FIFA awards unlikely to go to best candidates

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Football News

At the start of 2013 there was a massive uproar within the footballing community, as FIFA announced the 2012 FIFA World Team of the Year as an all La Liga team.

Many, however, believed players such as Manuel Neuer, Phillip Lahm, Robin van Persie and Andrea Pirlo deserved to be in the team and missed out because FIFA only allowed players in based on reputation.

Marcelo was in the team even over Jordi Alba which, to me, was the most questionable decision. Alaba, Cole and Baines have all been better than both since the start of 2011/12 - and, in my opinion, Alaba has undoubtedly been the best left-back since the start of 2013.

His standout performance may be in the both legs (in particular the home tie) v Barcelona in last season's Champions League semi-final, where he played a massive part in stopping Lionel Messi and Barcelona.

Bayern proved over the two legs and in the final v Borussia Dortmund that they are undoubtedly the best team in the world - and, in my opinion, challenge Brazil 1970, Arsenal 03/04, Man Utd 98/99 and Barcelona 07/08 as the best team ever assembled.

So, surely Bayern players will dominate FIFA's Ballon d'Or 23-man shortlist?

And indeed they do, with six players listed. Barcelona are second with four after winning the La Liga title, whereas Italy and England's winning clubs Juventus and Man United only have one representative each, Pirlo and van Persie.

Sure, Barcelona also got to the Champions League semi-finals, but did no better at the end of the day as Juve went out to eventual champions Bayern Munich and United were hard done-by against Real Madrid; the bottom line is: players are simply getting in on reputation, as Van Persie was not United's Player of the Year. That award from fans and players alike went to Michael Carrick, whatever rival and neutral fans think, the club valued Carrick higher.

Pirlo on the other hand certainly wasn't even Juventus' best midfielder as Arturo Vidal finished top scorer for the Italian giants and had a much better year, also won his club's best player award. Marchisio was also better and Pogba was about the same, probably not quite as crucial in the end, bottom line Pirlo was not their best player, and yet he is on the shortlist.

Hazard is in the 23 players listed, not club Player of the Year Juan Mata.

Now while at the end of the day it doesn't matter who's in the list and the winner is all that 'matters', it's still strange that some of the other best players don't get recognised.

For me, it has to be a Bayern player who wins. Lionel Messi was great and all, but he hasn't even been the best in La Liga this season as Diego Costa has easily been the best forward; Neymar has outshone him in the big games and Ronaldo has simply been better all round, without taking anything from what Messi's achieved so far this season despite injuries.

If FIFA were taking account of what impact an injury has on a team Prandelli would be on the best managers list instead of Del Bosque (but I'll get to that in a minute). The fact is, forget the injuries, it's not judged (or shouldn't be) on the player's ability proven in past years, it's player of the year or the best player on current form.

In the big games, Messi hasn't been his best, and forget injuries because you can't judged what a player 'probably' would have done. Either way Messi plays well when Barca dominate, but against Bayern he failed, against Madrid recently he wasn't his best and currently, despite how amazing he has been, this year, Messi isn't his best, and he isn't the best.

If we're talking best strikers like Messi, don't forget Sturridge, who has been more important to Liverpool in 2013 than the shortlisted Luis Suarez. Scoring more often and more important goals than Suarez. Just something to think about, I don't decide who's Ballon d'Or quality, and certainly Sturridge wouldn't win the award if it was my choice, Ribery would, who to some people's surprise he won UEFA Best Player in Europe Award.

This however is FIFA, not UEFA, who are slightly less corrupted than FIFA. Bastian Schweinsteiger would be second and Thomas Muller would be third - no I'm not a Bayern fan by the way. But in no world will that realistically happen. My views aside I haven't met one person who believes Messi should be Ballon d'Or winner, nor Ronaldo.

My point is made, but FIFA won't read this and Messi will probably will Ballon d'Or anyway.

Now we can talk managers. Here's the list for you:

Carlo Ancelotti (PSG and Real Madrid), Rafael Benítez (Chelsea and Napoli), Antonio Conte (Juventus), Vicente Del Bosque (Spain), Sir Alex Ferguson (Manchester United's former coach), Jupp Heynckes (Bayern Munich's former coach), Jurgen Klopp (Borussia Dortmund), Jose Mourinho (Real Madrid and Chelsea), Luiz Felipe Scolari (Brazil), Arsene Wenger (Arsenal).

How many of those deserve to be in the top 10 managers of 2013? I'm sure Mourinho and Wenger would tell you they don't, and they'd be right. Del Bosque may not be so modest. Afew shouts I believe deserve a mention would have to be firstly Diego Simeone. Atletico Madrid manager. Won the Copa del Rey vs rivals (and listed Mourinho's Madrid team) Real Madrid. They have also so far in 2013/14 been to many people's mind the best team in La Liga and have finally posed a real threat to Barcelona and Real Madrid, and remain, despite losing star man Falcao. Also Safet Sušić, who got Bosnia and Herzegovina to their first ever World Cup.

A player probably does have to be at the top level and be in the best teams. Managers on the other hand have to make the most of what they have and should be judged on situation rather than success. Sure, if like Jupp Heynckes you win the treble at the top level then fine. But to me, you either have to win a major trophy or make a significant difference to a club. Swansea and Southampton's managers have both had great 2013's for their clubs and deserve more recognition than Mourinho, Del Bosque and Wenger who all failed to win a trophy in 2013 despite being at some of the biggest clubs and Del Bosque at the 'best nation in the world', apparently.

Wigan and Everton will also want Roberto Martinez to be acknowledged, although the relegation will certainly weigh him down, although an FA Cup win makes Wigan fans forget the relegation, and his impressive start to Everton shouldn't be forgotten, maybe next year though, top 20 for sure, top 20, another list Mourinho, Wenger and Del Bosque wouldn't get into if I had my way.

However, despite Heynckes, Klopp, Sušić, Simeone, Laudrup and Pochettino's success will all be forgotten as Sir Alex Ferguson will win the award as a goodbye to football, probably the best ever, but certainly not the best of 2013, that is undoubtedly an award for Jupp Heynckes.

The message I'm trying to make is. Does it really matter? At the end of the day Jupp Heynckes would rather go out a treble winner than an undeserving Individual FIFA Award winner and Sir Alex is certainly the same. Lionel Messi has always dedicated his Ballon d'Or awards to his team, because he knows he is nothing without him, as Bayern taught him.

The 2010 Ballon d'Or by the way, should have easily been Wesley Sniejder's. One of the best at the World Cup and treble winner with Inter Milan and player of the Champions League and Serie A, one of the best player's years of all time, came fourth. 2010 had nine of the same players as 2013's 23-man shortlist.

Bayern Munich had four the same as this year, Barcelona had three, in 2010 the top three were Barcelona players. But Munich players have stayed at the top level, Bayern had five players in the top 23 that year, Barcelona had six, Bayern lost one, Barca lost three for this year.

I'm simply making the point that despite staying dominant in the list, it's more fashionable to have Barcelona players as the best than Bayern.

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