With Gareth Bale taking home both PFA Awards, Richard O’ Donovan believes a Rookie of the Year Award is a necessity to repair the obvious faults in the PFA Voting.
Having started the awards silly season by looking at the nominees for the main PFA player of the year award last week, today it’s time to do a quick post-mortem on Gareth Bale receiving both the Player of the Year Award and the Young Player of the Year Award.
Before we get into discussing the cases of each of our nominees as well as mentioning a few of the players strangely omitted from the ballad, let’s have a quick complaint about the inconsistencies of the voting for the award and some suggestions for improvement.
Being 23 or under at the start of the season is the only specified criterion for being a candidate for the young player award. Yet it’s clearly not the only criteria considered by the voters. Inevitably devaluing the award and often making it seem quite pointless.
Gareth Bale for example just won his second senior award of his career this season yet bizarrely just picked up his first Young Player of the Year award. How does that make any sense? Bale was the best overall player in 2010/11 but Jack Wilshere was the best young player? The mind boggles. And Bale’s not even the only victim of being above the young player award, a similar faith befell Cristiano Ronaldo in 2007/2008 as he won his second consecutive overall award.
Clearly then, if left to their own free will, the players are going to make up their own criteria on what they are supposed to be voting for. If this is the case then what is even the point of having a winner? If one year the award means one thing and the next year another?
So here’s the proposal, create an award not too dissimilar to the rookie awards we see in US sports. Young players are only eligible up until they have played their first X amount of games in the league or for their first X amount of seasons, and as usual only up to a certain age. Time spent in other major leagues matter too, so say Eden Hazard’s time excelling in France would count against him being a “rookie” despite meeting the other criteria. No need for specifics now, but you get the premise.
This would guard against the players not wanting to keep voting for the same player year in year out until he hits 24. And anyway the point of the award should be to recognise the emergence of new players, the ones who are going to have a chance to be the league’s best in the years to come, not to recognise that Garth Bale is still only 23. For me this would make the award relevant and exciting again, forcing the players into properly considering the league’s best new additions. At the very least it would be an improvement on the occasional farce we have now.
Oh and one other thing, if a “rookie” is your vote for overall player of the year, he is your vote for best young player too. No exceptions!
Sport Is Everything. Richard O’ Donovan,