Football FanCast columnist Mark Bryans continues
his search into finding the outstanding players of 2008, by looking for the best
defender of the calendar year.
It is early January and therefore it is that time of year to heap praise on
those who made 2008 a memorable 12 months for football fans. Over the next few
days I will be arguing the cause for a number of candidates for each position
on the pitch, as well as attempting to find manager, unsung hero and goal of
These lists could easily become a parade of players from the perceived ‘top
4' clubs, so, wherever possible I have looked to include players from outside
I want you to get involved and vote each day for the player you believe
deserves the award for their respective position, or leave a comment on who you
think should have made the list. Today it is time to find the ‘Defender of the
Year 2008,' who has impressed you the most?
Gael CLICHY – Arsenal
2008 was a productive year for the French left-back who has finally come
into his own after being promoted to first-choice after Ashley Cole's move
across London. It saw Clichy sign a new long-term contract at the Emirates,
score his first goal for the Gunners, receive his first full French
international cap, captain Arsenal – albeit in a friendly – and to top it all
he was named in the PFA Team of the Year at left back, beating the likes of
Patrice Evra and the aforementioned Cole.
In the second half of the year he continued to excel even as Arsenal
struggled for consistency in the Premier League, one of his best performances
came as his side beat Champions Manchester United at the Emirates. His first
goal for the club came in defeat against Stoke City, but it was a wonderful
strike for a player used to being praised for his performances at the other end
of the pitch.
Martin LAURSEN – Aston Villa
In all of the furore caused by Gareth Barry's on/off transfer to Liverpool
Danish defender Laursen was installed as Aston Villa captain and his
performances throughout the rest of 2008 continued to impress. Before being
bestowed with the armband Laursen had been a mainstay in the Villa side, and
2008 saw him continue his tremendous goalscoring feats.
Laursen's consistently high performances did not go unnoticed by the Villa
supporters as he was voted Fans' Player of the Year for the 2007/08 season. He
has excelled in his role as captain and his defensive displays have been
pivotal in Villa's charge into the Champions League spots.
Jamie CARRAGHER – Liverpool
Another consistent year from Jamie Carragher makes him an obvious nominee
for the award of ‘Defender of the Year.' The former England in international
has only Liverpool red flowing through his veins and his never-say-die attitude
is always appreciated by the Liverpool faithful.
Often overlooked by those who label Liverpool a ‘one-man-team' Carragher's
performances throughout 2008 were at a standard football fans have become
accustomed to. Last season saw Liverpool vice-captain Carragher make his 500th
appearance for his beloved club and as the year progressed it has become clear
that he is far from finished at the highest level.
Rio FERDINAND – Manchester United
After a career of high-profile mishaps, including the infamous missed drugs
test, it was just reward that 2008 saw Rio Ferdinand – the footballer – made
the headlines. The Londoner captained Manchester United to victory in the
Champions League final and was instrumental in a fantastic defensive unit which
was so important to United's double-winning season.
2008 also saw Ferdinand take on FIFA regarding their policy on tackling
racism in football and continues to fight the cause. His performances also
impressed new England manager Fabio Capello and was one of the possible
selections as permanent captain. Despite losing out to John Terry he will have
been delighted to lead his country out, and it is likely he will be bestowed
with the honour again.