I'd just like to thank my fellow pros for being thick.
The news that Ryan Giggs has won this season’s PFA Player of the Year award just goes to show how stupid footballers really are. We wrote back in February about how he would not be a deserving winner of the award and my opinion has not changed since. We’re told voting took place in February/March. For arguments’ sake let’s say the cut-off date was United’s last game in February – Blackburn Rovers on the 21st. Here is a man who has only started 12 games for Man Utd this season (only nine at the time of voting) and has completed 90 minutes just nine times (six at the time). You might say “Ok, but a man of his age (35) won’t be playing 90 minutes week in week out”. “Well let’s take a look at the stats” I shall reply. At the time of voting he had one goal and five assists. Man Utd had scored 46 goals by the end of February. Hmm, real influential…
PFA Team of the Season. Oh dear, where do we start?
Now of course stats aren’t everything and a lack of goals/assists doesn’t necessarily mean you can’t be an important player. Giggs has been playing in a deeper central midfield role after all. But having watched plenty of United this season, I know for sure that he wasn’t the driving force behind their dominant football earlier in the season. A lot of that was based on the defence which went fourteen consecutive league games without conceding. If any Man Utd player deserved the award it was Nemanja Vidic. The only reason I can think of for his fellow pros voting for him was that at the time he had two recent man of the match performances which lingered in the memory (partly because he actually finished the game!). The first was the 5-0 destruction of West Brom at the Hawthorns in which he had three assists, and the second was a tight 1-0 win over West Ham at Upton Park in which he scored a lovely winner.
Coupled with a good performance against Derby in the FA cup, it meant there was lots of talk about vintage Giggs and how he has kept going for eighteen years. This is true, but footballers clearly don’t have long term memory so obviously just decided to vote for whoever was on the backpage of The Sun that day. If United do end up winning the title, I can guarantee Giggs won’t be seen as the key reason for it. I await to see who the football writers vote for as Footballer of the Year. Everyone knows that’s the more prestigious award to win and it generally goes to the actual best player of the season, not someone who’s had about five influential games this year. History has shown this wouldn’t be the first time players have got it wrong. There have been plenty more over the years such as Terry over Lampard in 2004/05, Shearer over Zola in 1996/97 and the prime example in 2001/02 when the players choose Ruud Van Nistlerooy and the writers choose Robert Pires. Bear in mind Arsenal won the Double that year and Man Utd won diddly squat.
A word too on Ashley Young winning Young Player of the Year. Last season yes, this season no. Just how must Steven Ireland feel? The solution to all this of course is to have the vote at the end of the season. That however would be far to sensible and intelligent for the professional footballer to comprehend.