Player of the Season. POTS we abbreviate it to. It’s easy to see the fume and the aggro such an acronym causes. We all have our favourites I suppose. Outside the house sitting on my bench in the odd bits of sun and the dogs are licking each others balls. Last year I sat in the same place and thought about starting a blog where I can talk about Wolves in a way that’s never been done. Where I could throw out to the public a few maybe esoteric reasons why Wolverhamptons number 1 team is what it is. Some way to describe the madness that was to come. Now here again. A busted leg encased in dayglow plaster. Shaky Jake asking me if I need any help. For fucks sake the season hasn’t even finished yet.
Neves. Our Ruben. He’s a thing isn’t he? I don’t remember another player down here with such silky skills. He’s often the reason I go home after a match shaking my head and laughing to myself. In fact I’m that confused about his football I tend to forget him when I’m writing about a match. What actually does he do? He does the Ruben thing of course. Effortless football. Dinking those passes from side to side. Pushing and pulling players out of position. He’s a Magician. And we walk away dumbfounded, at least I do. Yet he’s always on my mind even if that picture I have of him prowling the midfield is often blanked out by my ignorance of actually what he is and what he does. My puerile footballing knowledge can’t even begin to nibble away at what Neves is. He came here with some fine words attached to him and he unrolled the scrolls of his skills on the pitch too. Some of his goals have been sublime and the finest art. His movement low centred and poignant. Emotional too if only to point at opposition fans and say ‘look at this you bastards, this is exactly what we are’. It’s not filthy it’s beauty and balance all combined to unveil an idea of what football should be and we here are witness to it. Would he get my vote? No. Neves is beyond platitudes and plaudits. Beyond statements like POTS. Give me a poll that says ‘Player of the Decade’ and maybe I would dink that big X in whatever box you want, with a smile too.
Jota. Little Wolf. His courage has been phenomenal to me. How many times has he been on the floor rolling after Reg Gluehair has run him over. How many fucking times have we took in breath and held it, watched him closely to see if he was going to get back up. When he did get to his feet he would shake himself down and seconds later he would be doing his thing in the box. His delightful turns, the shoulder drop, the forensic perfectly weighted pass to a team mate. This isn’t learned stuff. This isn’t coached ability. This is pure spirit and innate knowledge of where that ball has to go. Psychological football for sure. Moves he plays are a few seconds ahead of his teammates sometimes but we see them. Up there in the stand we see exactly what he means. Where Neves is so advanced we struggle to understand, Jota we fully know. Would I vote for Jota? No. His skillset is natural and beautiful, brave and resolute, creative dynamic and for fucks sake I run out of things to say about both of them. I could do a painting I think or maybe write some music that might deal with the both of them. But words? Nah. You have to see it for yourself and delve into the madness of it. I spoke to a Leeds fan when we played them at their place a few weeks ago, who asked me about Neves and Jota and I couldn’t answer him. Just said ‘They are brilliant, I’ve never seen anything like it’. I’m sorry Leeds bloke, I haven’t a clue how to describe how both of them do what they do. I’m an idiot, you should go and talk to somebody else who understands it.
So we have Cavaleiro, Doherty, Bennet, Douglas. I could bung a vote in for Cav for sure. He’s been fantastic, my kind of player. Running around like a mad cunt and getting in players faces in a pure footballing sense. Some of his runs are breathtaking. He breaks down attacks too. I watch him do it every week. He’s not brilliant at it for sure but he’s there every time and he has that link with Costa too. Another player who I could chuck a vote into the hat for. The thing is man, I’m voting for this player, then that one, then somebody changes my mind again and I’m going hell for leather Neves, then Costa, his injury, but Doherty. Then before you know it all these faces are swirling around your mind like a fucking carnival ride or you’ve just stepped off a neck breaker of a ride at Alton Towers and the five quid burger you just ate is threatening to come back up. For fucks sake…
Coady. Now I’m reticent to wax lyrical about Coady too much. Most people know I love him to bits. But for reasons I can’t explain. I’ve been in his position before. Castigated and sad, not knowing which direction to go into. Thinking maybe I wasn’t good enough to do what I was doing. All that self doubt, all those crazy voices going blah blah blah in your mind until you want to sit upstairs in the quiet away from everything. I suspect that’s where Coady was at the arse end of Lamberts reign. Jesus Christ he played in some positions didn’t he? But he would always do his best there and I loved him for it even if like Neves I didn’t quite understand what he was doing but for all different reasons.
I think nobody represents the season I’m watching more than that link that Coady has with Nuno. Mr Santos has taken Coady from the drudgery of Lambertism to new heights and Coady has fully embraced every single idea that Nuno has given him. Coady represents the ideas of Nuno and channels them into solid memes like ‘Progression’ and ‘Improvement’ all the buzzwords that Mikey Burrows chokes out of Nuno at every interview. Coady represents the ability of the team to learn new ideas and often complicated ones. Who would have thought that this Scouse nutter would embrace the ideas of Nuno with both hands, utilising them to become one of the great players of this season. Could we say a vote for Coady would be a vote for Nuno too?
I suspect that Jota/Cavaleiro/Neves/Costa always were great players and that is why they were picked to play in this concept Nuno has given us. But the real work has been done between Nuno and Coady and this is where the whole concept has borne fruit for me. God knows what went through Coadys mind when he sat down with Nuno and his staff to discuss the whys and wherefores of Nunoism. This lad from Liverpool who we may hang all the stereotypes we love about Scousers. But here in him we see the architecture of the concept Nuno is building for us. And yes he has improved massively since the Lambert days. He has progressed so much it’s hard to see a similarity between him now and the player we brought to be a midfield master. Progression my friends. This is what I see and love. The way he has embraced Nuno and these ideas has staggered me and I feel a little jealous too. I would love some direction, somebody to point me in the right direction as Nuno has with Coady. Yes. I would vote for Connor. Simply because a vote for Coady would also be a vote for Nuno and his idea.
There will be much fume about voting and many will be castigated for voting for whoever. Yes, Carl deserves to be player of the season too but his battle is personal and tougher than a game of football. His gift wont be a trophy but will be fresh air on his face when he walks out of that Hospital cured and free. Trust me when I say that battle is the toughest and a trophy will mean little to him. Now we have to decide who will take that award and I think I am going for Coady. I think he is a lynchpin of the team, I think he represents this season for me at least. I enjoy watching him play. I enjoy watching him lead my team in that special way he does. I think in the years to come he will continue to improve until we can’t see another player in that position. I think now is the time to give our appreciation.