I don’t think anyone can argue with the Professional Footballers’ Association for naming Wayne Rooney as their Player of the Year, nor did it come as any surprise in the English Premier League this season. The Manchester United star has more than adequately filled the goals gap left by Cristiano Ronaldo and Carlos Tevez with 34 in all competitions, putting his team in with a great chance of retaining their Premiership crown. [ad#as2]
Rooney, who looks like missing the title run-in because of a groin injury, was thrilled to receive the award, which is voted for by his peers. “It’s a great feeling to win because it’s voted for by the players,” said Rooney. “It’s a great honour and I’m really proud.”
Aston Villa’s James Milner, who is hoping to join Rooney on the plane to South Africa, was named Young Player of the Year, and I don’t think many can argue with that decision either. The 24-year-old has caught the eye with a succession of fine performances for Martin O’Neill’s side, who remain in the hunt for fourth place and the all-important Champions League qualification.
What is more surprising, however, is the PFA’s Team of the Year. Here it is in full:
Joe Hart (Man City, Birmingham on loan), Branislav Ivanovic (Chelsea), Thomas Vermaelen (Arsenal), Richard Dunne (Aston Villa), Patrice Evra (Man Utd), Cesc Fabregas (Arsenal), James Milner (Aston Villa), Darren Fletcher (Man Utd), Antonio Valencia (Man Utd), Wayne Rooney (Man Utd), Didier Drogba (Chelsea).
Starting with the defence, Joe Hart has been indeed been a fantastic shot stopper for Birmingham this season, and Manchester City are already counting the cost of his loan now that Shay Given is out for the remaining three games. No arguments with that choice. Ivanovic, however, is a different story. The Chelsea defender has played no part whatsoever in 13 of their league and Cup games so far this season – that’s a third of their fixtures – and I’m sure I’m not the only one who hasn’t really noticed when he has played. I even had him in my Fantasy League team, and he hasn’t exactly contributed much to that!
In midfield, as much as I think Cesc Fabregas is a fabulous player, I don’t think he’s had a very impressive season by his standards. He had a fantastic start, scoring six goals and contributing 10 assists in the first two months of the season, but hasn’t done a great deal since mid-November, scoring nine more goals and only five more assists – quite weak for a title-chasing team supposedly relying on the Spanish star. In contrast, Frank Lampard has scored 20 goals and had 17 assists in 34 games from a similar position.
Elsewhere in midfield, while I can just about tolerate Darren Fletcher’s inclusion for his workrate (and I mean, just), I can’t understand how Antonio Valencia gets in the team on the right. Yes, he’s had a reasonable start to his Manchester United career, and let’s face it, it was always going to be hard filling Ronaldo’s fancy boots, but has he been the best in the country this season? Has he even been the best right-winger at Manchester United, come to think of it?
Before getting injured in December, Aaron Lennon had contributed three goals and nine assists for Spurs, while Valencia has scored just two goals more all season. Then there’s Ashley Young at Villa (5 and 12, respectively) and even Stoke’s Matty Etherington shouldn’t go un-noticed.
Up front, while there’s no arguments about Rooney, some may have preferred Carlos Tevez, Jermain Defoe or even Darren Bent alongside him after their incredible seasons. But with 25 goals and 13 assists, it’s pretty hard to disagree with the choice of Didier Drogba – no matter how hard you might want to try.
Having said that, here’s my team of the season, and I’m sticking Milner in at right back. See what you think!
Hart (Birmingham); Milner (Villa), Dawson (Spurs), Vermaelen (Arsenal), Evra (Man Utd); Young (Villa), Lampard (Chelsea), Cahill (Everton), Malouda (Chelsea); Rooney (Man Utd), Drogba (Chelsea).