Ahead of every weekend this season I will give you my three thoughts on what’s going on in the Premier League and the soccer world at large. These might not always be the biggest stories, but rather my personal observations as the games approach each Saturday.
The craziness of the PFA Awards
I referenced the Professional Footballers’ Association Awards in last week’s blog, suggesting that they were arguably the most prestigious of all the awards as they are voted on by the players themselves. However, I didn’t say they were the most accurate. This might be controversial, but frankly I trust the voting of journalists and reporters far more than I do the players, simply because the journos watch more matches than the footballers. We will get to enjoy the Football Writers Awards at another time, though.
For the time being, we get to analyze the PFA Awards, which announced its team of the year this week. What a great demonstration of how ludicrous individual awards are for a team sport. It is difficult to disagree with the team of the year selections. But how does striker Romelu Lukaku make the TOY when he was not a finalist for the Player of the Year Award, while Zlatan Ibrahimovic is on the POY shortlist but not in the TOY, despite playing the same position as Lukaku? Who believed Ibra was deserving of a player of the year nod, but not deserving to make the team of the year?
That’s the question I want answered. But then as I mentioned the whole idea is so self-important and preposterous anyway, so who cares?
What now for Leicester City?
Leicester saw its dream come to an end this week following a brave exit from the Champions League quarterfinals at the hands of Atletico Madrid. Sure, on one hand it is a shame, but it allows us now to look back on what was truly one of the most incredible chapters in football history.
As for the future, what now for the Foxes? Is this a club that can still build? Has Craig Shakespeare shown enough since replacing Claudio Ranieri that he can lead this team back up the table next season? Does Leicester have the ambition and prestige to appeal to big name players? Should the club build through its superb academy, while plucking lesser-known stars from the continent? Or will it simply settle in as a mid-table club able to enjoy the odd Cup run? I suspect it’s the latter.
Jamie Vardy and Rihad Mahrez will not reach the glorious heights of last season again. Vardy is in his early 30s, and is at the right club for a player unlikely to get better, while Mahrez seems to excel on a good team when things are going right, but is not really one for the long haul, not a battler. The other players are more industrious than stars, and already we are seeing the decline of Robert Huth and Wes Morgan.
John Terry can still help a Premier League team
It came as no surprise that John Terry announced this week that he will leave Chelsea this summer. It has been sad seeing Terry languishing on the bench all season. He says there is still plenty of soccer left in him and he fully intends to keep on playing. There are a number of potential fits for him in the Premier League, assuming not every club reverts to a high press or a three-man defence. Mind you, the three-man defence is in style at the moment, with only three clubs yet to give it a whirl.
Still, where would John Terry fit next season? Phil Jagielka’s contract is up this summer, so would JT entertain a move to the blue half of Merseyside? Here’s a snarky thought: doesn’t Arsenal need leadership and grit? That would raise some eyebrows and would certainly satisfy his desire to stay relevant with a big club. Not sure it’s the type of signing that Gooners will be demanding this summer, though.
Regardless, even if Terry is half the player he used to be, he would bring enormous experience to any club, he should be considered one of the greatest centre-backs to play in the Premier League – some would say the best – and his profile would be a PR coup for any ambitious team. Whatever happens, it will be very odd seeing John Terry in anything but Chelsea blue next season.