Greetings Readers, if you are a long term visitor of this barely maintained blog you will know that one of the highlights is the end of season awards. The main talking point amongst fans is usually who will be crowned the player of the year. You will need little reminder that the previous few seasons have had few highlights under a trio of enjoyment vacuums at the helm and often the POTY is a stand out individual amongst a myriad of mediocrity. Since Ralph Hasenhüttl arrived though, things have started to look up and several players have shone under the Austrian’s dynamic and intensive regime.
Four in particular for me have stood out, so for a change of tactic for this year’s awards I decided to gauge public opinion. Below were the results:-
It seemed clear cut at that stage, but with all the contenders getting votes, I wondered if it would possibly change over the run in of the season. With that thought, and the fact that everyone is really engaged with politics right now (Brexit is fascinating right?) I thought I would up the ante and ask for someone who voted for each candidate to act as their campaign manager. Maybe their impassioned backing of their favourite could swing a few votes? Or at least give each candidate some recognition. So here we go…
The campaign for Jan Bednarek by @ELIELIELIELIEL_ : –
‘Jan Bednarek has been Southampton’s most important player this season.
This may seem a reach as he hasn’t netted a goal this season, but his work at the back has been crucial in securing points. With interceptions and goal line clearances just part of his game, I can whole heartedly say that his presence in the back line fills me with great confidence; not only because of his ability to defend but his calm and collectiveness whilst doing so.
Having not missed a league game since the departure of Hughes and consistently putting in amazing performances in crucial games it is clear he has been the most important player for Saints this season. Crucial games seem to be what he thrives upon, putting in some of his best performances against Chelsea (A), Leicester (A), Spurs (H), Everton (H) and most recently Wolves. I personally believe that had he gone out on loan we would have been in a worse position than we are now and feel the team gets confidence from the fact we have a reliable centre half.
50 interceptions and 151 clearances from this season alone just goes to show how crucial the Polish Maldini has been.’
The campaign for Pierre-Emile Højbjerg by @TheFalseLibero : –
‘Oh Pierre Hojbjerg, the one and only, he’s from DENMARK.
Højbjerg is from Denmark, and unlike his countrymen predecessors at Southampton – Michael Stensgaard (who?!) and Peter Madsen – he’s actually quite good; rather like the first Danish player to play for Saints was. Ronnie Ekelund was Johan Cruijff’s gift to Saints in 1994, and 22 years later, one of Cruijff’s finest understudies – Pep Guardiola – gifted us Højbjerg. Romantic isn’t it?
Remarkably, he is still only 23-years old. With all his tattoos, his face going proper red when he’s up for it, and the armband looking all snug round his magnificent bicep, he looks at least 25. If he continues charging round the pitch – or box to box, if you like your jargon – picking up more cards than any one else at Saints, he’ll look at least 28 next year.
He’s quite literally the centre of our play. With an average of 58 passes per game, 17 more than second-place Lemina, who was last seen not driving his car (because it was possibly his cousin, or his brother – he’s not sure) and 21 more than fellow Dane Jannik Vestergaard, everything goes through him. Everything apart from the opposition; he goes through them to the tune of 7 yellow cards and 2 reds, and in return is the most fouled played in Red and White.
When he’s not doing all the above, he’s busy contributing to the scoring of goals. With 4 goals and 2 assists, only Ings (9) and Redmond (8) have done more of those things.
The other nominees? MEH. The best? PEH.’
The campaign for Nathan Redmond by @SaintMat24 : –
‘Arguably Nathan Redmond has been one of the most derided players by Saints fans (including myself) in recent memory. This season however, he has played a crucial role in the Saints attack, the dissenting voices are fading away and he is a player transformed.
Now I find myself telling you why he is my player of the season.
No longer do we have the all too regular cut-inside-to-right-foot-cross-come-shots, but a player willing to take his man on in any direction. He is more aggressive in his play with the ball, which utilises his pace and makes the most of his natural technique.
However the biggest change for me is the team responsibility he has taken on. Ahead of the 3-1 victory over Wolves, Redmond told Josh Sims “If you end up breaking, …fizz the ball across the box… if me and Ingsy aren’t there that’s our problem”. Redmond is not afraid to make things happen now, to orchestrate moves and place himself at the centre of all things when Saints attack.
In my mind, no player is more important to Saints than Nathan Redmond has been this season. That’s why he should be your player of the season too.’
The campaign for James Ward-Prowse by @ArthurFane : –
‘After featuring only fleetingly in the first half of the season, it’s been a real pleasure to see James Ward-Prowse become a mainstay of Hasenhuttl’s side and begin to fulfil his enormous potential.
His ability over the set piece has always been the jewel in his crown – something reinforced by his stunning strikes against Man Utd and Spurs – it’s his all-round game though that has really hit next level this season.
I’ve for some time felt the ‘nice guy’ attitude was holding Ward-Prowse back – technically gifted, but rarely seen making combative challenges or busting a gut to recover the ball. 2019 has not only seen him cover more ground than any other Premier League player but has revealed his nasty side (Zaha sending off anyone?) He is no longer easily pushed off the ball and is absolutely vital to the way we now play.
His tally of 6 league goals in 2019 is bettered by only two Englishmen, Vardy & Sterling, rewarding him with a first England call-up since March 2017. Hughes’ regular failure to pick the midfielder will no doubt damage his chances, but Prowsey would richly deserve to win Player of the Season.’
So there we have it. Now it’s up to you.