x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 24 July 2017

An alternative shortlist to the PFA Player of the Year nominations

Thomas Woods picks seven Premier League players who are unfortunate not to be on this year's shortlist.

Gary Cahill, the Bolton defender, is unlucky not to have been included in the PFA Player of the Year nominations. Phil Cole / Getty Images
Gary Cahill, the Bolton defender, is unlucky not to have been included in the PFA Player of the Year nominations. Phil Cole / Getty Images

"It is unbelievable and the ultimate accolade to be voted for by your fellow professionals whom you play against week-in and week-out."

That was Chelsea's captain John Terry speaking after being named PFA Player of the Year in 2005. The PFA, the Professional Footballers' Association, has more than 4,000 members and they all have a vote to pick the player of the year every season.

With football being so subjective, the shortlist for the award always sparks debate. One of the criticisms of the nomination system is not its fairness, but the fact that the voting takes place in March, two months before the season ends.

The key time in any season is the last few months, when trophies are won and lost, and the most logical thing to do would be to hold the vote at the end of the season.

Nevertheless, the way it works now throws up some intriguing possibilities. This year's seven-man shortlist was announced last Friday and we could potentially see the first player to win the award and be relegated in Blackpool's Charlie Adam or West Ham United's Scott Parker.

David Ginola, the French winger, is the only player to have won the award for a team finishing outside the top four when Tottenham Hotspur ended 11th in 1998/99.

Speaking of Tottenham, they have the most nominees - Gareth Bale, the favourite, and Rafael van der Vaart, but even they are only fifth in the table at present. There are more nominations from outside the top four than within it. Manchester United's Nemanja Vidic, Arsenal's Samir Nasri and Manchester City's Carlos Tevez are the others on the list. Chelsea have no one.

The question is, who else deserved a nomination? Here is an alternative seven-man shortlist

1 Andy Carroll (Newcastle United / Liverpool)

Scored 11 goals in 19 league games for Newcastle in the first half of the season and would surely have been on the list had it not been for a three-month injury layoff. His rise this season has been staggering, having earned his first England cap and goal, and a £35 million (Dh210m) move to Liverpool.

2 Nani (Manchester United)

Nani will feel pretty hard done by not to have made the top seven and apparently the wide spread of voting and lack of a clear No 1 candidate is the reason he missed out. The Portuguese winger has nine league goals in 28 games, but his most impressive statistic is the 18 assists he has provided. That is more than one every two games.

3 Robin van Persie (Arsenal)

If the voting were done once the season is over, the Dutch striker could have been in prime position. He only played three games before an ankle injury kept him out for three months until November. But has netted 12 goals in 10 Premier League games in 2011 and could still end up with a Premier League title medal. Has a handy six assists, too, in just 18 league games.

4 Edwin van der Sar (Manchester United)

At the age of 40, Van de Sar is still playing like a 21 year old. The Duthman has made vital saves at various points this season, proving that his agility and fitness have not declined. The Dutchman is retiring at the end of the season and it is testament to his performances that he is being talked about by some as United's greatest ever goalkeeper alongside Peter Schmeichel.

5 Vincent Kompany (Manchester City)

Cross-city rival Vidic is the only other defender on the shortlist, but Manchester City's Kompany has been quietly putting in top-class displays. City have the joint second best defensive record in the league - behind Chelsea (23) having conceded just 30 goals. A large factor in that is the Belgian's composure and tackling.

6 Gary Cahill (Bolton Wanderers)

Touted for a move to one of the bigger clubs in the near future, with Arsenal prime candidates, the young defender has earned an England call-up this season and helped his team to eighth in the Premier League and an FA Cup semi-final.

7 Robert Huth (Stoke City)

The German centre-back has been playing Premier League football since 2002, with Chelsea, Middlesbrough and now Stoke City. Has netted five goals in a season in which his "unfashionable" side have established a good home record, losing just four times.

PFA Player of the Year shortlist

Charlie Adam (Blackpool)
Gareth Bale (Tottenham)
Samir Nasri (Arsenal)
Scott Parker (West Ham)
Carlos Tevez (Man City)
Rafael van der Vaart (Tottenham)
Nemanja Vidic (Man Utd)

PFA Young Player of the Year shortlist (Age 23 and under)

Gareth Bale (Tottenham)
Andy Carroll (Liverpool)
Javier Hernandez (Man Utd)
Samir Nasri (Arsenal)
Nani (Man Utd)
Jack Wilshere (Arsenal)

Origin of winners

England 18
Wales 4
France 4
Republic of Ireland 3
Scotland 3
Netherlands 2
Portugal 2
Northern Ireland 1

Most wins per club

Manchester United 11
Liverpool 5
Arsenal 4
Aston Villa 3
Tottenham Hotspur 3
Newcastle United 2
Everton 2
Chelsea 1
Blackburn Rovers 1
Southampton 1
Ipswich Town 1
Nottingham Forest 1
Derby County 1
Leeds United 1

 

Facts

. Mark Hughes (Manchester United), Alan Shearer (Southampton and Blackburn Rovers), Thierry Henry (Arsenal) and Cristiano Ronaldo (Manchester United) are the only players to have won the award on two occasions, and only Henry and Ronaldo have won the award in consecutive seasons.
. Only Shearer won his awards playing for two different teams
. Andy Gray (Aston Villa, 1976/77) and Ronaldo (Manchester United 2006/07) are the only players to have won the PFA Player of the Year and Young Player of the Year awards in the same season.

twoods@thenational.ae