There is no doubt that 2010/11 has been a breakout year for Bale. However he has struggled with injury in the second half of the season, missing all of February, and has not scored since New Years Day. So with this in mind is it fair to suggest that Bale is undeserving of the award?
Firstly we should note that there are problems with the PFA voting: the voting for the award takes place in mid-March and as a result is probably not a fair reflection on the season as a whole. Last year Wayne Rooney won the award comfortably but had the voting come at the end of the year the vote may have been a little closer between Rooney and Chelsea’s Didier Drogba. It has thrown up bizarre results on occasion; in 1999 David Ginola won the award after the voting was split between a number of outstanding Manchester United players (who were on their way to winning the treble). In 2008/2009 with no true standout candidate Ryan Giggs, somewhat romantically, won the prize.
Regardless of these quirks, how does Bale stack up compared to the other nominees?
Both Charlie Adam and Scott Parker have performed exceptionally for poor teams. Though they are both lynchpins to their respective sides, they have struggled to lift their teams out of the relegation fight and it is conceivable that both could be plying their trade in the Championship next year.
Bale’s team mate Rafael van der Vaart has proved himself to be one of the signings of the season, producing some magnificent individual performances early on, but as the season developed he lacked consistency. Even so the Dutchman has affected more goals than Bale, scoring 12 and assisting 8. It should be noted that van der Vaart, Adam and Parker all failed to make the PFA team of the year.
Samir Nasri, Carlos Tevez and Nemanja Vidic have all had good seasons and have as strong a claim to the PFA Player of the Year award as Bale.
Vidic has been a constant force in the United back four and looks like he will captain his side to the Premier League title this year and still has a chance to win the Champions League.
Tevez has been a driving force behind City’s push for fourth place, scoring 26 goals in all competitions and has seemed to drag his side forward singlehandedly at some points this season. The City captain has been vital for his side and arguably has been the best striker in the league this season.
Nasri, like Bale, has come of age this season. He enjoyed a wonderful run of games during the winter months, scoring a number of excellent goals. His haul of 15 in all competitions is the best of his career. However his form has slid as Arsenal have stuttered towards the end of the season.
One obvious omission from the shortlist was Manchester United’s Luis Nani. The Portuguese winger has built on the strong campaign he enjoyed last year. In 2010/11 he has scored 10 goals and assisted a further 14. He may frustrate many but his production is very impressive.
There is a clear amount of subjectivity involved when deciding who should be player of the year. Nani has been more productive than Bale, Vidic more involved and more constant, and Tevez more import to his team as an individual. This commentator may not have given it to Bale but it is hard for one to say that the Welshman is wholly undeserving of being crowned PFA player of the year. He is always an exciting player to watch and his classic displays against Inter were probably the main reason for him winning the award.