Another battle for honours, but not quite Carlo Nash...
- Credit: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd
Remember the goalkeeper, Carlo Nash?
He never made a single appearance for City but was in the running for the player of the season award in 2014 – the result not of his playing activity, clearly, but of the lack of a genuinely suitable candidate.
City had lurched through a tough Premier League campaign which ended in relegation – one point from their last seven games didn’t help – and it was difficult to pick anyone who really stood out and Nash somehow ended up with, apparently, a couple of thousand fan votes.
Fortunately he said he would politely decline if he won... and was swiftly airbrushed out of the picture (wonder if the PFA wish they could do that with Paul Pogba standing out like a sore thumb in the Premier League team of the season?).
In the end, it was Robert Snodgrass who took away what was, with all due respect to the Barry Butler award - a bit of hot potato.
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This season will be just as difficult to select the award winner, but for hugely different reasons – and if that conundrum is the only ‘adverse’ side effect of this amazing season, bring it on...
We will find out before kick-off against Blackburn on Saturday evening just who has won, who has followed in the stud marks of players like Grant Holt, Iwan Roberts, Kevin Keelan... and many more.
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For a long time, Teemu Pukki was a clear favourite – and there are many who believe he retains that position in the unofficial betting – but now the decision is looming, a few others have thrown themselves into the equation.
Christoph Zimmermann has long been admired and liked by the City faithful, but in recent weeks the momentum towards him has been growing. It’s not just his playing ability that picks him out, but the clear leadership qualities he shows: constant encouragement of players, the fist pump appreciation of a good tackle or a Tim Krul save. Zimmermann has been a perfect leader of this City pack.
Alongside him are three young men with great credentials: EFL Young Player of the Year Max Aarons, Jamal Lewis and Ben Godfrey, while Emi Buendia is a jewel in this glittering crown. Omitting players from the list of maybes may appear churlish, but these are the stand-out players, the ones who make you stand up in anticipation, the ones who perform week in, week out.
But up front is a man who stands alone, metaphorically speaking. Teemu Pukki. Twenty eight league goals and counting. Can it be anyone else?
City haven’t had a 20-goal-a-season man since Grant Holt – who won the player of the season award three years in a row. He is the only other City player to break the 20-goal barrier this century. Since the Barry Butler Memorial Award was first handed out in 1967, the only others to have passed the magic mark are Ted MacDougall (23 goals in 1976), John Deehan (20 in 1983), Kevin Drinkell (22 in 1986) and Chris Sutton (25 in 1994).
Pukki has had a special season – the Player of the Season award would be a fitting acknowledgement.