SOUTHAMPTON - APRIL 13: Matthew Le Tissier of Southampton shoots at goal as Ryan Giggs of Manchester United makes a challenge during the FA Carling Premiership match between Southampton and Manchester United held on April 13, 1996 at The Dell, in Southampton, England. Southampton won the match 3-1. (Photo by Shaun Botterill/Getty Images)
Matthew Le Tissier, in case you didn't know, was a prodigiously talented midfielder who played exclusively for Southampton from 1986-2002. He was the first midfielder to score 100 goals in the Premier League and has an astonishing record from the penalty spot. And during his whole career, Southampton never finished higher than 7th in the Premier League. He spent his career keeping Southampton out of the relegation zone, rather than competing for titles (making a point of turning down moves to bigger clubs such as Tottenham and Chelsea.)
Why am I telling you about him, you ask? Because the PFA Player of the Year Award will be announced tomorrow and there's a very good chance that it will be won by another midfielder trying desperately to carry his club out of the relegation zone. So, if we're rewarding the most valuable players on bad clubs, why not go all the way? After the jump, I'll list the most valuable players for all of the clubs in and around the relegation zone.
Blackburn Rovers: Junior Hoilett. I could give this to Paul Robinson, because of what he's done to spite Fabio Capello for leaving him off the England World Cup squad, but if you let Dimitar Berbatov score five, I can't take you too seriously as a Player of the Year candidate. On top of that, Hoilett has broken out with some impressive goals at crucial times for the club. Plus, he's Canadian, which I'm a particularly big fan of.
Wigan Athletic: As I would do with Roy Hodgson at West Bromwich Albion, I'm giving this to the manager. Roberto Martinez has consistently been the best thing going at Wigan. Players like Charles N'Zogbia and Hugo Rodallega are talented, but they have not made the jump to prove themselves as top-calibre players. And no one in their defence is any good at all. Seriously, name a Wigan defender. You looked it up, didn't you?
Blackpool: The talent disparity between Charlie Adam and the rest of his team is so incredibly stark, it makes him look better than he actually is. Not to take anything away from him, but he just strikes me as Joey Barton with less impressive teammates. Again, that's not a bad thing, I happen to think Joey Barton is criminally underrated. But Charlie Adam at Liverpool? I don't see it. They still need someone to replace Xabi Alonso, and Charlie Adam is not that good.
West Ham: The reason I don't want Charlie Adam to win Player of the Year is because of how good Scott Parker is. He is an exceptional player who has had the misfortune of moving to a big club at a bad time (paging James Milner) and had to sacrifice some prime years as a result. If West Ham goes down, he's getting a move to a bigger club, and it's hard to think of someone who deserves it more than he does.
Wolverhampton Wanderers: I was going to say Matt Jarvis, one of that popular English breed of wingers who never ever stop running. I get tired just watching players like Jarvis and Albrighton running up and down the touchline, with boundless energy. But Kirsten brought up a great point when she said that Wolves have looked terrible since Kevin Doyle got injured. He wasn't scoring a ton of goals (although he was Wolves' top scorer when he got injured), but he is a strong centre forward and they have really missed him. In the two games they've played since Doyle got hurt, they've lost 4-1 to Newcastle and 3-0 to Everton, and are looking like their brief surge against relegation is over.