This column originally appeared in the 27/02/2015 edition of the South London Press.
The other week I was asked who was my Player of the Year so far.
I was stumped.
Earlier in the season there had been some runaway candidates. Igor Vetokele’s goals put him a cut above the rest while Tal Ben Haim was instrumental to the solidity that saw us go 13 games unbeaten.
Yet both players suffered huge slumps in form mid-season, as did many others. Even Chris Solly hadn’t excelled to the same extent as previous years.
What about Jordan Cousins? I was asked.
For some unknown reason, Cousins hadn’t immediately sprung to mind, but the idea made perfect sense.
Even when the team has been at its worst this year, Cousins has stood tall. While Charlton spent three winless months regressing, Cousins continued his subtle progression into this team’s best player.
Who else has been so consistent, so reliable? Other players may have burned brighter at times, but Cousins is the only member of our squad whose flame has remained flickering even in this season’s darkest moments.
The entire squad and management team deserve plaudits for a recent spike in form that included two back-to-back 3-0 wins (and two more wins since this was written), but it’s no coincidence that the turnaround coincided with Cousins deployed in central midfield, nor came to an end with him coming out of the team.
Such is the nature of his versatility and willing attitude that Cousins has taken up a left-wing berth with aplomb for the majority of the campaign. Yet it’s no secret that his natural domain is in the middle of the park where his athleticism, energy, drive and guile have proved invaluable to recent victories.
Guy Luzon must now make Cousins the heartbeat of his midfield as his side looks to secure safety – something we have taken huge steps towards in recent weeks both on and off the field.
Alou Diarra is an excellent addition to our midfield, and will surely come in for Yoni Buyens whose wretched performances have too often led to Cousins doing the work of two men in recent weeks – something he’s thankfully managed to pull off.
That’s what sticks out about Cousins this season. He’s just 20 years old but has led by example in recent weeks, refusing to be cowed when the more experienced around him have collapsed.
What Charlton have on their hands now is a reliable, professional, ambitious and versatile talent of the rarest kind.
I’d love to believe he’ll stick around for a long glorious career with us, but with staged half-time proposals the closest thing to romanticism remaining in football, I know it’s unlikely.
Let’s make sure we appreciate him while he’s here.