Smells like team spirit
As all the major competitions are drawing to a close – and bearing in mind the bewildering choice of Ryan Giggs as PFA Player of the Year – I thought now would be an opportune moment to select my team of the season. So, let’s take a look at the candidates for goalkeeper. When Shay Given has lined out for Man City he’s done very well, but he’s not played enough football overall – he had a few injuries early on in the season when he was still with Newcastle.
Tony Cascarino, 11 May 2009
Elsewhere, Almunia has done better than I thought he would (he was particularly outstanding during the first leg of Arsenal’s Champion League semi-final against Man Utd), and Brad Friedel has also impressed for Aston Villa, but for me the choice has to be Pepe Reina. Quite simply, he has been the most consistent ’keeper in the Premiership this season.
Out of all the positions, right back was the hardest one to fill: Man Utd have had about three or four right backs; Bosingwa played really well early on but then had an indifferent spell; Sagna has been injured quite often at Arsenal; and Liverpool have also used several different players to fill the position. I suppose the one player who has done well enough has been Sagna. Even though he’s missed quite a few games, when he has played, he’s performed as well as anyone at right back.
The centre backs were much easier to choose – Vidic and John Terry. Apart from one poor performance against Liverpool, Vidic has been outstanding, and as the season has gone on, Terry has just got better and better. During the first leg of Chelsea’s Champions League semi-final against Barcelona, Terry was the best player on the park. Outside of the top four, honourable mentions have to go to Matthew Upson at West Ham, and the Everton trio of Yobo, Jagielka and Lescott, who have kept a lot of clean sheets.
At left-back, Patrice Evra started out strongly for Man Utd, but has suffered a serious dip in form of late. He’s always been good going forward, but he’s been found wanting defensively on a few too many occasions recently. So, I’m going to select Ashley Cole. The Chelsea defender looked imposing early on in the season, and although he too had a slight loss of form around the halfway point, overall he’s been highly impressive – one of his club’s best players, in fact.
On the right wing, I don’t see how you can ignore Ronaldo. Even though he missed the first six weeks of the season, he’s still the top scorer in the Premiership, and he continues to produce moments of magic for United – just look at his stunning, match-winning goal against Porto in the Champions League.
Moving onto the midfield positions, it has to be noted that Stephen Ireland has had a very good year for Man City. As we keep saying, it’s such a shame that he isn’t currently part of the Irish international set-up. Elsewhere, Fabregas has struggled for form at Arsenal, whilst Arteta did very well for Everton until injury forced him out of the side. I am, however, going to select Arteta’s teammate Tim Cahill in my team. As Everton have lost a number of players through injury this season, Cahill has been forced into a utility player role. But whether playing in midfield or upfront, the Australian has invariably produced the goods, and scored a number of key goals into the bargain.
Alongside him I’m opting for Frank Lampard, who has been very good again for Chelsea. I see a lot of the club’s games, and though he struggled in the Champions League first-leg game against Barcelona, in general he’s been superb. Season after season, his goals tally reaches into double digits, and how many midfielders can you say that about?
On the left side of midfield, I definitely won’t be going for Ryan Giggs, who I believe received the PFA Player of the Year award on the basis of sentiment and little else. Instead, I’m going to select Aston Villa’s Ashley Young. Although he’s had a bit of a wobble at the end of the season, he played really well up until Christmas.