Rob Parrish reveals his choices as the skysports.com team pick their highlights from 07-08.
By Rob Parrish
Last Updated: 22/05/08 8:56am
The 2007-08 season is drawing to a close and the skysports.com team have been making their selections from another thrilling campaign.
Over the coming days, our journalists will be picking from a range of categories. We are also giving you the chance to comment on our choices.
The skysports.com series continues with the selections of reporter Rob Parrish.
Team of the Season
There's enough talent in this Premier League select XI to mean that even Steve McClaren would make a success of managing this select bunch. OK, maybe that's pushing it a bit.
David James may not have had a flawless season, but show me a goalkeeper who has. The England No.1 seems to get more flak than most for his mistakes, which is more due to his reputation and the now defunct 'Calamity' moniker he inherited during his early career. His displays in the FA Cup triumph at Manchester United and the league victory over Bolton were stunning.
The back four provides a solid base and a goal threat too. Rio Ferdinand has been immense for Manchester United this season, while the versatile Joleon Lescott deserves inclusion after some superb displays for Everton and his nine goals for the Toffees. Gael Clichy has made the left-back slot for Arsenal his own and makes regular raids down the right flank. Glen Johnson's inclusion may raise a few eyebrows, but his growing maturity makes him one to watch for the future.
I'll accept that the midfield lacks a traditional 'holding' player, but just think of the goals this quartet could provide. If I need to explain why Cristiano Ronaldo is in the team, you are on the wrong website. Cesc Fabregas continues to flourish despite his tender years and Steven Gerrard remains Liverpool's driving force, linking up superbly with Fernando Torres. Ashley Young's raw talent is blossoming under Martin O'Neill and he is relishing the recent free role he has been handed.
Up front, Torres' goalscoring exploits in his first Premier League season make him a certain starter, while Roque Santa Cruz deserves similar acclaim with his contribution for Blackburn Rovers.
Player - Cristiano Ronaldo
Two seasons ago, I always complained that Ronaldo lacked an end product to all his fancy footwork, flicks and tricks. It would be fair to say that those criticisms have been blown away. No-one has come close to matching what the prodigiously gifted Portuguese has achieved this term.
Manager - Slaven Bilic
Bilic helped Croatia breeze through their qualification campaign for Euro 2008, beating England home and away. The Croats should be regarded as real contenders for success this summer, especially with their manager having resisted various overtures from the Premier League and elsewhere to agree a new contract with his country. Bilic's team selections, tactics and style of play were always sound, while his touchline antics are a joy to behold. Mr McClaren, please take note.
Rising star - Freddie Sears
Sears enjoyed what can only be described as a memorable debut for West Ham. Five minutes after his introduction against Blackburn, the young striker showed predatory instincts to score at the second attempt after Brad Friedel had saved his initial effort to secure a thrilling 2-1 victory. The latest product of the Upton Park Academy will be one to watch next term.
Best buy - Fernando Torres
Admittedly, if you invest over £20million on a new signing, then you expect them to deliver. But Torres has exceeded all expectations in his first season at Anfield, and his first away from his native Spain. No acclimatisation was required as Torres produced goals galore, often in vital matches, to become an instant hero with the Kop and one of the most feared forwards in the land.
Biggest flop - David Nugent
One-time England international Nugent must have thought his big break had finally arrived after a £6million move to Fratton Park from Preston in July. But before the August transfer window had closed there were reports that Harry Redknapp was looking to ship his new No.10 out immediately. No deal emerged, but Nugent's fleeting appearances have seen him score just three goals, and the January arrivals of Milan Baros and Jermain Defoe pushed him further down the pecking order.
Best match - Liverpool 4 Arsenal 2 (Agg 5-3)
The UEFA Champions League quarter-final second leg on Merseyside had everything. Superb football, end-to-end action, goals, late drama and almost inevitable controversy. Anfield was rocking throughout a breathless 90 minutes until Theo Walcott's mesmerising mazy run set up Emmanuel Adebayor for what appeared to be Arsenal's winner, only for the Reds to go straight down the other end and be awarded a contentious penalty. Steven Gerrard converted with aplomb in front of the Kop as the pendulum swung dramatically in the space of a few manic minutes.
Personal highlight - Gallas goes ga-ga
My twisted sense of humour makes William Gallas' one-man sit-down protest at St Andrews stand out. To see a professional footballer acting with all the maturity of a stroppy toddler was hilarious. The message the Arsenal captain sent out to their title rivals with his petulant display was clear and compelling - the pressure was too much and the Gunners were cracking. A five-point lead at the summit was quickly whittled away to leave Arsene Wenger's men back in third. It would be something of a surprise if the French coach were to hand his compatriot the armband again next season.
Season lowpoint - Steve McClaren
This man should never have been appointed England manager in the first place, but his constant buffoonery during an inevitably hapless reign took the national team back several steps. Defeat in Russia left qualification for Euro 2008 out of our hands, before McClaren was thrown an undeserved lifeline when Guus Hiddink's men were beaten by Israel. All England needed to do was draw at Wembley against Croatia. Could McClaren lift his troops? Could he deliver to an expectant nation? Would we all have a spectacular summer of football to look forward to? No.
Best goal - Carlos Tevez v Middlesbrough
Manchester United produced some exhilarating attacking football as they overwhelmed Middlesbrough back in October, but Tevez's first goal was a class apart. Their flowing football and precise passing cut the Boor defence to ribbons and ended with Rooney back-heeling to release the Argentinian striker. The finish may have been regulation, but the build-up was anything but.