Player Ratings: Manchester United
After claiming their record breaking 19th League title, Richard Jolly rates the performances of Manchester United's latest Premier League winning side:
Nemanja Vidic: 9
Given the captaincy and thrived on the responsibility. Terrifically defiant throughout the campaign, even if his methods can border on the illegal, the Serb has been recognised as the finest defender in England.
For all the stepovers and gratuitous displays of trickery, the supposed showpony has become one of the most productive players in the Premier League. United's Players' Player of the Year, Nani kept them in contention at a time when Antonio Valencia was injured and others were underperforming.
Javier Hernandez 8.5
Both the new Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and the player Michael Owen was supposed to be, Hernandez has been new signing, super-sub and now first choice, reinvigorating Wayne Rooney and delivering 20 goals in his first season at Old Trafford. Instant impacts are rarely this dramatic.
Ryan Giggs: 8.5
The longest Indian summer in footballing history continues. Giggs has arguably been even better than he was two seasons ago when he was voted PFA Player of the Year. Three sensational performances as a central midfielder against Chelsea captured the attention, but it is worth remembering his brilliance on the left flank in January and February when, with Park Ji-Sung unavailable, the 37-year-old had to play virtually every game.
Rio Ferdinand 8
Spent spells of the season doing rather more tweeting than playing, but when fit, Ferdinand showed why he and Vidic are the Premier League's outstanding central-defensive axis. Went until April's FA Cup defeat to City - his 22nd game of the season - before finishing on the losing side in his club's colours, which is a sign of his importance, even when semi-fit.
Edwin van der Sar: 8
Making the correct decision to go out while at the peak of his powers, the 40-year-old's sixth season at Old Trafford may be his finest. Apart from an uncharacteristic error to gift West Brom a goal in September's draw and a rare poor kick in the seconds before Manchester City's FA Cup semi-final goal, Van der Sar has been virtually flawless, producing vital saves with unflustered excellence.
Park Ji-Sung: 7.5
A mark that might have been still higher had a combination of international duty and injury not prevented him from appearing for United between December and April. A stop-start season was nonetheless his most prolific at Old Trafford - eight goals, including strikes against Arsenal and Chelsea, reinforced his reputation for delivering on the bigger stages. So, too, did his tireless display in the title decider against Carlo Ancelotti's team.
Antonio Valencia: 7.5
A season that threatened to be curtailed by the shocking broken leg sustained against Rangers has instead ended on a high. Valencia's form over the past couple of months has enabled him to displace Nani, with his sheer speed, accurate delivery and willingness to assist his right-back making him the preferred right winger. It is no coincidence Wayne Rooney scores more often when the Ecuadorian is in the team.
Chris Smalling: 7
Javier Hernandez isn't the only newcomer to have surpassed all expectations. Smalling may have arrived with an expensive price tag (£10 million) but a callow defender has progressed rapidly, appearing assured and justifying his signing. Looks far more reliably alongside Nemanja Vidic, however, and the long-term aim has to be to perform as well without the Serb.
Fabio da Silva: 7
A rise that was forecast by few. Fabio didn't appear in the Premier League until January 1 and didn't start for another three months, but then leapfrogged a host of other candidates to become the regular right-back. While Wigan and Arsenal can testify to his attacking verve, he seems steadier than his twin, Rafael, while remaining more mobile than Wes Brown or John O'Shea.
Rafael da Silva: 7
His mid-season form suggested the Brazilian could be the best right-back in the Premier League; an alternative scenario is that Rafael isn't even the finest in his own family, with Fabio emerging to take his place. His attacking flair was illustrated in his terrific performance as a winger against Arsenal but the rashness that brought a red card against Tottenham (and could have resulted in another at Anfield) remains a cause for concern.
Still has his doubters but, in another injury-affected campaign, the Brazilian has shown sporadic signs of his talent. A fine November and December was capped with a terrific performance against Arsenal, while his energy as the foremost of three central midfielders enabled him to double his United tally against Schalke.
Dimitar Berbatov: 6.5
Misunderstood maestro or miscast as a United player, he retains his capacity to divide opinions. The Premier League's joint leading scorer he may be, but more than half his goals came in three games, punctuated by droughts, and he rarely had cause to celebrate on his travels. Both the manner of his hat-trick against Liverpool, and the occasion on which he delivered it, suggested he had come of age as a United player; instead, he was overtaken by Javier Hernandez in the queue for striking places.
