Would you pay a barber to cut your hair if he only had the tools to do half your head, or a chef to cook you a meal if he could only provide half a plate of food? Probably not, I imagine, and yet football clubs the world over readily employ half-players.

I am talking, of course, about the strange phenomenon of the strictly one-footed player.

Some one-footed players get away with it. I am thinking primarily of players like Diego Maradona, Gheorghe Hagi and Rivaldo, whose left feet possessed more guile and dexterity than most players possess in both put together.

But these are rare exceptions. Most one-footed players suffer by virtue of their one-footedness. Witness the fear on Michael Owen’s face as he realises he will have to shoot with his left foot, or the panic that grips Petr Cech when forced to clear a back-pass with his right.

Most of the time, players get away with it. After all, if you’re a one-footed professional player you’ve had plenty of time to teach yourself how to quickly transfer the ball to your stronger foot.

But occasionally situations arise when you simply have to use your weaker foot. And one such situation arose in Chelsea’s defeat at Aston Villa yesterday, when Ashley “When I heard Jonathan repeat the figure of £55,000 I nearly swerved off the road” Cole used the wrong foot when attempting to clear Zat Knight’s goalbound header off the line.

Likewise, it was a misjudged, left-footed clearance from Cole in a game against Reading last season that directly caused an own goal by Michael Essien.

In these circumstances, the one-footedness of the player actively harms his team. If Ashley Cole finds a wage of £55,000 a week so incredibly insulting, he would do well to consider how much he might be worth if he could use two feet instead of one.


Cesc Fabregas - a season to remember?No real surprises in the list of nominees for this season’s PFA Player of the Year Award, although Michael Essien is unlucky to have missed out, and Cesc Fabregas hasn’t exactly been in scintillating form since the turn of the year (although his goal against Bolton at the weekend finally justified his continued inclusion in my fantasy football team).

My only gripe with the PFA Awards is that they are announced so early. This season the gongs will be handed out on April 22nd, before the destinations of the Premiership, FA Cup or Champions League have been decided. Suppose Didier Drogba scores a further ten goals to secure the Quadruple for Chelsea, but Cristiano Ronaldo has already received the award?

It’s happened before. In 1999 David Ginola won it, despite the contributions of players like David Beckham and Roy Keane in securing United the Treble. In 2002 Ruud van Nistelrooy got the nod, but it was Arsenal’s Patrick Vieira and Thierry Henry who plundered the silverware as they inspired Arsenal to Arsene Wenger’s second Double.

The big problem with the PFA Awards is that the players vote for them months before the end of the season. I think I’m right in saying that the votes are gathered around the turn of the year, which gives a massive advantage to players who start the season strongly (such as Fabregas) but fails to acknowledge the contribution of players such as Dimitar Berbatov who find their form in the second half of the season.

It’s also interesting that Wayne Rooney has once again been nominated for the PFA Young Player of the Year Award – an award he’s won for the past two seasons – but has missed out on a nomination for the senior award. Ronaldo and Fabregas have both stepped up. Let’s hope Rooney uses their example to spur him on to greater things next season.