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Monday, 11 April 2011

Overlooking Nani for the Player of the Year Award is a disgrace bourne out of dislike

It is almost the end of the 2010-11 season and as the football reaches a crescendo, it is also the time to begin nominations for the Player of the Year Award as well as the Young Player of the Year.

Only there was a glaring omission in the Player of the Year category- Nani.

The Portuguese winger has been a regular figure for Manchester United this season, leading the team and the League in terms of assists and also chipping in with 10 goals. These figures do not compare with a former Portuguese winger that used to ply his trade at Old Trafford, but they are very solid numbers.

Add to the fact that it is Nani who has been the source of inspiration in attacking moves for United all season, even more so than Wayne Rooney and Dimitar Berbatov, and it really rankles with me that he has been completely overlooked from the shortlist of 7 players.

Nani is disliked, there is no question about that- he is disliked by opposition fans and he is disliked by the media for being dishonest... Sounds a lot like Cristiano Ronaldo really doesnt it? The big difference is Ronaldo had banged in 40 + goals for United in their Champions League/Premier League double winning season and could NOT be overlooked, no matter how much people did not like him.

A recent piece in the Mirror by Oliver Holt sums up the feeling in the media against Nani... But this seems wrong to me in so many ways.

Holt says while many of Nani's traits are similar to Ronaldo's, he wouldnt vote for the former because the latter was braver, and twice the player. There is this common misconception that Nani dives EVERY time he is on the ball- take a look at the first goal United scored against Fulham this weekend... Nani is kicked so many times, yet rides the tackles and eventually sets up the opener.

He has matured a lot in the last 14 months when it was expected that Nani will be leaving Old Trafford in the January window, and since then he has become an integral part of the United attacking line up.

Displays against Arsenal at the Emirates Stadium used to be a once-in-a-blue-moon performances, but Nani has become much more consistent since then, and regularly is the influential piece in the United team that can create something from a moment of magic.

Nani has also been criticised for THAT goal against Tottenham earlier this season, but I think the referee was more to blame than the player. Holt criticises the winger for handballing and still getting up to score when there was confusion- how many other players have admitted to handball in games? And how many players are told to put the ball in the net until the whistle blows?

I think Nani just took advantage of a situation. It is less of an act of sportsmanship than a player diving for a penalty, or waving imaginary cards at the referee, or even rolling around in agony to ensure a player is carded and jumping up on your feet and running a 10.01 100 metre dash seconds later...

It is just completely wrong that a player is judged for how he acts rather than the ability and consistency they have shown all season. Nani has been the best attacking player for the team that is top of the Premier League by 7 points.

He has been far more consistent than Rafael Van der Vaart who has come off the boil with injuries and form in the last 3 months, whereas the likes of Gareth Bale have had some really exceptional performances but have missed chunks of the season. Scott Parker has been absolutely brilliant as a leader at Upton Park, but West Ham have seriously underachieved for all their ability and that should have worked against him compared with Nani.

I didn't think Nani was going to win the award this year, personally I would vote for Nemanja Vidic who has been the one rock at the heart of the United defence in the absence of Rio Ferdinand... But to overlook Nani for the top 7 players this season, because 'we dont like him', is seriously poor form.

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