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N'Golo Kanté not my choice

At the end of the 1999 season in England and after a truly titanic battle with probably one of the best Arsenal teams of the Arsene Wenger era, Manchester United won the league and the FA Cup double.

They went a step further by adding the Uefa Champions League to complete a unique treble still not matched by any team in England.

United played some really exciting football that season with players like Dwight Yorke, Andy Cole, David Beckham, Teddy Sheringham, Ole Gunnar Solksjaer, Paul Scholes, and Ryan Giggs having fantastic seasons. It was then a huge surprise that when the end of the season awards came up that David Ginola of Tottenham Hotspurs won both the Players’ Player of the Year and the Football Writers’ Player of the year awards.

Spurs had only won the league cup but Ginola, it seems, had been picked because of two slalom goals he scored in the Spurs’ cup run in matches against Watford and Barnsley.

When the PFA and FWA were asked how come none of the United players won their award the excuses ranged from “there were so many of them playing so well that their votes were split” to “the votes were cast at around the time when Ginola’s goals in those cup matches were making all the headlines”. To be fair, that singular vote caused the voting of the PFA awards to be changed.

I have gone through the list of the award winners in England since 1999 and I am absolutely astonished at the quality of footballers that have won the double who will now find N’Gole Kanté alongside them. Anyone who is a regular reader of my column or who follows me on Twitter will know I am one of the biggest fans of the Chelsea and France midfielder.

However, no way do I think he is so special in that progressive form to have won the double award.

What does it say about how football is seen or played in England that even the football writers felt that in a season in which Eden Hazard has twinkled and dazzled us with his fine play – reminding us of the prodigious talents he is blessed with – he does not deserve the award? Absolutely irrelevant that he has won the award before. That he has played so well again means his consistency should be rewarded.

Harry Kane in his third straight season scores more than 20 league goals and does not deserve the award? Or Dele Alli with his many goals from the Spurs’ midfield? How about Alexis Sanchez who has been a shining light in a disappointing season for Arsenal with his goals and all-round play?

There seems to be a huge desire to give this award to the France midfielder because, for some reason, folks feel he should have won at least one award last season. I don’t agree with that at all. Last season, the two winners deserved them. Jamie Vardy with his goals was instrumental to the Foxes winning the title, just like Riyad Mahrez with his goals and wonderful feet. Those two were worthy winners, their positions and styles of play the things that make football the entertainment it really is.

There are those who believe these individual awards have no place in a sport so intrinsically based on the team as football. I tend to disagree. It is a team sport quite alright but, in the team there are individuals who by their abilities do their jobs exceptionally well. Those players are usually the ones who tend to make the difference and get their teams over the line in the league or cup finals.

Just like in 2011 when the football writers inexplicably gave their award to Scott Parker, Kanté's awards I think speak volumes for how those who write about the sport in England view the sport. Those views are not about the fine arts of the sport it seems.

Chelsea have deservedly won the title while Hull, Middlesbrough and Sunderland have been relegated. The only thing left now in the last two matches (one for some) is to determine who will finish third and fourth, thereby qualifying for the Champions League next season.

Liverpool, Manchester City and Arsenal are locked in the battle. The Londoners – perennial Champions League participants – are relying on the others slipping up for them to make it. Manager Wenger somehow knows how to galvanise his team’s fourth spot run-in. I have written him off too many times and I have failed so, having learnt my lessons, I will say that he is well capable of getting the job done again.

My player of the season is Hazard. A lot has been made of Chelsea switching to a back three but the most important factor I believe was the manager freeing Hazard of any defensive responsibility. Unlike under his previous manager, Hazard was asked to go and do his work in the final third of the pitch and he went ahead and did great damage.

Thank you for reading. Let me know who your player of the season is, and especially if you agree with the choice of Kanté. You can also follow us on Twitter @CalvinEmeka @Supersporttv

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