David Sadler column
Wayne Rooney, Patrice Evra and Edwin Van der Sar - that's my United 1-2-3 for the season. In a campaign of building, I don't think there have been too many who ended with their reputations damaged. But a number of United first teamers can claim theirs have been enhanced, none more so than that influential trio. Rooney is an obvious selection as number one, of course. And his contribution should not be played down in any way. It wasn't going to be an easy season for the England striker because of the burden on his shoulders following the departures of Cristiano Ronaldo and Carlos Tevez. What has surprised me about Wayne's season is the improvement in his play and a lot of that is down to hard work on the training ground. You don't just see an incredible progression in the number of your headed goals by accident. About 25 per cent of his 34-goals have come from his head and that is all about working on that side of his game in training. He's got his rewards and is a great example for any young player that extra hours will pay dividends and if a striker of his calibre can eke more out of his game, then every player should take note. If Rooney hadn't been the nailed on Player of the Year in most polls, then Evra would have won it. Only his colleague's phenomenal season has cost the French full-back some of the individual honours. He has been terrific both with his form and durability. I think in Patrice and Chelsea's Ashley Cole the Premier League is lucky enough to have the two best left-backs in the world. Darren Fletcher certainly comes into consideration for the top three but personally I feel Edwin Van der Sar just edges him out. He has had a couple of injuries to contend with this season but when he has been in the side, United's defence generally looks a different proposition. He cements the whole thing together. Had it not been for the Dutchman, I think United's injury crisis in defence throughout the campaign would have been even more damaging. Nani doesn't make my top three this season but looking ahead to a player whom I am expecting big things from and could challenge for the top individual awards then the Portuguese winger is the man. Talking occasionally to senior players, I always got the drift from them that Nani did some exceptional things in training. The frustrating thing was we rarely saw it in first team matches. Again, the first half of the season was a disappointment from him and I don't think too many fans would have been surprised, or to be honest that bothered, had he been a makeweight in a January transfer window deal. But he is a transformed player and at last we are seeing what his colleagues see behind closed doors at United's Carrington training complex. I am licking my lips in anticipation of what the new Nani might provide from next August onwards. What do you think? Have your say.
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