PFA Player Of The Year Betting: For once the value doesn't lie with Cristiano Ronaldo
Rumours of fatigue and uncharacteristically muted goal celebrations suggest all is not well with Cristiano Ronaldo so if you're looking to be backing this year's PFA Player Of The Year winner, you'd be best off looking elsewhere, says Ralph Ellis.
You can tell when Sir Alex Ferguson is concerned about one of his players because he starts talking them up. It's the old Brian Clough trick - knock down the ones doing well and build up the boys who are struggling. This morning he's getting ready to drop Cristiano Ronaldo from his Champions League line-up - and then tipping him to walk off with the top awards.
Fergie reckons Ronaldo is a cert to be named both European and World player of the year. "If he doesn't win them then I want to sign the guy who does," was his verdict.
The truth is that Ronaldo is not even likely to collect either of this season's domestic individual prizes - even though he is currently [2.6] favourite to collect the PFA Player of the Year prize for the second season running. The Portuguese winger with the dazzling feet has yet to get going this campaign and clearly isn't a happy chappy either.
Much has been made of the way he celebrated - or rather, didn't - after getting his first League goal in open play during Saturday's romp over West Brom. It's been taken as a sign that he's still not happy at Old Trafford after the failure of his attempt to engineer a move to Real Madrid in the summer.
Fergie insists that's not the case. But he has conceded that the dazzling winger with the dancing feet is tired at the moment and not yet able to produce his best in two games a week. "I spoke to Carlos Queiroz on Saturday and he said he felt Cristiano was still finding it difficult to recover for a midweek game," revealed Ferguson. "That's why we're looking at the option of bringing Nani in because he only played 36 minutes for Portugal last Wednesday and then 15 minutes for us and so is fresh."
Now before you start getting tempted to lay Ronaldo to score at [2.48] against Celtic tonight - or even to back Nani at [5.0] - on the strength of that, be warned that Sir Alex has a long track record of feeding out one piece of information about his team and then picking a different one.
But Ronaldo's struggles to get going this year after his Achilles operation do have an implication for the market on who will collect the PFA Player of the Year prize (it's in the Betfair menu under Soccer and Specials). Ronaldo will have to up his game considerably to justify being favourite, and there are other challengers at good long prices waiting in the wings - or in Wayne Rooney's case, in the centre.
Rooney's latest goal made it four in four for United, plus four in two for England, and he has to be worth backing at [5.5]. The players when they vote will also have a soft spot for Frank Lampard, currently [7.2], and don't rule out Deco - currently priced at [11.5] - making a big impression a the centre of Chelsea's flambouyant new style now he is fit again
Five things you might not know about Player of the Year awards
1.The original award - the Footballer of the Year - was created by the Football Writers Association in 1948 at the suggestion of Charles Buchan, a former player turned journalist
2.Stanley Matthews was the first winner, with Johnny Carey of Manchester United the next. Irishman Carey and German Bert Trautmann in 1956 were the only players from outside Britain to be honoured until Ipswich's Frans Thijssen in 1981
3.The players launched their own award in 1974, with Leeds defender Norman Hunter the first winner
4.Terry McDermott in 1980 was the first to win the Footballer of the Year and the Player of the Year prizes in the same season
5.Eight players have won the Footballer of the Year twice - Mark Hughes was the first to win the PFA prize twice, and since then Alan Shearer, Thierry Henry and Cristiano Ronaldo have collected double awards
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