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Monday Moan: Suarez simply not the best

Mark Holmes dismisses Luis Suarez's Player of the Year claims, slates Chelsea's treatment of Rafa Benitez, and stands up for QPR's players.

Last Updated: 05/03/13 at 07:51 Post Comment   

Luis Suarez: Not this season's stand-out player

Luis Suarez: Not this season's stand-out player

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Suarez simply not the best

It is well known that footballers do not put a great deal of thought into their PFA Player, Young Player and Team of the Year votes.

Players will pick their friends, decide with team-mates on who to vote for, and generally choose whichever player happens to be in best form at that moment as their Player of the Year.

For that reason, there's a very good chance Gareth Bale will win this season's top award. Luis Suarez, unfortunately for him, is unlikely to receive too many votes outside of Melwood because he simply isn't liked enough.

Despite what players say about the honour of being voted for by their fellow professionals, the Football Writers' Association award is a far more meaningful award, voted for by writers and journalists who are more likely to take the time to study the candidates' form more closely over the whole season.

Upon doing that, it is difficult to make a case for Suarez at this moment in time. He is one of three outstanding candidates alongside Bale and Robin van Persie, but Liverpool's position in the Premier League, their record against the top teams and Suarez's contribution in those games all stand against the Uruguayan.

Although he is the Premier League's leading goalscorer, Suarez has scored just three goals against the top five teams, with 15 of his 21 goals coming against sides currently in the bottom eight.

Bale has scored three goals against the other four teams in the top five, plus one against Liverpool, while van Persie has scored four against Manchester United's top-five rivals plus a further two against Liverpool to highlight his reliability in the biggest games.

Of the three candidates, Suarez has also gone the longest without scoring - four games, between November 25 and December 15.

Bale did not score in the opening three games of the season but has not gone more than two games without scoring since then, while van Persie's longest barren spell was also three games.

There is much more to Suarez's game than goals, of course, but even his tally of four assists is only half of van Persie's total. Bale, meanwhile, has set up only one goal in the Premier League so far this season.

For all of those reasons, if I had to give my vote today it would be to van Persie. He has scored consistently throughout the season, stepped up to the plate in the big games, and has effectively been the difference between United in first and Manchester City in second.

So, Liverpool fans, if Suarez does not win a Player of the Season award it might just be for reasons other than his likeability.

Chelsea show lack of support for Benitez

If Rafa Benitez leads Chelsea to a top-four spot and/or the FA Cup this season, it's fair to say he'll have done it in spite of the support he has received.

The title of 'interim manager' certainly gave the impression that the club only ever saw him as a stop-gap, regardless of what he achieved, while the barracking he has received from the Blues' fans has been well documented.

After pointing out in midweek that such a lack of support could not possibly help the team - irrespective of your opinions of Benitez, it is hard to argue with that point - you might have expected Chelsea to take a hard-line approach to those fans intent on expressing their displeasure towards Benitez at Saturday's home game against West Brom.

Instead, the club took the rather unusual approach of making it clear that anti-Benitez banners and placards would not be confiscated providing they were not 'obscene' or 'discriminatory'.

Banners and placards are easy for Benitez to ignore, of course, and in truth it is a tad petty that supporters (at all clubs, not just Chelsea) are usually banned from displaying negative messages towards the club.

However, the fact is that such bans are usually in place at stadiums, and Chelsea's decision to lift that ban on Saturday showed a complete lack of support for their manager.

For a football club to be successful, everyone from the owner to the fans need to be pulling in the same direction. Unfortunately, that is rarely the case at Stamford Bridge.

Jose Mourinho left the club after losing the support of Roman Abramovich, Avram Grant and Andre Villas-Boas left after failing to win the support of the players, who have more power than arguably any other set of players in the world, and now Benitez is fighting against the fans, seemingly the club, and quite possibly the players too.

It was a clear mistake of Chelsea to appoint him, but he is there to win games and the best chance he has of doing that is with the support of everyone associated with the club.

QPR players just being human

The truth of what happened during QPR's recent trip to Dubai probably lies somewhere in between the Daily Mirror's reporting of events, and Harry Redknapp's subsequent denial.

It seems a little far-fetched to believe any players drunk to the extent that they could not even make it to training, but it is equally unlikely that the entire squad did not touch a drop of alcohol apart from on the one night out Redknapp allowed them to have.

No, with time to kill, money to spend and friends to do it with, it is almost certain that QPR's players enjoyed their trip to the Gulf.

So what? A mid-season break is designed to encourage team bonding, to take players' minds off whatever pressure they are under, and to provide something different to a normal, repetitive, training week.

If Redknapp had wanted his players to act as they would during a normal training week, he would not have taken them to Dubai in the first place.

As shocking as it may be to some people, many footballers enjoy a drink, and they are rarely prohibited from doing so by their clubs until three or four days before a game.

That wasn't the case whilst QPR were out in Dubai, and their win at Southampton on Saturday just shows their mid-season break may just have given them the boost they needed to get out of trouble this season.

You can follow @Homzy on Twitter to see what he moans about during the rest of the week.

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