When the PFA’s shortlist for the Player of the Season was announced there was much debate, as always, over who deserved to be named and who had been unfairly left out, but from the neutrals, it was Michael Carrick’s name that seemed to cause the most surprise. In support of this, on the BBC Sport website they have listed the six players under the headline: “Carrick on Player of the Year list”.
For United fans, the surprise wasn’t that Carrick is considered one of the best players in the league this season, because they to see what a difference he makes to us week in week out, but that he’s actually gained some recognition for it. The other five players shortlisted are attacking players, as is usually the case, with goalkeepers, defenders, and midfielders to a certain extent, rarely getting the acclaim they deserve. Over the past 20 years, John Terry, Roy Keane and Paul McGrath are the only players to have won the award who don’t play further up the pitch. The recognition for Carrick is even more surprising because so many people, some United fans included, don’t value his contribution.
Without question, and probably for the majority of the first part of the season, United were heavily reliant on the goals of Robin Van Persie. The hat-trick against Southampton which saw the Reds scrape a 3-2 win, the late penalty against Liverpool in a (undeserved) 2-1 win, the injury time winning freekick against City away, as well as goals against Chelsea, Arsenal, Spurs and Liverpool, have made a massive difference. He’s a cut above and following worries that injuries may get the better of him, he’s more than justified the money that was spent on him.
I won’t be complaining if Van Persie wins the award but for me, Carrick is the one who deserves it. There are some seasons when a player really stands out, like Van Persie last season, Ronaldo in 2008, Henry in 2004 and so on, but this season, thanks to Robin’s two month period without a goal, there hasn’t been an attacking player who has shone throughout the course of the season. Chelsea’s Eden Hazard has had his moments of brilliance, Juan Mata has been much more consistent than Hazard but possibly thanks to those around him hasn’t been able to show just how good he is and has been rotated in and out of the team by Benitez, Suarez has now gone over a month without a goal, as he did just before Christmas etc. So how do you decide on who has been the best? The journalists across the water deemed Scott Parker was the best player thanks to his “heroic” effort to save West Ham from relegation, which he didn’t quite manage.
It would be unfair to say that to be the best player you have to play for the best team, but if you think there is one player who has done more to ensure that the best team is actually the best, surely they’re the most deserving? For me, that is why Carrick should be named PFA Player of the Year, because without him, United wouldn’t be in a position to win the league this season.
Of course, all this pales into sheer insignificance because Gareth Bale will win it.