Player of the year nominees: The forgotten men

Last week, the PFA announced the nominees for the PFA Player and Young Player of the year awards. While the choice of nominees is often predictable, the list consisted of players who have dominated column inches and highlight reels throughout the season. This season is no exception, with a list of consistent performers, as nominated by their peers. However, some of the Premier League’s finest may feel aggrieved not to have made the shortlist.

An obvious absentee would be leading Premier League goal-scorer Dimitar Berbatov. The Bulgarian currently tops the goal-scoring charts with 20 goals in 28 appearances. While this gives Berbatov an impressive average of goal every 1.4 games, it will not have gone unnoticed among PFA members that 11 of the of the Manchester United’s frontman’s goals came in three inspired performances, with hat-tricks against Birmingham City and arch-rivals Liverpool, as well as a stunning five-goal performance against Blackburn Rovers, leaving the United forward with nine strikes from his other 25 appearances. His total may well eclipse those around him, his performances, it would seem, have not compared favourably with nominees.

Aston Villa’s Darren Bent is another of the Premier League’s leading scorers to be omitted from the PFA’s shortlist. Bent currently sits third in the race for the golden boot behind Berbatov and Manchester City’s Carlos Tevez, with 13 goals, eight of which coming from his time at Sunderland, prior to his big-money move to Villa Park in January. Many questioned Bent’s abrupt choice of career move, but 2011 has been a pivotal year in the career of a prolific striker who, at 27, has been something of a journeyman. His year beginning with his departure from a starring role at Sunderland, to join Villa, Bent’s five goals in appearances for Gerard Houlier’s men, has seen England Head Coach Fabio Capello give Bent an opportunity to emerge from the shadows of some of England’s more high-profile forwards, with a goal in a friendly against Denmark, followed by a strike in a rare competitive start against Wales. However, Bent’s performances for club(s) and country failed to sufficiently impress those nominating.

The same can be said of the man close behind Bent in the scoring charts. Newcastle United captain Kevin Nolan, certainly had a point to prove to the Toon Army, after failing to score in his 11 Premier League appearances following his move from Bolton in 2009, as Newcastle succumbed to relegation from the top flight. As Nolan lead Newcastle back to the top flight, he has continued to lead by example as the club seeks to re-establish themselves as a Premier League side, with 12 goals, Nolan has produced his most prolific season in the top flight. However, this, combined with his well-publicised off-field obligations has failed to find him a slot among the final list.

The elite have spoken. As Berbatov, Bent and Nolan miss out, Blackpool’s Charlie Adam, Arsenal’s Samir Nasri, Manchester United’s Nemanja Vidic, Manchester City’s Carlos Tevez and Tottenham Hotspur duo Gareth Bale and Rafael van der Vaart will face the vote for the highest individual accolade in English football.

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