The PFA Team of the Year for 2012-13 was announced on Sunday night and, on the whole, there were no glaring omissions. Yet did the Premier League's collective make all the right decisions and avoid any oversights?
Manchester United have four players in the team but Robin van Persie was only third in the overall vote for the player of the year behind Gareth Bale and Luis Suárez. Van Persie, who won the award last year, has scored 25 Premier League goals this season but his form had dipped slightly when votes were cast this spring, while Bale was in the midst of a remarkable purple patch that has so far brought him 14 goals in 17 matches this calendar year.
Suárez made the cut despite the 10-match ban handed out last week after he bit the arm of Branislav Ivanovic, and was booed twice by the assembled crowd during the awards ceremony in London. The PFA chief executive, Gordon Taylor, said that Bale was more of a role model than the Uruguayan. "Everyone knows Suárez is a great footballer, I just wish at times he could fall into line because footballers are role models and Gareth and Robin van Persie are really good examples for the younger generation," Taylor said.
There can be no debating the impact of either Bale, Suárez or Van Persie this season. Arguably, without Bale Tottenham would be struggling to secure a Europa League place instead of fighting for a Champions League berth, while United would not have already clinched the title without Van Persie's goals and Liverpool could have been struggling in the bottom half without Suárez.
Similarly, there can be little argument over the full-back positions. Pablo Zabaleta has been Manchester City's best performer this season and Leighton Baines has scored five goals and set up another five for Everton from the left-back position.
Jan Vertonghen has made a smooth transition into English football during his first campaign for Tottenham, having signed from Ajax last summer, and he partners Rio Ferdinand at centre-half.
Ferdinand did not warrant a call-up to Roy Hodgson's England squad until March following an absence of almost two years, and eventually withdrew from the squad to play San Marino and Montenegro due to fitness concerns, but has been a mainstay in United's title-winning side and has reproduced some of his best form. The fact that Ferdinand has been selected by his peers for the team of the year only serves to highlight the farcical situation he is involved in at international level.
Chelsea's Juan Mata has enjoyed a sparkling season which has secured the Spaniard a place in midfield. Mata has made 60 appearances for club and country yet is showing no signs of fatigue – without him Chelsea would surely be floundering in their attempt to finish in the top four. Similarly, Michael Carrick has played an integral role in United's title triumph.
There is debate, though, regarding the remaining members of the PFA Team of the Year. David de Gea has improved vastly from last season, when his long-term future at Manchester United came under intense scrutiny. The Spaniard has become more authoritative and has been working in the gym to bulk up, taking a serious hit from Andy Carroll last week and dusting himself down without complaint.
However, while Joe Hart's form has suffered this season, other goalkeepers including Sunderland's Simon Mignolet, Chelsea's Petr Cech and Stoke's Asmir Begovic have also been impressive.
Eden Hazard has produced moments of magic, but Santi Cazorla has arguably been more consistent in his performances. Indeed, no Arsenal player makes the grade this year, but Cazorla, another player in his first English season, perhaps deserved recognition.
Michu, undoubtedly the bargain of the season, has scored 17 league goals for Swansea after his £2.2m move from Rayo Vallecano but did not make the team. In the face of tough competition from Van Persie and Suárez, his inclusion was always going to be unlikely. Marouane Fellaini, Frank Lampard and Matija Nastasic are also worthy of notable commendation despite missing out.
PFA Team of the Year
David de Gea (Manchester United); Pablo Zabaleta (Manchester City), Jan Vertonghen (Tottenham), Rio Ferdinand (Manchester United), Leighton Baines (Everton); Michael Carrick (Manchester United), Juan Mata (Chelsea), Gareth Bale (Tottenham), Eden Hazard (Chelsea); Luis Suárez (Liverpool), Robin van Persie (Manchester United).