If there is one area of the pitch, where Manchester United left a little to be desired, it was probably in the center of the pitch. No player excelled for United throughout the whole of the season. However, during the successful run-in, manager Sir Alex Ferguson seemed to find the right combination in Michael Carrick and Ryan Giggs - both were superb versus Chelsea FC and Schalke '04 during the UEFA Champions League. However, when they ran into FC Barcelona during the final, the duo realized that they were no longer up against Chelsea and Schalke. But to be fair, they may have faced off against the world's 3 greatest players in Lionel Messi, Xavi Hernandez, and Andres Iniesta - tactically, they never had a chance. The candidates for United central midfielder of the season:
* Michael Carrick: The England international is a lightning rod for debate as he seems to be one of those footballers that conjures up a wide range of opinion about his play. He was admittedly not as confident in the season's early going, but there is little debate that Carrick was in terrific form during the run-in. His tidy distribution and his terrific positioning in defense tend to be unnoticed traits by many - perhaps this is why he's underrated. He was the heartbeat for United at Stamford Bridge during the 0-1 Champions League victory in early April.
* Ryan Giggs: Although the Welshman has spent time in the center of the pitch in spot duty, he's never had quite the stretch there like he did during the run-in. Giggs formed a strong partnership with Carrick as they complimented each other well - Carrick shielded the defense while Giggs had the freedom to roam forward or interchange with the wide left player, whether that be Nani or Park Ji-sung. The 37-year-old is returning for another season, perhaps playing in the center can extend his career even further.
* Paul Scholes: As the midfield maestro neared the end of his career, he still found ways to dictate matches - mainly as a deep-lying playmaker. One of my favorite sights these past few seasons has been watching Scholes play a precision 35 yard diagonal ball to the flanks, while sitting in front of the defense, as either Nani or Valencia easily collected a ball that was played onto their boot. He only had the occasional appearance at season's end, but he was still putting in man of the match performances in August and September. I will miss watching my 2nd all-time favorite footballer - what a treat it was.
* Darren Fletcher: Quite honestly, I was surprised to see that the Scotsman made 38 appearances this season. It's unfortunate that he wasn't a viable option again for this year's Champions League final - the virus that he suffered from sapped his fitness and form. On a personal level for Fletcher, it may have been a season to forget but I anticipate that he'll play a vital role next season.
* Anderson: 30 appearances this season in the role of a pure squad player. He scores now... or he did at season's end. I don't really feel like typing anything else.
Here's who we voted for at TBB:
* CPC - no vote submitted
* Gene - Carrick
* nolefansam - Giggs
* 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!