Awards season in football is always a controversial time. Fans will always feel their players have been hard done by, and the usual arguments will come from the "real football people" letting us know that footballers understand the game that bit more than the rest of us mere mortals.
When the PFA Premier League Team of the Year was announced this morning, nobody was surprised to see a team full of Manchester City and Liverpool players. After all, both teams are on course for a near record haul of Premier League points, and have dominated the division in a way we've rarely seen before. Naturally though, over the course of the full season, with 18 other clubs at play, there was always going to be room for one player from outside the big two. Who would it be then?
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, with his 19 goals? Eden Hazard, with 16 goals and 13 assists? Son Heung-Min? Christian Eriksen? Ryan Fraser? Diogo Jota?
The PFA Premier League #TOTY! #PFAawards
🇸🇳 Sadio Mané pic.twitter.com/bSt1lsjmra
— Professional Footballers' Association (@PFA) April 25, 2019
No, instead of any of them, the PFA opted for Paul Pogba.
Pogba's stats (13 goals, 9 assists) belie a middling season for the Manchester United midfielder Of the 13 goals, seven were penatlies. Even so, the stats suggest a decent season for a central midfieler. However, stats can only show so much in a low scoring, non-static sport. Pogba's performances have not lifted Manchester United to success for the majority of the season, and, at times, have even hindered them.
Beyond that, José Mourinho's final weeks were defined by a public falling out and dropping of his captain, whom he declared a "virus" after a 2-2 draw with Southampton.
His form picked up to express his true talent level in the early days of Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, but have since regressed again, with the player looking woefully out of form and uninterested in the latter days of the season.
Given the consistent performances of those around him, it beggars belief to see Pogba included in this team given he's the focal point of one of the most expensive teams in the world football, and has led them to sixth place in the division with three games remaining. It's been a disaster of a season for United on the whole, but Pogba's influence has been far too often non-existent as they slip to unfathomable defeat after defeat. Hardly team of the year material.
On the announcement of the team this morning, many found if difficult to fathom the Frenchman's inclusion in the team.
On the BBC, Alan Shearer said he was "surprised other players think he has been so consistent that a lot of them have decided to put him in their team.", while Gary Lineker echoed this, stating, "I don't think he deserves to be in the team of the year because his form has been erratic, certainly in the Mourinho part of the season. He has not been consistent enough."
Paul Pogba in the Premier League Team of the Year?
Not for @GaryLineker...#PFAawards #TOTY #bbcfootball pic.twitter.com/iXZHq3BKds
— Match of the Day (@BBCMOTD) April 25, 2019
List of midfield players who should have been in PFA XI ahead of Pogba - Moutinho, Sissoko, Doucouré, Wijnaldum, Maddison, David Silva, Kante. Could go on.
— Ian Darke (@IanDarke) April 25, 2019
#TOTY. So much talent. Hard to argue except Pogba? So gifted but not consistently dominant. No Hazard? Consistently a decisive force. (btw difficult to get Son in. Ederson's superior distribution just sees off Alisson) #PFAawards https://t.co/XdecbR1txP
— Henry Winter (@henrywinter) April 25, 2019
Looks like Pogba’s inherited the honorary Mark Hughes PFA acknowledgement. Play well in the weeks when the votes are cast and take your place.
— Tony Barrett (@TonyBarrett) April 25, 2019
Take away Pogba's penalty goals and rebounds from missed penalties and he has less goals than Ruben Loftus-cheek who has only made seven premier league starts this season pic.twitter.com/Gc5sE8b31s
— Mod (@CFCMod_) April 25, 2019
Is it just me or do all the lads in the @PFA Team of the year look shocked or annoyed at Pogba being in it? #PFAawards pic.twitter.com/f0QjW3VhsW
— Ged (@MisterGed) April 25, 2019