Over the past couple of days, ten City Watch contributors have shared their views on who has been Manchester City’s best player of the season. Only four different players have been selected, perhaps an indication of just how disappointing the squad has been this campaign. Today, the last group of five offer their opinions, and again it’s the same four names being selected.
Who has been your City player of the season and do you think anyone has been overlooked in this series?
My choice for player of the year first really caught my eye in the 2014/15 season. The Bundesliga is a league I enjoy watching casually, and I was shocked by just how good this flame-haired playmaker had become. ‘The £60m Reject’ as the Daily Mirror infamously spouted on their back page, Kevin De Bruyne, is my player of the year.
City have been a joy to watch for large periods of the last half decade, but sometimes you’re left tearing your hair out at the reluctance of players to have a shot or try a risky pass. De Bruyne is fearless and his direct, high-impact style of football has been a refreshing addition to a stagnating team. It isn’t hit-and-hope stuff either, there is usually logic behind the risks De Bruyne takes on the pitch. He is prone to mistakes because of the difficulty of the things he tries, but the stats speak for themselves. His end product is phenomenal and already up there with some of the world’s best. He is a true crack player, a game-changer, and the level of signing we should have been bringing in more often in recent years instead of the growing collection of underwhelming recruits.
Like Cristiano Ronaldo, he can drift out of games at times, and then suddenly… boom, there he is with a match-defining moment, be it a defence-splitting pass or a late goal. Under Pep Guardiola, I firmly believe De Bruyne can reach even bigger heights and be a contender for the Ballon d’Or award. Despite his lengthy injury, for me he has been our most impressive player this season.
My player of the season is Fernandinho. Is there anybody else I could have really chosen? De Bruyne and Sagna have been excellent but for me there’s only one winner. Having dropped off last year, Fernandinho has again proven his quality. What he’s done is prove his tremendous character, outperforming every player at the club. He’s somebody who won’t get the plaudits he deserves. He’s not a craftsman like Silva, nor is he a mountainous figure like Yaya Toure, but he’s a fighter. In what’s been a disastrous year for a club of our standards, he’s the only player who can really look back on this season with a sense of pride. He’s given his all in every game, as a result rightly deserves the accolade. It’s hard to look past his stupendous European performances against Juventus and PSG without feeling a sense of pride. He dominated the midfield, made it his own and I for one can’t wait to see what Pep will do with him next season.
Joe Hart. It’s rather embarrassing that I have to elect our goalkeeper as player of the year, but he has been absolutely superb this season and if it was not for him, we would probably be out of the top four race altogether. Numerous key saves in close games spring to mind and his European performances have been absolutely colossal. If UEFA didn’t have such a pro-Neuer feeling then he would probably get in the Champions League team of the season. His distribution is no doubt lacking, but he is there to save shots and has done it on a consistent basis. Barring the odd time he has gotten beaten at his near post, I can’t recall him making any real errors, and I really hope Pep keeps him on because he is a leader and a monster in the box.
For me, it’s got to be Fernandinho. He is possibly our most consistent player and a pretty solid one at that. Often found controlling the middle of the park – he’s been brilliant defensively and going forward, pinging passes for fun. He’s done a great job in the central midfield role, one that has required twice the work this season as a result of playing alongside an ever deteriorating Yaya Toure, who lacks the effort needed to be a prominent Premier League midfielder these days. Not only is he a top quality talent, but he has the perfect work ethic. He’s an absolute workhorse, there are very few occasions where you can honestly say you have seen less than 100% from him, and that is what you love as a fan.
If I were to ask most City fans a question of when Fernandinho has had a stand out bad game, you’d struggle to name one or two, let alone three or four. Controlling, hard-working, outstanding, consistent and a lovely chap. What more could you ask for? On a side note, and I know this isn’t a reason to award someone player of the season, but he’s also one of the guys you can’t help but love. It was a close one for me to choose, with Wilfried Bony coming in a close second, but for the reasons listed above – Fernandinho has to take my player of the season.
In a league campaign that can simply be described as inconsistent, Bacary Sagna was a steady and reliable outlet at right-back for City. Signed on a free from Arsenal in summer ’14, Sagna was firmly second choice behind our beloved Argentine-Mancunian Pablo Zabaleta, playing a mere 740 league minutes (~8 full games) during the ’14-’15 campaign. When Zaba went down early in the current season with not one, but two, fairly serious knee injuries, Sagna stepped in seamlessly at right-back and never relinquished the spot even when Zaba returned from injury, playing over 2300 league minutes and 3752 total minutes (third in the squad after Fernandinho and Nicolas Otamendi). And while Sagna is mainly known for his defensive prowess and being one of City’s main aerial duel winners, the attacking output at right-back that Zaba is known for did not suffer one bit as Sagna registered 3 assists (compared to Zaba’s 4 in the prior season) including the assist for Raheem Sterling’s first league goal in a City shirt and Aguero’s winner against Watford at Vicarage Road. In a year full of injuries, inconsistencies, and drab performances, Bacary Sagna was one of City’s rare diamonds.
And there it is. Of the fifteen contributions, only four different City players were selected as Player of the Year. Sergio Aguero, despite being leading scorer, didn’t receive a single vote! The breakdown of the votes is as follows:
Kevin De Bruyne: 5 votes
Fernandinho: 5 votes
Joe Hart: 3 votes
Bacary Sagna: 2 votes
Next season under Pep Guardiola, hopefully many more players will stand out and make our selections more varied.