To many, this will seem like a pointless article. we all know that the voting will show this year’s Player of the Year is Neal Eardley, right?
Eardley strode in from nowhere at the start of the season, filled in at left back then displaced Sean Long at right back before winning the hearts of everyone at Sincil Bank. He’s not only versatile, but incredibly cool on the ball, strong in the tackle and a great organiser.
When he missed one game, we got thrashed 4-1, such is his influence. He’s popped up with a vital goal too, another reflection of his all-round brilliance. How on earth could anyone beat him? He’s got a major advantage over everyone else, he’s played in the Premier League and he’s represented his country as well. His arrival was similar to a retired pro turning up at a Sunday League side and running the show, right?
In my opinion, wrong. I won’t take anything away from Neal Eardley, he’s been brilliant and certainly amongst the best we’ve had this season. He may, may just edge the award but there’s been other honourable mentions that it would be remiss to gloss over.
Some people told me Alex Woodyard was off form around Christmas, some even laughed at the song ‘never gives the ball away’ because they thought he did. I thought he did once, then he messaged me and told me the actual stats, showing that what we see as fans isn’t always a true reflection on proceedings.
If you think about it, Alex Woodyard has been consistent and competitive all season. Maybe he hasn’t stood out like he did last year, but he hasn’t done anything differently. Players around him have emerged and made a name for themselves, but he’s always been there, ratting around in the midfield looking to break up play and start positive moves. Our tactics altered a little this season, we retained possession by going backwards much more and for a while, Alex was getting stick for always playing the ball back. It seemed to me, that was what he’d been told to do.
Both Scunthorpe and Luton were after him, both put in solid bids that were refused and that is testament to the impact he has. Last season, he did the unseen work but got noticed for it. This season, he’s done the unseen work and remained relatively unseen.
I imagine very few people ticked the box labelled ‘Woodyard’ this time around, but his contribution deserves to be noted. This is the only ever-present player in our season, never suspended, never injured. When you think his job is tackling and being tackled, that is a remarkable statistic.
Matt Green has to be mentioned too, a player who many will not vote for because he’s not prolific enough for them. Part of me gets it, 16 goals in 53 games is one in three, a good return but not breath-taking. He did have a bad patch after being sent off against Stevenage and quite often, he’s been asked to run the channels and not play in his preferred central position.
I think Matt Green has been badly misjudged by many though. He’s been sacrificed at times, for instance in the Checkatrade Trophy final. He wasn’t ever going to score at Wembley, not because he isn’t good enough but because that wasn’t his job. He was left to work the defence, pull holes for the likes of Whitehouse to exploit but not actually score himself. If you don’t believe me, ask Danny. Like a true professional, Matt Green did as he was asked even though he knew he wouldn’t end up with a goal or any plaudits. Mind you, when you saw his face afterwards I guess he wasn’t too fussed.