NEVILLE SOUTHALL says he is baffled by the lack of Everton players in PFA top flight teams of the year – after Leighton Baines became the first to make the cut in 22 years.
The goalkeeping legend was the last Toffees player to be included in 1990, until Baines was revealed as the Premier League’s top left-back in the estimation of his fellow professionals on Sunday.
But Southall believes the absence of men like Tim Cahill and Duncan Ferguson is down to a traditional ‘big club’ bias from some players, who are influenced by the national media and Sky Sports coverage.
He said: “It’s baffling really. Somebody said that Bainesy was the first since I got the vote, and I couldn’t believe guys like Cahill weren’t there.
“It was ironic because I was watching the game against Manchester United on Sunday and they had an interview with Duncan Ferguson beforehand.
“Then they went back to the studio and Gary Neville was saying how United always had to formulate a special plan for dealing with him. I’m sure it wasn’t just United who hated playing against him. How was Dunc not in the voting over the years?
“Maybe players are influenced by the TV and the idea of top clubs who regularly win things. Scott Parker was rightly the top man last season and he’s in it again this year – but he was still a great player before he joined Spurs.
“I look at players like Sylvain Distin who has been a consistent performer for so many top flight clubs and wonder how he hasn’t made it. Is it because he hasn’t played for a London club or Man United?”
Southall, who was named on the PFA Team of the Year four consecutive times, and was listed as one of the world’s top 10 goalkeepers by the International Federation of Football History & Statistics on four occasions, said players should vote on form.
“It makes me laugh when you pick up the Sunday paper and see stories about Leighton Baines being linked with Manchester United in the summer,” he added. “If he’d been at Old Trafford for a few seasons he’d probably have been in the PFA team already. There’s that perception about the top clubs and it’s biased.”