In the world of Major League Baseball, the post-season exploits of Athletics, Orioles, Yankees and Angels right fielder Reggie Jackson famously earned him the nickname of ‘Mr. October’; a moniker assigned to reflect Jackson’s unparalleled success in the tenth month of the year.
As the annual MLB play-offs commence in North America, the English Premier League season is set to continue shortly, with holders Leicester City travelling to former champions Chelsea and leaders Manchester City entertaining Everton, amidst a host of October highlights.
With six goals to his credit, Chelsea’s Diego Costa begins the month as the division’s leading goalscorer, while Liverpool’s James Milner enters October with a 100% shots-to-goals ratio.
But who will be the EPL’s ‘Mr. October’ for 2016-17? And what does it take to be heralded as the Premier League’s main man at this fertile, formative stage of the season?
Ahead of the action resuming, Kitbag.com takes a look at the Premier League’s twenty Mr. Octobers to date – namely, the winners of the October Player of the Month award – while highlighting the achievements that have served to set the benchmark.
1994 Paul Ince
The Premier League’s second Player of the Month, following the award’s inception in the 1993-94 campaign, Paul Ince played a part in both Manchester United goals as the defending champions beat Everton on the first day of October 1994 (pictured). The self-styled Guv’nor was later involved in United’s win over former club West Ham, as well playing a key role in victories over future championship rivals Blackburn Rovers and Newcastle United.
1995 Trevor Sinclair
While Queen’s Park Rangers were winless wonders in October of 1995, the form of midfielder and England U21 international Trevor Sinclair proved to be irresistible. Scoring the equaliser at Nottingham Forest on 28 October, Sinclair’s form extended to the League Cup and ultimately led to manager Ray Wilkins putting a £10m price tag on his dreadlocked head.
1996 Matt Le Tissier
October saw Southampton earn their first Premier League victory of 1995-96, after a run of five defeats in their previous six games. Delivering a double in the 4-0 win over Middlesbrough, midfield magician Matthew Le Tissier was also on target in a 1-1 draw at Coventry City and a 3-0 win over Sunderland, before playing a significant role in the infamous 6-3 demolition of champions Manchester United at the Dell. Ultimately, the Saints would evade relegation by a single point, with this October purple patch crucial to their survival.
1997 Paulo Wanchope
Arriving in the Premier League with a sizable bang, by way of his debut wonder goal at Old Trafford, forward Paulo Wanchope’s sparkling form for Derby County continued into October 1997, as the Costa Rican international earned his one and only Premier League Player of the Month prize. In the highlight of his adventures, Wanchope proved the scourge of United once more, scoring against the champions in a 2-2 draw at the Rams’ newly-opened Pride Park.
1998 Roy Keane
As treble-chasing Manchester United embarked on one of their greatest ever campaigns, club captain Roy Keane helped the Reds climb into the title picture with a host of high-calibre displays in October of 1998. Steering his side to comprehensive victories over Southampton, Wimbledon and Everton, Keane also helped United salvage a crucial draw with Derby, a result that helped the Reds regain their Premier League crown by a solitary point the next spring.
1999 Kevin Phillips
Newcastle United’s Alan Shearer may hold the distinction of being the Premier League’s all-time leading goalscorer, yet it was another forward in the northeast who hit the headlines around the turn of the millennium. With five goals in October 1999, 26-year old Sunderland forward Kevin Phillips scored from both open play and the penalty spot in successive games against Bradford City and Aston Villa, equalising at West Ham to continue his fine run of form.
2000 Teddy Sheringham
Highlighting October 2000 with a ten-minute hat-trick in Manchester United’s 5-0 win over Southampton, veteran forward Teddy Sheringham would be the club’s top goalscorer in 2000-01, while claiming both the PFA and Football Writers’ Player of the Year gongs. Bagging a brace at Leicester City in the middle of the month, Sheringham’s goals helped United climb to top of the table, a status they would hold on to for the rest of the Premier League season.
