Gordon Taylor gives his views on the PFA Young Player candidates
The biggest night of the year – The PFA Annual Awards, in association with Barclays – is almost upon us, and we now know who the contenders are for our two main awards.
Here Gordon Taylor gives his verdict on the runners and riders in the PFA Young Player of the Year Award, Sponsored by Barclays, category…
YOUNG PLAYER OF THE YEAR CONTENDERS
Gareth Bale – Tottenham (Players’ Player and Young Player)
Gordon says: “It may have taken Gareth some time to make his mark at Spurs after his switch from Southampton, but the adverse publicity he received for not being part of a winning Tottenham team for so long is all a distant memory.
“His performances against Inter Milan, the reigning European champions, were fantastic and he has gone from strength to strength as the season has unfolded. The impact he has made, the goals he has scored, the assists he has provided…it’s all been quite outstanding.
“Harry Redknapp has been good for him, and vice-versa, and Spurs fans are very lucky to have such a special talent in their ranks.”
Seamus Coleman – Everton
Gordon says: “Seamus Coleman is a classic example of the benefits of the loan system used by so many clubs these days.
“Joining Blackpool for the final third of last season worked wonders for Seamus, who played a telling role in the Tangerines’ promotion to the Barclays Premier League for the first time.
“Getting games under his belt, massive games at that, clearly helped his development and he has continued to show great promise with Everton this season.
“Primarily a right back, he loves to get forward as well as defend – not a lot unlike a certain Jimmy Armfield, a Blackpool legend who was a master of the art.”
Joe Hart – Manchester City
Gordon says: “Joe did exceptionally well when he went on loan to Birmingham, a move he used as a positive, and he clearly benefited from playing every week and knowing that he was first choice.
“Now, having returned to Manchester City, he is the number one for club and country and having the faith of both Roberto Mancini and Fabio Capello has seen him grow in stature.
“He looks to have more confidence in his ability to withstand the pressure of maintaining his position as No.1 for City and England. He is the sort of commanding keeper any defender would love to have behind them.”
Javier Hernandez – Manchester United
Gordon says: “We didn’t know a lot about him, but he was impressive at the World Cup and to come into the Premier League and make such an instant impression is quite remarkable, especially for someone so young.
“The way he has adapted to the English game is quite exceptional, and it says a lot for his character and ability that he has been able to come over here and showcase everything that is good about Mexican football.
“He plays with a smile on his face, and we are delighted he is plying his trade in this country. He has been a great addition to our game.”
Nani – Manchester United
Gordon says: “After the unprecedented success of Cristiano Ronaldo, there was always going to be pressure on fellow countryman Nani when his pal left for Real. But, having been given his head and more responsibility, he has truly made his own mark this season.
“I have seen him take some horrific tackles at times from defenders bamboozled by his trickery, but he shows great bravery and simply gets himself up, dusts himself down and gets on with it.
“He has always had the ability but now he is getting the opportunities to show it on a regular basis. I hope he will continue to blossom and get to the same level as Ronaldo. He has some way to go but he has the opportunity and I hope he takes it.”
Samir Nasri – Arsenal (Players’ Player and Young Player)
Gordon says: “When Arsenal are at their best they are like Barcelona, and Nasri is a key to their stylish passing game. Yet another player nurtured patiently by Arsene Wenger, the Frenchman has really come to the fore this season.
“He has scored some wonderful, individual goals and his skill and ability to create openings almost from nothing make him quite special. As Arsene says, there is even more to come from him.
“He seems to have relished the extra responsibility placed upon him when Fabregas has not been fit. He’s a similar player to Cesc, and revels in a central role where he has become Arsenal’s main man.”
Jack Wilshere – Arsenal
Gordon says: “He’s not the biggest or the tallest but he has a real zest for the game, and is certainly not afraid to make a tackle. His control, his left foot, his perception and vision is exceptional for one so young.
“Against Barcelona, one of the best club sides in the world, he was excellent and the way he performed in those two games, and others, showed he really does have an old head on those young shoulders, and you can see the team being built around him in the future.
“He is a level-headed lad too and, under the guidance of the manager who has nurtured this special talent, I am sure he will keep his feet firmly on the ground.”