The Player of the Year…

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For as far back as I can remember every club I have been involved in has held an annual player of the year awards night. Some of them have been pretty extravagant, with sit down dinners and guest speakers while others have been held in the lounge of the local pub. Usually it comes down to what your club and players can afford at that time. My opinion is that no matter where or how you do it, you should always recognise the individual standout players in your team.

I can appreciate that for some clubs they don’t like to single out individual people for awards or recognition and I can see why they don’t do it but I really disagree with that unless it’s for financial reasons. For the players, it is a huge achievement to been seen as the best over the course of the season or the top goal scorer. Looking back in twenty years time to your football days and not having a trophy to show for your own personal efforts is tragic when you have deserved it. Not to mention that nobody would believe how good you actually were without the evidence!

I usually keep it simple with my awards and have player of the year, players player and top goal scorer because anything else can start to become silly. I think there is no bigger slur to someone than a most improved player award. For me this basically means that you were once bad/poor/average and now your a bit better. In my opinion it’s the booby prize for a player who would never have the ability to be player of the year. Each to their own though, that’s just my opinion.

Choosing a Managers player of the year is either very tough or very easy depending what type of season you have had. If you have had an average season then it’s usually quite simple to pick your standout player, however, if your season has been successful then I normally find that there are four or five players who are pushing for my choice. Every season I run a man of the match system where I select the MOTM from my team for every game. So the easy option is to choose whoever has most of my votes over the campaign. These match day awards are misleading though when I look further into what games these took place in. For example one player could have played poor all game and was man of the match after scoring a late hat-trick or another example is the team playing particularly poor in a game and someone was picked because he was the best of a bad bunch that day, so it isn’t really fair to stick with that system when making my selection, albeit I do use it as a guide.

I also like to take into consideration each players attitude and how often they come to training. Having a player of the year who has great ability but hardly trains and doesn’t apply himself as well as others in training would never sit right with me. You have to have as close to the perfect season as a player can for me to consider you.

Another important thing for me is to make my decision before the votes come back for the players player of the year because when I first started out in management I found myself being drawn towards the player with the most votes and thinking that if that’s what the players think then it must be him.  I soon realised how unfair this was and that I must be stronger in my opinions. Don’t get me wrong though, on occasion some boys have won both which was very much the right decision in that season but these players were picked by me before we knew the players player outcome. Not to say that the players votes were always accurate either…

I never realised how political players player of the year votes could be until I started doing this job. As a player I always voted for whoever I thought was our best player in the season and I assumed my team mates all did the same. Being in a position now where I get to see who my players vote for I can’t believe some of the votes I get in. Players who think they have a chance of winning it vote for the guys who they know have no chance, people clearly voting for their pals and some boys getting together to decide they will vote for each other to cancel votes out. It’s honestly unreal the lengths some people go to to make sure they win and I don’t really think they appreciate that it’s another team mate they are spoiling it for. This is another very good reason not to pay attention to this vote when I make my own.

The last point to make on this is the fallout from an awards night. You really learn a lot about your players on these nights. It’s natural for someone who thought they might have a chance of an award to be gutted when someone else gets it. Like everything in life though you can’t always get what you want or what you think you deserve and you must act with a bit of dignity and class when the announcement is made. I’ve had players leave my team before because they felt they deserved to be the player of the year and that I under valued them. I couldn’t believe what I was hearing but looking back I’m glad it has happened because I don’t need guys like that in my team. Maybe that’s another reason why some teams don’t have these nights because you risk upsetting people. If you have the right type of players though, then it shouldn’t be an issue. If organised well then they really are great occasions and a good chance to celebrate the season with your team mates, friends and your family. It’s also a good way to keep the morale high and hopefully your team together for the following season.

Good luck to all those in the running for an award this year.

The Gaffer

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