In a season of mediocrity, it hasn’t been hard to pick a player of the season. So few players have stood out and it comes as no surprise to see the same three names featuring in most people’s lists. The order that they have appeared is more surprising and the only reason I can imagine that Baines walked away with the JJ’s Club award is that his height conned most of the voters into thinking he was a member.
Whilst our incumbent absolutely walked the vote, there were some interesting choices around the fringes with four players at equal fourth. Kirkland would have probably featured in most people’s top three at the half way stage, but only two of our panel had memories that long, De Zeeuw polled the same number of votes, but surely more for nostalgia than performance, Unsworth probably made it because of his last day heroics and the less said about the voter who placed Skoko as their second choice, the better. The only other straggler was Lee McCulloch, and you should all know my thoughts on him by now.
I’ve already mentioned our third choice selection, a player who has been there or thereabouts in the end of season award reckonings ever since he was brought into the team. This has been a watershed year for our second best left back as it officially marks his transition to a proper grown up. Not only is it his last as an U21 but has also seen him be pushed as a contender for the full England squad.
This player has set himself some pretty high standards over recent years and it is easier to judge him against those than the performances of other players. Yes, Leighton Baines has struggled at times this year, but far less than other players and hopefully he’ll learn more from that than the easier seasons he’s already experienced, if he sticks around that is.
Remember when you’d get new lads (and I assume Lasses) join from other schools, they would spend a while hanging about together whilst the rest of the school tarred them with the same brush, if one of them was an idiot them they both were, until, after a few months, you got to know one of them and it turned out they were alright? Well our second place player is a bit like that. Emmerson Boyce followed Fitz Hall from Palace and it was only reasonable to expect that they’d come with a ready made understanding.
We were wrong as time and again, over the first few games, opposition strikers regularly drove their customised Hummers through the gap in our right hand channel. Rather than split them up, Jewell tried swapping them around and, after a few games at centre back, Boyce has never looked back.
A committed performer, who, to be fair, was never going to live up to Chimbonda’s legacy, Boyce has proved himself worthy of being one of the first names on the teamsheet over the back end of season and good things are expected of him next year.
It’s more testament to the power of the media, than our winner’s performances, that some Latics fans remain unconvinced about the merits of our winner. Ok, so his goal scoring record might not compare favourably with Drogba’s but as I’ve said before, judge strikers when they’re getting chances, not when they’re having to make their own.
This player’s contribution to the team this season has been immense, consistently showing more desire, effort and, basically, more ability throughout the year. His performance in the final game was worth £5.5 million alone. His case is made stronger by suspicions that he has carried an injury for the best part of the term (I predict a hernia op in the summer) and no one even came near him in our voting.
Ladies and Latics Mons, I give you the Not a patch on player of the year, Mr Emile Heskey.
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