Date:Tuesday February 17 2009
In all honesty, the PFA and FWA awards are rubbish. They are voted in February when a very significant part of the season is yet to be completed so on occasions the results are baffling, the most obvious example being David Ginola's success in 1999 when United won just about everything in sight.
Ryan Giggs has never won any of these awards and many claim it is simply not right. As a loyal and brilliant servant of Manchester United for almost two decades now it's mind-blowing that he never got the gong, isn't it? No, it isn't.
Player of the Year is an annual award, see. It's not awarded on basis of what you've achieved throughout your career - then of course Giggs would be a shoo-in. It does not reward genuine class and outstanding skill; no, it's much more simple: he who performed best throughout a given season will be awarded with these prizes.
And yes, the results are often questionable because of A) the method and timing of the voting and B) what do journalists and players know anyway? But their aim when casting their votes should always be to reward the one who performed best in that given season.
In 2004 if I recall correctly there was no outstanding candidate for Ballon d'Or winner. Thierry Henry had a superb domestic season with Arsenal, scoring 30 league goals, but went missing in the Champions League quarter-final against Chelsea and he was poor during the European championships in Portugal. The tournament in question was won by Greece, a side with wonderful spirit and commitment but little genuine class and no outstanding personality. Deco was often quoted as a possible winner as he led Porto to a Champions League triumph and excelled for runners-up Portugal at the Euros.
Eventually Andriy Shevchenko won it after an excellent Serie A season with AC Milan but many argued that the award should have been won by one of his teammates, Paolo Maldini, for sheer longevity and character. Maldini, they argued, is an exemplary professional who performed consistently on the highest level for two decades and therefore deserves such an individual acknowledgement of his accomplishments.
It was rubbish. Maldini wasn't the best player in Europe in 2004 therefore he wouldn't have deserved the European Footballer of the Year award. End of story.
The link with Ryan Giggs is obvious: there is a press campaign for him to get the PFA and FWA awards at the end of the season. Those praising him this way argue that Giggs, at 35, is still a fantastic footballer, is in very good form this season and even reinvented himself as he got older.
All of this is of course true. Ryan is indeed doing surprisingly well this season after a somewhat indifferent 2007/08 campaign (and yes, that indifferent campaign saw him pick up two deserved trophies in the end) and yes, he's been an outstanding professional throughout the last two decades but that was never in doubt.
Still, does this longevity and brilliance mean he's Player of the Year? No, I don't think so. For a start, both Nemanja Vidic and Michael Carrick made greater contributions to Manchester United's success this season so deserve this annual award more. It is possible that Giggs will continue to excel in the last three months of the season and eventually he'll outshine everyone but decisions will have to be made soon and based on what we've seen so far he isn't the best player of this season's Premier League campaign.
I'm not trying to belittle Giggs' achievements. I was stunned by his performance against Chelsea, his winning goal at Upton Park absolutely knocked me out and some of his passes at Derby on the weekend were out of this world. He deserves all admiration and honour that comes his way - but to give him the award for the sole reason that he never got it before simply seems wrong. After all, here's a player with 10 league titles, two European Cups, four FA Cups and two League Cups, plus he can boast the record number of appearances made in a Manchester United shirt. Compared to those achievements, what is a Player of the Year award?
Fergie mooted a few weeks ago that Giggs deserves a knighthood; well, there's an idea...
Date:Tuesday February 17 2009
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