Man Utd review
What turned out to be Sir Alex Ferguson's last season as Manchester United manager produced a Premier League title success which was hewn from the legendary Scot's finest qualities, writes Mark Buckingham
Last Updated: 22/05/13 9:57am
Manchester United regained the Premier League title from local rivals City after a relentless display of consistency, but a record 20th top-flight crown has been overshadowed by Sir Alex Ferguson's retirement as manager.
After over 26 years of unparalleled success, Ferguson has decided to call time on his illustrious career and United's fans will be hoping that there is no repeat of the last time a long-serving Scottish manager stood down at Old Trafford.
Winning the title was Ferguson's pre-season aim and, in the second half of the season, there was rarely any doubt that objective would be fulfilled. In Europe, there was a sense of what might have been after United were knocked out of the UEFA Champions League in contentious circumstances by Real Madrid at the last-16 stage.
The European exit, and the tame FA Cup quarter-final replay defeat by Chelsea, ensured there was no Wembley farewell for Ferguson, and the attention now turns to David Moyes and whether he can translate his effective, efficient stewardship at Everton into trophies and glory at United.
Player of the Year
Michael Carrick has finally started to receive the appreciation and recognition he deserves for his contribution to United's success. Nominated for the PFA Player of the Year award, Carrick was the pivot from which much of United's best work started. Always assured in possession, he controlled the flow of games in his own unassuming way, and used his intelligent reading of the game to break up opposition attacks. The United fans even now have a song for him.
Ratings Player of the Year
Robin van Persie and Wayne Rooney were tied for this award on the marks dished out by the Sky Sports reporters, with the strike duo averaging 6.9. Our users, though, had Van Persie as the main man, with the Dutch hot-shot averaging 7.4 over the course of the season.
Breakthrough Player of the Year
Rafael may have been playing in his fifth Premier League season, but the Brazilian appears to have come of age this year after confirming his status as United's first-choice right-back. There has been the occasional blip, such as being substituted in the first half at Reading and his silly sending-off against Chelsea, but overall, the 22-year-old has added a maturity to his defending to go with his undoubted attacking attributes.
Signing of the Year
Robin van Persie's arrival at Old Trafford rather than the Etihad Stadium swung the balance of the title race in United's favour. Ferguson went against his usual policy when persuading the United board to spend more than £20million on a 29-year-old, but it was worth every penny. Van Persie's 26 goals saw him finish as the Premier League's top scorer and his form in the first half of the season, in particular, laid the foundations for United's title success.
Could do better
Antonio Valencia edges Anderson and Nani for this one, largely on the basis that his level of performance has dipped more alarmingly. The Valencia that patrolled United's right wing this season looked an impostor compared to the one who tormented defences in 2011/12. The Ecuador international seemed shorn of confidence for much of the campaign and the quality of his crossing was noticeably worse.
Sir Alex Ferguson ensured he bowed out a winner after leading Manchester United to a record 20th title, and the 13th the Scot won during over 26 years in charge at Old Trafford. He again demonstrated his mastery of the art of management after galvanising a squad that was on its knees in despair after last season's final day heartbreak. The 71-year-old's retirement is well deserved and he has left his successor David Moyes with a squad that doesn't require a major overhaul, and is primed to get better.
Jamie Redknapp's view
This isn't the best team Sir Alex Ferguson had during his time in charge at Old Trafford but they won the Premier League at a canter. Robin van Persie has been a decisive signing and having Nemanja Vidic back fit was a big plus as well. Their title challenge never looked in doubt this year and perhaps that will be disappointing from Manchester City and Chelsea's point of view because they couldn't capitalise and mount a challenge. United were too consistent and just had too much for everybody else this year.
Fan's view (Pete Hall)
An emotional end to the season was had by all at Old Trafford after the surprise retirement of our beloved Sir Alex Ferguson and midfield maestro Paul Scholes, which has taken much of the focus away from what has been an emphatic response to what our noisy neighbours put us through on that famous final day of last season. The marquee signing of Robin van Persie was the catalyst for our triumphant campaign, but the squad on the whole, along with Sir Alex's incredible drive, is the reason that we have strolled to our 13th Premier League crown at a canter. Michael Carrick has been immense, and finally started to use his attributes to their maximum potential, Rafael has improved tenfold, and David de Gea deserves a huge amount of credit for answering his critics from earlier in his United career with consistent outstanding performances.