Australia Day Football Gongs: The good, bad and undecided

by Ben Somerford on Jan 26, 2012

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It's Australia Day, so it's time for to hand out its own awards to our Aussies abroad... both good and bad! As the European season enters its final stage with the January transfer window closing up and title races heating up, we rank those that've impressed so far this season, and those who've fallen short of expectations.

The Winners

Brett Holman (AZ Alkmaar)
The 27-year-old has made it clear he will leave AZ at the end of this season, set on a challenge in a stronger league. And he's boosted his chances of finding a good club with a stellar 2011-12 campaign, where he's prove a danger in a left-sided attacking role for the Dutch leaders. Holman has scored six goals and provided seven assists in all competitions this season and will surely find a decent new home during the European summer.

Rhys Williams (Middlesbrough)
After 11 months of injury hell, Perth-born Williams has come back and proven himself to be an excellent young player. In fact, Boro's improvement from relegation battlers to promotion contenders has coincided with Williams return from injury in March. However, it is no coincidence, as the 23-year-old is not only a fine footballer, who reads the play well and distributes the ball calmly, but also a leader despite his young age. Will be in the Premier League next season, although maybe not with Boro.

Chris Herd (Aston Villa)
Few expected the 22-year-old to make the progress he has this season despite the odd appearance here and there for the Villans last term. Herd has firmly become a favourite of Villa boss Alex McLeish who has deployed him in central midfield, although an ankle injury has hampered his progress. When fit, Herd made seven consecutive starts in midfield from October through to early December and hasn't looked out of place.

Carl Valeri (Sassuolo)
The Socceroos defensive midfielder doesn't receive much attention playing in Italy's second tier, however he's had a stellar 2011-12 season with a team doing good things. Sassuolo are currently top of Serie B and well in the hunt for promotion, which is exactly what 27-year-old Valeri needs to take his career to the next level. It's no coincidence whenever he's away on national team duty, Sassuolo tend to struggle.

Mathew Leckie (Borussia Moenchengladbach)
Leckie may have seen less than 90 minutes game-time for the Foals since his move from Adelaide United, but he's certainly made an impression at the club. It's worth noting Moenchengladbach, who were almost relegated last term, are one point off top spot in the Bundesliga right now, and Leckie has remained in the first-team frame all season making eight appearances off the bench, which is quite remarkable. Gladbach boss Lucien Favre clearly likes the player which says a lot.

The Losers

Tim Cahill (Everton)
It had been a painful 2011-12 season for the Socceroos superstar until Saturday's breakthrough strike in the 1-1 draw with Blackburn. However, Cahill's goal drought has been a big issue at Goodison Park with the Toffees' faithful beginning to question his value to the side. Cahill has had his injury problems but one wonders if his best football is behind him and whether he's still capable of delivering regular goals at Premier League level. The questions are being asked.

David Carney (Alcorcon)
While you hear jokes from some fans about Carney's Contiki Tour of Europe, his current state in Madrid is quite the concern, especially for the Socceroos given our dearth of left-sided options. Since leaving Blackpool, Carney had battled a shoulder injury before joining second tier middling side Alcorcon where he's only managed three appearances. Language problems haven't helped, but he doesn't really seem to have a future at the club with little sign things will change anytime soon.

Matt McKay (Rangers)
From winning the Australian Footballer of the Year award to getting splinters on the pine in Scotland's Premier League, it's been an almighty fall for McKay. Then again, his rise was sudden, so perhaps it's his style. However, the ex-Brisbane Roar captain's situation at Rangers is a sad one, with the boss Ally McCoist offering little faith in him, despite his few appearances showing genuine glimpses of his quality. He has opted to stick around and fight for his spot which is commendable.

Nathan Burns (AEK Athens)
The former Adelaide United man's time at AEK is up after he confirmed on Twitter earlier this week he had left the club. It looks likely he'll head to Korean club Incheon United now, but that's after a difficult season where he simply couldn't get much of a look-in even despite a change of coach. Most of Burns' game-time this term came in the Europa League, where he actually scored a goal, but couldn't convince the boss he was worth a regular run.

The Maybe Pile

Tommy Oar (FC Utrecht)
The teenage winger began the season with all guns blazing for Utrecht scoring two goals and providing three assists early in the campaign. However, his star has fallen at the club since the arrival of new coach Jan Wouters, who is beginning to give other youngsters opportunities ahead of Oar. Whether he can force his way back into the starting side under Wouters is a big question.

Nikita Rukavytsya (Hertha BSC)
There's no doubt that the fact Ukraine-born Rukavytsya is playing in the Bundesliga is some achievement. However, after a 2010-11 season where he finished second in the assists charts in 2.Bundesliga some might've hoped he'd make a bigger impact this term. Rukavytsya is still only 24, but the reality is he's been in and out of the Hertha this side and is yet to prove he's capable at that level.