With the nominations recently being announced for the PFA Players’ Player of the Year, the usual debate begins over who should and who shouldn’t have been included on the shortlist. The list of six Premiership players is as follows: Sergio Aguero (Man City), Joe Hart (Man City), Scott Parker (Tottenham), Robin van Persie (Arsenal), Wayne Rooney (Man Utd), David Silva (Man City). On the face of it, they seem like reasonable candidates for the title of player of the season, but the list includes no defenders and may once again have fallen into the trap of picking players based on reputations. For a start, no-one who plays for a club outside of the Premiership’s top four (at the time when the nominees were named) was included.
Look at Demba Ba for example, who has carried Newcastle into contention for a Champions League spot through his 16 league goals. Recently, since Papiss Cisse joined in January, his goals have started to dry up but he has been a regular striking partner the the new arrival. From the start of the season, many people were wondering if Newcastle would struggle for goals and could replace the shadow left by Andy Carroll’s departure earlier that year. Not only did Ba step up to the plate and assume the role of main striker, he exceeded all expectations and quickly became one of the most clinical and prolific strikers in the division, accounting for over 40% of his side’s goals before January.
Also left off of the PFA shortlist was Clint Dempsey, which staggered me. Arguably the most consistent midfield performer in the Premiership this season, not only demonstrating passing, ball winning and creative attributes, but scoring a total of 16 league goals so far. Fulham have in many ways surrendered to mid-table mediocrity, but Dempsey has been at the heart of every good performance and has become the centre-piece of a side which would struggle greatly without his influence. I don’t see how Scott Parker can be nominated ahead of the American this season. Fair enough Parker does ‘the dirty work in front of the back four’ and has been a big part of his team’s season as well, but Dempsey has shown the same fight and commitment, displayed more versatility and filled the goalscoring void for his team.
If we are going to be looking at the defensive side of the game, as opposed to just midfield creativity and goalscoring ability of the likes of Aguero, Silva, Van Persie and Rooney, then we should be including a defender in the list. Vincent Kompany has undoubtedly been at the centre of Manchester City’s success this season and his occasional absence in the side was alarmingly obvious. Last season he was included in the Premier League Team of the Year and has since demonstrated his ability to not only do his job defending superbly as a centre-back, but at the same time has shone as a leader. At 26 years of age, he wears the captain’s armband for City and has become a commanding presence in the team, providing stability and guidance at the back.
Another player not included as a nomination was Juan Mata. Now, I agree that the Chelsea midfielder would have been an outsider for a place on the list, but I think his impact in the Premier League has been very underrated. He might not have had the same scintillating start as David Silva, but he has been the one major creative spark in a Chelsea side which hasn’t offered a huge amount in terms of attacking threat this season. He’s come into a team that are still looking for extra ingredients to bring themselves up to title-winning standard and you have to say that he has been one of the biggest examples of a step in the right direction for his club in terms of technical ability, playing style and attitude. Mata, and the others mentioned, would have been good inclusions not only for the players but for the integrity of the award itself.
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