Season over; time for the End of Season awards

Posted by Luke O'Farrell

Clive Brunskill/Getty ImagesLeighton Baines is an easy call for Everton Player of the Year.

The Sunderland defeat ended the European push, barring a miraculous run of results, and Everton are simply playing to ensure as high a finish as possible. Once again, local bragging rights are largely inconsequential; regardless of which Merseyside team finishes highest, neither is likely to view their season as an overriding success.

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Albeit admirable, considering the financial constraints and the wage bill figures, sixth is not enough for European football. The fans crave European football, and, while the squad is currently ill-equipped for such a challenge, the extra funding would be a welcome addition at Goodison Park.

Left playing for pride and Premier League prize money, the season is effectively over for Everton. The fate of David Moyes is on the horizon, but that will not become clear for a few weeks yet. In the meantime, the next event is the end of season awards. Therefore, as the voting continues, it seems the perfect time to outline my own selections.

After the club opened the polls on the official website, supporters must select their top three for each of the awards; the awards comprise of Player of the Season, Young Player of the Season and Goal of the Season.

During the early stages of voting, in a perfect example of the famed Scouse humour, Jan Mucha, the often-comedic figure with just a handful of starts in his Everton career, had more votes than John Heitinga, Phil Neville, Steven Naismith and Nikica Jelavic.

Moving on, my selections start with arguably the most pointless award in recent history: Young Player of the Season. Without wishing to digress too far, my views on this award are detailed here:

As the only nominee to reach double figures in appearances, although only three of those were starts, Bryan Oviedo gets the nod here. Impressing on his brief cameos, his continual bench warming is something of a mystery. The mystery thickens since the player keeping Oviedo on the bench is Steven Naismith; if he is the answer as a wide midfielder, I dread the question.

Avoiding the futile process of naming other choices in the young player category, the second award under consideration is Goal of the Season. This award is more clear-cut and the voting reflects that. Currently on 35%, holding a 12% advantage over the goal in second place, Leighton Baines leads the way courtesy of his free kick at Newcastle in January. On course to win the Everton award, fans across the country would struggle to pick out a purer strike this season.

Honourable mentions exist for two Steven Pienaar goals, with the strikes against Aston Villa and Reading rounding out my three choices. The former, Pienaar curling the ball into the far corner after a flowing move of around 20 passes, edges out the Reading strike; a fine individual goal as Pienaar cut in from the right hand side.

Ahead in the goal category, Baines also gets the nod for player of the season. The Sunderland aberration aside, the England man has led by example throughout this campaign. Defensively sound and a revelation going forward, there are few, if any, stronger left backs in Europe.

Creating 105 chances, narrowly ahead of Marseille midfielder Mathieu Valbuena on 100, Baines is the most creative player in Europe's Top 5 leagues (Bundesliga, La Liga, Ligue 1, Premier League, Serie A). Delivering 95 accurate crosses, Baines also heads the European field in the crossing department.

A fundamental part of the Everton setup, Baines is the obvious choice for the Everton player of the year award and rightly so. Darron Gibson and Kevin Mirallas would surely have entered consideration, but injury has hampered their impact throughout the season. Another player enjoying a strong end to the campaign is the tireless Seamus Coleman.

The model of consistency in defence, Sylvain Distin continues to belie his advancing years. He and the impressive Marouane Fellaini round out my three choices in the player category, with Baines set to pick up two of the three awards and the third award settled largely by default.

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