By Chris Wright
As you may or may not have heard, the PFA got around to naming their six-man shortlist for the 2011/12 Players’ Player of the Year award earlier this week; with Manchester City boasting a triumvirate of nominees in Sergio Aguero, David Silva and Joe Hart while goal-glutton Robin Van Persie and the ubiquitous names of Wayne Rooney and Scott Parker fill the latter three spaces on the ballot.
For the record, those in the know about all things sports betting have Van Persie comfortably pegged as the favourite to be bestowed with the trinket at the PFA’s awards bash on Sunday night, with Aguero being earmarked for the ‘Young’ Player of the Year award despite having been a professional footballer for the last nine years of his life now.
Once again, here’s those shortlists in full (via BBC Sport)…
Nominees for PFA Players’ Player of the Year award: Sergio Aguero (Man City), Joe Hart (Man City), Scott Parker (Tottenham), Robin van Persie (Arsenal), Wayne Rooney (Man Utd), David Silva (Man City).
Nominees for Young Player of the Year award: Sergio Aguero (Man City), Gareth Bale (Tottenham), Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain (Arsenal), Daniel Sturridge (Chelsea), Kyle Walker (Tottenham), Danny Welbeck (Man Utd).
Any road up, we thought we’d have a stab at picking our own sextet of worthy winners, then open the floor up to you ‘orrible lot to ay’ a crack…
1. Robin Van Persie, Arsenal – It’s hard to argue with the logic here. RVP has been immense for the best part of two consecutive seasons – providing the catalyst for Arsenal’s re-coagulation into a half-way decent side again.
Sure, he has his foibles and feint whispers of criticism have begun to creep in during the arse-end of the season, but can you really blame him for petering out ever-so-slightly? RVP has sent statistics bods into orgasmic frenzy with his goal-scoring feats over the past 12 months – squatting atop the Premier League goalscoring table as a result. That’s probably worthy of a nod in it’s own right.
In fact, that volley against Everton alone would be enough to earn him a nomination if Pies had their way.
2. Clint Dempsey, Fulham - Another exemplary season, racking up 22 goals from midfield (albeit very advanced midfield), winning matches almost on his lonesome for a – let’s face it – middling Premier League side and ne’er a mention in the end of year honours? For shame.
3. Wayne Rooney, Man Utd - Fair enough, while it’s not been a vintage year, he’s still been pretty darn good again this season. In fact, Rooney has bagged 31 goals this term at the last count – which is really rather impressive whichever way you look at it.
4. Alex Song, Arsenal - Song has been head and shoulders above Parker this season, who you feel – and we don’t usually buy into this particular strain of conspiracy – may only have been included on the PFA’s shortlist due to him being the sweat-plastered, stubby-limbed, side-parted sweetheart of the England-centric press hordes.
Parker’s £5 million acquisition undoubtedly represents a bargain on Tottenham’s part and he’s done a decent job plugging away in front of the Spurs back four this season, but Song has flourished into a much more debonair article in 2011/12 - stepping into the deep-lying central void that Cesc Fabregas originally vacated when he was ushered upfield in his final season-and-a-half at Arsenal.
If Song continues to stretch and develop and Arsenal can bring in a reliable defensive foil for him over the summer, then we could be looking at a revelation next season.
5. Grant Holt, Norwich - Whether it be a nomination for ‘Player the Year’ or a berth in England’s EURO 2012 squad, this stout fellow deserves some tangible recognition for his incredible transition from the boggier standard of the little leagues and the ‘no f**ks given’ manner in which he’s adapted to putting the frighteners up Premier League defences in 2011/12 – scoring 15 goals in all for Norwich this campaign.
The source was a little dubious, but we read somewhere that, as of the last round of matches, Holt is currently the most efficient English striker in the Premier League on a shots-to-goals ratio – comfortably beating Wayne Rooney in the standings.
He is routinely chided by the spoilt phalanxes of bratty football snobs who deem anything other than a slick, non-contact, one-touch passing move across the edge of the penalty box by a batch of 5’4″, six-stone halflings as footballing barbarianism for being a old-fashioned lumphammer of a striker.
Yes, he’s strong, physical and imposing – how is that a criticism? He may have the turning circle of a Korean grain ship, but he’s excellent at using his body to create half-yard pockets of space here and there and his aerial abilities are far more polished than those of a certain be-ponytailed Geordie.
In short, Holt could be exactly the kind of lumphammer that England may come to rely on this summer if they are seriously entertaining any vivid cheesedreams of actually scoring at any point in Polkraine.
6. David Silva, Man City - Narrowly pipping teammates Sergio Aguero and Vincent Kompany is Man City’s nippy little creative executive – largely by virtue of his leading of the Premier League assist rankings and his imperious early-season form – wafting passes through gaps that weren’t there the split-second before and generally making it seem like he was playing on slightly different plane of reality to everyone else on the pitch.
He faded a bit in the middle and still has a tendency to go missing for large swathes, but up until the end of January, Silva routinely graced games by doing something with a football that made our crotch go all fuzzy, unctuous and warm like a microwaved peach.
It is Pies firm belief that a front three better than that of Silva, Aguero and Tevez does not currently exist in world football – shame that 33% of it went golfing for five months. City would probably have won the league by now otherwise.
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Narrowly missing the cut: Michel Vorm, Tim Krul, Vincent Kompany, Leighton Baines, Yaya Toure, Sergio Aguero, Demba Ba/Papiss Cisse, Antonio Valencia, Yohan Cabaye, Fabio Coloccini, John Ruddy, Yakubu, Emmanuel Adebayor, Juan Mata, etc, etc…
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Pies’ eventual winner: It’s pretty much got to be RVP hasn’t it?
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Right, that’s our six PFA Player of the Year nominees. Fancy a bash? Feel free to leave your sextet of nominations (plus a winner) in the comments box below…