Best Premier League player twisted issue

20Jul 2021
Michael Eneza
Dar es Salaam
The Guardian
Best Premier League player twisted issue

ONE debate that defies common rules of analysis is picking the best player for instance in the now ending Vodacom Premier League, as a variety of yardsticks contend as to what criteria – or criterion, strictly speaking – needs to be used to select or find such player.

Yanga midfielder, Mukoko Tonombe, was presented with this season's Vodacom Premier League's Best Player of the Month prize for October. PHOTO: COURTESY OF YANGA

To start with, there is a problem of definition, for instance, whether the best player was simply the most skillful on the pitch (which begets the issue of what position such player would be playing, as strikers are excessively favoured by this criterion).

Another area of disposition is the most hardworking player for instance helping the club side to achieve – at what level?

Numerous auxiliary questions can be asked in passing, for instance, if the best player in the premier league could be sourced from a club ranking second, third, fourth, or other, as the more one descends from the champion side, the less likely there is a good enough player to take the number one spot.

Here we are looking singularly at skills, as such a player would have been noticed by the topmost clubs, and more predictably by the most endowed side, the way Bernard Morrison, the most captivating player of the city archrival side to the defending champions as the league started, was carted away soon.

But if it is the most hardworking player helping a club to achieve ‘better,’ there is plenty to choose from.

That already contains a preliminary answer, in that given the extent to which coaches and club scouts go to seek able players for each position on the pitch, getting the most skillful players outside the side that finally won the title is a difficult exercise.

The reason is that unlike foreign (or say European circuit) premier leagues where the ability to spend is comparable across a whole swathe of clubs but the strategies often differ – or simply opinions about this or that player – in our case ability to recruit good players, and especially expatriate ones – is sharply skewed in favour of the three top clubs, and here the hierarchy is equally accentuated.

In that case, the likelihood to get the best player in terms of skills is inexorably in favor of the champions, but if it is a workmanship award, of helping a team to get results, anything goes.

Some other issues perhaps belong to football philosophy, as to whether the best players are usually strikers, or there is a balance between striking and defense, and purists shall demand if there is a balance between defense, striking, and ‘mid fielding.’

While no rule can be proclaimed, as usual, a few ‘rules of thumb’ are helpful, for instance, that a good player is simply the most captivating player, which enables other things to be added, by ‘factorizing’ how ‘captivating’ such player has shown to be.

If such a player is a striker, not much needs to be said as to how he will look on the pitch; the onus is on the others.

If a midfielder is an exceptional player, chances are that he won’t just be providing ‘assists’ but make plenty of scores himself, as calculated strikes are part of the profile of a captivating player.

With defenders there is the usual ability to overlap into attack (in the sense of making a difference deep into midfield) but how solid a defender appears to be is something quickly noticed, how he marshals the side, but often there are too many varied sentiments for a pick to be made.

Some names were mentioned by pundits in FM radio stations debates for instance with at least one Young Africans SC defender, but the view doesn’t appear convincing that the fellow could presumably be the premier league best player. Just a club-best player.

At times it is the goalkeeper who becomes the toast of a club team, for instance in 1973 the Kenyan flagship daily, ‘The Daily Nation’ headlined a vital Simba SC continental encounter: ‘Mambosasa beats Hearts of Oak!’

At a personal level, and based on the premises reviewed above, it is somewhat safe to align with FM radio stations' pundits who have tapped Chama Jr at the Simba forward line as the overall best player, not the best scorer but tops the charts with scores combined with assists (that is, last passes converted by another player).

There is another dimension that did not arise or be heard intently enough in at least two such discussions, that an excellent player ought to rise to the occasion in the most taxing encounter, and for Simba this could be said to be the return match with Kaizer Chiefs from down south.

Bernard Morrison scored the last goal with a pointed long shot as the goalie had stepped out of the goal line, while top contender (for best player nomination) John Bocco scored from an uncanny sense of position against the converging defenders.

Still, Chama Jr cut through the defense and planted the ball into the net- in an exquisite performance and finishing.

No one improved on such dribbling skills, fortitude, and composure, this year.

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