United front-runner: Nemanja Vidic (right) has been solid for the champions
Nemanja Vidic has been the most outstanding and consistent player in the Premier League this season and if he performs like this for the rest of the season then it will be unfair if he is not named Footballer of the Year. George Mahamah, Accra.
Martin responds.As of this moment he would certainly get my vote, George, and if the rumours about the extent of Rio Ferdinandâ€™s injury problem are true, he could be shouldering quite a lot of the responsibility in the Manchester United defence at a crucial stage in the season.
Lacklustre: Cristiano Ronaldo
I don't even have to think about it too much: Cristiano Ronaldo, of course. Anjiyoung.
Martin responds.Yes you do, Anji. He is having an ordinary time by his standards.
If you are spending your last£45, would you want to see Vidic and Ferdinand or Ronaldo and Wayne Rooney
? DHW, Newcastle.
Martin responds.Ronaldo and Rooney every time, but that is a different issue to selecting the Footballer of the Year.
There have been no forwards or midfielders who have been really outstanding this season, therefore a defender must win. Vidic by a mile. John.
Martin responds. You are probably right, John. Fernando Torres has been injured, Ronaldo inconsistent, Rooney is close but not as influential on Manchester Unitedâ€™s season as Vidic. There is a case for Steven Gerrard and Frank Lampard has kept Chelsea in contention, just, but this is looking very much like a defender's year.
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I think, barring an extraordinary individual contribution, whoever gets it has to be part of the championship winning team. If that is Liverpool, the obvious choice is Steven Gerrard; if United win, it is Vidic. Of the two I think Vidic has been truly outstanding and has proved himself the world's best defender in 2008. This season, playing only as a centre-back, he has scored four goals, two of them in crucial situations, against Sunderland in the last minute to give United three points and then the opener against Chelsea. He is an elegant and precise tackler, a giant in the air and a leader in an outstanding defence. Satishbaliga.
I know defenders usually get overlooked but Vidic is an absolute rock and his performance against Wigan Athletic should be studied by all budding young defenders. It was a master-class. Howieh.
Captain Fantastic: Steven Gerrard has been the driving force behind Liverpool's title tilt
It has got to be Vidic. No other player, including Ashley Young of Aston Villa, has had such a positive effect on his team. Without him, United would still be playing catch up rather than taking control in the title race and Jonny Evans would not have put in the performances which have led to him being considered one of the most promising young defenders in the league. Vidic is an absolute man-mountain. 17ancounting.
Martin responds. No argument here.
It has to be Stephen Ireland. He was written off last season for his inconsistent performances and fragile mental state, but has been totally transformed and now seems to have the mental steel of a seasoned international to match his undoubted skill and eye for a pass. Bluemoona.
Martin responds.A degree of partisanship here, it would seem, judging by your moniker. Stephen Ireland has certainly been outstanding and would make my team of the season, but there is a difference between hitting a purple patch and sustaining that level of performance to be regarded as Footballer of the Year.
The future's bright: Stephen Ireland shines in Manchester City's orange strip
The Footballer of the Year award is an absurdity because the winner is decided before the league's completion. In 2003, the frontrunners were Thierry Henry and Ruud van Nistelrooy, with Henry winning, even though his Arsenal side fell away at the end, allowing United to prevail. If the award were to truly embrace individual sporting achievement, it could be made semi-automatically. Oliver Kahn was crowned best player of the 2002 World Cup, only to make errors in the final which cost Germany the win. In terms of direct influence on his club's points total, the footballer of the year so far is surely Rory Delap of Stoke City. He should get it if Stoke stay up, although we are unlikely to find that out until after the Footballer of the Year is announced. Sigh. Nicky_no.
Martin responds.I agree with you about the timing. Members of the Football Writers Association vote on the Footballer of the Year and, although I have a vote, I rarely use it because a decision has to be made in April and clearly a huge factor should be how the various candidates fare and what influence they have on the crucial final stages of the season. As these days I can flick a switch and send 10,000 words of copy in an instant, I see no reason why the day after the Premier League season has ended, the FWA cannot collate the two-word votes of its members with a 5pm deadline, at which point the decision can be announced. From a media point of view, it would be quite dramatic, too. The FWA claim the early shout is all to do with making arrangements to get the winner there for the presentation on the Thursday before the FA Cup Final, but I would have thought the priority should be getting the right name on the trophy. I canâ€™t see too many winners snubbing the prize anyway.
Dirty work: Xabi Alonso works hard in the Liverpool midfield
I would vote for someone who, if that genius Rafael Bentitez had his way, would be playing at Juventus right now. Xabi Alonso of Liverpool has had an impressive first half of the season and along with Javier Mascherano has helped create Gerrardâ€™s free role. He is one of the main reasons Liverpool made a great start and they have looked one dimensional when he has been missing. Scagsi.
Martin responds.True, but he probably falls into Sir Alex Fergusonâ€™s unsung defender category, too, because much of his midfield role is guarding the back four and allowing Gerrard freedom. Gerrard could well be Footballer of the Year because what he does is so eye-catching, Alonso probably has no chance and, as you point out, that is hardly fair.
I know Ashley Young was sent off at the weekend for a horrendous challenge, but at all other times he has played with speed, flair and guile. He is deadly from set pieces and if he could tackle would be the complete player. His performance at Everton is the high point and he is my player of the year so far. Jimboheath.
Martin responds.There have been a few shouts for Ashley Young on here. If Aston Villa can break into the top four and he remains their star player, they will be justified.
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Robin Van Persie, of Arsenal. His eight goals and eight assists in the league this year are an unmatched combination. His amazing footwork has people comparing him to Dennis Bergkamp and he has also shown great ability with free kicks. He has taken a team missing Cesc Fabregas, Theo Walcott, Tomas Rosicky and Eduardo and kept them in touch. He won't get the credit he deserves, but his name should be mentioned. Cvela12.
Martin responds.And now it has been; although not as Footballer of the Year, even if he is a lovely player.
MARTIN SAMUEL: All you need is trust.but you are not going to get it in writing, Rafa
MARTIN SAMUEL: McCartney will earn more than Kaka, but we'll still listen to The Beatles
THE DEBATE: Martin Samuel responds to your comments on Andy Murray's chances of winning a Grand Slam this year
MARTIN SAMUEL: Why history is stacked against Fergie's fairytale