Vaart (Tottenham Hotspur) – The second nomination from Tottenham is the Dutch summer signing sensation Van der Vaart. He has been a prolific goalscorer for Spurs with 10 goals in 22 league appearances and also has 7 assists to his name. Van der Vaart deserves to be on this list more than his team-mate Bale. His consistent performances and eye for goal justify his nomination for the award.

Nemanja Vidic (Manchester United) – What more could be said about the Manchester United captain? A leader, a consistent performer, a rock in the heart of the defence, the best defender in the Premier League, the best defender in Europe? All of the above would fit perfectly. For his consistent no nonsense displays in defence and his knack of scoring goals, Vidic fully deserves his nomination. A Man United player has won the award for the past four seasons (Ronaldo ’07 & ’08, Giggs ’09, Rooney ’10), so can Vidic make it five?

Who else could/should be on the senior shortlist? The most notable exclusion from the main award is Nani, who is having the best season of his United career. With 9 goals and 18 assists (the best in the league), Nani blitzes a similar player on the list, Gareth Bale. Nani has however been nominated for the Young Player of the Year but his exclusion from the senior prize is puzzling.

Another arguably surprising exclusion is of top scorer Dimitar Berbatov, who is another United player having his best season at Old Trafford. You cannot be a bad player if you’re the top scorer of the Premier League. His performances have obviously not been eye-catching enough for his fellow professionals. Wayne Rooney has had his troubles off and on the pitch but his performances in the second half of the season have been excellent and a return, so far, of 10 league goals and 11 assists does not look like a bad season however due to how early the voting is made, he was obviously overlooked. Edwin van der Sar, in his final season as a professional footballer, has been excellent in goal which has not gone unnoticed by the United faithful with cries of “four more years” during recent games. Goalkeepers, however, are usually overlooked for player awards (Peter Shilton was the last goalkeeper to win the award in 1978).

Other players outside of Old Trafford that deserve a mention include the West Bromwich Albion pairing of Peter Odemwingie & Chris Brunt have both had excellent seasons under Roberto Di Matteo and the turn in form under Roy Hodgson. Manchester City fans would also argue that Vincent Kompany has been a consistent performer in defence and has played a pivotal role in City’s season as much as Carlos Tevez has. Other outsiders that deserve a mention are Luka Modric, whose performances have been overshadowed by his team mate Bale. Kevin Nolan is also worthy of a mention as a consistent performer and Newcastle United’s top scorer in their first season back in the Premier League.

PFA Young Player of the Year:

Gareth Bale (Tottenham Hotspur) – As above

Seamus Coleman (Everton) – The breakthrough season has been an impressive one for Seamus Coleman. Playing at either right-back or right midfield, Coleman has not disappointed the Everton faithful with a string of impressive performances which have not gone unnoticed by Giovanni Trapattoni who called him up for the Republic of Ireland squad in October 2010.

Joe Hart (Manchester City) – The England No. 1 was officially named as Manchester City’s No 1 at the start of the season and has been excellent between the sticks. Arguably (Annoyingly!) one of the best young keepers in the league.

Javier Hernandez (Manchester United) – When early reports suggested that Chicharito had not made the short list for either award, there was uproar amongst United fans. Luckily, he has made the young player list and deservedly so after a return, so far, of 18 goals in all competitions in his first season at Old Trafford. He also has the incredible statistic of having scored 11 league goals from just 15 shots on target. Writing in The Guardian, Paul Wilson believes the “Little Pea” “is now a strong candidate for the [Football Writers] player of the year” and who would argue with that?1

Nani (Manchester United) – As stated above, Nani has had an excellent season for United and easily one of the most consistent performers in the league this season and is unlucky to not be up for the senior award or both like Gareth Bale.

Samir Nasri (Arsenal) – As above

Jack Wilshere (Arsenal) – In his breakthrough season, Jack Wilshere has been excellent for Arsenal with his playing style, particularly his passing, garnering praise across football. This has led Wilshere to be selected for the senior England side and is expected to star for England Under 21’s at the European Championships this summer.

The Young Player of the Year award seems perfectly balanced as the seven players listed are, arguably, the seven best young players in the league right now. Gareth Bale is the favourite to pick up both awards, undeservedly in my opinion and Nani’s exclusion from the senior award will still be questioned. Teddy Sheringham, on winning the senior award in 2001, said “It’s the biggest personal award you can get in the game and it’s something that you really cherish.” So whoever wins at the awards ceremony this weekend will feel just the same I am sure.

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