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Shock Inclusion At Football Writers Awards

Thursday 26th April 2012
The FWA (Football Writers Association) last night announced its choice for player of the season. The award, which is chosen by 400 journalists, did provide a major shock.


However, the winner of the award was no surprise as the Dutch maestro Robin Van Persie picked up the accolade, just two days after being named the PFA Player of the Season. The award was fully merited, as his 34 goals have helped propel Arsenal up the table after a turbulent start to the campaign.

There was also no surprise with second place. Manchester United's prolific striker Wayne Rooney was deservedly awarded second place as his 31 goals have helped United on their title charge, while also becoming the clubs fourth all-time top goal-scorer. You couldn't really argue against Van Persie and Rooney being the top two players.

The major shock came in third place: Paul Scholes. The feisty midfielder is a shock inclusion, especially considering that he only reversed his decision to retire in January. After only 13 league appearances, can Scholes really be named the third best player of the season?

One of the main arguments for Scholes's inclusion is the change in form for United since he came back. Scholes announced his return for the Red Devil's on the 8th January. At that time, United were three points behind rivals City at the top of the league, with City also having a far superior goal difference. Fifteen games later, United sit at the top of the table with a three point advantage, although the teams could be level after next week's crunch match at the Ethiad. Since Scholes returned, United have changed their fortunes around, but is this really down to Scholes?

There is no doubt that Scholes has made an impact with his pin-point passing, the ability to take the game by the scruff of its neck and also chipping in with three goals. Scholes has been a pivotal player in United's title charge after a slow but expected start to his return, not bad for a ‘move that showed United's weaknesses' as described by Vieira. I'm not questioning Scholes's impact this season, his ability to find a man is wonderful to see but I'm questioning the decision to award him as being the third best player this season.

In my view, to be a contender for Player of the Season, you would have needed to make an impact all season, something that Scholes hasn't done. And if we are rewarding players for a brilliant half to the season, then arguably David Silva should be higher than Scholes after his majestic start to the season.

So who deserves the third place then? In my view it's the player who was given fourth place: Clint Dempsey. Dempsey has been in the best form of his career, scoring 22 goals for Fulham in a number of competitions. He was overlooked in the PFA nominations (wrongly as well I must add) but his season's efforts have been recognised with the fourth place finish. Dempsey's all round contribution has been brilliant, with him making an impact in every game since the opening weekend. Other players who deserve to be mentioned include Sergio Aguero, Demba Ba and Yaya Toure.

So does Scholes' inclusion mean that the standards of the league are slipping? Not at all. In my view, the quality of play this season has been much better than last season's which makes Scholes's inclusion baffling. Although it does show the brilliance of Scholes, it almost undermines the efforts of other players who have made an impact week in, week out.

For a player who has only made 13 league appearances, the inclusion is a poor decision. People argue that he has turned United's fortunes around, but will that really matter if City goes on to claim the title? The accolade will only bring up the question whether Scholes should be selected for England again, and for the record I say no.
Craig Lishman

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