Best Of Manchester United 08/09
After highlighting the worst moments of the season, the time has come to collect the best ones as well, now the dust has settled on a highly successful campaign. Let's go!
Best performance of the season
We were majestic in sweeping Chelsea aside but the 3-1 win at the Emirates tops the lot. United were two up after 11 minutes but kept attacking and by the 70th minutes registered 10 shots on target opposed to Arsenal's 2. A glorious, sweeping counter-attack put the icing on the cake and only Fletch's dismissal left a stain on a magical European night.
Greatest moment of the season
Still has to be Kiko Macheda's goal against Aston Villa. The elation, the ecstasy I have felt after that goal almost matched that of Anelka's penalty in Moscow. The best late goal since Tevez's equaliser at Blackburn in 2008.
Best game of the season
The 5-2 win over Spurs was a classic game of two halves and a brilliant one. It had everything: controversy (Palacios' horror tackle and the penalty), despair (Spurs taking a two-goal lead), some majestic football, an inspired substitution (Carlos Tevez), a marvellous individual performance (Wayne Rooney) and a wonderful atmosphere. Magnificent.
Goal of the season
Ronaldo's strike at Porto, Tevez's wonderful goal against City, Ronaldo's freekick against Blackburn all have their merits as well as Macheda's goal but my vote goes to our third at the Emirates: Ronaldo's backheel released Park still in United's half, the Korean sent an inch-perfect ball to Rooney's path on the left, Wayne's pass found its way through the legs of Toure (I think) and Ronaldo, having sprinted 70 yards, finished off the move clinically. Brilliant team goal, up there with the second and the third against AS Roma in 2007.
Player of the season
Nemanja Vidic won the clubs' awards; Ryan Giggs became PFA Player of the Year; Cristiano Ronaldo finished as the team's top scorer again; Michael Carrick was amazingly consistent; I argued that Wayne Rooney was the best performer.
However, our award goes not to Rooney but to the player who performed well above what could be expected of him and that is Darren Fletcher. Had he not played out of his skin all season the loss of Hargreaves would have been a disaster. We badly missed the curly Canadian - but Fletch almost perfectly filled the hole. It speaks volumes that his absence was widely lamented ahead of the Champions League final - and also that it proved crucial there.
Comedy of the season
Rafa Benitez... well, throughout the campaign. But of course his ridiculous attack on Sir Alex in January which was full of 'facthes' which contained as many accurate facts as an average Sun article. And it was even funnier to see them struggling to break down Stoke the next day, then not winning a league game throughout January!
Surprise of the season
Rafael's performances. He had Robinho in his pocket at Eastlands, he revitalised a sluggish United at the Emirates in November, also scoring a brilliant goal which gave us a lifeline... he was excellent, even though it's clear his defensive work must improve, a lot. But he's on the right track.
Best individual performance by a United player
A difficult one: Carrick's display at the San Siro was outstanding while Ronaldo was irresistible at the Emirates. However, I'd pick Wayne Rooney: he was unstoppable, majestic, relentless againts Spurs, inspiring the team to overturn a two-goal deficit, scoring twice in the process.