Voting for the 2007/08 Player of the Year will begin at The Valley on Saturday. The season has been as disappointing in some respects as 2006/07, but whereas Scott Carson stood out as a shining light amongst the darkness last time, there is no such obvious candidate this time around.
I feel strongly that the winner of this award should be the player whose consistent value-added is the greatest (and thus probably transfer value too), rather than the one who is seen merely to 'give his all'. The latter ought to be a given (although it's not sadly), and we should not be seen to reward players who have been promoted to roles they are not ultimately good enough to perform in. Unfortunately this might mean Andy Reid
scoops the prize, but it remains to be seen if he's on the ballot.
The legitimacy of my views is compromised by having seen only perhaps a dozen games live or on TV, but nonetheless here are my brief views on the genuine contenders:
My vote as the photo suggests would be for Zheng Zhi
, whose faultless effort, versatility and vital goals (albeit not lately) make him the single most important player on the teamsheet. His biggest fault is perhaps an indirect one; it's not clear what formation or playing style gets the best out of him. I suspect the freer the role, the better he becomes (like a modern-day version of Lee Bowyer in 1995/96), but we do not yet have the players around him to permit it. It's worth continuing to experiment however because he has plenty to offer; the team should be built around him next season.
My 2nd place vote would go to Nicky Weaver
, which may come as something of a surprise. However if your goalkeeper does not stand out due to his brilliance (like Carson or Dean Kiely), then the best compliment you can pay them, is that you almost forgot they were there. The mistake at Plymouth joined others this season that could be counted on one hand, and the speed with which he won over doubting Addicks fans speaks volumes. An excellent pre-season piece of business by Pards.
My 3rd place vote would go to Paddy McCarthy
who was so poorly treated earlier in the season, yet has been team's outstanding defender since returning to the side. There's nothing complicated about his play; he simply completes the basic defensive tasks with aplomb (tackling, clearing, blocking etc..), whilst providing the occasional threat at our own set-pieces too. He walks and talks like a leader, and should be made club captain for next season.
The remaining contenders do not fill me at least with great enthusiasm, although I'm conscious that Matt Holland
is probably a warm favourite. His case is always aided by the consistent way he undertakes the least glamorous aspects of midfield play, but take that away, and there's nothing much left. If one was being super critical, one might suggest that those positive attributes are the very least one expects from an experienced and presumably well-paid central midfielder. Then again, we used to have Bryan Hughes.
Also sure to garner many votes, again albeit not necessarily for the right reasons, will be Chris Iwelumo
. Until he powered home successive headed winners at Southampton and Bristol City, his height had appeared to be a burden rather than an asset. Indeed, his general physical presence is not the force it perhaps should be, and instead his most valuable contributions have often been of the more subtle kind (witness those two well-taken goals at home to Sheffield Wednesday for example). Like Holland, his commitment is not debatable, and like the Irishman too, he is the type of player who will only take you so far.....like 9th for example.
The forgotten man who we ought to be reminded of at this time is Jose Semedo.
If the vote had taken place over Xmas, the Portuguese may well have topped the poll thanks to his low-profile but highly effective performances in the holding midfield role. The departure of Reid forced Pards to reshuffle his hand, and Semedo was one of the obvious cards to be tossed away. Results thereafter provide plenty of evidence that he got it wrong, and if the Plymouth game provides any clues, he may still make a late and valuable impact on our season.
Several other players have shown fleeting glimpses of their potential, and at various times fans have waxed lyrical variously about Kelly Youga, Lloyd Sam, Svetoslav Todorov, Yassin Moutaouakil, Sam Sodje, Grant Basey, Madjid Bougherra
and Luke Varney.
However none has managed it on a consistent basis, or more pertinently in those cases where injuries were not a big factor, none have persuaded Pards that they should be given the opportunity to do so.
Others plainly have the requisite talent and skills, but for whatever reason (probably lack of desire I fear), contribute very little except consistent frustration. I am thinking of course about the likes of Jerome Thomas
(no goals) and Darren Ambrose
(plenty of goals, but not much else). It's time for Charlton and them to move on.
Of those players not yet mentioned above, and who started more than five League games, none made either a notable positive impact, or suggested they might have done (Jonathan Fortune, Andy Gray, Greg Halford, Danny Mills, Ben Thatcher,
and Chris Powell
Finally I'm holding out late hope that Leroy Lita
(6 games, 3 goals) can propel us to a highly unlikely play-off place, and perhaps Premiership promotion glory. For that alone, he should be awarded the trophy.