The state of things . The Men’s PFA’s footballer of the year shortlist is in, and it’s another indication that everything in the entire world is completely terrible. I want out. It goes like this: Luis Suarez (controversial because he’s a racist baddie), Juan Mata (loved by all because he is a cutie and a good player with a beard), Robin Van Persie (admired by all because he is greying at the sides), Gareth Bale (a divisive player: do you fancy him for the muscles or think he looks bizarre?), Eden Hazard (whom everyone forgot about after a while) and Michael Carrick, who errr, hold on, wait, Michael Carrick? Player of the Year? The state of things!

The first problem with this list doesn’t exactly involve its individual components. Apart from Michael Carrick. Rather the problem is, if these six players do, collectively, represent the best the Premier League has to offer—and they probably do—then that really does say bad things about the ol’ EPL. Of the six, only one could be defined in any sense as an interesting character, and that is Suarez, because he has been found guilty of racism, has bitten opponents, and has been accused of being the biggest cheats currently playing football, professionally or otherwise. The others are all quite nice, a bit egotistical but not in a fun way, and Michael Carrick. So, the list reminds us that the league is either bland or nasty, take your pick from the worst pick ‘n’ mix selection eva.

The second problem is that Michael Carrick is on the list. I’ve checked again and he definitely is on there. I’m checking again now and he’s still there. Michael Carrick has almost definitely made the list of the six best players in the league. It’s a trick of the light, it must be! No, it’s not, it’s really happened. Blind me now, I don’t want to go on any more seeing this list in my face like that. Get Michael Carrick’s name out of my damn face.

Look, obviously Michael is a really good player, playing in the best team this season, playing a crucial, consistent role in that team’s success as well, and playing some of his best football to date. But Michael Carrick’s best football remains, and this should be made clear, Michael Carrick’s best football. Michael Carrick’s best football will always be Michael Carrick’s best football. He is permanently tied to being Michael Carrick, via being Michael Carrick, for better or worse. And it is for worse. He passes the ball short-to-medium distances, usually to other midfielders, he makes useful interceptions and is very often in the right place at the right time. He’s even upped his tempo a bit this season, I think, which certainly marks out his better seasons. None of these things is high on my list of criteria for best footballer. And if they’re on yours then I don’t like you – cheers, bye.

All of the things that Michael Carrick does are useful for Manchester United, but the deal with deciding who the best footballer is is that it’s not an objective measure, it’s a value judgement which you get to make for yourself. You get to decide for yourself which attributes you value most and ignore the ones you don’t care about. So why oh why would anyone choose to value Michael Carrick’s work the most? Hazard scores spectacular goals, Van Persie does too; Bale’s pace has caused more existential crises than Woody Allen will ever manage; Mata’s hair is springy; Suarez is a bit of an arsehole but he is very good at nutmegs; what has Michael done to make you feel alive? Carrick’s inclusion rings the bell for football as the steady accumulation of points and—the next logical step—capital. Is that what you want?

On an even less fun note, there’s a third problem with the list. Suarez’s inclusion rings the bell for football as lacking a moral compass. The chairman of the PFA defended the inclusion of a player who has been found guilty of racial abuse by the FA with this: “This is a footballing award and Suárez’s footballing ability shines through.” It’s not quite convincing. Because, Peter, a footballing award, for footballers, does also require giving an award to a person. If that person has been found guilty of racism, then you are still giving the award to someone who has been found guilty of racism. The person and the footballer are one, Peter. If it is helpful, consider that it would be odd if my right arm tried to disown my left arm, because they are being run by the same idiot. Suarez apologised to Liverpool for how he acted, but never to Evra, I don’t think this footballer-cum-human being should be rewarded by the PFA.

The league probably likes these controversies and it might well be falling into a trap to run through them. Controversy is surely why Danny Welbeck made the young player list and Rafael didn’t—or, okay Nastasic. But just because a list is designed to provoke you doesn’t mean you’re wrong to be provoked. This season, the list tells you that the league has either been pretty bland or a bit nasty. The state of things! The only consolation is that no defenders or goalkeepers made either the main list or the young players list: one correct value judgement, then, because as we all know defending is innately boring. Michael Carrick? FML.

