The shortlist for the UEFA Player of the Year candidates have been announced, with six United players featuring. Whilst Cristiano Ronaldo will almost certainly win the overall award, five other players have been recognised, with Edwin Van der Sar being named in the UEFA Goalkeeper of the Year category, Rio Ferdinand and Nemanja Vidic up for the defender award, Paul Scholes in the running for midfielder of the year, and Wayne Rooney competing for forward of the year.
No wonder FIFA moron Sepp Blatter is waging a war against England at the moment, with English clubs and players totally dominating Europe. The list of potential winners has been whittled down to 20, with 17 of those spots being filled by players from the Premiership.
Whilst United have more players than any other team represented, Chelsea come 2nd with five players in the running (Petr Cech, John Terry, Michael Essien, Frank Lampard, Didier Drogba), Liverpool with four players (Pepe Reina, Jamie Carragher, Steven Gerrard, Fernando Torres) and Arsenal with two (Manuel Almunia, Cesc Fabregas).
So, who’s going to win what?
It’s pretty funny to think that of all the leagues and all the teams in Europe, just three players act as representatives for them outside of the Premiership. Schalke 04 Manuel Neuer is in the running for the goalkeeper’s prize, whilst Barcelona defender Carles Puyol and his team-mate, forward Lionel Messi, are also up for the awards.
Edwin Van der Sar
Van der Sar was the goalkeeper in the most effective defence in the Premiership last season, conceding just 22 goals and picking up 21 clean sheets. They also boasted the best defensive record in Europe, with Real Madrid conceding 36 goals, Inter Milan conceding 26, and Bayern Munich conceding 21 goals (but in 4 fewer games, giving United a better goals to game ratio).
In the European Cup, Van der Sar played in 10 games, with United conceding just 4 goals those matches.
Most importantly though, and likely to sway the decision, Van der Sar saved the penalty that won Manchester United the European Cup. How can you argue with that?
Rio Ferdinand and Nemanja Vidic
Again, two defenders part of the best defence in the Premiership and Europe.
Whilst Vidic claims a lot of the plaudits, mainly because his (insane) bravery, Rio Ferdinand was immense last season. I’ll make no bones about the fact that I’ve been a Ferdinand critic over the years, however you’d have to possess particularly strong anti-Rio feelings to not recognise his brilliant performances last season. It was incredibly rare to see an opponent get the better of him, with the likes of Fernando Torres and Dimitar Berbatov (and Emmanuel Adebayor, when not using his hand to score!) having no joy when up against him.
Either of these players would be worthy winners of this award but I’d say Rio should edge it, particularly due to the amount of games he played in last season (51 games to Vidic’s 43).
The glamour of scoring a beauty of a goal against Barcelona in the European Cup semi-final was certainly the reason why UEFA took note and put Scholes in the list. However, United fans can appreciate Scholes for far more than that last season.
Whilst Michael Carrick Anderson ensured we didn’t miss him on a costly level last season when out for several months following his operation, the quality Scholes brings to our team is unmatched by any other player. His passing is absolutely phenomenal, spraying 50 yard balls across the park to feet on a consistent basis.
However, as a player far more happy to skulk out of the limelight, I can’t see how he would draw in enough attention to get the votes to win this one.
Rooney was one of the most effective players in the Premiership last season, although you’d never know it. In the 27 league games Rooney played in last season, missing out on close to 1/3 of the season due to injury, he was responsible (either scoring or assisting) 25 goals, an average of 0.9 goals a game.
Rooney was missing for 4 out of United’s 5 defeats last season, and scored the equalising goal against Chelsea before being subbed through injury, with United then going on to lose. Coincidence? Only people who don’t watch Rooney on a weekly basis could claim such a thing.
Whilst still yet to have that blinding season that has been predicting, mainly due to his self-sacrificing nature, far more concerned with the team winning than he is receiving the praise himself, it was an incredibly important player to United last season, as he is every season.
However, he went AWOL in the Champions League, which was strange for the ‘big game’ player he usually is, so can’t see how he would scoop this prize. Particularly considering Cristiano Ronaldo has been shortlisted for this category.
Which players do you think will scoop the awards?