The Scapegoat award

Nominees: Darron Gibson, Michael Carrick and Jonny Evans
In 2010, Darron Gibson started five games in the first team (four of those in the league, one in Europe) and in this games has played for 90 minutes just once. Yet when he plays badly or the team doesn’t do well, fans are very quick to get on his case. I’m no Gibson fan, the jury is still out as far as I’m concerned, but when you think of how much time Darren Fletcher was afforded in the starting XI before he came good (03-04: 22 league games, 35 all competitions. 04-05: 18 league games, 30 all competitions. 05-06: 27 league games, 41 all competitions. 06-07: 25 league games, 40 all competitions), with fans berating him every time he played, I’m less inclined to judge Gibson so quickly. He’s certainly shown signs of more ability that Fletcher ever had done in his first few seasons, scoring that beauty against Hull on the last day of the 08-09 season, as well as the two he got against Spurs last season, goals against Bolton and West Ham, but more importantly, the goal against Bayern Munich in the European Cup quarter-finals, if not for the mistakes of Rafael/Carrick, would have helped us through to the semi-finals, and from there, who knows…

Michael Carrick has had a massive fall from grace, mostly down to a lack of confidence, which has seen him lose a lot of favour with even the fans who have always supported him. He rarely does anything dreadful but far too often his contribution has been massively limited. We don’t need a player in the centre of the park passing the ball five yards to the defender behind him or another midfielder beside him. We need someone controlling the pace of the game, spraying the ball forward and playing in killer balls which can lead to goals.

I don’t think Jonny Evans can win this award for being a scapegoat. If we had a rapid decline award, he’d get that instead. He’s been blamed for a lot of dropped points because, unfortunately, it has far too often been his mistakes and his man that have denied us the win.

Winner: Darron Gibson