2001 Rio Ferdinand
While the fixture list was far from kind, Rio Ferdinand’s defensive displays in October of 2001 ensured his Leeds United side remained unbeaten in matches with Liverpool, Chelsea and Manchester United. Helping to create the opener at Anfield on 13 October, Ferdinand’s role in the clean sheet against Chelsea helped Leeds edge to the pinnacle of the division; though few could have anticipated the fall from grace that would await the Yorkshiremen.
2002 Gianfranco Zola
After firing home a fine free-kick equaliser away to West Ham United at the tail end of September, Italian wizard Gianfranco Zola’s second half double at Manchester City in October 2002 ensured that Chelsea’s final visit to Maine Road would culminate in victory. For the 35-yeard old Zola meanwhile, his final season in Chelsea colours would prove his most prolific to date, with October helping set the table for a successful, 16-goal campaign.
2003 Alan Shearer
October 2003 saw Newcastle rack up four wins from four, with milestone marksman Alan Shearer characteristically on target on four different occasions. Chalking up his 250th career goal in the 1-0 win over former club Southampton, Shearer also helped the Magpies overturn a two-goal deficit to win 3-2 at Fulham; securing the plaudits of manager Sir Bobby Robson, who waxed lyrical about the striker, hailing his performance as “quite magnificent”.
2004 Andy Johnson
The first Crystal Palace player to collect one of the Premier League’s monthly awards, striker Andy Johnson lit up October 2004, scoring in the Eagles’ wins over Fulham and Birmingham City, as well as twice more against West Bromwich Albion. Johnson would later reap the rewards of his October efforts, securing his first ever England call-up early in the New Year.
2005 Frank Lampard
Champions Chelsea began their 2005-06 defence on the front foot, carrying a 100% record into the month of October. From there, it was midfielder Frank Lampard who spearheaded their finest result yet, a 4-1 demolition of Liverpool at Anfield. Back at the Bridge, Lampard added two more to his tally in the 5-1 hammering of Bolton, scoring twice inside five minutes no less, before contributing both the equaliser at Everton and another double against Blackburn.
2006 Paul Scholes
Manchester United’s Paul Scholes was the heartbeat of the club’s success in October 2006, as Sir Alex Ferguson’s all-conquering team won five consecutive Premier League fixtures. Dispatching Newcastle United, Wigan Athletic, Liverpool, Bolton Wanderers and Portsmouth to cement his team’s status as Premier League front-runners, the celebrated Scholes would continue to build his legacy at Old Trafford, enjoying six more seasons in the United midfield.
2007 Wayne Rooney
For the second consecutive October, the Premier League Player of the Month prize would make its way to Old Trafford; Wayne Rooney collecting his fourth in Manchester United colours. With his goal in the win over Wigan Athletic followed by two more at Villa Park, Rooney rounded off October 2007 with another against Middlesbrough, while the month also saw the striker snatch his first at the new Wembley, in England’s 3-0 win over Estonia.
2008 Frank Lampard
The first of two players to double-up on their October dominance, Frank Lampard’s third career Player of the Month award came despite of Chelsea surrendering an 86-game unbeaten home run. The 1-0 loss to Liverpool proved an exception in an exceptional month, as Chelsea otherwise scored ten times without reply. Both Middlesbrough and Hull would be subject to Lampard’s brilliance, with his 3rd-minute chip against the Tigers a standout contribution.
2009 Robin van Persie
Firing on all cylinders in what would prove his final season with the Gunners, rampant Robin van Persie hit the back of the net in four October fixtures, book-ending his month with two first half efforts in the 6-2 win over Blackburn Rovers and a brace in Halloween’s North London derby. In the interim, van Persie would unleash his tricks against Birmingham and West Ham, scoring past each to help Arsenal collect a further four Premier League points.
