The short list has been announced today for the PFA Player and Young Player of the year awards. Unsurprisingly both Steven Gerrard and Cristiano Ronaldo are there and the Portuguese winger is joined by four of his United team mates.
Rio Ferdinand, Ryan Giggs, Nemanja Vidic and Edwin Van Der Sar are all in the running as well. In the last 16 years only once has a defender or goalkeeper claimed the award.
However this season has seen a much greater importance put on attaining the infamous clean sheet. Man United have kept 32 clean sheets all season and one would think therefore that a defender or goalkeeper is bound to claim the much coveted award this year.
Van Der Sar himself has set new records. He went unbeaten for 1,122 minutes. Is this just down to his own undeniable ability or the ever present Rio Ferdinand and Nemanja Vidic in front of him?
So should the prize go to the terrible two at the centre of Utd’s rock solid defence? Few partnerships strike fear into strikers the way that these two do. Just a look at them is enough to make Drogba fall over looking hopefully toward the referee.
However they can’t really be separated, they are as good as each other and to award one and not the other would be unfair. Not only that but they do not score the goals for United, admittedly Vidic has grabbed 7 this campaign and that is no mean feat especially for a centre back however the current holder has got nearly three times that number and at the end of the day, goals win games.
Cristiano Ronaldo has won this award for the past two seasons and is the only player to win back to back awards other than the French superstar Thierry Henry. However in recent games he has been off the pace. He has looked a moody, surly figure who appears to feel he is too good for the team. During difficult games against Sunderland and Aston Villa he stormed around the pitch screaming at team mates for ineffective play and a lack of creativity and then succeeded in losing the ball himself while in pocession. Hardly leadership material.
His fellow winger Ryan Giggs is also aiming for the award, he is the most decorated player in English football and has spent his entire career at United. At the age of 35 he has not been involved in all of the club’s games this season. Although has still been influential he has only been on the score sheet once in the league this year unlike his Liverpool rival.
Steven Gerrard is arguably the most influential player at the Merseyside club, when he doesn’t play Liverpool don’t play, or so we are led to believe. Liverpool have beaten Man Utd and Chelsea twice this season, however on those games he either didn’t play or was ineffective. Despite his absence in some of the bigger matches he has lifted his team this season and for vast swathes of the season on his own.
So who deserves the award?
It might just have to be Edwin Van Der Sar. Admittedly his job is made easier with his enforcers in front of him and it is to be expected however he is still putting in performances time and time again that are truly awesome. When he hasn’t been available, Tomasz Kuszczak has filled in and leaked goals, suggesting that the giant Dutchman is a big reason for United’s lead at the top of the table.
Whoever does end up taking the award you wouldn’t bet against the shot stopper claiming some sort of silverware this season.
PFA Players’ Player of the Year contenders:
Rio Ferdinand – Manchester United
Steven Gerrard – Liverpool
Ryan Giggs – Manchester United
Cristiano Ronaldo – Manchester United
Edwin van der Sar – Manchester United
Nemanja Vidic – Manchester United
PFA Young Player of the Year contenders:
Gabriel Agbonlahor – Aston Villa
Jonny Evans – Manchester United
Stephen Ireland – Manchester City
Aaron Lennon – Tottenham Hotspur
Rafael – Manchester United
Ashley Young – Aston Villa
Who are your picks for PFA Player of the Year and PFA Young Player of the Year this season?