Rafael da Silva has been omitted from young PFA Player of the Year awards shortlist in undoubtedly his best ever season in the Barclays Premier League.
I can’t help thinking that the real reason for the footballing awards season is primarily to give supporters of teams who are out of the running for trophies something to talk about. That doesn’t mean, of course, that their teams will necessarily be represented but, like the England team, it’s something they can get involved with and have an opinion about while those of us – and, thankfully, this year that means United – get on with the real business of actually winning things that mean something.
I wish these awards meant something too but, frequently, the most instrumental players in bringing about those trophy wins are either ignored or, at best, regarded as also-rans, which to me completely undermines their meaning. Thus, the question ‘what’s Carrick doing in there?’ is being repeatedly heard from those whose footballing diet mainly consists of back page headlines while the endearing Mr Suarez clearly stands a big chance of being rewarded: a kind of consolation prize for those whose decision to remain with a mid-table club denies them any opportunity of getting their hands on anything more significant.
At least Carrick is in there, though. Last year, Vincent Kompany – the man who did more to win city the title than any other – was ignored entirely, while our own RVP, though a deserving recipient, was undoubtedly helped by playing for a mediocre Arsenal side. As I don’t believe Carrick has a chance of getting what he deserves, I’d love RVP to grab a second, but his chances are reduced this season because his efforts, as well as not existing in isolation among his team mates, will result in a Premiership winners’ medal.
But it’s in the failure of Rafael to gain a nomination for Young Player of the Year that the awards reveal their farcical side. Danny Welbeck’s in there, you suspect, because of his status as an England player. It’s a revealing fact that, despite the excellent young overseas players that have featured in the Premiership, only four of them have ever won the award. Other than Gareth Bale and Eden Hazard, it’s hard to see the other contenders as any more deserving than our Brazilian full-back. Nothing against Welbeck, but Rafael is streets ahead of him. He’s had a fantastic season and now looks potentially the best right-back in the world, not to mention being a player who’s made a significant impact on the destination of the Premiership trophy.
It’s the kind of ridiculous decision that’s ensured the Young Player award can no longer be taken seriously. While no one would object to the selection of players like Ronaldo, Fabregas or Rooney in recent years, Craig Bellamy, Jermaine Jenas, Scott Parker, Jack Wilshere and Kyle Walker have all won the award in the last twelve years. This is despite all of them sharing pitches and often even dressing rooms with far more promising players (I mean: Walker over Bale? Come on).
What it shows is the tendency of their fellow pros to go with the flow and opt for flavours of the month for the prize over players with the genuine potential to become world class. If the award has any meaning, that’s surely what it should do. Rafael is one of many young players with real class to be overlooked in recent years, and it’s such omissions that mean that this award has ceased to have any real meaning at all.
What do you think? Comment below…