My Bleacher Report Birthday: PFA Team of the Year: The Right Choice?

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My Bleacher Report Birthday: PFA Team of the Year: The Right Choice?
(Photo by Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images)

Exactly a year ago today, one of my friends alerted me to a site called "Bleacher Report". I had a look, and decided to sign up, mainly just to humour him. Never in a million years did I think I would still be here a year later.

On that first day, I wrote an article asking whether the PFA Team of the Year was the right choice or not, and gave my take on the subject. To celebrate my one year Bleacher Report anniversary, I thought I'd give my take on this year's PFA Team of the Year as well!

 

Goalkeeper

Officially, this position went to Edwin Van Der Sar of Manchester United. The Dutch shot-stopper certainly has had a spectacular season, going through a record breaking spell of clean sheets in the process. However, this could also be put down to the quality of the defence in front of him.

He faces stiff competition from the likes of Brad Friedel, Mark Schwarzer, and Pepe Reina, however.

Friedel's consistency was key in Aston Villa's charge for fourth place, and the same goes for Reina and Liverpool's title challenge. Mark Schwarzer has had perhaps his greatest season as a Premier League goalkeeper, putting in a number of match-winning displays for Fulham.

Despite all four of these putting up a great claim, however, my goalkeeping spot has to go to Shay Given. He may get a lot of chances to shine after being behind the Newcastle defence for so long, and now the just-as-unpredictable defence of Manchester City, but as a shot-stopper, I don't think there is anyone better in the Premier League.

 

Right-Back

As with last year, right-back is a hard one. Chelsea's Branislav Ivanovic has made a late charge for the position, but the fact that he has only played a handful of games means he can't really be considered.

Liverpool's Alvaro Arbeloa has had a solid season, but hasn't been outstanding by any means. Rafael of Manchester United has done a great job filling in for Gary Neville this season, and looks like he could be a very good player, but, as with Ivanovic, he hasn't played enough games.

The man who best fits the slot, then, would be the official choice: Glen Johnson. The Portsmouth man has furthered his reputation as a good attacking full-back, and has levered himself in to the England set-up as well.

 

Centre-Back

There have been a number of good performers at centre-back this season. The usual suspects such as John Terry and Jamie Carragher are there, but neither of them would get in this year's team.

Everton's Joleon Lescott could stake a claim for a place at either centre-back or left-back, while Fulham's Brede Hangeland has also had a good season. Were it not for their recent free-fall, Michael Turner of Hull could have also been in contention.

At Manchester United, Rio Ferdinand has been in typically good form throughout the season, and even Jonny Evans should be mentioned for the important role he played in United's record breaking clean-sheet run.

The two centre-backs for my team, however, would be Phil Jagielka and Nemanja Vidic. Jagielka has been huge for Everton all season, including playing a massive part in getting Everton to the FA Cup final, which he will now miss due to injury.

Vidic, on the other hand, was largely touted as the main reason behind United's great defensive performances.

 

Left-Back

I have to agree with the official team when it comes to the left-back slot. Despite his form fluctuating somewhat recently, Patrice Evra has been every bit as important as Ferdinand when it comes to their defensive record. He isn't exactly bad going forward either!

The theme of attacking full-backs continues when you look at the other candidates. Gael Clichy of Arsenal has been good when fit, while Chelsea's Ashley Cole has started to regain the type of form he was showing when at Arsenal.

 

 

Right-Midfield

Surprisingly, there aren't too many candidates for the right-midfield slot. Dirk Kuyt of Liverpool is a player you either love or hate. You either see him as the type of player every team needs, or a waste of space and a lot of money. He has, however, had a very good season this year, and should be in consideration.

Aaron Lennon's recent form has thrust him into contention as well. The Tottenham winger has been one of the trickiest players in the league in recent weeks, finally starting to fulfill the huge potential he has.

However, my right-midfield spot, although he doesn't always play there, has to go to Cristiano Ronaldo. He has been a shadow of the all-conquering player we saw last season, and I don't even think he should have been named in the Player of the Year nominations.

