10 players you'd forgotten were in a PFA Premier League Team of the Year
Tim Howard (Manchester United, 2003/04)
See, they’re not all full-backs!
A fine goalkeeper and America’s one-time Secretary of Defense (bloody Trump), Howard enjoyed 13 years in the Premier League and arguably deserves more recognition – but his Best Goalkeeper award in 2003/04 was generous.
While the New Jerseyite was hardly awful for a stopper making the big step up from MLS, he wasn’t convincing either, to the point that he’d only just regained the No.1 jersey from Roy Carroll when he was announced in the PFA’s Team of the Year.
Howard conceded 31 goals in 32 games as Manchester United finished 15 points behind Arsenal’s Invincibles and their ever-present keeper Jens Lehmann. In Europe, his last-minute error sent United crashing out of the Champions League to eventual winners Porto while Jose Mourinho sprinted down the touchline of his future club.
Howard played just 13 more league games before being jettisoned to Everton.
Shaun Wright-Phillips (Manchester City, 2004/05)
File under: ‘It made sense at the time’.
Young SWP had a sprinkling of talent and no shortage of people wanting him to do well, two things reflected in his winning Manchester City’s Young Player of the Year gong four seasons in a row. Even more improbable now, looking back, was his being selected for the PFA’s Best XI, albeit in the season that his displays caught the attention of Chelsea. It was all downhill from there, really.
Andy Johnson (Crystal Palace, 2004/05)
Johnson’s place in the 2004/05 Team of the Year is seen as an example of its fairness: only the most egalitarian meritocracy would recognise a player whose team were relegated. So what if Crystal Palace went down? Johnson scored 21 of their 41 goals and that should be rewarded.
Still, context is important and while any striker will tell you ‘they all count’, it’s worth remembering that 11 of his strikes were penalties. Eleven! Remove all spot-kicks from the Premier League scoring charts and his second place becomes joint-ninth, level with seven other players. Southampton went down with Palace and, excluding penalties, Peter Crouch scored 11 goals to Johnson’s 10. Where’s his award, eh?