England manager Roy Hodgson has come in for criticism after it was revealed he didn’t vote for Cristiano Ronaldo in his Ballon d’Or ballot.
While the Real Madrid star still managed to comfortably win this year’s player of the year award, questions have still been asked as to how Hodgson could not have Ronaldo, or Barcelona star Lionel Messi, in his top three selections.
Overlooking Ronaldo and Messi, Hodgson instead opted to use his picks to select Argentina midfielder Javier Mascherano as his best player of the year, using his two other choices to select Germany duo Philipp Lahm and Manuel Neuer.
England captain Wayne Rooney disagreed with his manager, though, voting for former Manchester United team-mate Ronaldo as his first pick, with Germany’s Toni Kroos in second and Gareth Bale in third.
In contrast to his English counterpart, Scotland boss Gordon Strachan did vote Ronaldo as his player of 2014 ahead of Spain striker Diego Costa and Holland winger Arjen Robben.
Scotland captain Scott Brown, whose Celtic side are still overwhelming title favourites with the Scottish football betting despite their issues this season, saw things the same way as Strachan, using his first pick on Ronaldo with Robben in second and Neuer third.
Wales head coach Chris Coleman, perhaps unsurprisingly, gave his vote to compatriot Bale, naming Ronaldo and Germany midfielder Bastian Schweinsteiger as his other selections. Bale’s case was helped further after receiving the vote of his captain, Ashley Williams, although it wasn’t enough for Bale to break into the top three of the vote.
Northern Ireland suffered a slight embarrassment when their votes failed to be submitted in time, meaning head coach Michael O’Neill and captain Steven Davis’ selections weren’t counted.
But while there were some questionable votes from some aspects of the panel, not least Hodgson, Ronaldo was the clear winner in this year’s event with 37.66% of the votes.
That made it back-to-back Ballon d’Or awards for Ronaldo and winning the prize for the third time in his career. He came out on top in the votes made by the 181 national team head coaches, 182 national team captains and 181 media representatives that make up the electorate.
Lionel Messi finished second with 15.76% of the votes after another record-breaking season, with Germany’s World Cup winning goalkeeper, Manuel Neuer, taking third place with 15.72%.
On the back of an incredible 2014, there weren’t many outside the voting panel who really felt anyone else but Ronaldo deserved the award. Even Messi’s most ardent fans couldn’t argue the Argentinean performed better than his long-time rival last year, and there is an argument to claim his second place finish was more down to his name than his form in 2014.
While Germany’s World Cup heroes were all rightfully in and around the mix, only Neuer could have realistically challenged Ronaldo for this year’s Ballon d’Or. The Bayern Munich man has not only established himself as the best in the world at the moment, but some feel we are currently witnessing the finest goalkeeper to have ever played the game. The year of 2014 certainly went some way to cementing that opinion.