With the first half of the Premiership season almost behind us, now would be an appropriate time to explore who has been Manchester United’s best player thus far.
Despite sitting at the summit of the Premier League and safely navigating the group stages of the Champions League, there have been some indifferent team performances so far this season.
That applies to individual performances too, and many of United’s key player’s form has been poor—or inconsistent, at best.
Ahead of asking for your votes in the poll at foot of the page, I have shortlisted four contenders for you to consider with statistical support provided by WhoScored.com:
Following some disastrous performances this time last season, Jonny Evans has recovered well. His superb form has been crucial this season, particularly in the absence of defenders Nemanja Vidic, Chris Smalling and Phil Jones.
The Northern Irish international has now found some consistency to his game and is growing in confidence all the time. He has contributed two goals and, remarkably, is yet to receive a card.
An unsung hero in the past, United fans are finally beginning to realise his worth. He has staked his claim on a first-team berth and now that club captain Vidic has returned from injury, it could well be Rio Ferdinand that loses his place.
Robin van Persie
The Premiership’s joint leading scorer (along with Swansea’s Michu) has hit the ground running and settled in seamlessly at his new club. As far as the fans are concerned he is a legend in the making.
Manchester United’s marquee summer signing has already scored 12 goals in 15 league starts as well as providing five assists. Also, three goals from three starts in the ECL certainly bodes well for the future and he can only get better.
Immediately a terrace favourite, Robin van Persie is a player at the peak of his powers and by his own admission has found his perfect club. In a short space of time he has become United’s new talisman, taken weight from Wayne Rooney’s shoulders and allowed him to drop into a valuable deeper role.
This season had started slowly for Wayne Rooney thanks to the horror gash to his leg that he suffered against Fulham just two games into the season. However, Rooney’s performances have really gathered pace over the past few matches.
It’s important to highlight just how significant his deeper role in the team has been this season. Rooney was prepared to sacrifice his preferred forward role to assist the team effort in a midfield that has been troublesome for Sir Alex Ferguson.
As well as displaying some Scholes-like attributes from the centre of the park, Rooney has now begun to get back in the goals—scoring five in his last three league outings. He is also the leading assist maker in the Premiership so far, with seven.
Rafael Da Silva
The absence of Smalling and Jones has assisted young Rafael Da Silva in getting a solid run in the first-team. Nevertheless, he has grasped his opportunity with both hands and hasn’t looked back.
Growing in maturity all the time, he is arguably United’s most consistent and improved performer this season.
His exuberant performances have attracted praise from Sir Alex and senior players and his attacking threat has been effective—two assists and two goals, including a cracker against Liverpool at Anfield.
Fans’ concerns over his apparent rashness in the tackle and tendency to dive in have been dispelled this season too: Rafael has only picked up two yellow cards in 15 league appearances thus far.
So who do you think is Manchester United's player of the season so far? Get voting in our poll, give me your thoughts below and hit me up on Twitter @jonathanbeever.