So I was putzing around ESPN’s main site and came about this little fun widget thingy.
First, the fact that this was accessible from ESPN’s homepage shows how far soccer has come. It’s often mentioned on Sportscenter and there is usually a highlight or two in every show…and somewhat frequently a great goal or play from the champions league, premiership and or MLS is shown in the top ten.
There was nothing remotely close to this 4 years ago (yes, Soccernet was popular but was treated more like the red haired bastard step child of the Worldwide leader…the Roger Clinton to Bill Clinton as it were). I excitedly filled out my rankings, ignoring the fact that Ballack and Henry were mentioned in the world’s top 20, and where as my bottom 3 and top 3 were fairly consistent with the ESPN sports nation poll, the middle varied drastically. For example, I had both Xavi and Iniesta ranked very high as I believe what they do is bed-wettingly-exciting and Eto’o ranked close to last which seemed the opposite of most people. I personally think the Barcelona creative engine are in the top 6.
Now…2 questions for all of you…First: Who is noticeably absent from this list? I would suggest that Ballack, Henry, Eto’o have no business being there (4 years ago. yes) but I see why they are, as they are who the general public might recognize.
There is also no goalkeeper or defender on this list (Maicon is a defender like Roberto Carlos or Dani Alves are defenders!) which I guess means they cannot be considered an MVP (Cannavaro anyone?). Iker Cassilas deserves to be on this list, if not for the fact that he has been one of the top 3 goalkeepers for over a decade but for this incredible save. Others that should certainly be on this list are Ibra and Aguero amongst others but who else? Your thoughts?
Second…does your ranking list compare to Sportsnations’…aside from Messi, Ronaldo and Kaka in the top three, the only other one I got compared to others was Stevie G at 9.
So have fun with it…remember that ESPN are probably catering to the new somewhat informed fan not the hardcore one, but it does bring up an interesting argument about what is considered an MVP in soccer.
Time and time again, Claude Makelele was considered the MVP by his teammates of every team he played for, but he was about as exciting as…as…as…a very boring thing. He never scored goals, he rarely passed the decisive pass BUT no team won without him. For country he was equally important. He made everyone around him better, did all the dirty things such as make hard tackles, hold up play for the forwards to get there, make the pass that set up the attacking play etc…but never even cracked the ten for FIFA footballer of the year (guess here).
And while we’re on the subject of winning players….the same goes for Jay DeMerit at Watford. He was often in the top three voting for player of the year for Watford and his no nonsense, tough, smart defending was instrumental in Watford getting promoted (he scored the first goal in the playoff final too) and if it wasn’t for their lack of goals they would have stayed up in the EPL.
I hope he gets another chance this transfer window to play in the Premiership. I see him as a poor man’s Jamie Carragher (I say poor man’s only because he hasn’t proved himself at the very top like Carra) and he is what many teams like Everton, Man City, Hull etc. need right now. I would love to have him at Liverpool except that Benitez would never play him even though he is the type of player that Benitez covets.
His only downside is that he’s slow but many great defenders are not blessed with any speed..Terry, Maldini, Blanc to name a few statues. Personally, I think he’s better than Gooch as he doesn’t make many mistakes (I think Carragher vesus Rio Ferdinand is a good comparison between DeMerit and Oneywu) and will be key to the US’s progress in the WC.
So thank you ESPN for trying. You’re getting there. Everyone loves the MVP talk but like in all sports, the real MVPs often get unnoticed.