In any title-winning campaign, there will be numerous key players that were major contributors to the success. Manchester United were no exception from this -- this is perhaps evident in the likes of David de Gea, Rio Ferdinand, Michael Carrick, and Robin van Persie all being named in the PFA team of the year. One could also make the argument that Rafael should have been involved too. In this title-winning campaign -- incredibly Sir Alex Ferguson's 13th in 26+ seasons -- there were two clear invaluable players: Carrick and van Persie. The choice for the club's player of the year clearly comes down to these two. And this was reflected in the voting for this community's player of the year.
In the comments section of our community's poll, the support for Carrick was quite vocal -- and to be quite honest, I personally was proud after writing so many pieces advocating for his influence over the years on this site. However, the votes that poured in -- even if they were silent in the comments sections -- clearly voiced their opinion that van Persie should be United's player of the season. The honest truth is this: both players are worthy -- it's just that only one could win.
Carrick has been United's constant this season on so many levels. He's the metronome that keeps the team's heart beating. His ability to control games was unrivaled in England this season. The song for the 31-year-old that supporters have been belting out in the season's second-half has been appropriate: he's dictating games the way the legendary Paul Scholes did for so many years. Carrick has upped the tempo and provided incisive passes when needed while he's also known when to slow the game down when United needed to protect a result. In addition, he's been the foundation in midfield: the likes of Tom Cleverley, Anderson, Phil Jones, and Ryan Giggs have all had their moments in the center of the park this season -- the constant that has been alongside them all has been Carrick. It's fully deserved that he's been named player of the season by his teammates.
RvP, though, is the people's choice for player of the season. This is evident by him receiving 44% of the vote to Carrick's 36% in this community's poll and also by him winning the Sir Matt Busby player of the year award -- which is also voted on by fans. And he's undoubtedly a worthy choice for this title-winning season (just as Carrick would have been had he been chosen instead).
Years from now, when we reflect back on this season, it will likely be remembered for Sir Alex Ferguson wrestling back the title from the 'noisy neighbours' in his final season -- and for the impact that RvP made in his first season at the club. The influence of the Dutchman in this campaign, and the boost he provided for it, is akin to what Eric Cantona did in his inaugural 1992-93 season. It feels like appropriate symmetry that these two similar influences will bookend Fergie's 13 league titles.
For the past few seasons, RvP has been the best player in the Premier League. However, because of the trophyless years accumulating at Arsenal, despite his brilliance there, his ambitions weren't being met. United were obviously a very good side, however, they were missing something last season when they barely lost out on the title to Manchester City -- a true talisman. RvP and United joining forces this season resulted in a dominant league campaign that was essentially decided by February.
The only blip on RvP's season is the relative goal-scoring drought that he went through in February and March. The unplayable version of the Dutchman would have been handy in the Real Madrid Champions League tie and also against Chelsea in the FA Cup. Nonetheless, the overall campaign that RvP had -- who again will be the golden boot winner -- was brilliant. And he continually displayed his genius in the league's biggest games.
He immediately endeared himself to the Old Trafford faithful with an early and clinical goal against Fulham in his Theatre of Dreams debut (in a United shirt that is). He then went on to score a sensastional hat-trick at Southampton (which included a late winner), he bagged goals against Chelsea and Arsenal, and then he scored the dramatic winner in extra-time at the Etihad. The world was RvP's proverbial oyster. And finally, he scored that incredible first-half hat-trick against Aston Villa that clinced the title. RvP had one of the great seasons in Manchester United history and he's fully deserving to be named this community's player of the year.