He took down the long pass along the left side touchline. He turned the first West Ham defender who came at him and carried the ball into the box. Two quick touches and he turned the next defender as well. The box was still thick with players from the recent corner kick, but Giggs didn’t worry about anyone as he fired the ball through traffic, into the far corner. It was a beautiful goal and a brilliant solo effort. But it was PFA award winner Ryan Gigg’s only goal this season.
Yes, with a mere 12 starts and that one goal, Ryan Giggs bags this year’s PFA Footballer of the Year Award.
No former winner has come close to Giggs in terms of winning the award with so few starts. The next fewest starts for a PFA Footballer of the Year is almost twice Giggs’s numer at 23, attained by two other United stalwarts: Teddy Sheringham and Ruud van Nistelrooy. And while Giggs’s 12 appearances as a sub at least gets him closer to a reasonable amount of game-time, Sheringham and van Nistelrooy scored a lot more goals in their award-winning seasons. Sheringham: 15 goals in 2000-2001. van Nistelrooy: 23 goals in 2001-2002 (in 26 overall appearances, no less). True, they were both strikers, but if we’re talking about honoring accomplishment, their contributions made them obvious choices for those years.
Ryan Giggs winning can only be justified by his age and the length of time he’s played for United.
There is no question that Giggs is a great player and that the service he has given to United and football should be recognized. But the name of this accolade is Footballer of the Year. This award is meant to recognize accomplishments from a single year, not from an entire career. This is the award they gave Alan Shearer for 34 goals in 42 starts in 1995.
Giggs, while still a fine player with probably another year or two at the top level in him, is far from the peak of his career. He won the PFA Young Player two years in a row (1992, 1993) when his explosive talent was undeniable. But by giving him the award for 12 appearances and one goal, the Footballer of the Year award becomes more of a career achievement award. Which is simply wrong.
Perhaps the players who voted for him believe in Karma and hope this act will come back and ensure their careers are as long as Giggs. Knowing that Giggs’s career cannot go on forever, they wanted to make sure he received the award before he retired.
Many expected this year’s award to go to Steven Gerrard for his 13 goals in 27 appearances and this would seem far more in line with past winners. Along with Gerrard, Edwin van der Sar, Glen Johnson, Rio Ferdinand, Nemanja Vidic, Patrice Evra; Ashley Young, Ryan Giggs, Cristiano Ronaldo, Nicolas Anelka and Fernando Torres all made the PFA team of the year and any one of them has contributed more to the game this season than Mr Giggs.
The PFA gives out a Merit Award each year for service to Football on all levels. Jimmy Armfield, Alex Ferguson, George Best and Shaka Hislop are all among the recent winners. One could definitely see Ryan Giggs someday earning this accolade, but as far as Footballer of the Year goes: this should not have been his year.