Pride comes before a fall, and in football all it takes is a little recognition from your fellow professionals and it's all downhill from there. First Robert Pires did his knee, then Roy Keane's hamstring twangs and now David Beckham breaks his foot. There is no doubt about it; a new curse has struck English football. The curse of the player of the year!
Six players were nominated as the shortlist for the player of the year just a few weeks ago, and within three weeks half of the candidates are on crutches.
The award seemed likely to go to Beckham. He single-handedly developed a cure for German measles, stopped the proliferation of land mines and carried an average England side through the qualifying stages for the world cup (I don't think any of that was true). For developing into England's Maradona, without the unhealthy vitamin substitutes, the prize was sure to go to Saint David.
Then Ruud van Nistelrooy started outscoring everyone in Europe and the Premiership, considering his recovery from a year long injury crisis, this was remarkable.
Finally one of those nasty French types remembered how to play football and with a series of superb strikes still couldn't get Arsenal past the last sixteen in the Champions League.
Keane and Hasselbaink are the outsiders with another prolific Henry season being rewarded with a nomination. For my money the award will go to van Nistelrooy – at least then there won't be an issue with mounting some tricky steps on crutches, probably.
It is well documented that the Manager of the Month curse means that an award will shortly precede a fairly catastrophic sequence of results, and it isn't a myth, just look at this seasons awards.
August; Bolton won the award and were top of the table with maximum points, just 2 wins in the next 22 games saw them plummet towards relegation, which a late revival may yet see them avoid.
September; John Gregory won the award for Aston Villa and was out of the Villa job before the season was out. But just four wins from the fifteen games after the award suggests he jumped before he was pushed.
October; Tottenham, followed by three wins and four defeats in November and December when Glenn Hoddle's team hit relegation form, picking up 11 points from 9 games.
November; Liverpool, followed by three wins from the next eleven games, a blip, which may already have cost them the title.
December; Newcastle, Bobby Robson provides the only example of a decent months results following this award, with 5 wins in the next 7 games.
January Southampton, only one win in the next eight games after January.
February Newcastle, followed by a collapse in form with only one win in the next six games, leaving them clinging on to fourth place.
March; Liverpool, followed by immediate elimination from the Champions League.
It is no coincidence that the managers of Manchester United and Arsenal are both chasing double trophy wins and neither have won manager of the month!
Michael Owen was the nations darling after the World Cup in France (1998), voted BBC Sports Personality of the Year just a matter of months later, before suffering from his hamstrings for most of the subsequent time (the odd sojourn against the Germans notwithstanding).
As for George Burley, who was the majority choice for last year's manager of the year. The ultimate football lesson of relegation seems the most likely for this follow up season.
In football it seems the glittering prize ceremony must be paid for and the bill is usually already in the post to the winner.As Ant and Dec stretch their larynxes and put another nail in the coffin of popular music. We dream about the squad that Sven could take to Japan if not for this old-fashioned restraint of only picking players born in England. Svens not English, so why not pick a squad from all Premiership players. Does Hyypia have a grandmother from Welwyn Garden City? What about the van Nistelrooy’s of Chipping Sodbury? Now this would be a dream team.
Jurek Dudek (Liverpool). Great shot stopper, good command of the box. Arsenal may well rue their rejection of him earlier in the season.
Shay Given (Newcastle). Was in the players football association team of the season and there is no doubt he is in fine form. Very athletic if not the tallest.
Carlo Cudicini (Chelsea). Brilliant saves, very athletic. Should be awarded for his work in improving food sales in West London by keeping Bosnich out of the team.
Sami Hyypia (Liverpool). A commanding presence whose reading of the game is brilliant. Does anyone know if he is quick because I can’t remember him ever having to sprint?
John Arne Riise (Liverpool). A booming free-kick, plenty of goals, driving player who would get into every single Premiership side – and probably Real Madrid. The most ginger thing in the world (apparently).
Rio Ferdinand (Leeds). Keeps getting better. When he starts weighing in with goals he will look an even bigger bargain, despite the record fee.
Gary Neville (Manchester United). His brother may not be the most popular player in England, but Gary is the most consistent right back in the top division since Lee Dixon (of ten years ago).
Wayne Bridge (Southampton). Much improved and may well fight off Ashley Cole due to his extra degree of calmness and reading of the tempo of a game.
Gareth Southgate (Middlesbrough). The juries still out on his thinking behind joining ‘boro but his form has been superb, should play for England ahead of Campbell.
Olof Mellberg (Aston Villa). Nasty piece of work who is in the squad because he is the beardiest Villa player since Peter Withe.
Robert Pires (Arsenal). Before the player of the season curse struck him he was set to light up the world cup. Quick, accurate and deadly – he would be a sniper in a war situation, or a conscientious objector or something.
Patrick Vieira (Arsenal). A low key season devoid of too much controversy has seen Vieira mature like a fine wine. (a bit too Swiss Tony. ed.)
David Beckham (Manchester United). The media darling of the starry Manchester midfield. Broken metatarsal or not he is developing into a great player.
Freddie Ljungberg (Arsenal). Would be a bench player in this team Freddy is so adaptable and such a good team man that he is probably overlooked when people look for star players. His goals have won several games in the championship run-in that should see Arsenal crowned champions.
Roy Keane (Manchester United). The snarling driving force behind last seasons champions. Would walk into any side in Europe.
Ryan Giggs (Manchester United). Special player who can dribble and open up defences like no other premiership player.
Paul Scholes (Manchester United). Vastly underrated role model for every short, ginger asthmatic kid out there. There’s a ginger thread running through this team.
Steed Malbranque (Fulham). He's in for the name alone.
Ruud van Nistelrooy (Manchester United). Starting to show the effects of a long first full season back from serious injury. Can he do it again next season, undoubtedly.
Thierry Henry (Arsenal). Mercurial brilliance, great goalscorer, scorer of great goals. His lack of return in the champions league is a black mark though.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer (Manchester United). Almost 30 goals, many from the bench or from the left or right of midfield. An ultimate team man. You would be very happy to see Ole warming up in a crisis.
Michael Owen (Liverpool). The stand-in England captain may be a bench warmer in this company but carries too many of England’s hopes for those fragile hamstrings in the summer.
Gerald Hasselbaink (Chelsea). Flat track bully par excellance. Will score twenty a season in the Premiership with ease but not international class, only just edges Shearer out of the squad.
Starting XI (4-4-2). Dudek; Riise, Hyypia, Ferdinand, Neville G, Pires, Keane, Vieira, Beckham, Van Nistelrooy, Henry.