Sports

Ronaldo and Kane but no Baby – trying to understand the PFA Player of the Year shortlist

In 2009, Manchester City fans sent an email to Professional Footballers Association (PFA) chief Gordon Taylor, wanting to know how Ryan Giggs could be on their shortlist for the Player of the Year award.

Back and forth followed, with City assistant showing how few matches Gigg started and Taylor responded by explaining that this was a democratic process based on the number of votes players received from fellow experts.

“I can tell you the situation,” Taylor replied. “If you are not happy and see yourself as an expert in the election, you can probably go to Zimbabwe or Russia sometime after the election and tell everyone how they should vote by putting their votes in the ballot box.”

But let’s not go there. Let’s take a look at the latest PFA Player of the Year list, which should spark a lot of controversy – especially among Manchester Manchester City fans.

The selected candidates are: Kevin De Bruyne (City), Virgil van Dijk (Liverpool), Harry Kane (Tottenham Hotspur), Sadio Mane (Liverpool), Mohamed Salah (Liverpool), Cristiano Ronaldo (Manchester United).

Immediate thoughts on seeing it?

Where on earth is Son Heung-min?

Where are Bernardo Silva and Rodri?

And if those players can’t pass, then are Joao Cancelo, Trent Alexander-Arnold and Declan Rice more likely than Ronaldo and Kane?

This is just a personal opinion and is given some information that others have the right to shoot them and call me stupid. (Welcome.)

Apart from that, Kane managed to score 27 goals in all competitions for Spurs this season and Ronaldo had just three fewer goals in United’s dangerous team, scoring 18 Premier League goals to 17 for Kane. players.

But the most interesting thing, looking at this list, is that the power of a player’s history and form seems to weigh heavily on these goals than it should be. And professional footballers, when asked to vote for Player of the Year, have a better chance of finding a legend like Ronaldo than voting for someone like Rodri or Bernardo, who comes out every week. Winning in a team that wins the titles may have passed them by just thinking about their team.

This is not just about the men’s Player of the Year award.

A clear picture can be found in the PFA Women’s Young Player of the Year shortlist.

Chelsea’s Lauren James made a list of six strong men after the WSL campaign where, due to injury, he played just six games without starting, playing 113 minutes.

And it looks like it will return to what was said in last year’s article about how players vote for these prizes.

“Honestly, if it weren’t for the numbers or what you read on social media, I don’t think I or anyone else would have known how everyone was this season in the Championship, except when you were playing with them,” said one player.

The same Championship player added last year that, when it came to choosing a team for his team, he “did not know” the defenders. Asked Will Hughes, who was also Watford, in the middle “well, that’s why I think he’s a good player”. Best of all, he said, “they have become names you just remember years ago”.

And perhaps the clearest explanation, the bias that follows the popularity of well-known, popular players – as well as the indifference of those with fewer responsibilities – provides an explanation of why Rodri, Bernardo and Cancelo’s fans did not pass. .

Salah beat De Bruyne in the Football Writers’ Association (FWA) Footballer of the Year award, which was announced last month, but West Ham’s Rice was third. 31 different players received votes, including nine from Liverpool and six from Manchester City. Like the PFA, the FWA asks respondents to vote for only one player.

When The Athletic cast his own vote last week, it was a different voting process, with each journalist and editor naming six of their top. He won with De Bruyne ahead of Salah – and it could be a fitting bet that the PFA prize goes the same way it was announced on June 9th.

The highlight of our vote was that Son came third with Cancelo in fourth place, while the next four places were very good between Mane, Rodri, Bernardo and Alexander-Arnold. These were eight well-known ones, followed by another team consisting of Van Dijk, Phil Foden, Thiago, Alisson, Rice and Jarrod Bowen.

That sounds logical to me.

For full disclosure, I went to 1) De Bruyne, 2) Salah, 3) Bernardo, 4) Rodri, 5) Van Dijk, 6) Child.

For the sake of greater revelation, my seasonal team was: Alisson; Alexander-Arnold, Matip, Van Dijk, Cancelo; De Bruyne, Rodri, Thiago; Salah, Son, Bernardo.

And to put it bluntly, looking back I would have gone with Mane and not Thiago, knocking Bernardo in the middle.

Once again, we are talking about personal decisions based on our preferences, but our preferences do not seem to indicate that City and Liverpool became part of their team in the 2021-22 Premier League but that, despite status and status, their players have been almost undefeated.

If I had a second XI, it would have included Kyle Walker, Andy Robertson and Foden as well as the likes of Jose Sa, Antonio Rudiger, Rice and Bowen.

City and Liverpool have indeed been at some level, higher than anyone else, and have not done so relying on one or two leading players. This is why the Player of the Year short list – De Bruyne, Van Dijk, Kane, Mane, Salah, Ronaldo – seems disappointing …

The inclusion of a player who has scored 17 or 18 Premier League goals may not seem like a contradiction, but it is doubtful whether Rodri, Bernardo and Cancelo’s performers are ignored, not to mention the Golden Boot winner.

It probably just goes back to what the unnamed Championship player said The Athletic Last year: that most footballers focus only on their own work and do not spend too much time monitoring how players play in other teams, thus failing to vote for those whose history they lead.

Kane is more than a good player; he is on the verge of scoring goals for England all the time and has slipped as one of the best in the Premier League. Ronaldo is one of the most successful players ever to play this game. But it is not easy to disprove that one of them was one of six players who did well in the Premier League final; at Tottenham’s win at the end of the season, it was the Baby who swept the team.

However, even when I worry about the choices of others, I tend to think only of myself.

In the end, it was like a quarrel between Salah, who did well in the first half of the season, and De Bruyne, who did the same again. If you had voted even among City fans at the end of the campaign, it is unlikely that De Bruyne would have had the top four.

Feelings of despair are that Salah’s best season this season did not come when Liverpool performed continuously in the final months, but in the fall when they lost points that left them struggling to reach City’s 93 points.

De Bruyne’s best season this season did not come when City won 12 consecutive Premier League games from early November to mid-January, but in the final months, when some of his teammates struggled and he, repeatedly, who – through humanity and high skill – drew them.

It seems counterintuitive, but it probably says something about how we feel about how a person performs on a team game.

Liverpool were better off without Salah. City were very good without De Bruyne. It was when both teams were slutters – and with both sides, they are so much more – that the stars really came to the fore.

With De Bruyne, with Salah and Mane, with Ronaldo and Kane, there were a few minutes of “clutch” – players who called for inspiration to save their team at a time when the risks were huge and very stressful. Don’t underestimate the depth of lust for a player who plays “in the clutch”, especially when it comes to someone like Ronaldo, who has done this with incredible frequency in his long career.

Ronaldo could be linked with a move to United this season. He only managed six with him. Many have asked where the world would be without him. It is easy to see why he, as well as Kane, would have received votes from other experts.

But more than the Son? Better than Rodri? Than Bernardo? More than Cancelo, Alexander-Arnold and Rice? It is curiosity – and opposition is inevitable – but with democracy at work. And if that means voting through vague memories of something you already believed, so be it.

A few minutes after the PFA announcement Wednesday evening, the outrage over the Child almost paralleled the protests on behalf of Rodri.

But even the City player who received the award this season did not find a place for the Spaniard in the final three-man final.

And if his club or fellow professionals do not give him a good understanding of his system, you wonder who will.

(Top images: Getty Images)

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