|photo by Clinton Steeds
Hollywood's award season may be over and done, but the Championship season accolades are just beginning to come in:
Man For All Seasons: He may have suffered through a late season scoring drought, but no one can deny that he's back on his "A" game now: there can be no other choice for PFA Player of the Year than Manchester United's Robin Van Persie. Scoring goal after goal in a season full of them, the Dutchman provided an even better-than-expected return on investment in his first year in red. He may not have been a one man team, but without him this season's title race would have been a whole different kettle of fish.
Red Storm Rising: Woe to all the pundits who wrote off United goalkeeper David De Gea over some part of the past two seasons. The young Spaniard has bulked up and quietly added several new dimensions to his game. Already possessing the best reflexes in the football world, and offering pinpoint distribution skills, De Gea has added a strong aerial ability to his game over the last several months. There'll be no more questions about his readiness to deal with West Ham or Stoke City -- now the only question being asked will be how Sir Alex has managed to do it again: sign one of the brightest rising stars in European football.
The Thin Man: United's man in the middle may not be bulky, but Michael Carrick threw his weight around the Premier League this season. Ask any knowledgeable fan of the Reds and they'll tell you that Carrick was the man who made United tick: quick with a one touch pass, controlling the offensive tempo, and meticulous in his all around game, the center midfielder made the trains at Old Trafford run on time all season long. He obviously has his boss' confidence, too: now that Wayne Rooney has been knocked down a peg or two, and with Nemanja Vidic still unable to play every game, Carrick is one of the few guaranteed starters in the Champions' lineup.
The Comeback Kid: Although Rio Ferdinand's impeccable play this season nearly qualified for this moniker, we're giving it to Patrice Evra instead. After suffering through a campaign in which serious doubts were raised about the Frenchman's ability to continue at this level, he answered his critics in indomitable style: snagging four goals and adding significantly to the side's offensive threat with his overlapping runs, Evra also managed to step up his defensive game at the same time. The addition of Alexander Buttner certainly helped to get Evra's career back on track -- a case where a little competition was obviously a good thing.
And there's more to come....
This is farlieonfootie for April 24.