With the season drawing to a close, United’s Player of the Year awards are looming. It’s unfortunately been another lacklustre season from United, but unlike the previous three seasons, there are a few players that stand out from the rest when it comes to who should win the prestigious award.
Because of United’s average performances since Fergie’s departure, David de Gea has won the last three awards (not that he hasn’t deserved them). After all, if it wasn’t for him, we’d have conceded more goals than I even want to imagine. This season however, the Spaniard hasn’t shone quite as brightly, mostly due to a more solid back line in front of him thanks to the addition of Eric Bailly. This has allowed some of United’s outfield players to receive some spotlight, but only a select few made a statement when they were called upon. So, who are the contenders?
The aforementioned Ivorian has managed to adapt to the league quicker than most people expected him to, thanks to his speed and strength making him a handful to get past. In his first season, he’s overtaken Chris Smalling as United’s #1 centre-back to the point where Smalling looks to be on his way out. Mighty impressive for a lad no one had heard of before June 2016. He has suffered a few injuries this season, however, so whilst he would be a worthy winner, he’s more of an outside chance than anything else.
One of the most passionate players at the club, Herrera has been reliable for the Reds all season long. Sure, he might stick a foot in sometimes when he doesn’t need to, but he’s always involved in every game, whether it’s going forward or keeping the opposition out. Obviously, his standout performance against Chelsea at Old Trafford is deserving of any kind of recognition, and it would be nice to see a player who has so much passion for the badge win the Player of the Year award.
Mata’s creative influence has been massive on United this season. He’s the club’s second top scorer, he creates plenty of chances for his teammates and, most importantly, he’s consistent. He barely puts a foot wrong when he starts, whether he’s pushed out on the right or allowed to play in his preferred #10 role, Mata thrives when the attention is on him. For a man who was supposedly on the brink of leaving United before the start of the season, he’s not done too bad, has he?
Zlatan is the obvious choice for this year’s award, and for good reason. Without his 28 goals in all competitions this season, United’s top four hopes would have been over in December, let alone May. Some of his performances have been laboured this season, but he’s popped up at the right times with some vital goals for United. His season, and his United career as a whole, may have unfortunately been ended early due to his hyper-extended knee injury, but his impact will be felt at Old Trafford for years to come.
United’s unsung hero. Valencia’s transition from right winger to right-back has been nothing short of phenomenal, and he’s now one of the first names on the team-sheet for every game. He’s an absolute machine on the right, running up and down the wing for the full 90 minutes. He’s basically incapable of going any speed slower than a sprint. For me, the Ecuadorian should be given the prestigious award as a reward for his many years of service to the club and his willingness to transition into a new position for the good of the team.