However, the fact remains that Ronaldo, despite not being on his best form, is still the league's leading scorer, and is still one of the best players in the world.

 

Centre-Midfield

As always, there is a plethora of talent to choose from when it comes to centre midfield. The likes of Gareth Barry, Tim Cahill, Mikel Arteta, Marouane Fellaini, Danny Murphy, Geovanni, and Luka Modric have all been hugely important for their respective clubs.

Frank Lampard has been as consistent as ever, while Xabi Alonso and Javier Mascherano have helped Liverpool's title challenge in a big way. Michael Carrick has played an important role for Manchester United as well.

Another United player who has to be considered is the PFA Player of the Year Ryan Giggs. While I think that award was given to him more for his career than just this season, Giggs has defied father time and put in some great performances. Statistically, he is the most creative player in the league.

The list of candidates could have been even longer had Cesc Fabregas and Michael Essien not spent large spells of the season on the sidelines. None of the above, however, make my team.

Instead, the central midfield slots are filled by Steven Gerrard and Stephen Ireland. Gerrard has probably been playing better than ever, no easy feat for him, while Stephen Ireland has been Manchester City's best player this season, even with the likes of Robinho at the club.

 

Left-Midfield

The official PFA Team of the Year had Ashley Young on the left-hand side, and it is hard to argue with that. The PFA Young Player of the Year has continued his great form from last season, and was an important part of Aston Villa's charge for fourth place.

However, just pipping Young to the left-midfield slot is Manchester City's Robinho. The Brazilian has, at times, set the Premier League alight with his magic ball control, and has linked up with Stephan Ireland in a way Mark Hughes could have only dreamed of.

 

Striker

At the start of the season, it looked like Amr Zaki may squeeze his way into consideration for this, but he has fallen away in recent months. James Beattie and Didier Drogba have both made a late charge for a spot with their performances in recent months, but their virtual no-shows during the first half of the season mean they miss out.

Gabby Agbonlahor must also be considered, as should Emmanuel Adebayor and Nicolas Anelka. Anelka is the second highest scorer in the league this season, but has taken a back seat to Drogba in recent weeks.

Instead, my strikeforce in my PFA Team of the Year is Fernando Torres and Wayne Rooney. Fernando Torres, when fit, has played a big part in Liverpool's title challenge, while Wayne Rooney has established himself as United's most consistent, and perhaps most dangerous, attacking threat.

 

Manager

The manager was a tough one this year. There have been many managers who could stake a good claim. Martin O'Neill's Aston Villa looked set to claim fourth place for a long time during the season, but they have just fallen away recently.

Guus Hiddink has done a great job since taking over at Chelsea, but his lack of time there counts against him. Phil Brown looked set to put his name into contention, but, as with Michael Turner, Hull's recent free-fall gives a good argument against him.

Rafael Benitez has masterminded Liverpool's best title challenge in years, while Sir Alex Ferguson looks set to guide United to yet another league title, and a potential quintuple.

Harry Redknapp has taken Tottenham from the bottom of the table all the way to potential European qualification, as well as the Carling Cup final. Gianfranco Zola has also impressed at West Ham, especially considering the perilous financial situation of the club.

There are two main contenders for me, however. Roy Hodgson saved Fulham from relegation last season, and this season they find themselves in the top half, capable of qualifying for the Europa League next year.

However, my Manager of the Year is Everton's David Moyes. He has led Everton to sixth place, with moving up to fifth still a very real possibility. Even more impressively, however, he has led them to the FA Cup final, looking to finally get some silverware to show for his efforts at Goodison Park.

 

My Team of the Year

1. Shay Given (Manchester City)

2. Glen Johnson (Portsmouth)

3. Patrice Evra (Manchester United)

4. Phil Jagielka (Everton)

5. Nemanja Vidic (Manchester United)

6. Stephen Ireland (Manchester City)

7. Cristiano Ronaldo (Manchester United)

8. Steven Gerrard (Liverpool)

9. Fernando Torres (Liverpool)

10. Wayne Rooney (Manchester United)

11. Robinho (Manchester City)

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