Paul Scholes column: With Premier League over for another year, here are my end of season awards

The former Manchester United midfielder picks out his highs and lows from the 2014/15 Premier League season

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The Independent Football

Former Manchester United and England midfielder Paul Scholes picks his Team of the Season for The Independent.

Scholes also selects his Manager of the Season, the best goal of the campaign and who enjoyed the biggest breakthrough in 2014/15.

Finally, Scholes also picks out the biggest disappointment of the year as well as the best atmosphere he has experienced on his travels over the last nine months.

Team of the Season


Goals of the season

1. André Schürrle, v Burnley, 18 August

A great teamwork goal that showed early on what Chelsea were capable of. I loved the way that they opened up Burnley.


2. Juan Mata (2nd), v Liverpool, 22 March

Not just a great goal but a very important one in the course of Manchester United’s season. He made a difficult skill look very easy.

3. Charlie Adam, v Chelsea, 4 April

Some have said it was just a big hit, but first of all you need the confidence to try it, then the technique and, thirdly, the awareness to recognise Thibaut Courtois is one of those goalkeepers who tends to sweep up and stray quite far off his line.

Charlie Adam scored from inside his own half against Chelsea

Manager of the season

Ronald Koeman

I know that Jose Mourinho should win this by default, but bear with me. Clearly, Mourinho is a great manager and he has won the biggest prize of all, the league title, but a couple of things I feel just tip the balance against him. First, we are talking about a club with huge resources to buy players, and one that has been buying players on the £25m-£30m mark over a number of years. Secondly, one of the biggest disappointments of the season was Chelsea’s performance against PSG in the Champions League. I felt they never attacked the tie in the way a club of their ambition should have done.

Either way, I felt that Koeman built so well from such a difficult start. He had lost so much of the team that had done well the previous year and was coming in to manage in English football for the first time. His signings were absolutely brilliant, and I know that the club as a whole have to take credit for that too. I have to say that I rate Sadio Mané the highest, just ahead of Ryan Bertrand. Watching Mané in person, it is clear that he has great pace and movement, and then there was that hat-trick against Aston Villa.

Southampton manager Ronald Koeman

As well as those two there has been Graziano Pelle and Dusan Tadic. All of them seemed to adapt well to the Premier League very quickly. The manager has to take a lot of the credit for getting them settled so soon and then maintaining the momentum throughout the season. As well as Koeman, I would give great credit to Mark Hughes, who achieved a ninth-place finish on the fraction of the budget of other clubs at Stoke City. I also think Mauricio Pochettino has done a good job with very little chance to change his playing squad last summer.

Breakthrough player of the season

Harry Kane

It has to be Kane for forcing his way into the Tottenham team, staying there and scoring so many goals along the way. There was a goal against West Bromwich Albion, his first of two, on 31 January, which reminded me of Ruud van Nistelrooy at his best. There was nothing gentle about it – quick feet and then a shot that was smashed past the goalkeeper. That was typical of Ruud. He was unwilling to give the goalkeeper any chance at all. You need that ruthlessness as a goalscorer.

Kane’s record of 31 goals in all competitions is superb, and his attitude is obviously excellent. I am sure that he knows next season will be difficult for him but there is no reason he cannot make progress again. I see him as a No 9, a classic centre-forward. I don’t think he is a No 10 in the Teddy Sheringham mould. Sheringham would link the play but that is not Kane’s game.

Tottenham striker Harry Kane

If there is one thing that makes me hesitate then it is the lack of pace that I think might hold him back. He is sharp and alert but as a No 9 you need that burst of pace that can take you away from defenders. Kane is not slow, but I wonder if he has that extra yard. It is not something you can introduce to your game. The conditioning coaches might be able to make you sharper but they won’t necessarily make you quicker.

Biggest disappointment (A double award)

1. Angel Di Maria

A good start but, for £59.7m, the hope was that he would give United much more. I accept he has had problems off the pitch settling into life in Manchester, but there is no way he can see the season as anything other than a disappointment. This was, after all, the best player in last season’s Champions League final. Nevertheless, the quality is there and I don’t think United can afford to lose him. They need that kind of player if they are to compete at the highest level in the Champions League. Let’s see what next season brings.

Manchester United winger Angel Di Maria

2. Mario Balotelli

I was one of those who thought that £16m was too good a deal to turn down for an Italy international. It is hard to make that case now. He has had a few injury problems, but most of all it has been the sulking that has been the major issue. He just has not fitted the way that Brendan Rodgers has wanted to play at Liverpool. Rodgers wants hard-working, quick strikers. Balotelli may be quick but there is no way he is hard working. Perhaps next season he might flourish but I don’t think he’ll get a second chance.

Liverpool striker Mario Balotelli (right)

Best atmosphere

I paid my first visit to Juventus’s new stadium for the Champions League semi-final against Real Madrid. It felt like a great place to play football, with the fans really involved. I loved to play at stadiums like that when I was still a player.

The atmosphere at Juventus against Real Madrid made Scholes miss playing

And then the quality on the pitch was a cut above. Not many modern stadiums make me wish I was still playing the game but this was certainly one of them.