With @SouthamptonFC announcing that voting was open for this year’s ‘Player of the Season’ award, it became pretty clear on social media that this would be a contest with only two contenders.
So who will join an illustrious list that includes Kevin Keegan, Mick Channon, Peter Shilton, Alan Shearer, Rickie Lambert and of course three time winner Matt Le Tissier.
Will current captain Jose Fonte be the first person to equal Le God’s feat? Will Fraser Forster become only the fifth goalkeeper to take the crown? The answer to both is almost certainly no.
So here are the clear front runners:-
In the Red corner….
….hailing from Breda in Holland, the two time Scottish Premier League winner and undisputed ‘in the box’ champion. Virgil van Dijk.
Undoubtedly, van Dijk has been one of the signings of the season, and not just for Saints, but for any club, his immaculate displays at the heart of the defence have often been spell binding. Having barely put a foot wrong, the Dutchman has filled the Alderweireld shaped hole that appeared last Summer nicely and winning this award could eclipse his predecessor’s achievements. A monster in the air, yet delicate with the ball at his feet, Saints have unearthed another star, and he would be a worthy addition to the list of winners.
In the White corner….
….from Gortnahoe in Ireland, the former Football Association of Ireland Young Player of the Year, Reading Player of the Year and Munster Minor Hurling Championship winner. Shane Long.
Not many would have predicted Long being such a clear favourite this time last year, but his performances in a Saints shirt this season have been superb. Often bemoaned as a striker who doesn’t score enough goals, Long’s input in this campaign has been crucial. The Irish forward has netted 11 times this term (so far), many of which were part of match winning turns. Long’s tireless effort and attitude whether playing up top or as part of a support three is breathtaking and given the indifference from Saints fans and the scoffing from Scousers when he was linked to Anfield in January, a Player of the Season award would be a fitting end to a point proving campaign!
Somebody’s 0 has got to go.