Under the management of Sir Alex Ferguson, Manchester United have traditionally used their wingers as a creative force - perhaps Ryan Giggs and David Beckham epitomize this best. Creativity from the wide areas of the pitch was again emphasized this season as for much of it, the flanks were the only area of the pitch that provided a consistent source of attacking creativity - at least until Wayne Rooney became deployed as a withdrawn playmaker for the run-in and regained form.
* Nani - Along with Dimitar Berbatov, it was the Portuguese international that carried the attack in the early portion of the season while Antonio Valencia, Wayne Rooney, and Javier 'Chicharito' Hernandez battled injury, form, and acclimation to the Premier League; respectively. In all competitions, Nani tallied 10 goals while providing 15 assists in 50 appearances. While able to play on either flank comfortably, it was on the right side where the winger terrorized opponents. He was adept at either getting down the right touchline and whipping in a cross with his right foot, or he could cut inside and strike at goal with his left - 9 of his goals came from his left boot this season.
* Park Ji-sung - Regular regulars here at TBB are fully aware of my enormous man-crush on the Korean (back off Patrice!). I firmly believe that Park has gone from being criminally underrated to finally being fully appreciated by the neutral football fan and the media - he's obviously already had the respect of his teammates and manager. It's a cliche by now, but Park gets into nearly every big match but there's a particular reason for this - he's a tactical genius. His football brain is tremendous. The versatile midfielder missed a chunk of the season after suffering an injury on national team duty, however, perhaps it was a blessing as he appeared fresh and energized during his stellar performances during the run-in. In 28 appearances this season, Park contributed 8 goals and 5 assists - including vital goals versus Arsenal FC and Chelsea FC.
* Antonio Valencia - After a tremendous 2009-10 season, one that saw him further endear himself to the United faithful due to his work-rate and grit, it was a gut-wrenching site to see the Ecuadorian winger carted off after breaking his leg versus Rangers in the UEFA Champions League. Not only did it appear that his season would be over, but there were valid concerns over the future of his footballing career. Well, return Valencia did - and valiantly. He was exceptional during the run-in and this may been best highlighted by his destruction of Ashley Cole during the title decider with Chelsea at Old Trafford. His style is simple and direct, but also very effective - get down the touchline and provide service for attackers. Valencia is also very good at pinning back opposing full-backs that like get to forward into the attack.
* Ryan Giggs - The real-life Benjamin Button. The 37-year-old legend had another superb season - one that saw him bag 4 goals and provide 12 assists in 39 matches. Giggs no longer mazes through defenses with his sheer pace, but he still tears teams apart with his technique and guile. As the season rolled on, the Welshman continued to contribute in his usual role on the left flank with the occasional appearance in the center of the pitch - he even filled in at left-back for part of a match. However, for the run-in, Giggs became first-choice in the center of the pitch and he was particularly stellar versus Chelsea and Schalke '04 in the Champions League. It will be an absolute treat to see him return to Old Trafford for another season.
Bebe: Uhhhhh, I have writer's block.
Here are the picks from us here at TBB:
* Early next week, we'll put the candidates for match of the season, goal of the season, and your favorite moment of the season. While the writers here have already made our selections for each, and while I've started to compile candidates to vote on already, please feel free to share some that you feel are worthy to vote on. I'd hate to have any obvious omissions when I put up the polls. Thanks!