A note on

The newly introduced Women’s Player of the Year list was also out today. The candidates are: Gemma Davison, Toni Duggan, Jessica Fishlock, Kim Little, Jordan Nobbs, and Jodie Taylor. Not my area of expertise, but I consulted Georgina Turner, who is In The Know. Her opinion was that it will be close between Kim Little and Jess Fishlock. So if you don’t know, now you do know.

Comments (26)

  1. Michu > Michael Carrick

    • Most players in Man Utd’s starting XI > Michael Carrick.

      KJ loved Michael Carrick. He also loved Tony Pulis, so yeah…

  2. You don’t have an IP address then?

  3. I knew this was post was trolling lunacy when I saw “FA” and “moral compass” in the same sentence. Nice try.

  4. How can Yaya Shithouse not be in there, or Maggie Thatcher, or Andy Mitten?

  5. Despite your arguments on why Suarez shouldn’t be included in the short list, he pretty much HAS to be included. End of the day, despite the racism, and controversy, he is still worthy of being considered one of the best footballers in the EPL right now. You can’t take this away from him. This is what this PFA thing is about…at least as far as I know.

    A vote on the player with the best morals and “good guy ethics” can be held separately, and Suarez can definitely be held off that list.

  6. Y is then Mata on the list…is it just because he is a very good player and have played really well and his ‘attacking’ style of play…yes he has been brilliant and played exceptional and has scored important goals and set up for his teammates BUT Chelsea are not going to win any domestic cups and they are going to end up 3rd or 4th, It has been a below average season for chelsea….blame it on the team the players the manager whatever….bottom line is it has been a below average season and really cannot nominate a player from a team that hasnt done shit in the domestic league this season….the same argument goes for Hazard and for that matter suarez

    Also I would think Michu should have been included….no problem with Suarez or RVP being picked. As a manutd fan i am happy to see Carrick, BUT dont think he is the player of the year. Bale is fine as well…instead of having 5 ot 6 odd names shouldnt it be just 3 and then go from there….

    RVP and Michu….no Bale coz even thou he is an amazing player, his team positioning is still in question and like so often mentioned on these blogs spurs are not a one man team so i guess he isnt that important to the spurs cause….whereas Michu and his goals have helped keep swansea in the PL and also help them win the league cup ie domestic success….nothing liverpool or chelsea or mancity who arent even represented and rightfully can claim

    • “bottom line is it has been a below average season and really cannot nominate a player from a team that hasnt done shit in the domestic league this season”….. So Mata can’t make the list but Michu definitely should? Completely contradicting yourself. Chelsea are in 3rd and “haven’t done shit”, but Swansea are in 9th so their best player should be on the list? Really? Ignorance at it’s finest

      • They have actually…they have WON the league cup….for whatever its worth they have won it and Michu has been key among others in their quest to conitune in th eEPL…they lost sinclair and 2 other key players and have added deguzman and Michu and his 17 odd goals arent to shaby ….I know the league cup is not worth a lot but its a trophy adn his 17 goals surely are as well….

        Mata and specially Hazard has been in and out of games the whole season…Mata has been consistently good but Hazard not so much….but yah player of the year in the EPL, when they failed in EPL, FA Cup, League cup for what its worth and the CL…doesnt cut it…

        • “They have actually…they have WON the league cup….for whatever its worth” hahaha owned

  7. haha, funny article, even if I rate Carrick higher than you do. Probably wouldn’t make my top 6 players, but I understand why he is there. Even if he doesn’t get a ton of assists, he does do a pretty good job of unlocking a defense with a killer ball. That’s an aspect of his game you didn’t mention.

    As for the morality of having Suarez nominated. He’s served his suspension. Get on with it. I hate him as much as the next guy, but you can’t make soccer prowess contingent on a personality competition. Suarez is a great soccer player, Tiger Woods is a great golfer (at least has been). Just cause they are bad human beings doesn’t mean they are bad players. The bad human being part should only count against them in these types of player of the year awards based on games missed or penalties incurred because they are a bad human being.

    • Think this is a good point. I’d feel better letting it go if he’d apologised, and I think some things deserve to stay with you longer than others. But I do see the other side of it.

