Manchester City 0, Arsenal 5:'s Team of the Season Was Bizarre

Mark JonesFeatured ColumnistMay 26, 2014

Arsenal's Olivier Giroud, center, competes for the ball with Manchester City's Yaya Toure, left, during the English Premier League soccer match between Arsenal and Manchester City at the Emirates stadium in London, Saturday, March 29, 2014. (AP Photo/Kirsty Wigglesworth)
Kirsty Wigglesworth/Associated Press

At first glance you see the usual names. Luis Suarez won pretty much every individual award going this season bar the Eurovision Song Contest, Brendan Rodgers was the LMA Manager of the Year and the Everton full-backs impressed pretty much everyone.

But then you cast your eye around the rest of the official team of the season, as voted for by the site’s readers, and some scratching of the head ensues.

Surely the most surprising element of the team is that there are no players from the side that ended up as champions, yet five from the outfit which finished fourth?

Yes, Wojciech Szczesny, Laurent Koscielny, Aaron Ramsey, Mesut Ozil and Olivier Giroud all make it into the select XI, with not a Manchester City player in sight.

This is by no means meant as an attack on Arsenal.

Szczesny shared the "Golden Gloves" award with Petr Cech for the most clean sheets this season, Koscielny seemingly improves year on year and the Gunners’ title challenge would surely have lasted longer had Ramsey not picked up a damaging injury. But, well, it’s a bit wrong, isn’t it?

And chief amongst the disappointed must surely be the players from City, who ended the season with winners’ medals around their necks but without the personal recognition they surely feel they deserve.

MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - MAY 11:  The Manchester City Manager Manuel Pellegrini and Yaya Toure pose with the trophy at the end of the Barclays Premier League match between Manchester City and West Ham United at the Etihad Stadium on May 11, 2014 in Mancheste
Shaun Botterill/Getty Images

We aren’t talking birthday cakes for Yaya Toure here, but more of an acceptance that he was, at times, the best footballer in the country over the past season, only—rightly—missing out to Suarez for plenty of the personal accolades due to the Uruguayan frequently scoring goals at a rate that the division hadn’t seen before.

Yet where was the Ivorian in the team, which featured a central midfield duo of Steven Gerrard and Jordan Henderson? The answer is twofold.

Firstly, there was the Premier League’s bizarre voting system, which meant that votes could only be cast for a select group of players from the division’s "Player Performance Index" at any one time.

Gerrard was a landslide winner of the first central midfield vote against competition comprising of Gareth Barry, Fernandinho, Paulinho and, wait for it, Steve Sidwell of relegated Fulham. City’s Brazilian Fernandinho was excellent in his first season, and Gerrard’s costly slip against Chelsea might have proved to be Liverpool’s title undoing, but there can be few arguments there.

Then, though, the four losing players are completely disregarded for the next central midfielder vote, which saw Henderson comfortably beat James McCarthy, Mark Noble, Tom Huddlestone and Frank Lampard. The improving Liverpool man probably deserved it in that competition, but where was Toure?

City’s talisman had, in fact, been included in an attacking midfielder category where he took on teammate Samir Nasri, Raheem Sterling, Kevin Mirallas and eventual winner Ramsey, with David Silva going into the second attacking midfielder slot and taking on Adam Lallana, Santi Cazorla, Moussa Sissoko and Ozil.

As seen in the forwards category where the division’s second top scorer Daniel Sturridge was placed in the same section as Suarez and therefore was pretty much excluded from the team in favour of Oliver Giroud, this categorizing of players was deeply flawed, but it wasn’t the only reason the City men missed out.

YOKOHAMA, JAPAN - JULY 23:  Manchester United fans pose prior to the pre-season friendly match between Yokohama F.Marinos and Manchester United at Nissan Stadium on July 23, 2013 in Yokohama, Kanagawa, Japan.  (Photo by Atsushi Tomura/Getty Images)
Atsushi Tomura/Getty Images

Because six years on from the takeover by the Abu Dhabi United group, City might have picked up two league titles, an FA Cup and a League Cup, but they haven’t yet got the worldwide fandom that the likes of Arsenal, Liverpool and Manchester United have.

It is on the way, as a recent financial report shows, per The Telegraph's Scott Campbell, but it hasn’t yet reached the point where City fans around the world can register their belief that Toure and Silva had better seasons than Ramsey and Ozil, as plenty of the neutrals would have you believe.

Do long-term City fans care? Probably not, as they’ve got league championships to celebrate, but in the long-term these sort of incidents are only likely to increase the feeling that club’s players don’t get the backing they deserve—and that can lead towards the messy situation we are currently seeing surrounding Toure.  

Maybe it wasn’t a cake the Ivorian was after, but instead just a few more clicks of a mouse?