Date: 23rd April 2007 at 10:35am
Written by:

Russell Anderson was beaten to the Scottish Professional Footballer`s Association Player of the Year by the man who scored the goal to win the league, Shunsuke Nakamura.

Celtic`s Japanese star has had a very good season and his high profile goals in Europe as well as in important SPL matches meant that he was always going to be the man to beat for Russell and the other two nominees, his Celtic team mates Lee Naylor and goalkeeper Artur Boruc.

Nakamura has scored eleven goals this season making him his clubs second top scorer and mostly all have come from free kicks. He`s slotted them in past ‘keepers of such standard as Edwin Van Der Sar in Europe as well as sending the majority of SPL ‘keepers searching for the ball in the back of the net.

It`s good to see that a flair player has won the award but there is a nagging doubt that he fully deserved it. Certainly he has conjured up some very fine goals and should be in the running for the goal of the season award, especially if the importance of the goals are taken into account, but all too often Nakamura disappears in games.

He is regarded as Celtic`s main playmaker but there has not been very many occasions where a goal has been scored as a result of his ingenious passing or clever skill and with regard to match winning performances, Artur Boruc probably has individually earned Celtic more points than Naka.

Celtic fans will point to the eleven assists he has this season but Celtic have scored 61 goals in the league alone in what has been a poor season on the goal tally in comparison to previous Celtic Championship winning sides.

Nakamura looks quite pretty with the ball at his feet but all too often nothing comes of it and he can be a bit of a luxury at times. Certainly he`s always a danger at free kicks, until that is teams wise up and narrow his target by putting men on the posts, but surely it`s no surprise anymore that he will be shooting when he stands eyeing the goal and picks out the largest area each and every time.

Sometimes, to be fair, his efforts are unstoppable and arguably merits his place in the team for that alone but take away that trick and Celtic are left with a man who can offer not much else with regards to actual effectiveness.

It`s probably a good thing that Russell didn`t win for Aberdeen as history tells us that the winner of this award doesn`t hang around for much longer, perhaps feeling the Scottish game has become too small for them and big money bids usually come in from England to tempt the player whose stock rises considerably. Time will tell if Nakamura will follow suit but I think Gordon Strachan would bite the hand off anyone who offered anything like double the £2.5 million he paid Reggiana

No doubt Russell will have attracted many clubs with his commanding and consistent performances this season and further enhanced this with an excellent showing against Hibs on Saturday.

Russell`s side may have conceded two goals but he couldn`t be attached the blame of either. The man responsible, Andrew Considine, was replaced at half time which meant Anderson was alone in the middle of the Dons defence. Hibs were only capable of having one serious shot on target the whole half, testament to the performance of the Aberdeen captain although no doubt the dismissal of Sean Lynch early in the second half helped.

I feel that it`s correct that entertaining players should be highlighted by winning awards such as these by virtue of the fact that football is still a spectator sport which relies on fans being treated to special moments of brilliance and unique skills but as the award was for Player of the Year, consistency for the whole season must be taken into account and in that regard I`m not sure that Nakamura was even his clubs top man.

Russell Anderson will certainly be Aberdeen`s Player of the Year, there is no question of that and even in our own Vital Aberdeen poll, Russell has more than 50% of the vote for the award.

Whilst it will have been nice for Anderson to have been nominated for the national award, the feeling was always there that he`d be overlooked by one of the Celtic boys and Russell may now be feeling that a move away may bring him more honours of this kind as well as money and Scotland caps.

So whilst it`s a shame that he didn`t win the award this season, it could be a blessing for Aberdeen as there is more chance that he`ll still be around for the next campaign in what hopefully will be another season that will see him in the running.

Awards Results.

SPL Player of the Year Shunsuke Nakamura

PL Manager of the Year Gordon Strachan

PL Young Player of the Year Steven Naismith

Colin McMenamin (First Division Player of the Year); Iain Russell (Second Division Player of the Year); Scott Chaplain (Third Division Player of the Year); Falkirk (Community Club of the Year); Eusebio (Special Merit Award).