Football

Carrick & Iniesta outshone by goalscoring stars?

Midfielders like Iniesta & Carrick are not given enough praise (©GettyImages)
Midfielders like Iniesta & Carrick are not given enough praise (©GettyImages).

Tottenham's attacking winger Gareth Bale scooped up both awards available on Sunday evening. 

Coming off the back of a superb campaign that has seen his value sky rocket, most of us wouldn't say that the Welshman didn't deserve the award. Having beaten off the likes of Manchester United goal machine Robin van Persie to the PFA Player of the Season award is no small achievement. But why is it that awards such as PFA Player of the Year and the Ballon d'Or go to players who have found the back of the net ahead of those who have contributed much more overall?

Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger said his choice for the PFA Player of the Year would be Michael Carrick of Manchester United. Perhaps he didn't want former Gunner Robin van Persie to win it, but here is a man who had 17 years of Premier League experience under his belt. 

He has coached and faced players such as Henry, Vieira, Bergkamp, Cristiano Ronaldo, Wayne Rooney, Didier Drogba, Steven Gerrard and Frank Lampard. If Michael Carrick had won the award ahead of Bale and van Persie, there would have been hues and cries galore from fans. Why? Just because Carrick does not bang in the goals. His unfashionable role as the anchor of midfield will never allow anyone to score 20 goals, no matter how good they are. 

But does everyone realise how much the England midfielder contributed to the 20th league triumph. He is the player with the maximum number of forward passes in Europe this season, ahead of Barcelona maestro Xavi Hernandez, Andrea Pirlo, Bastian Schweinsteiger and Mikel Arteta. Carrick is the one who has kept the United engine room running. He is the one who has provided the ammunition for the men further up the field. Breaking up countless attacks, always available for a pass 10 yards in and around the center circle, recycling possession, keeping the ball under pressure and picking the right option for a pass: This is the most important job in the most important area of the pitch.

If the midfielders are overrun, the team fails. It is not just the case this season with Carrick.

In 2010, Wesley Sneijder achieved what most professional players can only dream of. League title, League cup, Champions League, World Cup Final. All in the space of 60 days. Playing in an attacking midfielder role, he even managed to grab five goals in a tremendous World Cup tournament. Yet, he was criminally overlooked for the Ballon d'Or that season in favour of Lionel Messi, who had plenty of goals, a La Liga title and a poor World Cup with Argentina.

How is it that the Dutch maestro, the chief architect of so many goals for then Inter's success at home and in Europe did not do enough to bag football's biggest prize? If his talent at club level weren't enough to convince, he even outshone the winner Messi, Real Madrid's Cristiano Ronaldo among other superstars on the international stage. That said, it is not possible to replicate a treble winning side for any team back to back for the player to stand such a chance of winning the Ballon d'Or.

Another case is that of Andres Iniesta. The Spanish midfielder is considered by some as the heartbeat of Barcelona. Yes, it is Messi's goals that wins them games and trophies. But is Messi on the same level without Andres Iniesta's precision passing and piercing vision? No. Can Spain replace Iniesta with a David Silva or a Juan Mata or a Santi Cazorla and perform to the same level? Never. Iniesta scores six to eight goals a season. Around 55-60 less than Messi. Yet he is the reason behind Barcelona's moves that result in a majority of Messi's 50 odd goals. Although he has been nominated thrice in the top 3 to win the Ballon d'Or, he never has and probably never will win the award.

In the past season, Real Madrid's Mesut Ozil had 48 assists in 47 games. Double the number of Xavi's and Iniesta's put together. In most cases, he put the ball in the feet of Ronaldo, Benzema and Huguain to tap in and take the honours. The German midfielder never got a look in at the awards ceremony. 

The only non goal scorer to have won the award in recent memory is Fabio Cannavarro in 2006. If this trend of overlooking the masterminds of the game in favour of those tapping the ball into the net 60 times a season continues, it just proves that these awards are a mere farce.

If goal scoring is the only way to win prestigious awards, then the Player of the year awards can as well be merged with the Top Scorer, Golden boot or Pichichi awards. In the end, they all have the same value.

 

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Topics:
Football
Premier League
Michael Carrick

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