Goalkeeper: David de Gea
After enduring the wrath of the skeptics from his opening season in the Premier League where Manchester United failed to win a single trophy, the Spanish goalkeeper in David de Gea is my pick of the goalkeepers. Especially in the second half of the season as United maintained a superb defensive record after what was a shambolic goals against record in December.
Honourable Mentions: Petr Cech has had one of his best seasons since his skull injury in 2006 and has helped Chelsea to comfortably finish in the top three. Brad Guzan also deserves a mention for keeping experienced goalkeeper Shay Given out of the side for almost the entirety of the season, he has steadied the Villa ship as of late.
Defence: Leighton Baines, Rio Ferdinand, Jan Vertonghen, Branislav Ivanovic
Starting at left-back, the defenders was the simplest to choose from as Leighton Baines completed the full Premier League season as being the only outfield ever-present as he completed every one of the thirty-eight matches. He has proven himself as both a wing-back and a defender, standing out as Everton’s player of the season.
The centre-back pairing includes Rio Ferdinand and Jan Vertonghen. The latter Belgian international always showed that he had a goal or two in him as Liverpool could testify as the defender netted twice at Anfield earlier in the season, whilst Ferdinand’s season wasn’t raining goals, that’s exactly why I selected him. He was a stalwart brick wall at the back for the champions, leading Ferguson to proclaim that Ferdinand had had the best season at Old Trafford, in his 11th term at the club. He even scored the winner, his first in five years, in Fergie’s farewell Old Trafford match against Swansea.
The right-back berth was more difficult to choose. The usual party of Rafael, Bakary Sagna and Kyle Walker were in there, even amongst players such as Sacha Riether who had a particularly good first term at Fulham. Chelsea defender, Branislav Ivanovic was my first choice as, once again, proved himself on the Chelsea backline, including successive European titles and a good run in the Premier League.
Honourable Mentions: Apart from the aforementioned, Patrice Evra ran Leighton Baines quite close for a berth at left-back as did Phil Jones for Vertonghen’s place, however, if I was to select Jones it would have been in the middle of the park, which had many candidates screaming to be selected.
Midfield: Juan Mata, Michael Carrick, Eden Hazard, Gareth Bale
The midfield was a lot more difficult to select. Obviously, according to his accolades gathering in his trophy cabinet, Gareth Bale picked himself, scoring twenty-one goals from all areas of the pitch—I can imagine many goal of the season awards be littered with his nominations.
Whilst Bale has excelled, finishing as the third highest goalscorer in the league, Juan Mata has created the most assists and purely for his performances and stamina, in a 69 match season for Chelsea, the Spaniard has once again proven himself at Chelsea. Mata got the winning goal at Old Trafford plus he netted the Chelsea player of the year, which he also won the previous season, continuing his 100% record with the title.
In the middle, Michael Carrick joins the middle of the midfield in what would be a rather unbalanced team. Carrick has finally gained some recognition at Old Trafford despite putting in performances for the club since he joined seven years ago. I can only remember one mistake, allowing Southampton’s goal in a 2-1 win in January at Old Trafford but all of the last-ditch tackles and his stupendous passing range, which even earned him a song on the Stretford End terraces comparing him to Paul Scholes, have earned him this spot.
The other wing position was incredibly difficult to choose from. Callum McManaman has ended the season with a flourish and will surely be in the Premier League next season despite his club’s relegation whilst his teammate Shaun Maloney has put in a shift of a season also.
However, this two men won’t represent my team of the year as the final berth goes to another Chelsea player in Eden Hazard who has had a fantastic term at Chelsea since joining last summer. He has contributed with plenty of goals and assists under Rafael Benitez
Honourable Mentions: Aside from the pair of Wigan players, there have been two Arsenal players who ran them very close too. Theo Walcott who has saved Arsenal’s skin on plenty of occasions, especially later on in the season has achieved his best goalscoring return in an Arsenal shirt whilst Santi Cazorla’s first season at the Emirates was something special also. Not to forget Frank Lampard either, who continues to be a goalscoring machine at Stamford Bridge, breaking the club’s scoring record at Villa Park the other week, his tally now 203.
Forwards: Robin van Persie, Luis Suarez
Who else but the two top goalscorers in the league? At the very last minute, despite Luis Suarez’s problems with the FA, I plumped for him over the queue of substitute strikers which could have easily replaced the Liverpool forward.
Sharing forty-nine goals between them in the Premier League season, Suarez and Robin van Persie have annihilated all competition. Matches such as the Southampton and Aston Villa games will spring to mind for the Dutchman in terms of his goalscoring prowess as he netted hat-tricks or his first at Old Trafford against Fulham. On the other hand, Suarez will look to those goals at Carrow Road and an equaliser at home to Chelsea, especially that sublime finish against Newcastle earlier on in the season.
Both men have such a range of goals in them and that is exactly why they have landed themselves a place in most people’s team of the year.
Honourable Mentions: two men stand out from the rest of the field and were, I assume, waiting with baited breath to find out if they had replaced Luis Suarez in my selection. However, the two Premier League newcomers in Michu and Christian Benteke have to settle for a place in the reserves despite their excellent scoring return as they netted 18 and 19 goals respectively.
Manager: Sir Alex Ferguson
A thirteenth Premier League crown in twenty-one years, the remarkable reign of Sir Alex Ferguson was officially concluded with a fascinating 5-5 draw with West Brom on Sunday, the first time he has witnessed a result like that for one of his teams. Although he didn’t win his first match away at Oxford or his last at the Hawthorns, the 1,498 in between were some of the more memorable moments in recent British footballing history.
After dominating the domestic side of things, Ferguson picked up two Champions League winners medals, appearing in a further two finals later on in his career. The 71-year old can now rest having hand-picked his successor David Moyes, who also deserves a mention for ending his 11-year tenure at Everton on a high, by pipping Liverpool to sixth place.
Ferguson won’t be in charge at United, and for most of the world’s population, it will be confusing not to see him in the Old Trafford dugout in August. The send-off that the fans and players gave him throughout the past two weeks alongside the bronze statue which is placed smugly in front of a stand named after him, means he will be immortalised at the club.
Honourable Mention: alongside Fergie, this might prove a little controversial. Rafael Benitez deserves a mention after picking up the proclaimed “hardest job in football” as he guided Chelsea, despite the supporters’ mutual hatred for him, to a third place finish and a Europa League crown. Although knowing his fate at the end of the season, the former Liverpool manager stuck to his guns and was rewarded with a thank you on the final day of the season by the fans who hadn’t exactly revered him since his appointment.