Readers' Player of the Year 2010/11: Kevin McNaughton (Cardiff City)
Towards the end of last season, there was a small banner at the top of this site asking for readers to vote for their favourite Football League player of the season. Straight away, there was a recurring theme to the entries that were coming in.
So, rather belatedly after a false start involving a contribution from someone who, it emerged, had copied and pasted an article praising this particular player from the BBC’s website – resulting in a hasty withdrawal before Auntie’s law department could mobilise – here is the winner (again), with a selection of the best comments from supporters of his club.
Congratulations to Cardiff City’s Kevin McNaughton.
Hard to look past Super Kevin McNaughton – other than a slightly dodgy (by his standards – averaging 7/10’s rather than 9’s) spell at right-back earlier this season, he’s been consistently brilliant, covering every position across the back four. Possesses lightning speed despite his deceptive silver hair (Bothroyd reckons he’s only slightly slower than Bellamy), he’s strong in the tackle, has an uncanny reading of the game, can dribble like a winger and he’s flexible enough to be comfortable on either flank or in the centre.
If it wasn’t for his occasionally suspect distribution and inability to properly judge headers then he’d be attracting interest from Premier League clubs. Although that’s part of his charm – he’s almost a hidden gem, wholly appreciated by our fans but unknown to most others. Five years at the club and already a legend in the eyes of most.
In a Cardiff team that has struggled for consistency and often not reached the heights expected with such a talented forward line, Kevin McNaughton has been his usual outstanding self at the back. Whether in his favoured full back role or in the centre of the Bluebirds defence, his superb positioning and reading of the game have been clear for all to see. Added to a useful turn of speed he uses to cover his teammates and his numerous goalsaving tackles have also caught the eye.
Much is made of the value of a good goalkeeper or goalscorer but it would not be exaggerating to estimate he saves Cardiff at least six points each season with his defensive work. His indefatigable nature makes him a firm favourite with fans and he claimed the club’s Player of the Year award, quite rightly. One of the most underrated and unheralded players around but a player I am immensely proud to say plays for Cardiff City.
Our player of the season has to be our stalwart defender, Kevin McNaughton. Throughout the season he’s played at both full-back and centre-half and been simply sensational. I don’t think a home game has gone by where he hasn’t been crunched or knocked out by the opposition only to get back up and run it off. The man quite literally bleeds for the team and must be made of steel – he’s only missed two games all season.
His timing in the tackle has been excellent, and it’s no coincidence we’ve looked surer in defence when he’s played with Mark Hudson or Dekel Keinan in the centre. His prowess encourages his partner and breeds confidence throughout the defence. While playing full-back earlier in the season and prior to Hudson’s injury, his link-up play and runs down the wing with Chris Burke were a constant threat and cause for excitement.
We have a much-lauded attackforce and a few superstar players, but none of them match Kev for his effort and dedication to the cause. He’s the real hero of Cardiff’s season and was a prime factor in us pushing so close again for promotion.