Football FanCast columnist Mark Bryans continues
his search into finding the outstanding players of 2008, by looking for the
best midfielder 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 the season.
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 those teams.
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. Now it is the turn of the
midfield maestros, and who deserves to be named ‘Midfielder of the Year 2008?'
Gareth BARRY – Aston Villa
When Liverpool are willing
to spend millions of pounds on a player he must be making something of an
impact and that was the case for Gareth Barry in the summer of 2008. Some may
criticise the former Villa captain for the way he handled himself during the
prolonged transfer saga, and certain sections of the Villa support turned on
But once Barry was aware a move to the North West was off he knuckled down despite
losing the captain's armband and being jeered by him own fans. His performances
all season were of an increasingly high standard and this did not go unnoticed
boss Fabio Capello. Barry started in Capello's first game in charge and 2008
also saw him captain his country and score his first international goal.
Ashley YOUNG – Aston Villa
Yet another Aston Villa candidate in the shape of the
exuberant Ashley Young, one of the year's most exciting stars. The 07/08 season
saw Young finish second in the Premier League assists table with a total of 17
assists and he also starred in the ‘Second-City Derby.' He scored a brace and
set up another 2 goals in Villa's 5-1 mauling of Birmingham City.
His seemingly telepathic connection with fellow England
youngster Gabriel Agbonlahor is one of the major factors in Aston Villa's
charge on the Champions League positions. He is still on the periphery of the England side
but he now has 4 caps and is a regular in Fabio Capello's squads.
Steven GERRARD – Liverpool
Yet again Steven Gerrard had a fantastic year as the driving
force behind Liverpool Football Club. The Liverpool
captain is arguably the best player in the world at grabbing a game by the
scruff of the neck, and at rescuing his side when all hope seems lost. Fernando
Torres has singled out Gerrard as a major factor behind his own success in
front of goal and the two talents have certainly worked an understanding on the
As well as being instrumental for Liverpool,
Gerrard also starred for England
once again in 2008. He was one of three players to be trialled for the position
of new England captain under Fabio Capello although he ultimately lost out to
John Terry. He formed a strong midfield partnership in a handful of games
alongside Gareth Barry and many believe this led to Liverpool's
strong interest in the Aston Villa midfielder.
Cristiano RONALDO – Manchester
What can be said about Cristiano Ronaldo that has not
already been said? The Portuguese winger had an outstanding 2008 and capped it
all by being named European Footballer of the Year. 2008 started for the
flamboyant Manchester United star with a hat-trick against Newcastle United. A
stunning free-kick against Portsmouth
highlighted his true ability and the 07/08 season finished with Ronaldo winning
both the Premier League and Champions League when he scored in the final
Cristiano finished the 07/08 campaign with 42 goals to his
name, only 4 shy of equalling Denis Law's record for Manchester United. He has
been awarded several personal prizes, topped by winning the Ballon D'Or in
December. Despite ongoing speculation of a move to Real Madrid Ronaldo
continued to fire in the goals after returning from ankle surgery at the start
of the current season. The European Championships were arguably the only let
down for the winger as he struggled to make an impact and Portugal
crashed out in the quarter-finals.
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