We have passed the half way point of the season, the title race is starting to heat up and the dog fight to avoid relegation is becoming more and more intense with every passing game. There are still four months left of the season to unfold in front of us but due to the PFA’s flawed player of the year award, it is already time to start considering the player of the season in late January.
Firstly it must be argued what a ridiculous decision it was to stage the awards in April, essentially turning the award into a “player of the first half of the season” accolade. Last year’s award, which went to Wayne Rooney, would have surely been handed to Didier Drogba, Premier League top goal scorer and League winner, had the voting taken place at the appropriate juncture.
The last few years has seen an obvious candidate (or two) stand above the sea of Premier League players. Last year, as mentioned before, was a toss up between Didier Drogba and Wayne Rooney. Both played phenomenally and had the best goal scoring campaigns of their careers. The 2009/10 award was more of a lifetime achievement award to Ryan Giggs, but could have easily been given to Nemanja Vidic, Steven Gerrard or Fernando Torres. While no one came close to Cristiano Ronaldo in the two years preceding Giggs’ success.
This season however has seen no front-runner for the award; several players have had good seasons. However no one has quite reached the levels of the previous winners and nominees for the award, while big name stars and obvious candidates for the award pre-season have had severely disappointing campaigns thus far. Wayne Rooney, Didier Drogba, Frank Lampard, Fernando Torres and Joe Cole are amongst the guilty parties. But who are the most likely nominees? Three nominees will be announced in April, with the winner being announced a few days later.
Nemanja Vidic – has been the most prominent reason Manchester United are still (somehow) unbeaten. He has been an absolute rock at the back, winning every personal duel that has been presented to him. His performances against Arsenal, Bolton and more recently Tottenham Hotspur have been the highlights of fantastic campaign. The big Serbian seems to have relished the honour of being made captain by Sir Alex and has even saved United at the other end, by netting the equalising goal against Aston Villa to salvage another unlikely away point.
Carlos Tevez – since Berbatov’s elevation to a degree of form, thus cushioning Wayne Rooney’s miserable season. No club has been so reliant on one player as Manchester City. Tevez continues to demonstrate, that Ferguson was devastatingly wrong to let him go. With fourteen goals in the league this season, at least twenty-five at the end of the season looks more than likely. Without Carlito City would be nowhere near where they lie currently. He has even managed to fit in a transfer request during an eventful six months at Eastlands, Mario Balotelli may have been correct in saying that Wayne Rooney isn’t the best striker in Manchester. Currently no one sits above Carlos Tevez for that honour.
Samir Nasri – wrongly or rightly accused of being the Enfant Terrible of French football, left out of the World Cup squad and accused of the traitorous deed of sitting in Thierry Henry’s seat on the French national side’s coach. This has been Nasri’s breakout season for both club and country, with fourteen goals in all competitions for Arsenal and being crowned French Footballer of the year by the influential French Football magazine. Nasri can already bank on the vote of Rio Ferdinand who tweeted his love of Nasri, whilst French legend Zinedine Zidane gushed that Nasri “represents our national side’s biggest hope.”
Charlie Adam – Blackpool have gone from being written off as no hopers to everybody’s second favourite Premier League side. They have refused to back down on their footballing ethos, playing some of the Leagues most attractive football and the Scot Charlie Adam has been the ideologue behind it all. He is fast becoming one of the league’s most in demand midfielders and no disrespect to Blackpool but it surely won’t be too long till he’s playing at an even higher level. It would be for the good of the game if he resisted any overtures in the January transfer window and stayed at Blackpool, especially for Clubs such as Aston Villa and Birmingham. Ian Holloway believes he’s good enough to play for Man United, he might be right.
Gareth Bale – for three weeks in late October and early November, Gareth Bale was the “unofficial best player in the world.” Or that’s how it seemed, everyone was lining up to wax lyrical about the mercurial Welshman and while the furore has slightly died down, (at least until he returns to Milan) Bale has continued to have a remarkable season at the lane. An old school mixture of raw pace and power has seen Bale progress into the upper stratospheres of the game. Whilst not quite as good as Messi or Ronaldo, (sorry Patrick Barclay) Bale is certainly on his way to that level.
Rafael Van Der Vaart – already the signing of the year, Tottenham’s bargain bin Dutchman has taken the Premier League by storm. With nine goals in the league and six assists to his name, Van Der Vaart has taken no time to settle. His introduction into the league has seen a reinvigoration of the playmaker role, Redknapp has given the Dutchman a free reign to go out and create as he sees fit. Bought for £8 million from Real Madrid after a torrid few years at the Bernabeu, Van Der Vaart has proven himself at the top level, not only performing in the Premier League but also being central to Spur’s Champion’s League Progress. Not bad for someone worth three times less than James Milner.
All six deserve to be nominated and in their own way all deserve to win, unfortunately only three will fight it out for the prestigious award. My prediction? Samir Nasri to be the first Arsenal player in seven years to win the award, closely followed by Carlos Tevez and Nemanja Vidic respectively.
Read more from Lee Wilson at ‘This Is Futbol’