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Stephen Ireland Deserves The Young Player Of The Year Award

Why are they bothering having a Young Player Of The Year vote this season is beyond me as Stephen Ireland is head and shoulders above every other candidate playing in the Premiership this season.  Ireland has been in magnificent form since the season started and with everything going on at Manchester City on and off the pitch, has been a wonderfully consistent performer for the City.

Ireland has really begun to show the consistency his early appearances promised when he made his breakthrough back in the 2005-2006 season and this season he has been in exceptionally form in City’s midfield. It also seems that Ireland has managed to put his very ill advised lies of September 2007 behind him and begun to concentrate on playing football.

How the Republic Of Ireland must be wishing he would return from his self imposed exile to add his beautiful range of passing and eye for important goals to a lacklustre midfield. To say Trapattoni and Brady rate the young midfielder would be an understatement but he has so far refused any attempts to re-introduce him back into the international fold. It’s a situation I can’t really understand when a player simply refuses to play for his country at such a young age, but that shouldn’t detract from his performances this season.

I hope he does return to International football soon though, it would be a shame for such a footballing talent to not garner the international career and caps his talent deserves, but ultimately only Ireland can make the decision to wear the emerald shirt once more. Let’s hope that Shay Given joining Manchester City will perhaps lead Ireland to make himself available for the next international squad in June. When you’re in a qualifying group with Italy and Bulgaria, you need your best players available, Ireland easily finds himself at the top table quality wise for his country. Yet I don’t suppose Mark Hughes will be that sad to see him staying fresh for Manchester City, as they attempt to topple SV Hamburg in the UEFA Cup next week.

He’s been head and shoulders above any of his potential rivals for the Young Player Of The Year award and for me, one of the best midfielders regardless of age this season. It would have been easy for Ireland to hide this season as City got linked with virtually every player in Europe, but his game seems to have gone from strength to strength since Abu Dhabi United bought the club. The constant linking of his employers to top quality players seems to have become a driving force behind his play. He was always a great passer of the ball, but now he makes more bursts into the box and his eye for goal has really sharpened up. His set piece deliver is consistently dangerous, his link play, eye catching. For a man of 22, he sometimes shows dazzling maturity with the ball at his feet.

I can’t see any other young player coming close to him this season, Ashley Young has fallen away as has his team mate Gabriel Agbonlahor, Theo Walcott has missed too much of the season, Aaron Lennon whilst good, has yet to deliver consistent form over a seasons length.Ireland has been immense this season and deserves to be the first Irishman to win the Young Player of the Year award and the first Manchester City player to win it since Peter Barnes in 1975-1976. It’s richly deserved.

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  1. Bishopville Red

    April 1, 2009 at 1:30 am

    PB – Seeing as you wish to inlcude a third division side and a relegation threatened side as big 4, All your comment proves is that the BIG 4 has been very fluid over the years. It would not appear not that you need to be “big 4 to get a look in, rather that the recipe to becoming and staying a Big 4 club (up until Chelsea bought in) is a good system that develops young talent. You’ve put the cart before the horse!

    Walsh or Cottee wouldn’t get it today? Why not? If Scott Parker can win it recently (his time at Chelsea did nothing to help his cause) , the voters are obviously open minded to look past the top 4 sides if someone out there merits a mention.

    Let’s flip your question: Who among the players from Manchester United or Liverpool (or Arsenal and Newcastle for that matter) has history proven to be a poor choice of YPOTY? All of the recipients from the 4 clubs mentioned have gone on to be full internationals and many were candidates, if not winners of the full POTY award. The three repeat winners come from Man Utd. (Giggs & Rooney) and Liverpool (Fowler) Based on caps, the least successful of the players to win 21 awards for the 4 clubs is Lee Sharpe. Lee Sharpe!

    There a lot of reasons why football fans might not like the big 4, but if they’re going to use this award as some form of evidence, then they’re showing the height of laziness in their argument. Instead of moping that you have to be “big 4” to get recognized for YPOTY, maybe they should open their eyes and see what it takes for a club to become and stay a big 4 club.

    7 of Manchester United’s 8 YPOTY award recipients came from the era of United dominance- 1991 and up. Is that the kid riding the club’s coat tails, or more likely, the club improving because it has that quality of player in the side?

  2. ed

    March 31, 2009 at 9:17 pm

    Yes he deserves young player of the year award,i just hope that when ireland take on italy tomorrow he has a bit of sorrow in him as the entire country wishes he was playing yet he’s not over a stupid incident. real shame football can be sometimes

  3. Ankit Anand

    March 31, 2009 at 1:16 am

    No Chelsea player is being talked about foe the award, nor has one won it for a long time. They have been there and thereabouts for a decade now. Should do better with their youth policy.

  4. Paul Bestall

    March 30, 2009 at 5:57 pm

    BR, Newcastle were one of the big 4 when Bellamy and Jenas won the award, which kind of counts them out. Same as Kewell at Leeds when he won.
    As for Parker, yes, he was at Charlton, moved to Chelsea, hardly played and still won the award.
    As SR points out, it’s usually players at the top clubs, United have 8 winners, Liverpool 5, Arsenal and Newcastle with 4 each. Would someone like Paul Walsh, Steve Moran or Tony Cottee win the award now? Doubtful in my opinion.

  5. Bishopville Red

    March 30, 2009 at 5:32 pm

    Scott Parker doesn’t count? Since the turn of the century, it’s a pretty even split of “big 4” to non-big 4 winners. Newcastle has more winners than anyone but Manchester United. And the big 4 winners this century? Gerrard, Rooney (X2), Ronaldo, Fabergas. Fairly useful players.

  6. Paul Bestall

    March 30, 2009 at 5:06 pm

    haha, Yes, I take your point there, SR. Jenas was the last winner (in 2002-03) who didn’t play for one of the big four, though arguably at the time, Newcastle had become part of the top four under Bobby Robson. Le Tissier was probably the last player who wasn’t at a successful club at time.

  7. SR, Manchester

    March 30, 2009 at 5:00 pm

    Wonderfully naive! Relax though, it’s not your fault, you see the Yong Player award MUST be won by a player from one of the “big four”, it’s the rules!. A player from City getting it……not over “their” lives!

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