There’s always controversy surrounding a seasons end of year awards. A good run leading into the voting stage, can overshadow a players brilliant season of form. Pundits on the various outlets and journalists at certain groups can beat the drum, and if the face & agenda fits, that man can walk away with the prize. Certainly that is the case with the writers awards, not so much with the players player picks.
Last season saw Kevin De Bruyne walk away with the players player of the year, and there’s little reason as to why not. He is a remarkable player, one the worlds best, and enjoyed a great overall season. His ability to orchestrate and dictate play enables Manchester City to explode, and he may be the one player City eventually find impossible to replace. The players player award is generally a finer indication of who has truly stood out, and is perhaps more deserving of the award than others. The last four winners have been shared equally by the leagues two stand out sides, Manchester City & Liverpool. Kevin De Bruyne has won back to back awards, with the equally brilliant pairing of Virgil Van Dijk and Mohamed Salah winning the two awards prior. The consistent view of these winners offer one thought, all were & are world class players that are probably the best in their position. The fact that the players vote for this, (regardless of the obvious agendas there would be), is a sign of who is absolutely deserving.
The football writers awards for player of the year is somewhat different, to that of the players pick. Members of the football writers association vote near the seasons end, and in the last four seasons, three of the awards have seen a different winner to that of the players player vote. Expanding and celebrating the achievements of varying players that have enjoyed great individual seasons, is understandable. To build a written agenda around certain players that the writers would like to see win the award, perhaps not. This past season has seen Kevin De Bruyne’s award mirrored by the FWA won by team mate Rúben Dias. Dias was signed in the summer transfer window leading into the season, and enjoyed a very fine season. His partnership with John Stones was very very good, and laid a good foundation to the side. He deserved to be mentioned as a potential contender, but simply put, he wasn’t even City’s best or even second player. Both Kevin De Bruyne & İlkay Gündoğan enjoyed brilliant seasons, and were the leading lights within Pep’s side last season. Dias is a defender approaching elite levels, but is still someway short of the levels set by Virgil Van Dijk & Vincent Kompany recently. His pick did not match the output, and others were more deserving.
Harry Kane can feel very unlucky not to have won an award, with a spectacular individual season amidst the José Mourinho circus of a season. His season consisted of 23 goals in 35 games, with a further 14 assists. To register 37 direct goal involvements in 35 games is world class, spectacular and far exceeds the performances of Rúben Dias. Playing within a team that dominates the ball, and conceding just 32 goals all is season is brilliant, however. The season prior (where Liverpool won the league), saw them concede 33 goals, with the season prior to that, 2018/19, City conceded 23 goals, with Liverpool just 22. These levels are perhaps unprecedented, yet are an indication of how an agenda can lead to an award. Remarkable players enjoyed standout seasons and were overlooked for a player that did nothing exceptional
When Liverpool won the league in 2019/20, Jordan Henderson won the FWA after the reds rampaged there way to the title. Klopp’s Liverpool captain became the darling of the media, and won the award after a great run in the side. His value to the side could not be denied, yet he still stood as maybe the 6th or 7th best Liverpool player that year. Sadio Mane had enjoyed a stunning year, and the likes of VIrgil Van Dijk, Mohamed Salah, Fabinho, Trent Alexander Arnold and the giant Alison Becker were far more important over the season. The notion of a lesser player winning the league (within a group of elite and world class players), was too much for the press association to pass up, and Henderson won the award.
The season prior to this was a sensational dual between City & Liverpool, which culminated in Raheem Sterling winning the PWA award. His contributions and level within this season were brilliant, and the award not out of place. Virgil Van Dijk took the players player award in a spectacular individual season, and perhaps will feel aggrieved not to have won the double. The press association went with Sterling and he remains a worthy winner.
The season poor, 2018/19 saw Mohamed score of ridiculous amounts of goals in the Premier League, 32 in 36 games to walk away with the award. The 44 goals scored in all competitions over a 52 game total would have been impossible to ignore.
Below are an opinion of where the awards will land, as well as a predicted team of the season.
Players’ Player of the Year 2021/22
Young Players Player of the Year 2021/22
FWA Player of the Year 2021/22
Premier League Top Scorer