It's that time of the year folks. The season climax is fast approaching and we are back to that predicament in which we have to select the most outstanding player of the year. In a season where you do not win the league or at least have an outright top scorer in the league, it is, admittedly, difficult to single out op performers.
Case in point, after the horror show that was last season, there were so many mediocre performances from the outfield players over the course of the season that David De Gea easily dominated the club's Official POTY gala. He was the only logical and yet safe choice. To award it to anyone would have been farcical to say the least.
Moving on to 2014/15, and one can rightfully draw comparisons between last season and this season. Regardless of the improvements that the club has made in recent weeks, United looked very much as clue-less on the pitch as they did last season for most of this season, albeit with a touch of twitch about them. The football was as dire but crucially the faith hardly wavered, at least not to the levels it did 12 months earlier. With a poorer away record than David Moyes and a heavier defeat at Goodison Park, Louis van Gaal has retained the benefit of the doubt over the course of the season. His personal achievement is not that United are almost certainly going to achieve the club target of a top 4 finish but that he gets to get another shot at it without much heresy.
In a second consecutive trophy-less season, here are FLOM's nominees for Player of the Year.
1. DAVID DE GEA
Where else to begin but the number 1. With speculation rife that the Spaniard is off to Real Madrid in the summer, the Number 1 has proved his class over the season and made a case form himself as one of the best goalkeepers in the world. Perhaps the perfect testament to his talent is that even at his level, he is destined to get better as goalkeepers, much like wine, tend to get better with age. That he has developed a nasty reputation of getting beat at his near post recently is evidence of room for improvement.
He is probably responsible for about 10 of the 65 odd points we have accumulated so far. It is not often that United concede as a result of his individual errors. His best performance of the season was early in October in a 2-1 home win over Everton. Despite having four games left, it is unlikely that he will better the top class saves at the death that essentially won United all three points that day.
2. CHRIS SMALLING
That we are two names into the nominees and it's only members in the back-five in contention is a sobering reality of the times at Manchester United now. Chris has matured into the kind of defender that Arsene Wenger would gladly put in a bid for. He was a shoe in to be out in the summer alongside Jonny Evans in the manager's predicted rebuilding plans. The England International has however emerged as the fastest learner of the Louis van Gaaal defensive model so much so that he has played himself into a new contract in a season when United's defence has been the sole focus of their weakness. He recovered from his lowest point of the season after that red-card in the City derby in November to score a 4th goal in the reverse fixture almost 6 months on. Mind, that is only one of four goals contributed over the season, a tally identical to that of Danny Welbeck in the league this season.
As far as defenders go, he is the Club's defacto Defender of the Year this season.
3. ASHLEY YOUNG
How is it even possible that come the end of the 2015 season, Ashley Young is still a Manchester United player? If you genuinely thought L
ouis van Gaal was going to put up with the 29 year old winger especially after getting rid of possibly better players albeit in different positions then you must be the ultimate optimist. After naming him a 'senior player' over in pre-season in the States, Ashley has gone from literally stealing a wage (like Anderson used to) to being one of the most crucial players to the first names on the team sheet. That he has todate been involved in the last 4 goals that the club as scored is testament to how crucial he is now to the club. It might be a tad to late for him to cement his status at the club especially if the club has another heavy transfer window but credit where it's due, Ashley has fought for and won his place in the side inspite of competing against the club's most expensive purchase. He has had to improve more than most; mentally and physically. The greatest compliment Louis van Gaal has given him is that he is one of the few players that have kept their places in the team despite the 78,67,678 formations that the manager experimented o this season. As a full back, wing-back, winger, forward, Ashely has not attracted the same criticism that those who have not had to prove themselves have.
AND therefore, with credible mentions to Ander Herrera, Wayne Rooney, Marouanne Fellaini and to Michael Carrick (all of whom are let down by form, injury or lack of sufficient playing time over the season), it is with a slice of humble pie that this blog names ASHLEY YOUNG as United's Player of the Season for 2014/15. He shades David De Gea simply because the Spaniard is the defending champion of this award and that it's hard to imagine when the ex-Villain will next be in a position to claim this award.
Labels: MANCHESTER UNITED, PLAYER OF THE YEAR