UK & Ireland Football

The Betfair Contrarian: Why Fabregas won't win PFA Player of the Year

Players Under The Microscope RSS / / 14 December 2007 / 5 Comments

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A shoe-in in December doesn't mean a betting certainty come March...

After another summer in his basement laboratory, Professor Wenger has stumbled upon yet another successful formula (much to the disappointment of the experts who foresaw nothing but a season of fruitless experimentation for the nutty Frenchman). There have been a number of active ingredients in his latest version of Arsenal, but none more so than Cesc Fabregas.

Last year, Arsenal were often criticised for trying to walk the ball into the net - and failing, more often than not. This time round, Fabregas has been key to the Gunners' more effective attacking style, not least by scoring plenty of goals himself. Many consider him to be in such inspirational form as to make him the outstanding candidate for the Players' Player of the Year Award, but as recent history shows, it would be unwise to place your bets just yet.

1. Goal-getters get all the glory
Fabregas may be the heartbeat of the current Arsenal team, but he doesn't play in the most glamorous position. Nine of the 15 Players' Players since the Premiership began in 1992-1993 have been strikers and only two have been central midfielders, the last of which was Steven Gerrard in 2006.

2. Arsenal players tend to be over-looked
In the award's 34-year history, only three Arsenal players (Liam Brady, Dennis Bergkamp and Thierry Henry) have won it, which is fewer than both Liverpool (5) and Manchester United (8).

3. Title success doesn't improve award chances
It might seem fair to assume that Fabregas's hopes of winning the award are intertwined with Arsenal's quest for the Premier League title, but that isn't necessarily the case. Since its inception in 1974, only 16 times has the PFA Players' Player of the Year Award been given to a member of a title-winning side - less than half of the award's winners.

4. Early season form makes little difference
The award looks even less favourably upon early season pace-setters. Since 1990, only seven of the award's 18 winners have represented clubs that were top of the league on December 1st, as Arsenal were this year.

5. Geography plays a part
No Spanish player has ever won the award, and Cristiano Ronaldo last season became the first ever player from the Iberian Peninsula to win it. Only four foreign nationalities have won the award: France (four times), the Republic of Ireland (three times), Holland (twice) and Portugal (once).

6. A double nomination could dilute votes
At 20, Fabregas is also eligible to be nominated for the PFA Young Player of the Year Award (for players aged 23 and under), which could dilute the number of votes he receives for the senior award, particularly if Arsenal are suffering a dip in form at the time the votes are cast in March. Wayne Rooney was nominated for both awards in 2006 and walked away with the Young Player award. Only two players have ever won both versions of the award (Andy Gray in 1977 and Cristiano Ronaldo earlier this year).

(You can lay Cesc Fabregas to win Player of the Year at [2.24] on Betfair).

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Comments (5)

  1. Jamie Carl | 14 December 2007

    Interesting piece and well-researched but I don't need the stats to tell me that Cristiano will have been the best player over the course of the season and that's why he'll get the award over Fabregas.

  2. Northern Lad | 14 December 2007

    1. Goal-getters get all the glory.

    Correct me if I'm wrong, but doesn't Fabregas get goals? I'm also certain that C.Ronaldo is not a striker, but also gets goals and also wins awards.

    2. Arsenal players tend to be over-looked.

    Not sure this has any relevance. Henry was great and won the award. When Arsenal were winning things under Graham, they were effective but boring, and didn't have any outstanding individuals, they were just great as a team, whereas the falir players like Beardsley, Barnes, Gascoigne etc were playing elsewhere.

    3. Title success doesn't improve award chances.

    Correct, and nor should it. The award is PFA Footballer of the year, not PFA Footballer of the year from the team that wins the title.

    4. Early season form makes little difference.

    I would tend to agree with this, but just because Fabregas has played well early season doesn't mean he won't play well in the latter months of the season.

    5. Geography plays a part.

    I disagree with this one. I can't recall any top class Spanish players off the top of my head who have stuck around for 3 or 4 seasons like Cesc has, and played as well as he has. If Fabregas is the better player throughout the season and deserving of the award, he would win it regardless of his country of birth.

    6. A double nomination could dilute votes.

    Again I would tend to disagree. It just so happens that it's very rare that exceptional players are performing so well at an early age. C.Ronaldo proved last season that it can happen and win both awards.

    A great article that should entice plenty of debate. I am just of the opinion that generally, the PFA Player of the Year should go to be best player, regardless of the factors you mention.

  3. Lewis Appleby | 14 December 2007

    Who would you like to win it then, Northern Lad?
    Or, who do you think will win it based on the current level of performance (as of course as the article says, a dip in form when the votes are cast could dilute votes)

    I agree with some of the comments you make Northern Lad, but not all. I do agree with The Contrarian with the 'Goal-getters' get all the glory' section. Sure Ronaldo gets goals and wins awards, but he plays in a more 'glamorous position' than Fabregas, as does Gerrard who won it in 06.

    Yes, Fabregas gets forward but Ronaldo and Gerrard at times play as a third striker, a different role to the Spaniard.

    I do think you're right on the fact that coming from Spain shouldn't affect the voting though and personally, I think the little guy will win it. He was a really good player last season, but now that he has turned into a goal-scoring midfielder as well has brought a whole new concept to his game.

  4. apal | 14 December 2007

    I always thought that this award was voted for by the players before Christmas. Have they changed the voting procedure this year?

  5. Northern Lad | 15 December 2007


    I don't have a preference as to who I want to win it. If I had to say who will win it at this stage of the season then I would have to say Fabregas or Ronaldo, but there is a hell of a long way to go yet.


    There are various awards. The one you are referring to is the Players Player of the Year, and I do believe it is voted for around the same times as the PFA Player of the Year, which is around May, however I do stand corrected.

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