Jonny Evans (Manchester United)
Manchester United's concession-free accumulation at the turn of the year was achieved with a rearguard that was seemingly ever-changing. Evans deputised for Rio Ferdinand and, like the stand-in skipper, the Northern Ireland international was unfazed on the occasions he was asked to perform. He was cool, composed, assured in the tackle and Sir Alex Ferguson's decision to deny Evans a transfer - short or long-term - last summer appeared to be vindicated. The Scot stayed true to his word of providing the blossoming defender with first-team football. A breakthrough season for Jonny, yet the mark of his true potential will be tested next year, as he will be asked to replicate - and emulate - this season's success.
Aaron Lennon (Tottenham Hotspur)
After such a dismal start to Spurs' Premier League campaign, part of their rejuvenation can be attributed to the meritorious form of pacey wide-boy Aaron Lennon. The finely-fashioned eyebrow-cut Englishman has oft been criticised for lacking end product, but during the concluding half of the league campaign, his crossing began to improve, as did his decision-making. His burgeoning ability has relegated David Bentley to being third-choice right winger for the north London outfit, and the diminutive England hopeful has even been rewarded with a bumper five-year contract.
Gabriel Agbonlahor (Aston Villa)
Like his club, Gabriel Agbonlahor began the season in fine form, but petered-out as soon as May could be seen looming nearer from the horizon. Gabriel scored eight goals in ten games, and even grabbed a hat-trick against Manchester City on the opening day. Much of the Villans' forward impetus can be levelled at the motions of Agbonlahor and Ashley Young, but perhaps appearances in England shirts are yet to be made concrete due to their inability to add the string of consistency to their talented bows.
Stephen Ireland (Manchester City)
What Steven Gerrard is to Liverpool, Stephen Ireland can be for Manchester City. When he plays well, his club plays well. The arrival of British record buy Robinho was seen as the catalyst for great things to erupt at Eastlands, but it is homegrown talent Ireland who this season grabbed the plaudits for his heroics in a sky-blue jersey. If the 22-year-old was English, then the hype around him would be relentless. Mark Hughes has reiterated his affection for Ireland's skills on multiple occasions and said recently, "He is an example to every one of the players in the squad."
Marouane Fellaini (Everton)
Fellaini's signature was worth £15 million last summer, and many quarters questioned David Moyes' sanity. After a protracted period in which the Merseysiders made little splash in the transfer market, the Glaswegian kept his cards close to his chest and made what could turn out to be one of the signings of the season as Fellaini looks to complete the Toffees' midfield puzzle. His only question mark is his lust for yellow. It is a rare fixture in which Fellaini goes uncarded, his stray-elbows are an unwelcome addition to his game, but his legitimate steely nature and imposing disposition is something that could have opposition sides quaking for years to come.
Goal.com Young Player of the Year: Stephen Ireland
Tuesday, 26 May 2009
Posted by The Real Footie Analyst at 23:38