Paul Scholes picks his Team of the Season while his biggest disappointment was a Manchester United player
Former Manchester United star Paul Scholes picks his highs and lows from the Premier League this season.
David de Gea
The outstanding keeper in the league. He has saved United so many points along the way. An easy choice to make.
This is a man who knows how to defend. He is not the quickest but he gets in position and has that nasty streak that all good defenders have. Also chips in with goals.
He has had a really good season after a summer when team-mates – Dejan Lovren especially – had gone elsewhere. He has come to the fore with Southampton, a late developer who is now 31.
Another solid 38 games. He gets a lot of protection from Nemanja Matic but there is no questioning his importance to Chelsea. His experience helped get them over the line.
He just beats Cesar Azpilicueta. The Chelsea man is an excellent defender. Bertrand gets in ahead by virtue of his attacking ability and the fact that he’s left-footed.
A hard choice, given how well Alexis Sanchez has done in his first season. I just love the way that Silva plays the game. Not his greatest season, but such quality when he does play well.
He has not been out of the world, but when you look at his passing stats they show he has been one of the most influential. There’s no one better in the league at what he does.
For the most part, he has done a brilliant job for Chelsea. He tailed off a bit towards the end but, at his best, does a great job of allowing Fabregas to play and protecting the defence.
There is still more to come from this man. He could get up to the mid-20s in terms of his league goals. Nevertheless, he has been the standout player in the Premier League.
The top goalscorer with 26 goals despite having extensive injury problems. Again, not his best season but still the most dangerous forward in the league.
A great achievement to score 21 league goals when his first start in the competition came on 9 November. A player with so much determination.
Goals of the season
1 Andre Schurrle
(v Burnley, August 18)
A great teamwork goal that showed early on what Chelsea were capable of. I loved the way that they opened up Burnley.
2 Juan Mata
(v Liverpool, March 22)
Not just a great goal but a very important one in the course of Manchester United’s season. He made a difficult skill look very easy.
3 Charlie Adam
(v Chelsea, April 4)
Some have said it was just a big hit, but first of all you need the confidence to try it, then the technique and, thirdly, the awareness to recognise that Thibaut Courtois tends to sweep up and stray quite far off his line.
Manager of the season
I know that Jose Mourinho should win this by default, but bear with me.
Clearly, Mourinho is a great manager and he has won the biggest prize of all, the league title, but a couple of things I feel just tip the balance against him.
First, we are talking about a club with huge resources to buy players, and one that has been buying players on the £2530m mark for a number of years. Secondly, one of the biggest disappointments of the season was Chelsea’s performance against PSG in the Champions League. They never attacked the tie in the way a club of their ambition should have done.
Either way, I felt that Koeman built so well from such a difficult start. He had lost so much of the team that had done well the previous year and was coming in to manage in English football for the first time. His signings were absolutely brilliant, and I know that the club as a whole have to take credit for that too.
I have to say that I rate Sadio Mané the highest, just ahead of Ryan Bertrand. Watching Mané in person, it is clear that he has great pace and movement, and then there was that hat-trick against Aston Villa.
As well as those two there has been Graziano Pelle and Dusan Tadic. All of them seemed to adapt well to the Premier League very quickly. The manager has to take a lot of the credit for getting them settled so soon and then maintaining the momentum.
As well as Koeman, I would give great credit to Mark Hughes, who achieved a ninth-place finish on the fraction of the budget of other clubs at Stoke City. I also think Mauricio Pochettino has done a good job with very little chance to change his squad.
It has to be Kane for forcing his way into the Tottenham team, staying there and scoring so many goals along the way. There was a goal against West Brom, his first of two, on January 31, which reminded me of Ruud van Nistelrooy at his best. There was nothing gentle about it – quick feet and then a shot that was smashed past the goalkeeper. That was typical of Ruud. He was unwilling to give the goalkeeper any chance at all. You need that ruthlessness as a goalscorer.
Kane’s record of 31 goals in all competitions is superb, and his attitude is obviously excellent. I am sure that he knows Next season will be difficult for him but there is no reason he cannot make progress again.
I see him as a No 9, a classic centre-forward. I don’t think he is a No 10 in the Teddy Sheringham mould. Sheringham would link the play but that is not Kane’s game.
If there is one thing that makes me hesitate then it is the lack of pace that might hold him back.
He is sharp and alert but as a No 9 you need that burst of pace that can take you away from defenders.
Kane is not slow, but I wonder if he has that extra yard. It is not something you can introduce to your game. The conditioning coaches might be able to make you sharper but they won’t necessarily make you quicker.
(A double award)
1 Angel Di Maria
A good start but, for £59.7m, the hope was that he would give United much more. I accept he has had problems off the pitch settling into life in Manchester, but there is no way he can see the season as anything other than a disappointment. This was, after all, the best player in last season’s Champions League final. Nevertheless, the quality is there and I don’t think United can afford to lose him. They need that kind of player if they are to compete at the highest level in the Champions League. Let’s see what next season brings.
2 Mario Balotelli
I thought that £16m was too good a deal to turn down for an Italy international. It is hard to make that case now. He has had a few injuries, but most of all it has been the sulking that has been the major issue.
He just has not fitted the way that Brendan Rodgers has wanted to play. Rodgers wants hard-working, quick strikers. Balotelli may be quick but there is no way he is hard-working.
Next season he might flourish but I don’t think he will get I don’t think he’ll a second chance. (© Independent News Service)
I paid my first visit to Juventus’s new stadium for the Champions League semi-final against Real Madrid. It felt like a great place to play football, with the fans really involved. I loved to play at stadiums like that when I was still a player. And then the quality on the pitch was a
Independent News Service