Bale’s my man of the year in review of 2012

Trevor Steven
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IT’S BEEN a hugely eventful year, from the extraordinary climax to the Premier League title race, to a new England manager and some dazzling individual performances. Here are my picks of 2012’s highlights.

Robin van Persie’s goals kept Arsenal alive and he’s made a good start to life at Manchester United, but I’ve gone for someone else. Gareth Bale was instrumental in everything good Tottenham have done and played a big part in getting them back into the top four. If he is not playing Spurs suffer badly. Pound for pound, I think he’s the most talented player in English football. He has abilities nobody else has: he has great pace, is very skilled and possesses a goal threat, with head or feet.

It has to be Sergio Aguero’s title-winning, stoppage-time goal for Manchester City against Queens Park Rangers. He didn’t panic, hit the target and created a phenomenal moment. Justice was done – City played the best football of last season – while Aguero is the type pf player I like: works hard, never blames anybody else and a nice chap.

Roy Hodgson getting the England job ahead of Harry Redknapp. At the time I think a lot of people were disappointed, but he’s an international-style manager with a good pedigree, who says and does the right things, and I think it has turned out to be the right decision.

Mario Balotelli put in some decent performances last term, had a good European Championships and I thought he’d destroy defences this season. Instead he looks like a troubled soul, perennially unhappy and seems to be affected by what happens to him on the pitch. He’s been a great disappointment to me and, I’m sure, Roberto Mancini.

Michu was virtually unknown by the vast majority of fans in this country until Michael Laudrup used his knowledge of Spain to pull off an incredible bargain at £2.2m. His game suits the Premier League, he’s hungry to score, is a cool finisher, has a good work ethic and suits how Swansea play down to the ground.

For having an impact at two teams with very little money, it’s Paul Lambert. He worked miracles with Norwich before leaving for Aston Villa and, after a very difficult start has generated a feel-good factor. He took stick for dropping Darren Bent but maintained his stance and results have picked up. I think they’ll finish in the top 10.

Trevor Steven is a former England international who played in two European Championships and two World Cups. He now works as a media commentator.