With all due respect to Scott Parker and Mark Noble, in recent seasons the Hammer of the Year award has been an almost foregone conclusion with little to no competition to the eventual winner. Between them they have won five of the last six awards and their never say die attitude has gone a long way to them being unopposed in their respective seasons. With eight games still to go this season it may be a little early to try and pick this seasons winner but what the heck, it is an International break isn’t it?
What a reflection on this season though? We can look at least six players this season who have a very decent shout of being this seasons HOTY. Whilst we have Sam lovers and Sam haters, it is refreshing to have so many worthy candidates. Perhaps this season has not been so bad after all? Let’s have a look at the players I think most would agree to being the contenders this season.
Aaron Cresswell has been a revelation at left back this season and is proving to be one of the buys of the season. It is no wonder Ipswich fans were so full of praise for him and so sorry to lose him. Ever present this season, his attacking raids from full back have earned rave reviews and he has adorned himself to the fans. He has been most consistent although he can be vulnerable in defence especially in the air. For mine he has not been used to full effect at set pieces but he has to be one of the favourites to win the award this season.
Diafra Sakho our leading goal scorer this season got off to a cracking start. His record equalling six goals in successive games earned him the Premier League player of the month in October. His trademark crossed arms Hammer salute goal celebration and the fact he cried when he thought he had missed his chance to join the club have made him a crowd favourite. For a forward his work rate is outstanding although his decision making at times shows he still has a lot to learn in the top flight. What a find though and to think he was playing in the French second tier last season? Another outstanding chance to win the HOTY.
Cheikhou Kouyate was a more high profile player arriving at Upton Park this season. Signed from Anderlecht he has been most adaptable, playing in different midfield roles and at centre back when required. The player is total class and his work rate is outstanding. When he plays in his preferred midfield role he glues the side together. A couple of knocks, the African Cup and the need to help out at centre back has unfortunately made it a bit of a stop start season for him, but his class is always there to see.
Adrian has really grown in stature this season and has probably become the fans favourite for the passion he shows. He has had a fine season and who could forget his gloves off approach to the winning penalty against Everton? Still a bit suspect at coming for a cross, his rapport with the fans could just get him over the line.
Other contenders would include Enner Valencia, Alex Song and Stewart Downing if all their form had not tailed off in recent months. However, with eight games still to go it is not too late for any of them to come into contention again. Song in particular was head and shoulders above any other player prior to Xmas and a return to form could put him back in with a shout. Downing’s early season form got him an England call up only to be played out of position. The wait for Andy Carroll to return was well worth it with a flurry of goals and top performances. Alas, you have to play more games than Andy does to be in with a chance.
The best roughie for me would be James Collins just for his die hard attitude on the pitch. Forever putting everything on the line he is not always Sam’s pick at centre half. He would be mine every time. Carl Jenkinson and James Tomkins have also had excellent seasons. Last but not least we have the players who have won the award the past two seasons. Mark Noble and Winston Reid. It has not been a bad season has it when these two past winners are probably outsiders at best?