Manchester United midfielder Michael Carrick on PFA Player of the Year shortlist

The six-player shortlist for the Professional Footballers’ Association’s Player of the Year Award has been published today and there is one England international on the list. Manchester United’s Michael Carrick has hardly been short of praise this season but it has been a surprise for many that he is included. Perhaps the fact that the players vote for the award should clear that up.

Here is the PFA Player of the Year shortlist in full:

Gareth Bale (Tottenham Hotspur), Michael Carrick (Manchester United), Eden Hazard (Chelsea), Juan Mata (Chelsea), Luis Suarez (Liverpool), Robin van Persie (Manchester United)

Carrick’s recognition by his fellow professionals is deserved. The midfielder is a trusted member of Alex Ferguson’s team and has played in 32 of United’s 33 matches so far this season, starting 30 of them – and not all in midfield. At 31, Carrick is now fully appreciated at the club that has run away with the Premier League title, and only Patrice Evra has played more league minutes for United this season.

Being a vital cog in that particular machine makes him worthy of his place on the shortlist and, arguably, a bigger part for the national team. He has 27 caps to his name in an international career that now spans over a decade, and it might be the case that we will look back upon Carrick as another victim of the myth of the supposed Golden Generation.

Carrick will not win the award, for which he has some serious competition. Notwithstanding the in-season vote, which throws everything out of whack, the rest of the list is packed with players more commonly featured in the headlines than the former West Ham United and Tottenham Hotspur man.

Gareth Bale has had a very impressive season and has managed to have the label ‘one-man team’ applied to Spurs, such has been his amazing impact at times this season. Given the time at which voting takes place it seems likely that Bale will win the award, which he also won the season before last.

Robin van Persie’s recent goal drought hadn’t established itself at that point, so he is also in with a fantastic chance of winning the award for the second consecutive year. Only Thierry Henry and Cristiano Ronaldo have won the award twice in a row.

Juan Mata has won plenty of new admirers since moving to the Premier League with Chelsea, and is respected throughout the game for his invention, classy play and the exceptional quality of his game. His team-mate Eden Hazard, also on the shortlist, is more of a glamour player but possibly less deserving of his place on the shortlist. Neither are well represented by the Blues’ fortunes this season.

If the award were voted upon and handed out post-season then Liverpool’s Luis Suarez might just have been the outstanding candidate. While Liverpool’s achievements this season haven’t even been up to the standards ‘suffered’ by Chelsea, the Uruguayan has maintained his form for longer than Van Persie,and arguably Bale too, and his best performances have demonstrated what an excellent footballer he is.

Nevertheless, this is a peer-voted award and Suarez has had a tendency to rub more than a few of his peers up the wrong way. That hasn’t prevented him making the shortlist; whether he can go a step further remains to be seen.

It’s customary on this day of the year to highlight the players who are missing, most notably Michu of Swansea City in this case. Like the Spaniard’s team-mate Garry Monk, we can all sulk about the omissions, bemoaning the “shocking decision” made by…well, nobody. It’s a vote, which Monk presumably took part in.

(Photo credit: Andrea Sartorati via Flickr)

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