So the time has come to praise the best players of the Premier League season. I do feel that the PFA Awards are given too early in the season because it doesn’t allow for players to make an impact in the last few weeks of the season. However I thought I might as well do these before someone else at the printing company leaks the names of the winners.
Young Player of the Year: Dele Alli
Probably the easiest award for me to give. Alli has been a revelation since his move from MK Dons. It was clear in League 1 last year that he had a wealth of talent that would allow him to succeed in the Premier League at some point. I don’t think anyone expected him to have the influence on this Tottenham side that he has had so quickly, but it’s a relief to see a young English player come into a side towards the top of the Premier League so young and be such a breath of fresh air. He has already reached double figures for goals and made it to nine assists for the campaign, and I fully expect him to add to these tallies. He will certainly be a big player for England at Euro 2016 this summer, and Roy Hodgson would be mad to leave him out of the starting XI.
Player of the Year: N’Golo Kante
Yep, not Mahrez or Vardy. I think this was always going to have to be a Leicester player based on the season they have had, so I’ve gone with Kante. Obviously this is harsh on Mahrez and Vardy who have been superb all season and have played a massive part in what will hopefully be a memorable title win for Leicester City. However, I think over the course of the season, and the past couple of months in particular, Kante has been nothing short of magnificent. He’s about as close to Claude Makelele as we are ever likely to see in the Premier League. Nobody in Europe has made as many tackles as the Frenchman, and I doubt anyone else has the ability to cover the ground that he does. Whoever said that 70% of Earth is covered by water and the rest is covered by N’Golo Kante was probably correct. He won’t win the PFA Award because it’s only ever the attacking players who get the credit they deserve, but I think Kante has been the standout player in the league this season.
Manager of the Year: Claudio Ranieri
This award was really a tossup between Ranieri and Bournemouth’s Eddie Howe. Howe has done a wonderful job of keeping the Cherries in the league, but this season will be remembered for Leicester’s incredible title challenge, so that’s why I’ve given it to the Italian. The Foxes were among the favourites for relegation at the start of the season, and the enormity of his achievements at the King Power can hardly be put into words. For players like Robert Huth, Wes Morgan, and Marc Albrighton, who were all seen as past their best, he has given a new lease of life and they could all now become Premier League champions. I know there is still a chance that they could miss out on the title but come on, they are in the Champions League. Dilly ding, dilly dong.
Moment of the Year: Jamie Vardy’s record breaker
This will undoubtedly be remembered as one of the greatest seasons in Premier League history, and there have been so many magical moments, but this one was certainly the best. Ruud van Nistelrooy’s record of scoring in ten consecutive Premier League games had lasted for 12 years, and now it has been broken by a man who was playing Non-League football just four years ago. It was fitting that the record breaking goal was scored against Manchester United, van Nistelrooy’s former club, and at the King Power Stadium, where the celebrations were worthy of the achievement. It has been an incredible season for Vardy, and it could yet get even better.
Goal of the season: Cuco Martina vs Arsenal
This was a difficult one, because there have been a couple of stunning strikes in the league this season. Dele Alli and Jamie Vardy have both struck magnificent volleys for their respective sides, but they’ve already won awards, so it’s time to give someone else a go. Martina’s goal is almost as good as it is for the shock factor as much as anything. He’d barely kicked a ball all season and when it dropped to him 30 yards out, nobody expected him to do what he did. Footballs aren’t supposed to be curled as much that one was, it was just unbelievable.
So there are your five winners of the inaugural Talk The Sports awards. I can assure you that there will be a bunch of Arsenal fans out there wondering why Ozil hasn’t won player of the year and Bellerin hasn’t won young player of the year, but that’s just how it goes. There will be a full season review come the conclusion of the Premier League, but there is still quite a lot to be sorted out before then.