Yesterday, five City Watch writers shared their views on who is City’s Player of the Year, with four different players chosen. In the second part of this City Watch Vox Pops, five more step forward with their opinions on who has impressed in a fairly underwhelming season for the Blues.
Who do you think has been City’s best player this season, and do you agree with any of our writers?
In an underwhelming season characterised by mediocrity, Fernandinho’s light has undoubtedly shone the brightest. He’s been our most consistent and dependable performer throughout the season. Admittedly, he may not have received some of the headlines and the adulation that the likes of Aguero and De Bruyne have – but that simply isn’t the nature of his position. Fernandinho isn’t in the team to score goals; his job is to facilitate our transitional play, to transform defence into attack.
In my opinion, there isn’t anyone better in the league (aside from the indefatigable N’Golo Kante) at harrying their opponent, dispossessing them, and then using the stolen ball in an intelligent manner. At times this season, and especially when deployed alongside Toure, you could be mistaken for thinking that there have been two Fernandinho’s on the pitch, such is the incredible amount of work he’s gotten through. In a season in which there have been a few of performances criminally lacking in effort (Kolarov, I’m looking at you mate), it’s been refreshing to watch a player fill their shirt with sweat on a regular basis.
There is of course a lot more to Fernandinho than his fantastic work-rate – he is an intelligent footballer, and one I’m certain that Pep Guardiola will embrace in his midfield, but it has still been comforting to watch him play with such desire on a week-to-week basis. He’s been absolutely brilliant, and in all honesty, I’m thankful he’s been able to play as often as he has. Just imagine where we’d be right now if he’d have been injured for the majority of the season…
Let’s be honest, this was a weird, confusing and generally bleak season. There were a few highs, as there always should be with a squad of this stature, but overall it was a campaign that left a rather sour taste in the mouth of many. Yet despite this, there was one main shining beacon of hope. A beautiful, radiant ginger beacon. Kevin De Bruyne was phenomenal. Fernandinho was exceptional, Hart a solid reliable pillar, Aguero was typically Aguero, but this was KDB’s season. Yes, he was injured for a fair chunk of it, and yes he had the odd quiet game, but this was a campaign that hinted at his immense ability and, importantly, his outstanding promise. He had no right as a footballer to be that good, that quickly, in a new league whilst playing in a relatively bitty and fragmented team. Yet here he was leading the way, scoring goals and causing havoc with his remarkably well-rounded game, and his clear big match attitude.
For years we relied on Yaya to score that goal when it mattered, to produce a moment of magic to drag us out of a tight situation, and this was the first sign that we may have just found someone capable of doing all that and more when Yaya finally moves on to pastures new. For that reason alone, De Bruyne is my player of the season.
All of us, I’m guessing, have endured at some point in our lives a really crap holiday that initially promised so much and because we’d been crossing off the weeks looking forward to it and spent so much money to endure it we make the best of the situation at the time. Sure the hotel next door is undergoing construction and the relentless drilling and hammering is a probable cause for the bust-up with your other half that lasts nearly the whole fortnight but at least you’re not stuck in the office and the beer is on the cold side of warm. The food poisoning that flattens you in the second week brings to mind John Hurt in Alien but the calamari was at least delicious going down.
It is only when you return and a friend or relative politely asks for the highlights that the awful truth fully dawns. It was an unremitting nightmare and home has never felt so good. You plan to consign the experience to a remote dusty vault in your memory banks and never speak of it again.
Being asked to name my player of the year for 2015/16 feels very similar to last week when a bloke down the pub said he was going to Lanzarote this summer and I said “I went there back in the day with an ex” and he said “So, what’s it like?”
Fernandinho. I’ll go with Fernandinho.
You could argue that a few players are deserving of the title ‘Player of the Year’, similarly you could argue that few players are deserving. For me, there is one player who has always left it out on the pitch, no matter the game or the occasion. That man is Joe Hart. It’s not just about football, Hart offers us passion, leadership and the ability to step in front of a camera and tell it like it is. When you’re watching Hart smack his chest at the end of a game, you live vicariously through him. It feels like there’s a rogue fan on the pitch, you can taste his passion for City.
This season, he has been phenomenal at times. His performances in Europe have been incredible, but on countless occasions, Hart has fulfilled his role as the last line of defence. Unfortunately for the team, it’s not always meant victory; there have been occasions where his job has been to simply prevent the score from becoming embarrassing (Stoke away is a good example). All in all, Hart has represented the badge with respect and pride, and has produced some fantastic performances along the way. He resonates with the fans, and you feel that he actually cares about the thousands around him.
Kevin De Bruyne. For me this season has become the most disappointing and miserable in recent times. Unenthusiastic performances, embarrassingly heavy defeats, our ‘fortress Etihad’ tag well and truly smashed, and our best players suffering constant injuries whilst others showing a defeatist attitude we haven’t previously seen with this squad. However the one shining light in a somewhat horrific season has been De Bruyne.
Eyebrows were raised when it was announced City were ready to fork-out over £54 million on a player deemed not good enough for Chelsea only eighteen months previously. The signing of De Bruyne scared me rather than encouraged me, but I couldn’t have been more wrong. Since his debut away at Crystal Palace, De Bruyne has been a revelation. Sixteen goals and nine assists later De Bruyne helped guide City to a Champions League semi-final with some inspirational performances in the competitions. Fantastic goals, defence-splitting passes, great link up play, the Belgian’s performances have silenced his doubters including myself. Should his overall game continue to improve under incoming coach Pep Guardiola then maybe City could have a future Ballon d’Or winner on their hands.