An alternative XI to the PFA’s Liverpool-heavy TOTY still has two Liverpool players in it

Date published: Thursday 9th June 2022 10:36 - Dave Tickner

The PFA team of the year has been announced among the assorted other awards being dished out, and we are led to believe that Son Heung-min had a less good season than Cristiano Ronaldo and that Thiago was better than Rodri.

Now we’ve already covered why this is not really something to worry about elsewhere, but still. The team of the year contains six (6) Liverpool players and, while Liverpool are very good indeed that does seem quite a lot. So we decided to pick an alternative XI from those left out of the PFA team and still ended up with another couple of Liverpool players. Ah well. Harder than it looks, this. Fair play to all those footballers. Anyway, here’s an alternative XI.


Jose Sa (Wolves)
The goals-against column took a hit after Wolves sacked it all off sometime around early April, but Sa still ended up with a highly impressive first season in the Premier League having arrived as a distinctly unheralded replacement for countryman Rui Patricio. Even after the late slump, Wolves still conceded fewer goals than anyone outside the top four.


Reece James (Chelsea)
Yeah, fair play, Trent Alexander-Arnold definitely is the right answer here. James had an injury-hit campaign but in a curiously fallow season for right-back excellence – not least because the England squad features about 14 of them on the regular – he’ll do for us.


Eric Dier (Tottenham)
Yeah, we said it. Humble pie all round, frankly, because Dier has been pretty much exemplary under Antonio Conte and a huge factor in the defensive improvement that underpinned the top-four surge. It’s no coincidence that Spurs’ iffiest post-Nuno defensive period, most notably the back-to-back home defeats to Wolves and Southampton, came when Dier was missing. Spurs conceded only 11 goals in the last 16 games of the season when he returned, and only five in the last 11.

Tottenham star Eric Dier

Joel Matip (Liverpool)
The PFA picked one side of the Liverpool defence, so we’ll have the other one please and thank you. You could make a strong case for Matip being more deserving than Van Dijk on a strict assessment of purely this season.


Andy Robertson (Liverpool)
A straightforward toss-up between Cancelo and Robertson at left-back and one where your alternative team is always going to simply pick the other. We’re not dischuffed to have Robertson and all his running and assisting and Scottishness on our side.


Declan Rice (West Ham)
There’s a reason everyone would like to spend £100m to prise him away from West Ham and that’s because, and try to stay with us through this technical and detailed analysis, he is very good indeed at football. You’d think other footballers would realise this to be honest.


Rodri (Manchester City)
With the possible exception of Son Heung-min, the most straightforward selection in this team. No, Premier League footballers, Thiago did not have a better season than Rodri, you great big dafties.


Phil Foden (Manchester City)
In real life will just have to make do with winning young player of the year awards for about another decade or some such thing. Going to be quite an attacking team with Foden operating in an AM role behind our front three here, but a) we’re backing Rice and Rodri to cope with that and b) this is a hypothetical team that never actually has to play any football matches against the actual PFA team or indeed anyone else so it’s fine.


Son Heung-min (Tottenham)
Twenty-three goals and not a penalty among them. Ended up joint Golden Boot winner with Mo Salah and at least five goals clear of literally everyone else. Like Rodri, a formality in this team chiefly because he should have been a formality in the actual PFA team.


Jarrod Bowen (West Ham)
Big season for Bowen that ended with overdue England recognition and, some would say more importantly, a coveted spot in a team we threw together in about 90 minutes after getting the PFA team on an embargoed email.


Harry Kane (Tottenham)
Conclusive proof that Kane’s worst season is better than pretty much anyone else’s best. Apart from Salah. And, it turns out, Son. His early-season sulk at being denied the chance to join Manchester City actually gave way to some of the most rounded and complete performances of his very ridiculous career during Spurs’ improbably successful late run for the Champions League. In real life, nails the quirky achievement of making it to the six-man PFA shortlist but not the team of the year. We’re only too happy to correct that mistake here. Well not really. We’d quite like to pick someone else to look clever having complained that the footballers just pick their favourites like small children would, but despite everything it’s actually pretty hard to make a case for any other “proper” striker having a better season than this mediocre Kane one.


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