Date: 29th January 2013 at 4:05pm
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England's best performer in 2012

England’s best performer in 2012

The England awards take place on the 3rd of February and of the five nominees for player of the year Manchester City’s Joe Hart  and Liverpool’s Steven Gerrard are among the bookies favourites. Hart, arguably more to do with his form for Roberto Mancini’s side that what he’s done for the national one. Gerrard as skipper of the England side throughout 2012 and having been praised for his performances in the Euros is another contender for the prestigious honour no doubt fans of the Anfield outfit will be voting for their skipper in droves.

Hart has enjoyed an impressive 2012 at the Etihad and was without doubt a pivotal reason Manchester City lifted their first ever Premier League trophy back in May. As Shane Meadows says though “This Is England” and for England’s player of the season we’re not talking about club form but how someone has performed in an England shirt over the past twelve months. During the Euros Hart did nothing to show why he is so well thought of by fans, pundits and fellow players alike. Often during the European Championships, Hart seemed a tad nervous and not the commanding confident figure he is for Manchester City, he seemed to push the ball into the danger areas unnecessarily and often didn’t dominate his area fully. Towards the end of 2012 in the friendly against Sweden, Hart had probably his worst night as a goalkeeper, practically gifting Zlatan Ibrahimovic two of his four goals.

Manchester City fans will no doubt be quick to point out how Hart has kept five clean sheets in eleven starts for England during 2012, a decent return ad well as is only two defeats during that time, but it would be foolish to claim it’s been a player of the year award winning campaign for Hart over the past twelve months. If anything 2012 has raised more questions about Hart in an England shirt than it has reassurances.

Steven Gerrard has captained England throughout practically all of 2012 missing just two of a possible 13 games and being ever-present during the Euros. Liverpool’s captain received a lot of praise during the Summer for his performances in an England shirt, a fact that quite frankly baffled me.

In the opening game against France Gerrard was rightly praised for his cross for Joleon Lescott’s opener, but other than that, didn’t really stamp any form of authority on the game, his passing deserted him and he failed to close down Samir Nasri for the equaliser. Against Ukraine Gerrard had his best game of the tournament against a side containing midfielders I doubt any of us could name without the aid of Google. Then came the Sweden game which despite seeing Gerrard provide a great ball for Andy Carroll’s opener then saw him disappear for most of the game. When England really needed a midfield general against France all we got was a private, chasing shadows as Andrea Pirlo completely dominated the midfield. Gerrard’s performances as captain have done very little to inspire his side  also no goals in 11 games during 2012 is quite simply not good enough for a midfielder famed for his scoring prowess.

Danny Welbeck may not be a regular for Manchester United, he may only have one goal for his club this season but his England record is a highly commendable five in eleven games. There’s also the level of Welbeck’s performances, against France in the Euros even the usually anti-United Alan Shearer couldn’t help but claim Welbeck was Man of the Match. Welbeck’s goal against Sweden was one of the best taken of the tournament, while Hodgson’s decision to substitute him in the Italy game was one of the England manager’s most baffling decisions.

Welbeck has become England’s main striker and even given Wayne Rooney something to think about for the national side as playing in his favoured position the Longsight-born striker has shone upfront for the Three Lions. Welbeck links up well with others, has progressed throughout the year and added goals to his game at a rate any international would be proud of. Is there any other choice for England’s player of 2012?

Am I right or should it be Stevie G or “The world’s number one keeper” named as England’s player of the year? Answers through the usual window – or you can comment below: