Former Manchester United defenders Gary Neville and Jaap Stam have disagreed over who should receive the club’s player of the season award following a poor campaign.
The Red Devils had their worst Premier League season since England’s top tier was rebranded back in 1992. They finished with just 58 points, 35 behind rivals and eventual champions Manchester City.
Manchester United ended the season in sixth place, enough to qualify them for next term’s Europa League. They could have ended up in the Europa Conference League if it weren’t for West Ham’s defeat to Brighton on the final day.
Of course, Ralf Rangnick’s side didn’t pick up any silverware either. The closest they came to winning a trophy was reaching the Champions League round of 16 – showing just how far behind they are from Europe’s elite clubs.
New boss Erik ten Hag has a big job on his hands to get United competitive again. It won’t be a quick turnaround, but fans will be hoping he can improve the mood around the club in the next season or two.
United’s plight this term is perfectly demonstrated by their lack of nominees for the player of the season award. The accolade was scrapped earlier this month, with players too embarrassed after such a poor year.
Neville and Stam have put forward different names for the award, were it to actually happen. However, they both think the much-improved Fred deserves to be in contention after a solid campaign.
Neville said: “How many times has David De Gea won it since Sir Alex left? I’m going to go for De Gea, to be honest with you. The only other two I could think of would be Fred and [Cristiano] Ronaldo.
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“We’d be in dire straits without Ronaldo’s goals but I think, without De Gea, we’d be dead! I could say Ronaldo. I’d go De Gea, Ronaldo, then Fred, in that order.”
Stam replied: “I would give it to Ronaldo. I think since he stepped in, there’s been a lot of people saying things and sometimes there’s been a lot of criticism as well.
“But I think it’s unbelievable. If you’re 37, I believe, and you’re still performing, producing and scoring… I think he’s open for criticism but he’s helping other people out as well.
“He’s doing his best. He’s trying to lead the team, so I think he deserves it.”
Ronaldo and De Gea are United’s two most obvious candidates. They have rescued the team time and time again, at either end of the pitch.
Fred has had plenty of criticism since joining United in 2018. But he has been far more reliable this season, so it’s good to see the Brazilian get recognition from Neville and Stam.
Meanwhile, a report has revealed how those around United feel about Ten Hag following his limited time at Old Trafford.