2010 Raphael van der Vaart
While Tottenham Hotspur’s first ever Champions League campaign seized some of the club’s attention, 2010-11 saw the Londoners finish fifth in the Premier League, with Raphael van der Vaart finishing up the club’s leading goalscorer. Notching twice in October’s 2-1 home win over Aston Villa, the former Ajax man’s effort off the crossbar against Fulham on 16 October 2010 served to set up Roman Pavlyuchenko’s equaliser, in an eventual 2-1 win. Van der Vaart would return to the scoresheet himself in the 1-1 draw with Everton seven days later.
2011 Robin van Persie
October belonged to the Netherlands for the third successive year, as Arsenal’s Robin van Persie reclaimed the Player of the Month prize in 2011. Recovering from a derby day defeat to Spurs, van Persie wasted little time in the subsequent match against Sunderland, scoring inside the opening minute, before popping up with the late winner. The following week saw van Persie net twice to see off Stoke City, before the dynamic Dutchman helped himself to a hat-trick in the Gunners’ sensational 5-3 victory over title rivals Chelsea at Stamford Bridge.
2012 Juan Mata
According to the wisdom of Jose Mourinho, midfielder Juan Mata’s stock has only risen since his move to Manchester United, yet the Spaniard had enjoyed significant success in his years at Stamford Bridge, including in October 2012. Off the back of the club’s UEFA Champions League success, Mata started the month with two goals in UCL play against Danish champions Nordsjælland and the former FIFA World Cup winner would repeat the feat at White Hart Lane in the Premier League, supporting his case for Player of the Month status.
2013 Sergio Agüero
Helping himself to a handsome haul of five goals in four outings, Manchester City marvel Sergio Agüero won the first of his four Player of the Month awards to date in October 2013. Repeating his brace in the 3-1 win over Everton with two more in City’s 3-1 defeat of West Ham, Agüero was also a goalscorer in their 2-1 defeat to Everton – and few would bet against this prolific force adding another Player of the Month prize to his collection this October.
2014 Diafra Sakho
October 2014 saw former Metz man Diafra Sakho follow in the footsteps of countryman Demba Ba, becoming only the second Senegalese star to be named EPL Player of the Month. Sakho made the scoresheet in all three of West Ham’s October outings, following up headers in the wins over QPR and Burnley with another back at the Boleyn Ground, as the Hammers nailed champions Manchester City. The latter was Sakho’s sixth West Ham goal in as many matches.
2015 Jamie Vardy
Leicester City’s first EPL Player of the Month since goalkeeper Tim Flowers more than 15 years before, few can have anticipated the success that the Foxes and hitman Jamie Vardy would achieve in 2015-16. Nevertheless, the signs were certainly there in October, as the future England international converted from the spot in the victory at Norwich, scored both goals in the draw at Southampton and grabbed winners against Palace and West Brom. AC
- Paul Ince (Oct 1994) by Action Images
- Trevor Sinclair (Oct 1995) by Craig Prentice, Action Images
- Matt Le Tissier (Oct 1996) by Paolo Minoli, Action Images
- Paulo Wanchope (Oct 1997) by Tony Marshall, Action Images
- Roy Keane (Oct 1998) by Action Images
- Kevin Phillips (Oct 1999) by Action Images
- Teddy Sheringham (Oct 2000) by Darren Walsh, Action Images
- Rio Ferdinand (Oct 2001) by John Sibley, Action Images
- Gianfranco Zola (Oct 2002) by Darren Walsh, Action Images
- Alan Shearer (Oct 2003) by Richard Heathcote, Action Images
- Frank Lampard (Oct 2005) by Jason O’ Brien, Action Images
- Wayne Rooney (Oct 2007) by Jason Cairnduff, Action Images
- Robin van Persie (Oct 2011) by Jed Leicester, Action Images
- Juan Mata (Oct 2012) by Matthew Childs, Action Images
- Sergio Agüero (Oct 2013) by Tony O’ Brien, Action Images
- Diafra Sakho (Oct 2014) by Tony O’ Brien, Action Images
- Jamie Vardy (Oct 2015) by Alex Morton, Action Images
- Player of the Month Award by Darren Walsh, Action Images