The transfer window is starting to close and the gaze of the footballing world is starting to point in new directions. Where does it rest its unceasing gaze for the next few months? Well, onto the Player of the Year awards, and who are the likely contenders for this seasonâ..s prize.
Last week Sir Alex Ferguson stated that Ryan Giggs would be enjoying another extension to his contract and that he also thought Giggs was is line for a personal award this time round too. Was this comment the crafty machinations of a fatherly manager, or is English footballâ..s most decorated player a genuine challenger for the title of best Premier League Player 2009/2010?
There are a few different accolades on offer but the two most prestigious are The Football Writerâ..s Award and the PFA award (or playerâ..s player of the year). Whilst the voting for these two comes from different areas, the criteria for both are roughly the same. Namely, that you need to be the outstanding player in the league over the course of a season.
It can be awarded to a player who is head and shoulders above the rest, see Ronaldo last season, somebody critical to a highly successful team; Roy Keane, David Beckham, Thierry Henry. Or, more suspiciously, it somehow finds its way into the hands of a glamorous player who plays for a London club, see David Ginola winning it in 1999 after Unitedâ..s treble.
So, why hasnâ..t Giggs won this award before? There are those who argue that the two seasons in which Giggs was truly outstanding were his first two. They might feel that as he was awarded the Young Player of the Year award in those years that he was justly rewarded. Perhaps this is true, but I can attest to the tremendous consistency of a player who I have been watching since his debut in 1991.
The reality is that he has just been unlucky. During his immense career, at certain times, there have simply been more talented players who have hit peak and shone a little brighter.
After Keane declined and Henry sulked, instead of Giggs taking their limelight other great players have come to the fore and gobbled the plaudits. Steven Gerrard and Cristiano Ronaldo have grabbed more headlines during their marquee seasons, but Giggs has been quietly in the background collecting the medals. Perhaps this approach suits him.
Giggsie found himself in trouble with Ferguson a couple of times during the early days and now he seems to enjoy not being the centre of attention. I remember clearly him stating he was glad when Beckham became famous because it gave him a break.
The talk about Giggs winning it this year seems to have started since his performance against Chelsea at Old Trafford. He was, undeniably, awesome that day. Playing in a position that is relatively new to him, he managed to control the game in a manner many midfield veterans would have been proud of. But, and it is a big but, does that alone qualify you for the trophy?
If we look around the country it is indeed a year where Player of the Year candidates are not standing out obviously. At Chelsea, only Frank Lampard looks interested, and he is having a phenomenal season. At Liverpool, Steven Gerrard is performing utter heroics, the amount of times that guy drags Liverpool up off the floor is just incredible â.. he reminds me of Robson. But for me, so far, the seasonâ..s best player has been Ashley Young of Aston Villa, solid, reliable and (dare I say it) more menacing than any of the other three at present.
The campaign for Giggs to win the award this year will be long and loud. The question we have to ask is will he deserve the award on merit, or will it be a sentimental gesture, much like Paul Newman winning Best Actor in the Autumn of his career after five failed nominations.
The good news is that I cannot give you an answer now for the simple reason that the season is not over yet. The PFA Award, much like everything else, is all still to play for. I am happy that Giggsie is in the running (and am right behind our player) but only want him to win if he truly deserves it, denying somebody else would probably not be right. Whether he wins it or not, he is still one of the all time greats.