In the weeks leading up to the PFA awards, newspaper columnists aired their views on which of the six nominated players should receive the Player of the Year award. Many felt that Robin van Persie should be this year’s winner for the goals he scored for Manchester United and how that had ensured the Premier League title returned to Old Trafford. Others, including Jamie Redknapp, were championing Luis Suarez until his unfortunate incident last weekend. That Bale was successful avoided an embarrassing situation for the PFA if Suarez had been the winner.
Gareth Bale won both of the top awards at The Professional Footballers Association ceremony but some commentators supported other candidates on the shortlist while Martin Keown said that when he was voting, he thought that the award should go to a player who was in a trophy winning team.
Last weekend, the former Arsenal and England central defender, Martin Keown wrote in his Saturday Premier League Bootroom column in the Daily Mail,
“The Tottenham winger gets me out of my seat more than any player in the league but I’ve always thought the player of the year should be someone who has won silverware.”
Keown’s reasoning would have excluded from receiving his vote, if he were still playing as Tottenham had not won any trophies. His preference was for van Persie –
“RVP has been the difference in the title race.”
Keown’s suggestion is surely another case of let’s keep everything for the top clubs. Players already demand to leave their club as soon as they know that a ‘top’ club is interested in signing them. Tottenham have suffered this over the years with many players – Manchester United have signed Teddy Sheringham, Michael Carrick and Dimitar Berbatov, Luka Modric was involved in transfer demands over the past two summers, first wanting to join Chelsea and then last year signing for Real Madrid. Even Robbie Keane had to join Liverpool once he knew of their interest. To consider that an award winner should only come from one of the trophy winning teams reduces the contribution that players from other less successful teams can make to their team and to the course of a season.
The players at the top teams are surrounded by the best possible players who quite frequently dominate the opposition making it easier for a striker to score or a midfield player to shine. Robin van Persie is surrounded by class players who can create numerous goal scoring opportunities for him in every match. A player in one of the challenging teams has a more difficult task in delivering top class performances as his team mates may not be as capable of creating opportunities or as responsive to his play.
Gareth Bale has come to the fore as a goal scorer in the past two season whereas originally he was seen as more of a creative player on the left of midfield who would score the occasional goal. Most of Bale’s energy was spent in delivering dangerous crosses into the penalty area. The problem was that over the past couple of seasons Spurs have lacked instinctive strikers who could convert the chances he created. On so many occasions a cross from Bale would go across the area with no-one there to capitalise on his pace and creative skills or the striker was a yard behind the play trying to reach his perfect cross.
Gareth Bale is a worthy winner for his contribution to Tottenham’s season. He showed great humility in his interviews paying tribute to both his Tottenham team mates and manager, Andre Villas-Boas.
The opportunity to win such an honour should not be denied a player just because he doesn’t play for one of the elite clubs who win silverware each season. To do so would mean that the awards would be restricted to players from two, three or perhaps four clubs each season.
Do you agree with Martin Keown’s view?