As part of our end-of-the-season coverage here at Cartilage Free Captain, it’s time to take a look at individual player performances — who was great, who was good, and who struggled. There’s no better place to start with the Player of the Season award.
We came up with what we thought were the three players who were contenders for our Player of the Season, but we couldn’t agree who should get it. All three candidates had exceptional years, and were hugely important parts of a Spurs squad that finished third and qualified for the Champions League for the third consecutive season.
So we’re putting it to you. Read about the three players and then vote at the bottom of the poll.
Jan Vertonghen (Dustin Menno)
Jan Vertonghen has always been a fantastic defender, but he might have just had the finest season of his career. It was a year that saw him become Belgium’s most capped player, and join the other players on this list on the PFA Team of the Year. When Toby Alderweireld went down with a serious hamstring injury in the first match against Real Madrid, Jan stepped up out of the shadows to lead the back line, forming an important and solid partnership with a young Davinson Sanchez playing his first season of Premier League football. By all accounts the defense should’ve been worse than what it was, and that’s due to Vertonghen’s ability and influence.
The Premier League isn’t great when it comes to defensive statistics, but Vertonghen led the team in tackles, interceptions, and clearances. His defensive positioning helped cut out numerous dangerous possessions, and he was a steady presence with the ball at his feet, leading the team (according to WhoScored) in both overall passes and accurate short passes (AccSP). While he doesn’t have the long passing ability of Alderweireld, Vertonghen wasn’t afraid to move forward with the ball into midfield to disrupt play, and was rarely caught out of position. You can maybe count on one hand the number of mediocre to poor matches he had this season.
But perhaps equally importantly, Vertonghen deserves the award because he’s already won it — he was voted Tottenham’s Player of the Season for 2017-18 by One Hotspur members and season ticket holders. It’s kind of hard to argue against that.
Harry Kane (Joel Wortheimer)
Harry Kane was Player of the Year for Spurs this year. People are making arguments to the contrary but that’s just because the correct answer is boring, like how Michael Jordan stopped winning NBA MVPs in the 90s even though he was the best player in the league.
Harry Kane scored 37 goals in 44 Premier League and Champions League appearances and added 4 assists to boot. His 30 domestic league goals were third in the top 5 leagues in the world, behind Mo Salah and Leo Messi. In the top five leagues in the world, he was third in shots per game, and even that total is weighed down by his post-ankle injury doldrums at the end of the season. Here are the names of the two people ahead of him: Cristiano Ronaldo and Leo Messi. And he does all that offensive work while leading Spurs’ devastating press, running hard at keepers and defenders causing turnovers and winnable balls for Spurs’ midfielders.
Perhaps we have become too accustomed to his greatness. Perhaps his ridiculous claim of that goal made him somewhat mockable. His ankle injury slowed him down significantly at the end of the season and truly hurt Spurs, but that is also the evidence of his greatness itself. When Harry Kane is healthy, Spurs are one of the 7 or 8 best teams in the world, and when he is not, Spurs look more like Arsenal at best. Jan Vertonghen was his best self this season. Christian Eriksen was a constant, unflappable, excellent presence for Spurs. Harry Kane is one of the 5 best goal scorers in the world, an irreplaceable level of talent for Spurs. Until that stops being the case, he will be Spurs’ Player of the Year every season.
Christian Eriksen (Dustin Menno)
Harry Kane scored a lot of goals, but there probably aren’t any players whom you can say were more important to how Tottenham Hotspur played this season than Christian Eriksen. His statistics — 14 goals and 13 assists in almost 4,000 minutes in all competitions — prove that he was the creative engine that made this team run. Only Dele Alli had more assists, and only Jan Vertonghen played more minutes than Eriksen. He never once picked up a booking this season, not even a single cheap yellow.
But Eriksen’s importance to the team goes beyond statistics. In the rare times when he wasn’t in the squad, Spurs’ offense has lacked creativity, looking often turgid and lackluster because the the Great Dane was not around to pull the strings in midfield. Just look at Spurs’ match against Southampton in January, a match he missed with the flu. Tottenham struggled with its offense (and the weather) in a lackluster draw. Thankfully, Spurs didn’t have too many games where he didn’t feature, and most of those came in the cups.
Eriksen knows how to find space, how to create space. He runs the game, and without him Tottenham struggle. He might not have the gaudy stats that Kane does, but Tottenham found a way to be successful even in Kane’s absence. They had a much harder time without Christian. Eriksen might be more of a Most Valuable Player than a Most Outstanding Player, but few can doubt that he deserves it.
Who is Tottenham Hotspur’s Player of the Season?
This poll is closed