My player-of-the-year in the Premier League
I’m not often wrong.
Well apart from writing off Mo Salah when he first signed for Liverpool and believing Slavan Bilic should manage England just before he imploded at West Ham.
I also thought Liverpool had spent waaaaay too much on centre-back Virgil Van Dijk when they paid Southampton £75 million in January, 2018 for his services.
He seemed a bit casual when playing and a bit up himself generally. He pretty much went on strike at the Saints which was horribly selfish.
But he’s actually an immense footballer and if Liverpool do win the Premier League he would be the major playing reason.
The front three are quality, but Liverpool would cope without one of Salah, Bobby Firmino and Sadio Mane, but if Van Dijk was absent they could well lose at Newcastle.
It’s why I’d vote for him for player-of-the-year ahead of Manchester City’s wing wizard Raheem Sterling. Liverpool would be way behind City without their defensive rock, but if Sterling went missing City could still finish on top.
The professional footballers association (PFA) might go the other way when the votes for their award are totted up, but they’d be wrong.
Playing centre-back for Liverpool can’t be easy when both full-backs pretty much play as second wingers, but I can’t recall a single incident this season when a Premier League striker has run past Van Dijk with the ball.
Leroy Sane and Serge Gnabry did outplay him in a Germany v Holland international, but he was probably saving himself for Liverpool.
Van Dijk is so good, he’s made Joel Matip look impressive which in turn has kept the dreadful Dejan Lovren out of the side.
Sterling comes second for me. He’s improved markedly since leaving Liverpool, but has too many off games and many of his goals are tap-ins.
The others on the PFA top six list are worthy as you’d expect. City wideman Bernado Silva is a class act as is Chelsea’s Eden Hazard, when he can be bothered, and Son Heung-min of Spurs. City striker Sergio Aguero is lucky to be nominated ahead of Mane.
But it’s about time defensive excellence was rewarded. Defenders rarely win even though they are just as valuable as forwards who profit the most from having great players around them.
Sterling is obviously a shoo-in for the PFA young player of the year award, although why he’s eligible at the age of 24 is beyond me.
Dashing right-back Trent Alexander-Arnold would be another worthy Liverpool winner, while City’s Bernando Silva deserves recognition,but I’d love the award to go a real breakthrough star, a bill that fits Bournemouth’s David Brooks who wasn’t a regular at Sheffield United in the Championship last season before transferring with great success to the top flight.
Declan Rice hasn’t done enough and Marcus Rashford is too erratic. Besides Manchester United don’t deserve to win anything this season.