My managerial career began in Canada too, with a spell at the short lived franchise Nova Scotia Clippers – I have such an affinity with the country, and know first hand just how passionate supporters are about the beautiful game. To demonstrate just how connected I still am with the sport up in Canada, just last month I was honoured to be the guest speaker at the Hamilton Soccer Hall of Fame.
It’s therefore an honour and a privilege to be able to connect with the superb Manchester United fans of Canada through this webpage and I was delighted when I was asked to share my “awards” for this past season – do you agree with them?
Goal of the Season
There’s really only one answer isn’t there? United weren’t struggling in the goals department last year but the signing of Robin van Persie gave us an extra dimension. I recently joined Twitter, where I’ve been reminded so many times of spectacular goals I scored throughout my career and I must have lost count of how many people contacted me when Robin scored that second goal against Aston Villa, saying that was right out of my copybook! And I’ll tell you, they’re right – that was a goal I would have loved to have scored, what a fantastic connection he got on that pass from Wayne Rooney. In a game where we needed something special to send a message, that was truly it.
Game of the Season
There have been many great comebacks for the team this season but the game that has to stand out for me must be the game against Aston Villa. After a number of hiccups after the Real Madrid tie – which still disgusts me to this day – the team knew they really had to put in a performance against Villa, and that a win would win them the title. What a way to do it, too – they really came out like they meant business, and scored early on to settle to nerves. This was against a resurgent Villa side, too, so they weren’t playing mugs, but they played with a welcome tenacity and determination, and of course it was topped off with fabulous scenes of celebration at the end.
Young Player Of The Season
For this category I wanted to nominate a breakthrough player. So that means as well as Rafael has done, I felt he was already established, and the same for Danny Welbeck as young Danny did so well last season. This season, then, I’ve gone for someone who I saw a lot of when I used to be around Old Trafford, a player who’s come through with Danny – Tom Cleverley. Tom has struggled for games in the last couple of months but I was so impressed with the way he has played for the majority of this season. He’s added a cleverness and a quickness to the team’s play in the final third and also scored a couple of very good goals too – if he can keep his fitness, he will surely make a major contribution for the club in the next few years.
Senior Player Of The Season
I wanted to give praise to a player who richly deserves it but often gets forgotten when people look at the goals of van Persie – I have been so impressed with Michael Carrick’s consistency in the centre of our midfield, that for me I have to say he’s been our best player this season. I know there won’t be any United supporters who will be surprised by that as he has been appreciated by all at Old Trafford, but it’s worth mentioning that he’s not only been a model of consistency but done so in a midfield that still hasn’t found its natural shape. United have won the league without wingers in great form and we still haven’t found a regular partner for Carrick (as Cleverley has struggled to maintain long term fitness) so it’s been a real test for him to keep his form up – he has done so with flying colours, and has provided a consistent foundation on which the rest of the team has been able to build. If United manage to sort out a long term foil for him, the best might be yet to come from him, too.