The Professional Footballers’ Association (PFA) has named their candidates for their Player of the Year and Young Player of the Year awards.
No problem here with the nominees for Player of the Year, but I definitely take exception with a couple of the possibilities for Young Player of the Year. More on that in a bit.
Player of the Year (club):
Cristiano Ronaldo (Manchester United, last year’s PFA Player of the Year)
Steven Gerrard (Liverpool)
David James (Portsmouth)
Fernando Torres (Liverpool)
Cesc Fabregas (Arsenal)
Emmanuel Adebayor (Arsenal)
Young Player of the Year (club)
C. Ronaldo (last year’s PFA Young Player of the Year)
Micah Richards (Manchester City)
Ashley Young (Aston Villa)
Gabriel Agbonlahor (Aston Villa)
First off, it was nice to see someone from outside the “Big Four” represented in the finalists for Player of the Year. David James has had an outstanding season in goal for Portsmouth and has been the best keeper in the league, bar none. There’s a reason that Fabio Capello has made him England’s number one at the moment, even at Jam-O’s age.
As I said, I have no issue with any of the six players on that list. They all deserve to be there, although if Ronaldo doesn’t win close to unanimously, it would be a joke. He’s had a truly once-in-a-lifetime year for the Red Devils.
The Young Player of the Year nominees, however, is where I do have a problem. It’s not so much the fact that three players (Fabregas, Torres, and Ronaldo) are in the running for both awards; yes, I would rather see this honor be completely exclusive and separate from the Player of the Year, but I can live with the current alternative. Again, Ronaldo should win nearly unanimously, though Torres will get some votes as well.
It’s the definition of a “Young Player” that has me irked. To be eligible to win under the PFA’s definition, a player has to be under 23 years of age at the start of the season. Newsflash: 23 is not young in soccer; almost every single Premiership team has multiple players from ages 21-23 that feature regularly. If you’re going to give this award based strictly on age, it should be for players under 21.
Personally, I think two factors should go into it. One of them, obviously, is being 21 or younger, and the second is a maximum of 38 Premiership games (a full season) played. I understand that Fabregas is only 20, but he’s been playing in the league for Arsenal since he was 17 and has appeared in 135 league matches for the Gunners.