The season may have ended well but there wasn’t a whole load of contenders for Player of the Year; after all we were shocking for long periods of 16-17!
I have a look at the boys who were the pick of the Plainmoor bunch….through the hard times and the good!
THE TOP THREE
1 – Dan Sparkes
2 – Luke Young
3 – Sean McGinty
In looking back at our Player of the Season it is easy to pick players from the last 6 weeks where the shackles came off, and the boys finally found their form. However when we were bad, Dan Sparkes was still a bright spark (excuse the pun!). Since arriving from Braintree Dan has been the left winger we’ve required for a long while; happy to stretch his legs along the touch-line and always looking to feed the strikers. He has delivered numerous assists from set pieces with delicious whipped left-footed delivery and is always moving off the ball looking for space. Just a shame he has had problems with injuries, but for consistent performances (when fit), unselfish work-rate (on and off the ball) and real professionalism Dan is my Player of the Year. Sign him up asap!
Just behind him is Luke Young. We all know about Luke’s injury problems, but instead of letting that get him down the midfielder has fought hard and been one of our main cogs in escaping relegation. United are so reliant on him in midfield to press the opposition and spread the play, plus similarly to Dan his ability on set pieces can be wondrous at times. For me he is our best player in recent years and clearly has the potential to prosper in the League proper. It is imperative that Nico persuades him to sign on for another year – who knows we might even reward him with a better supporting cast (and a better season). Certainly Luke and Dan have set the benchmarks in quality and professionalism for others to follow.
I had high hopes for Sean McGinty this season. He started well enough, looking fairly poised and purposeful in defence. Then it all started to go pear-shaped! McGinty’s defensive partners changed and his lack of experience started to tell. Errors crept in especially away from home and the early season optimism started to tail off, whilst his distribution is generally shaky, so that is always likely cause panic! So it’s a big credit to McGinty that he’s turned things round in recent months, with excellent performances in our biggest games – notably against Aldershot and Dover where he was immense. In my opinion Sean will continue to improve, and hopefully that will be at Plainmoor.
BEST OF THE REST
4 – Brendan Moore
5 – Aman Verma
In goal Brendan Moore has been ever-present and has had a good season. The American has his moments of panic much like any keeper – but overall he is positive in coming for crosses and a steady shot stopper. This includes some brilliant penalty saves in a campaign where we conceded so many! I’ve seen every team play United this season and not many were better than Brendan, so we have the right man. If he can just practice not kicking the ball out of play that would be a bonus…..U.S.A U.S.A!
Aman Verma is a proper team player. A guy who will play anywhere for the manager and not complain. He is also a player who rolls his sleeves up again and again to get us over the line. Now if we’re all being honest Aman is fairly limited ability wise; his passing and shooting are nowhere Luke Young’s standard and he’s not as proficient at tackling as Damon Lathrope. However as someone the team can count on in hard times (and someone to fill in at right back) Verms has taken on the captaincy and raised his game at the most important time.
Brett Williams, Ruairi Keating, Giancarlo Gallifuoco, Lathaniel Rowe-Turner
The Brett Williams Conundrum could have appeared on Countdown this year! Brett came to United and we all hoped he would fire goals to push us up the table. It wasn’t to be, as him and Nico struggled to gel due to his work-rate or lack of! This meant he ended up on the substitute bench for long periods. William’s is never going to run and run, it’s just not his style – but boy can he hit a football! In the end Brett found a way into Kevin’s plans and into the fans hearts (hoisted aloft after North Ferriby) with four crucial goals versus Braintree and Dover.
Nico struggled all season for enough budget to sign players, and this didn’t improve even after the takeover. So taking a punt on a young Irishman called Ruairi Keating in February was one of the few options available, and the punt paid off! Ruairi impressed in a few brief substitute appearances and then really made his name with a late winner at Southport. Since then Keating has been a regular in the line-up, showing real fire in his belly and scoring a couple more. The hunger and desire are there, plus some raw quality. The Yellow Army love him and it would be great to see him back again next season.
Speaking of guys the ‘Yellow Army’ love leads me onto Giancarlo Gallifuoco! As an ex-Spurs youngster the signing of GG looked very promising for Nico. Unfortunately to start with the Australian was a mistake waiting to happen, but as the season has worn on he gradually learned to concentrate and has become a very solid defender – showing useful flexibility in playing centre back and right back. He’s another who should keep improving, whether it’s at United who knows?
Anybody who knows me and sits next to us at Plainmoor will be surprised to see Lathaniel Rowe-Turner on this list. ‘Snoop’ is infuriating at times, mainly because he’s big, strong and pretty quick across the grass – but lacks focus and intensity to take his game to the next level. He has improved in recent months (who hasn’t!) and has actually got the better of most opposing wingers. I’m not totally sold on him being the answer at left-back, and I think we can do better – however as a squad player who can play left-back or slot into the middle at centre back I’d happily keep him.
Dominic – TT Editor