Bernardo Silva hints at unfair Liverpool award bias – but is the City star right?

Manchester City and Portugal midfielder Bernardo Silva has hinted that a Liverpool bias might exist when it comes to handing out the season’s individual awards in the Premier League.

The 25-year old was among the nominees for last season’s PFA Player of the Year award for his role in City’s superb run to the title, however, Bernardo Silva and his Citizens teammates lost out to Liverpool centre-half Virgil van Dijk, who picked up the gong.

Speaking in an interview with Bleacher Report, Silva said: “I hope this is not a bad example, and people don’t take it badly. But I always think about the last three seasons, Man City and Liverpool.

“Three seasons ago we win the league and they were 30 points behind. Kevin De Bruyne, unbelievable season, Mo Salah, scores a lot of goals. He’s a great player and I admire him a lot, and they give the award to Mo Salah.

“The season after, very tight. Raheem Sterling was on the run with van Dijk, they give the award to van Dijk. This season again, Kevin de Bruyne, another unbelievable season.

“We’re behind, but because Liverpool are champions probably one of them is winning the award again.”

“I think about David Silva, Sergio Aguero never won the PFA Player of the Year. I think the individual awards are very relative.”

This year, Reds pair Jordan Henderson and Sadio Mane are among the bookmakers’ favourites to land the PFA Player of the Year Award ahead of City’s Kevin de Bruyne, suggesting that there might be merit to Silva’s postulations. But how does his theory hold up to further scrutiny?

PFA Player of the Year – who has won it before?

Somewhat remarkably, a Manchester City player has never been named PFA Player of the Year even though the Citizens have been crowned as Premier League champions on four separate occasions – in fact, a City player has never won the trophy in the entire history of the award since its inception in 1973.

Last season, Virgil van Dijk won the individual honour for his outstanding performances at the back for Liverpool, a year after his teammate Mohamed Salah picked up the same award for his debut-season goalscoring exploits.

Interestingly, four Liverpool players have won the award in total since 2006, despite the Reds failure to win a single Premier League title during the same period.

Liverpool legend Steven Gerrard was named PFA Player of the Year for 2005/06, while Luis Suarez followed suit with his award in 2013/14.

Salah and van Dijk landed the individual honour in 2017/18 and 2018/19 respectively to complete the Liverpool quartet in campaigns where the Reds were beaten to the league title by City.

The cash-rich Mancunians lifted the Premier League trophy in 2011/12, 2013/14, 2017/18 and 2018/19, but saw Liverpool players secure the PFA Player of the Year in three of their four silver-lined campaigns.

A pattern emerges?

There are no rules that decree that a player from the Premier League champions of a respective season should be favoured for an individual honour, and that has been reflected in the PFA Player of the Year awards history.

In the era the trophy, there has been an even split between players who did not win the league that season with their clubs against those that have.

However, there has was a noticeable pattern shift in the last decade between 2010 and 2019.

In 2010, Wayne Rooney became the fourth Manchester United star in succession to pick up the PFA Player of the Year award, even though his club were beaten to the title by a Chelsea side managed by Carlo Ancelotti.

Rooney’s gong proved to be a trend-setter, and in seven of the 10 seasons since, the PFA Player of the Year has been picked up by a player who DIDN’T represent the campaign’s league title winners.

After Rooney, Gareth Bale (twice), Robin van Persie and the aforementioned Luis Suarez were all honoured at the year’s backslapping event, while Chelsea’s Eden Hazard and N’Golo Kante along with Leicester City’s Riyad Mahrez were the only players in a decade to have been honoured after a title winning season.

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