Last night saw Manchester United celebrate at their Player of the Year awards, but their woeful season in the Barclays Premier League threw up few heroes in red. Ryan Giggs received a lifetime achievement award, but goalkeeper David De Gea walked away with the big prize.
Injuries, poor form and confused tactics blighted the first Premier League campaign at Old Trafford without the steady hand of Sir Alex Ferguson at the tiller. An awards ceremony following the season’s failures was probably as welcome as the mournful lap of “honour” that the team were obliged to make against Hull City on Tuesday.
So often the favourite in fan-voted polls, it could actually be argued that Wayne Rooney was the most effective player for the club this season. An expensive form of peace was made with the player and a bumper contract signed; he initially revelled in the lynch pin role that David Moyes cast him.
It was possibly a divisive decision to raise the Liverpudlian to such vaulted status, but few around him could rise to the task of playing to Moyes’ plans in any event. Far too often we saw the familiar sight of Rooney scampering all over the pitch in a bid to somehow affect proceedings.
With a final chance to salvage something from the season’s wreckage, away to Bayern Munich in the UEFA Champions League, Rooney’s apparent insistence on playing when clearly unfit was an unfortunate footnote to his manager’s career at the club.
It therefore says much of how the season unfolded that David De Gea was voted player of the year, not only by his teammates, but also the United faithful. The independent reports that De Gea wanted to “thank the fans."
"From my very first day at the club, I have felt their love and I’m really happy."
David De Gea
De Gea signed for United in 2011 from Atletico Madrid. Thanks to a few high-profile errors in his first season and a tendency to flap at crosses, he endured a shaky start to life at Old Trafford. He has put that behind him, grown in confidence and gone on to become one of the club’s most consistent performers.
Not only is De Gea now firmly seen as a safe pair of hands, he is also an incredibly agile shot-stopper with razor-sharp reflexes. Witness his wonder save in last October’s EPL match against Sunderland.
Adnan Januzaj stole the plaudits that day, but the result could have been very different had Emanuele Giaccherini’s bullet header not been superbly pushed wide by the acrobatic Spaniard. United legend Peter Schmeichel called it “one of the best” he’d ever seen, per Daily Mail.
Another highlight was the point-blank save from Luis Suarez in United’s three-nil defeat at Old Trafford. The save has been voted Match of the Day’s save of the season.
There has still been room for the odd howler. 101 great goals reminds us of the fumbled save from David Bardsley’s weak shot in the Capital One Cup against Sunderland.
Such errors have been much rarer recently, though; a fact which United ought to be grateful for, as De Gea can hardly have expected to have been as busy as he has been this season.
He was an almost ever-present face in a constantly rotating line-up and the only player deserving of Manchester United's Player of the Year awards this season. Even so, United fans will be hoping that they can vote for someone else next time round.