Recently Luis Suarez did a very Luis Suarez thing and bit Branislav Ivanovic. Before that was the weekend where we saw the shortlist for the PFA awards Player of the Year and Young Player of the Year. I understand the uproar of Suarez being on the shortlist, but I also understand the fact that he has kept Liverpool afloat despite being a liability of embarrassing magnitude.
Looking at the other nominees, I understand Bale’s inclusion, Van Persie’s, Juan Mata’s, and yes - even Eden Hazard's! The one inclusion that boggled my mind along with a lot of others is Manchester United’s Michael Carrick. When I saw the shortlist on Saturday, I went, “Huh. No Michu - but Carrick is in? Really?” No, no tables were flipped in anger, it was just puzzling. I’m not saying that Michael Carrick shouldn’t be nominated - it’s hard to argue the fact that he was voted on by his fellow footballing peers.
Looking at the other candidates they all have one thing in common: goal scoring. I know it’s not the be all, end all tool of measurement for a player’s effectiveness and influence, but Michu is fourth on the list of top scorers this season, leading all midfielders in the Premier League. And you know what, he did the same thing in La Liga the season before that.
But at the end of the day, them's the breaks and while individual accolades are nice to put on the mantle, no one can take away how Michu has arrived onto the Premier League in stellar fashion, becoming the latest Swansea City hero.
|Ben Davies - Better than Welbeck?|
If Michu’s snub was baffling, then Ben Davies’ exclusion for PFA Young Player of the Year was ridiculous. If there’s one Swans player that has won my affection not named Michu, it is Ben Davies. A graduate from the youth squad, we all know what Davies has done since coming in for Neil Taylor in August.
His emergence and locking down of the left back position has been nothing short of amazing (ask Brendan Rodgers if he finally recovered Raheem Sterling) and if I may go completely homer for a minute, we here in Seattle have something of our own teenage riot turning heads with right back DeAndre Yedlin of the Sounders FC. I swear I am not picking on Manchester United but how and why is Danny Welbeck on the Young Player shortlist over Davies?
If you look at the EA Sports Player Performance Index, which the Premier League swears by, Davies is ranked #75, above Welbeck at #235 by the most lopsided leaps and bounds. Davies has played in more matches than Welbeck, has the same amount of goals and it only took him eight shots, whereas Welbeck had to take 39. I wonder how Welbeck would feel knowing a defender has a better shots-to-goal conversion than him? Here are a few other comparable stats between Davies and Welbeck.
- Average Passes: Davies - 42.5 / Welbeck - 18.4
- Pass Success %: Davies - 82.8 / Welbeck - 86.4
- Average accurate/Total Long Balls per game: Davies - 2.1 / Welbeck - 0.3
Make of that what you will in terms of who is the better player, and really they picked the wrong player from Manchester United.
There’s another aspect with the PFA awards that I’m sure I can’t be the only one asking. Should players be eligible for multiple individual honours? With this year’s nominees, Bale and Hazard are in Player of the Year and Young Player of the Year. Should it be that if they’re nominated for let’s just call it the “senior” one, should they still be eligible for the YPOY? If you take them off that list, you then open it up for a combo of De Gea/Nastasic/Davies in there. That would make for a more appealing pool to choose the winner for YPOY and quell the majority of journalists screaming “___ was snubbed!”
Maybe that’s something the PFA should consider so the field is more open. Again, in the end this is just how these things play out. It’s always tough for these sort of individual accolades to be dwindled down any shortlist. There’s always going to be debate about who got in over someone else across message boards, news articles, social media, pubs and the like. So while being officially recognised by their footballing peers in the form of an individual honour eluded them this year, Michu and Ben Davies have nothing to be sad about.
I bet they would gladly prefer the love and recognition from the supporters any day of the week. And hey, there’s always next season right?