  8. If Suarez shouldn’t be included then neither should Hazard, who let’s not forget, kicked a ball boy in the stomach because he kept hold of the ball for what Hazard deemed to be too long. Being racially abusive and kicking someone are both offences worthy of arrest, so why should Suarez be excluded and Hazard not?

    • LOL, the ball boy dove to time waste man…… hazard kicked the ball…..not the ball boy.. smh

  9. I feel like your Suarez argument slightly undermines your Carrick one. If you want to let the competition be subjective then you can’t impose moral guidelines on it. Player of the year can be interpreted if you want as some conflation of who has played well and who is your favourite but if you want that to be the case you also have to accept that some people will interpret it as best at football (not taking morality into account). You can’t decide the guidelines of other people’s subjectivity if you yourself are going to claim a right to be as subjective as you want

  10. Still can’t believe Charlie Adam was on this list two years ago. WTF

  11. Just going by the argument of flashy, attacking, ‘nice to watch players’ i am sure if the season were to start Jan1 2013 you would want Coutinho in their coz he is ‘fun’ to watch…and maybe Lakaku and others who score and are fun to watch ,ie Berba, who cares if liverpool finish out of europe or DRAW TO READING….that should make you blink more than Carrick making the list….

    His versatality is the key to United being in the position they are, be it interceptions, goals yes he has only scored one i guess this last weekend, assists, great long balls over the top and even if he plays the short passes to his teammates…he helps slow the game and dictate the possesion and calm things in midfield when required….he is limited but based on Uniteds position in the league and his season i can see him being ‘nominated’


    Michael Carrick is a good player, however imo substantially overrated by fans of the club, management, English media etc..

    Manchester United’s midfield has been continuously played off the park over this campaign and last season as well. He has next to no pace or toughness; something the Utd midfield lacks.

    He is a first class mover of the ball but the jury ends there. Numerous footballers exist who have the skill of a michael carrick and offer much much more. I look at the midfield as the squads most prying issue and the position Carrick plays holds the team back.

    Game in and game out the team proves its inability to maintain any form of serious possession against top European teams, even struggling imo against weaker teams in the group stage. How a statue like Carrick can play against a team like Madrid or Barca baffles me.

    Now i like Carrick as a player and playing alongside a stronger, more athletic player (fellaini, wanyana, etc etc), i think would do wonders for that midfield. Having Carrick as the central pivot of that midfield is not ideal in anyway and is the reason the team have been completely bossed in many games in the midfield this year.

    • Actually Even though united line up with a 4-4-1-1 or sometimes 4-3-3 or othe various 4-1-2-1-1 diamond formation….Carrick isnt supposed to be an attacking midfielder…yes he lacks pace and skill compared to almost everyone, but he is deployed just in from of the back 4, for his interceptions, connecting the back four with the midfield and attack…he is used as the link….something like scholes has been used over the last say 4-5 seasons….slow not that much of an attacking threat, completes his hsort passes from left to right and not forward that often….that is his style of play and is suited to the united game….so they both compliment each other….
      Thats y in big games against bigger teams like madrid or mancity, Jones is preferred coz of his legs, man to man marking and so carrick can do what he does….that doesnt take away from him being a good player…he is not on par with Yaya or Fellani, but their roles for the club is very different and carrick fits in the position at United well and united do well with him on the ball…

    • wishful thinking….but rooney in midfield would be interesting….with welback, RVP …BUT rooney needs to imporve and be consistent with his ball distribution control and not be in and out of games….

  13. Nice Biggie reference EDR

  14. Surely, the award should be separate from anything to do with a player’s beliefs or politics etc. For example if James McClean was ruled out for not wearing a poppy that would be pretty ridiculous, whatever you think about it (not that he would be nominated for anything anyway this season). Players shouldn’t be ruled out for personal issues that you disagree with. That’s more important than making a stand against Suarez’s racism which the FA pretty much already did with his ban. And I hate Suarez.

    I do like Carrick though. He’s pretty nice to watch (eg http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Yh-kmWvZfyE) if not in the hyper-exciting way of the others. If you’re gonna exclude him you’d have to take the Xavis and Xabi Alonsos out of running for anything to….


  16. the clown who wrote this reminds me of the clown who headlined the article for daily mail a few years ago ‘the four best players of the world.. and xavi’


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