Paul Scholes: 6.5 Had the season ended as October began, Scholes might have been the player of the year. As it is, the subsequent seven months may convince him to opt for retirement. The summer passing masterclasses were wonderful exhibitions; more worrying for Scholes' legion of admirers were the back-to-back defeats to Chelsea and Liverpool which suggested he struggles to play in a 4-4-2 against top opposition and can tire in the final half-hour, plus the unedifying challenge that led to his dismissal against Manchester City in the FA Cup semi-final.
Patrice Evra: 6
It was a relief that he signed an extended contract at a time when he was being linked with Real Madrid. It was, however, more performances in previous years that merited the new deal. By his standards, not a vintage year: more of the goals United conceded seem to come from their left flank, especially when Park wasn't around to offer Evra protection
Darren Fletcher: 6
After his breakthrough year in 2008-09 and a similarly impressive sequel of a season, this may have been something of a letdown. Not that it was entirely Fletcher's fault: he was certainly missed in the two months when a virus sidelined him. He was, however, one of the comparatively few to start the campaign well.
Wayne Rooney: 6
Scored arguably the goal of the season to decide a Manchester derby, excelled in three wins against Chelsea and one against Arsenal and delivered a hat-trick in possibly the season-defining comeback at West Ham, but memories of his recent brilliance have to be balanced with thoughts of his early-season impotence and his misguided transfer request. Ultimately a fine year by others' standards, but not necessarily by Rooney's.
Michael Carrick: 5.5 Saved his best for the last with a hat-trick of displays of calm, authoritative passing against Chelsea and one against Schalke providing a reminder of the Carrick of his first three years at Old Trafford. However, mediocre form for much of the campaign counts against him, along with his culpability for the Yaya Toure FA Cup goal that ended United's treble hopes.
Darron Gibson: 5
Brilliant in the Champions League semi-final win against Schalke, but substandard rather too often. His trump card - long-range shooting - only brought two goals, raising questions about Gibson's other contributions (or more accurately, the lack of them). Even though his Premier League outings tended to be confined for some of the supposedly easier games, there were times - Everton at home and Blackpool away, for instance - when Ferguson had to send for superior replacements to get the win.
John O'Shea: 5
Began the year as seemingly the first-choice right-back, but ended it having been overtaken by first one Da Silva brother and then the other. While the captaincy against Schalke was a reward for his long service and loyalty and his versatility ensures a future at Old Trafford, it is also notable that Sir Alex Ferguson is reluctant to use O'Shea in the centre of defence anymore.
Michael Owen: 4.5 Finally picked up the title-winner's medal that had eluded him throughout his career, but otherwise a season to forget. Owen's only significant contribution was a September equaliser at Bolton. As Javier Hernandez became the player Owen once was, it was telling that the 31-year-old sometimes didn't even make the bench.
Jonny Evans: 4
Has started to look less like the new Rio Ferdinand and more a second-rate Chris Smalling. When United shipped goals with uncharacteristic regularity in the autumn, Evans was at fault all too often (against Fulham, Everton, Liverpool and Bolton) and their defensive record is significantly worse with him on the pitch; at 24, youth isn't an excuse any longer. Also picked up the Paul Scholes Award for the worst tackle by a United player in the season, the lunging challenge that injured Stuart Holden and led to Evans' expulsion from the win against Bolton.
Wes Brown: 3.5
A year to forget that should bring down the curtain on a fine United career. A shocking display in the defeat at Anfield was one lowlight, a haplessness that was symbolised by Brown's own goal against Marseille another indication of decline. Younger and superior alternatives emerged at both centre-back and right-back.
Gary Neville: 3
Reached the decision that it was time to retire, albeit about six months too late. Was remarkably fortunate not to be sent off against Stoke and West Brom and had to be substituted in both matches while his other start, against Everton, provided further evidence his peak was very much in the past.
Nine months on, Bebe remains as strange a signing as he appeared in August. His two goals have both involved large elements of fortune while his last three first-team outings - as a substitute who got substituted against Wolves and then hopeless performances against West Ham in the Carling Cup and Crawley Town in the FA Cup - bordered on the embarrassing.