THE only surprise about Erling Haaland being named the Football Writers’ Association’s Footballer of the Year is that he did not get 100 per cent of the votes.
The Norwegian has enjoyed a simply stunning debut season in England, scoring a record-breaking 35 Premier League goals already.
He may well be on course to help Manchester City win a fifth title in six years, too.
So it is no wonder Haaland has secured the annual gong from the 400-strong British press pack.
He picked up a whopping highest-ever 82 per cent of the vote to claim a landslide victory in the FWA award that was first given to Stanley Matthews in 1947-48.
And in the process, the ex-Dortmund man became just the fourth player to be crowned in his first season in the Premier League – after City team-mate Ruben Dias, Jurgen Klinsmann and Gianfranco Zola.
Haaland – who added the Premier League Player of the Month award in April to go with his August win – said: “To win the Football Writers’ Award in my first season in English football is an honour.
“I try every single day to be the best I can be, and to be recognised like this means a lot to me.
“I have loved my time at City so far – my team-mates are incredible, and they provide me with the chances to score goals. I want to thank all of them, because I could not have won this award without them.
“I also owe so much to Pep Guardiola and the team behind the team here at City. Everybody has been so good to me since I joined and I have never worked with such top professionals.
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“Thank you to everyone who voted for me. It’s a real honour to have won this award. I am now focused on ensuring I finish the season as strongly as possible and helping City win trophies.”
However, 14 other players were put forward and voted for to win the award – including a few surprising names.
Bukayo Saka and Martin Odegaard completed the podium after their tremendous efforts for Arsenal this term in making them unlikely title challengers.
Kevin De Bruyne was fourth and Marcus Rashford fifth.
Harry Kane and Casemiro joined 2018 and 2022 winner Mo Salah, as well as City pair John Stones and Rodri, also got the nod from some reporters.
As did Kieran Trippier as the captain of a Newcastle side closing in on Champions League qualification.
Alexis Mac Allister and Kaoru Mitoma have been instrumental in Brighton’s sensational campaign but it is their team-mate Moises Caicedo who was put forward for Footballer of the Year.
Granit Xhaka has enjoyed a strong season in the Gunners’ midfield – enough to be nominated, too.
England pair Declan Rice and James Maddison were both on the list after getting voted as the best player in the country in 2022-23 – despite West Ham and Leicester’s struggles to retain their top-flight status.
Both men have been the standout players for their teams – Maddison has ten goals and nine assists.
But the Foxes playmaker has come under criticism in recent weeks for a number of poor performances and errors as Leicester stare relegation in the face.
His comments following the 5-3 defeat at Fulham also angered supporters, as the two-cap Three Lions man said: “In at half-time, I think it was 3-0 and you just give yourself too much to do – a mountain to climb from not being aggressive, not being at it, not being hungry enough to want to win the game.
“To get yourselves out of trouble you need to do the basics well and be aggressive and fight. That’s why we’re down there, because we haven’t been good enough.”
Fans, though, were barely surprised Haaland was the winner.
Plenty reckon he could follow it up with the Ballon d’Or this year while others joked the likes of Harry Maguire, Mason Mount and Kai Havertz were “robbed”.