Better enjoyed as a video than written I’d imagine, but here are both options for you all the same.
So I received an email this morning. Nothing unusual about that.
But this wasn’t the usual spam nonsense trying to sell me some ‘special blue pills’ (which I don’t need, btw), or even the usual bookmaker’s offers, but rather from The FA.
Yes, the FA.
They were taking the opportunity to remind me that today was the last day for me to have my opinion heard and vote for the 2016 Men’s Senior England Player Of The Year.
And of course, what a year it has been.
There have been lows, and there have been, well, highs probably isn’t the right word, but just above lows. Whatever they’re called.
So anyway, the criteria was that the players had to have taken part in half of the games I believe, and there was a list for the members of the England Supporters Club to choose from.
The list of nominees in full
- Danny Rose
- Eric Dier
- Gary Cahill
- Chris Smalling
- Adam Lallana
- Jordan Henderson
- Harry Kane
- Dele Alli
- Jamie Vardy
- Kyle Walker
- John Stones
- Daniel Sturridge
- Joe Hart
- Raheem Sterling
- Wayne Rooney (the 2015 winner of England Player Of The Year, btw)
And by the way of a rather painful recap, the full list of 2016 games which were to be considered were –
Germany 2 England 3 – wow, seems like an age ago now. When hopes were raised beyond all sensible belief as England snatched victory from the jaws of inevitable defeat in Berlin. You’ll remember this no doubt as the game which propelled us to world beaters and nailed on favourites to win the Euros. More on that later.
Three days later we lost at Wembley to Holland 2-1.
Then you’ll recall three pre-tournament friendlies of which we won all three further raising expectations, but really all they actually confirmed was that Roy Hodgson didn’t know what his best team was. Mixing things up in each of the wins against Turkey, Australia and eventual 2016 winners Portugal.
Then of course Euro 2016 happened.
Starting with a 1-1 draw with Russia, and ending just 16 days later when we lost to Iceland.
Sandwiched in the middle were a lacklustre 0-0 draw with Slovakia and a last gasp 2-1 win over Wales. Thank god. Can you imagine how unbearable they’d have been had we lost that game?
So that was the end of our summer, and indeed of Roy’s tenure.
No surprise and very few tears following an appalling tournament and display in France. There were – in my opinion a few standouts – which I’ll come to in a moment.
The most apparent fact however seemed to me that Roy Hodgson didn’t know his best XI or indeed what formation they should play in.
Enter Big Sam.
Pedestrian and dull affair for our first 2018 qualifier, ironically also against Slovakia. This time we beat them, but only in the 95th minute and after they’d played the last half an hour with ten men.
Exit Big Sam.
The last four games of 2016 were to be spearheaded by then-caretaker, now-manager, Gareth Southgate.
He began his tenure with a couple of relatively dull games, a 2-0 win against Malta and a 0-0 bore draw with Slovenia (not to be confused with Slovakia).
England did manage to play a little better (although that really isn’t saying much) to beat Scotland 3-0 at Wembley and throw away a 2-0 lead to draw 2-2 with a Spanish side missing many of their best players.
But, that said, the end of the year was at least an improvement on the car crash we witnessed in the summer.
So with all of that in mind, that brings me back to my email, and indeed to the subject in hand of the Player Of The Year 2016.
There are probably some who’d argue that nobody involved with France 2016 deserved the accolade, however that wasn’t a voting option offered by the FA.
I felt there were a few worthy of mention, and indeed here, in order, are my top four.
My Runners Up
Let’s start with my first runner-up, Jamie Vardy.
Started the year on fire for both club and country and managed 5 England goals in 10 games. Including the amazing back heel flick to equalise against Germany and the equaliser coming off the bench against Wales.
He’s had a decent 2016 for England and just because he’s not been firing for Leicester this season shouldn’t take anything away from him.
He’s scored more than double the goals Harry Kane has and probably wasn’t used enough in the summer.
Next up – and who I think will probably actually win the award – is Adam Lallana.
Now if the award was for the most improved England player, or the best in the last 6 months, then he’d win by a proverbial country mile.
But it’s not.
He was one of our better players in the Euros, and has of course grabbed the recent headlines as a result of scoring in consecutive games against Slovakia, Scotland and Spain.
He’s also playing rather well for Liverpool which probably also keeps him front of mind, but I’m making him my joint second.
My third and final honourably mentioned runner up (is that a thing?), is Eric Dier.
He’s become a staple of the team over the last year and surely is now one of the first names on the team sheet for most.
He was, in my opinion, one of our very best in the Euros and has continued to perform since. He’s even weighed in with a couple of goals, scoring the winner in Germany and scoring direct from a free kick against Russia in a team seemingly inept at set pieces.
Not bad for a holding midfielder.
My vote for England Player Of The Year 2016
…and it really wasn’t easy…
Perhaps not the most popular of choices but my choice all the same.
He was one of the few shining lights of the summer, and you know things are bad when your full backs are your best offensive outlets.
He has since made the right back spot his own, and not only can he bomb forward to create chances but he can actually defend too, which is a bonus given our currently rather suspect back five.
Certainly one of our best players for the games against Russia, Wales and Scotland, and in his 10 appearances he picked up no bookings either.
He’s also managed to keep Nathaniel Clyne out of the team which in itself is no mean feat.
Now of course goal scorers get the plaudits, so it’s highly likely that Jamie Vardy will get more votes than Walker.
Moreover fans are fickle too, so will probably just remember Lallana’s current rich vein of form and vote for him.
But for me Kyle Walker was our shining light for 2016 and long may his light burn.
Well done, Kyle.