Monday 27 April ~
So, Ryan Giggs is the best player in the Premier League, having made 12 starts for Manchester United in the league this season. It would be easy to be cynical about Giggs winning the PFA Player of the Year award, but he is one of the few top footballers for whom it is difficult to have anything but respect (except perhaps if you are a fan of Wales). It isn't difficult to see the award more as reward for years of achievement rather than a particularly great year, like when Al Pacino won an Oscar for Scent of a Woman or Martin Scorsese picked one up for The Departed.
Perhaps it is better to save cynicism for the PFA award itself. Putting aside the fact that voting takes place months before the end of the season (to beat the Oscars analogy further into the ground, you would be unlikely to vote for the Best Picture having left the cinema ten minutes before the end of each film), the whole idea of voting for a player of the year in a team sport seems somewhat futile. Giggs said the award was "right up there" with other silverware he has won, though you would question if he will seriously think that when he is looking back on his two Champions League medals.
Giggs's victory underlines that it has been a season in which no player has really dominated games on the consistent level that Cristiano Ronaldo did last season or Lionel Messi is doing in Spain this year. Perhaps Steven Gerrard can be most put out not to be the man being photographed looking awkward in his tuxedo clutching an over-sized trophy (particularly as he could have surely hoped the fact five Manchester United players were nominated would split the vote). If voting were based purely on impact on matches, affecting results positively for your team – which surely it should be – then Gerrard would win hands down.
Another player who can count himself unlucky is Stephen Ireland, who was beaten to Young Player of the Year by Ashley Young. Ireland has been the consistent star of the Manchester City team this year while Young has fallen away, like his team Aston Villa, since Christmas. It seems doubtful he would have won it had the poll been taken at the end of the season. Josh Widdicombe