Player of the Year.

In a season that's proved so up and down it's somewhat difficult, barring the obvious exception, to compile a list of those who've played consistently well. There were those who came in and did well at various points, such as Nedum Onuoha or Shay Given, but over the complete season there really were few who maintained their good form throughout. Nonetheless i've compiled a list which i'm sure won't include too many surprises...

5) Shaun Wright-Phillips
I'm sure there wasn't a single Blue who wasn't absolutely ecstatic to see the little fella back in the shirt. He's undoubtedly a bums-on-seats player, and would've surely been around the top of any supporter's lists of players they'd like to see at the club. Since he left we'd lacked not only the flair he brings, but the energy and heart that he's shown since making his debut over ten years ago. He's linked up fantastically well with Stevie Ireland and Robinho, and has, especially at home, weighed in with his fair share of both goals and assists. There are few greater sights than a winger in full flow, and when on top of his game he's a sheer joy to watch. We, in truth, need him to push on again next year if we're to have any chance of challenging the top four. As i've spoken about recently, he needs to demonstrate he can perform regularly away from home, and stand up and be counted when teams might see kicking up to death gives them a better chance of earnings results against us than trying to play anything that vaguely resembles football.

4) Robinho
I'm sure we've all heard the opinions of numpty fans of other clubs declaring our record signing's first season in England a failure. I'm not sure what sort of planet they live on, to be honest. He obviously suffered a bad run just after the New Year, but to say he's so far proved anything less than a success is pretty deluded. We're not in denial about his shortcomings, he does sometimes go missing, and there have been games this year, mainly away from home, that he's offered very little. He doesn't, to offer him a little support, receive as much protection as he probably should from officials. There've been times this season when people have kicked lumps out of him, but because of his lightweight nature he doesn't get decisions go his way. Admittedly, he's not helped himself in this respect by occasionally going down a little easily. To come into a new league, however, and one that's much more physical than most others in Europe, and to, in a relatively poor side score almost one in two, whilst at times playing as more of a wideman than forward, really is a decent showing. He's an exceptional footballer, of that there's no doubt, if we can improve elsewhere and maybe have more than the one or two who are on his wavelength then perhaps we'll get even more from him.

3) Pablo Zabaleta
Though i'm sure we all appreciate the more delicate and creative side to the game, i'm sure every football fan up and down the country occasionally likes to see a player who simply works hard, and when needed, isn't afraid to give the opposition a good boot up the arse. To describe Pablo Zabaleta in such a fashion is probably doing a disservice to his footballing ability, but there's no doubt that he's endeared himself to the City support by, let's say, putting himself about. Vedran Corluka may have been the smoothest of operators, and although i still think he's a player we shouldn't have allowed to leave there's no doubt that at times we felt ourselves willing him to show a touch more steel. Zab looked okay at right-back, no less, no more, but when called upon to do a job in the centre of the park he never once shirked his responsibilities. There was the odd time over the season where he may've gone a little too far, lets not forget he nearly relieved Xabi Alonso of a leg, and that wasn't the only time that he looked a bit, erm, let's say naive in regards to his tackling, but i'd sooner players occasionally went in a bit too strong then not at all. He's a cult hero and rightly so. I suspect he may end up suffering from being a jack of all trades, king of none, but the longer he's here the better. He's a winner, and we need as many of those as we can get.

2) Vincent Kompany
For me, Vince is the embodiment of the 'Mr Consistency' tags that have so often been associated with the likes of Denis Irwin, Sami Hyypia or Gary Speed, for want of some better examples. He's an 8/10 player nearly every week, someone who makes few mistakes and leads by example. I'm not quite sure what his best position is, but when moved back to centre-half he looked just as at home as in midfield. At times towards the end of the season, when Richard Dunne was serving yet another ban for a needless sending-off, he seemed to conduct himself extremely well, warning teammates away from the referee and seemingly talking to him with respect. To be honest, he's struck me as captain material from day one, and i suspect that he may well serve as vice-captain to Gareth Barry next year. In central midfield he's proved to be a man who can do simple things well, rarely looking pressured and with a great temperament. He's simply done little wrong all season.

1) Stephen Ireland
No contest really, the boy's been exceptional all season. I have to admit that a year ago i wouldn't have been that bothered to see him move on. He did reasonably well under Sven, but gave no possible hint that he might go on to prove himself our absolute outstanding player as he has. He really deserves credit for knuckling down and transforming himself into such a terrific footballer. There was never any doubt he had the skills needed but there were perhaps questions about his dedication and drive. Not wanting to go unnecessarily over the top here, but he's fast turning into the complete midfielder. He can tackle and break up play, has got a terrific eye for a pass, an engine that's almost unrivalled, and he's proven that he can finish, too, it's almost unimaginable that in such a short time he's gone from being an unspectacular squad player to the more improved footballer not only here but in the entire division. We shall see whether he can reproduce his form this season with regularity, indeed he'll need to, but it goes without saying that there's not a player i could name who i'd be happy to see take his place in our first-team.

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