Juan Mata collected the Player of the Year in his first season as a Chelsea blue, leaving Ramires second (although he picked up the Players’ Player of the Year) and Branislav Ivanovic in third to cap an impressive debut campaign.
Recognising the acknowledgment Mata said ‘I just have to say thank you. It is my first season here so it is even more special for me and I want to say thank you to my team-mates and the staff and all the people who voted for me. I am realising what it means to play for Chelsea’.
The Spanish midfielder immediately settled into the fast paced demands of English football, scoring on his debut against Norwich before continuing to notch a total of 6 goals and 13 assists in the Premier League, but regardless of the statistics, the winner provokes the question whether he should have won ahead of Ramires and Ivanovic.
In comparison of statistics, Mata is by far and away the more superior candidate to win the accolade. Ramires only managed 5 goals and 1 assist and Ivanovic further behind, obviously, with three goals and one assist. But in equal measure, what Mata had in craft and vision over the course of the season, Ramires and Ivanovic had in passion and commitment with significant contributions in cup tournaments.
Not taking away the difference Mata has made and impact had to the squad this season, but players of Ramires and Ivanovic who make the team tick in different ways do seem unappreciated by the Chelsea faithful when voting for the Player of the Year. Naturally fans will opt for a flamboyant, creative goal scoring player, much the same way a sponsor will select a goal scorer of a cup final as man of the match, but there exists a pattern of Chelsea’s play which is reliant on the energy and stamina of Ramires and Ivanovic’s mettle and commanding presence.
Looking over the history of the Player of the year voted by the fans, in most cases over the past decade supporters have a tendency to vote for a fans favourite whilst the unsung, cult hero is merely just that. Thanks to the Players’ Player of the Year, this has allowed players like Claude Makelele, Ricardon Carvalho, Ashley Cole and now Ramires the recognition they so richly deserve.
It’s not a slant towards the supporters or Mata, who deserves the credit for a successful opening campaign to his Chelsea career, but nevertheless, apart from Terry, Ramires and Ivanovic will be missed more than any other player in Munich come Saturday, and doesn’t that say something.