by Chris Tobin
The footballing fraternity is stumbling ever closer to the unveiling of its very own Footballer of The Year, with football fans across the country eluding opinion and condemning in the same breath. This is not a time for calm and informed debate, more a vilification of the candidates whilst a recollection of worthiness is promoted in a pursuit of reason. Much blood will be spilled on this football field before a victor can be announced and awaiting public quick to renounce the new King prepare sharpened swords.
This is a time where he will be no longer judged alongside his teammates, but set aside and with esteem recognised by his peers, judged on footballing ability alone over a season with acknowledgement and appreciation toward one of their own. Amongst the many reasoned argument, the one stand-out criteria that of being the very best, unsurpassed to be crowned for his feet of clay.
Unfortunately and at the detriment to the very trophy being procured, the task of choosing this “Chosen One” is left at the disposal of professional footballers themselves, they who have a propensity to point shotgun toward foot and go bang.
If we are to believe our media, this above all years has left the profession with a question regarding the morality of the candidates, rather less their footballing ability and more the conduct and indeed the sportsmanship of those we are told are fortuitous enough to be considered contenders.
Premier League footballers are not so different to Joe Public and susceptible to the same dilemmas. Whilst we may think and trust that “The Players Player “ is purely a decision based upon ability and a genuine belief that its choice originated from worthiness, we must also take into account personal and private opinion of individual players. Indeed it was a long held belief through seasons gone that specific clubs would not vote for players from other rival clubs. And why would this not be true, as in life itself is this not how we as supporters act?
In some previous seasons we have witnessed the accolade given to a player who perhaps has not so much had the greatest of season, rather more a career defined award. The league’s top scorer can normally expect to sportingly be given the opportunity at getting his hands on the trophy, again if no truly outstanding player is propelled to the fore usually by media intent on having its say irrespective of the Football Writers Award.
This year’s alleged contenders and aspiring front runners for the award include Robin Van Persie, Gareth Bale and Luis Suarez, with Bale the favourite to collect the award for the second time in three years. The main focus of attention courtesy of both media & football supporters seems to be the self-inclusion of Suarez, in a season where the Uruguayan leads the scoring charts and at times has played some scintillating football. Unfortunately baying sections of rival supporters are divisively intent on making the award about more than footballing ability alone.
Football supporters do not and will not decide who wins the Players award. However, will morality become an issue for those players deciding upon a winner? All three of these leading protagonists have fallen (quite literally) foul of the law on simulation, having all at one stage been booked for such an offence, it does seem rather odd to just pick out Suarez on the question of diving whilst favourite for the award Bale has been booked more than any other Premier League player for this very offence.
Luis Suarez will always be targeted with the cries of racist after the well-publicised incident with Manchester United’s Patrice Evra, and here lies his biggest hurdle to overcome if he is to secure the votes required to win the award, will players choose a footballer deserving of the award, or rather not choose a player, however succinctly linked with being a racist.
We need not look too far for the answer, a gentle stroll back through previous winners of the Players award, would overwhelmingly suggest; perhaps players do not concern themselves with a moral high ground when deciding exactly where the cross in the box goes. Still this does not allow us to just assume the players vote for the best footballer. Many times the players have chosen a player in complete contrast to an assuming public and the writers of football journalism.
In the past we have had winners with some very diverse characteristics – womanisers, alcoholics, violent thugs and they are just some that have been seen to be proven. It will be a very sad day and quite disheartening day when The Players Player of The Year is chosen for his sportsmen like behaviour and ability to be a role model alongside footballing ability – Rue the day.