Gareth Bale held off Luis Suarez and Robin Van Persie to pick up his second PFA Player of the Year Award in three seasons, adding the Young Player of the Year Award for good measure, sparking a predictable debate about the righteousness of the verdict.
Is the Welshman a worthy winner? Yes. Should the award take the table into account? Yes and no. Spurs might still miss out on Champions League qualification but, had it not been for Bale, they wouldn’t have been in it altogether.
Bale’s crowning, though, hasn’t been met with widespread approval but while his tendency to hit the turf at the slightest hint of contact is annoying, the accuse of being simply a “half-season wonder” are misguided.
Bale scored only three times in the first ten league games of the season, before exploding into life over December and January when he netted seven of Spurs’ 11 league goals, as he traveled on an complete opposite curve from Robin Van Persie, who was a shoe-in for retaining the award he won last season until a nine-game drought derailed his quest.
Does Van Persie’s barren spell make him a “half-season wonder” too? Only those too bitter to face reality would agree so, for the Dutchman was pivotal in steering United to their 20th league title but, ironically considering that United had been dismissed as a “one-man team”, Sir Alex’s team could cope without Van Persie more than Spurs could do without Bale.
That’s perhaps the only criticism that could be aimed at Bale. He’s so much better than the rest of his team-mates that, should he move to a bigger club, he might not be the standout performer on a weekly basis.
This, though, says more about Spurs then it does about Bale. Having an excellent supporting cast might enhance a player’s chance to excel but, for exactly the same reason, it’d also make it more difficult for said player to lift himself head and shoulders above his team-mates.
Michael Carrick and Juan Mata, for example, enjoyed a superb season. One was the heartbeat of the team that won the title at a canter, the other dazzled his way through the league scoring 14 goals and assisting 18 and is the main reason why Chelsea’s troublesome season might still reward them with a top-four finish.
Both, though, had another candidate for the POTY award right on their doorstep. We have spoken of Van Persie, whose goals were always likely to see him chosen ahead of Carrick, while Mata was briefly usurped by Eden Hazard as Chelsea’s player of the season.
The Belgian enjoyed an excellent debut season – after 29 league games, he’s a goal and assist away from reaching double figures in both categories – but faded away throughout the winter.
Luis Suarez, the only player of those shortlisted to be as pivotal for his club as Bale is for Spurs, enjoyed an excellent season in front of goal but his antics over the last 18 months were always going to deny him the accolade.
Furthermore, Spurs might be a one man team, but one that is competing for a top-four finish rather than one trudging along in mid-table, something that might well have titled the scale in Bale’s favour.
The Spurs winger deserves the accolade, for few in the league are able to terrorise a defence as Gareth Bale has done time and again this season as his 19 goals over 29 games can testify (the four assists, in contrast, are a paltry figure for a winger).
Bale is now at a very delicate crossroad in his career. Should he remain at Spurs and pick up personal accolades each season, or should he seek a move to a bigger club and shy individual glory for trophies?
Was Bale a worthy winner of POTY? Who would have you voted for? Do you think Bale should stay at Spurs? We want your opinion below. You can follow us on Twitter and Facebook by hitting the links, we provide a blast of football goodness everyday, so get involved if you love football.