Player Of The Last Ten Years Poll, Semi Final: Bolo Zenden Vs Steven Fletcher

Ian MacNicol

The first semi-final is upon us as surprise contender Bolo Zenden takes on Steven Fletcher for a place in the final against either Steed Malbranque of Simon Mignolet.

Bolo Zenden here we are.

Bolo Zenden has made it this far and, to be brutally honest, I'm not sure how. That dance against Chelsea was obviously fantastic, but I'd always acknowledged the impression that Zenden was undervalued at Sunderland.

Let's be blunt here - he was. Zenden, well travelled and better skilled, was a superb acquisition for Sunderland and yet, for whatever reason, he was rather neglected. Pinging the ball into the top corner against Spurs (a solid 'Goal of the Season' contender, by way) wasn't even enough to propel him into the upper echelons of Steve Bruce's thoughts, and he was perennially doomed to a bit-part role.

Yet, despite his limited time on-field, Zenden's quality shone through. A deft first touch; a sublime passing range; a flawless head of blonde locks. Boudewijn Zenden was, in every sense of the word, wonderful. We were privileged to have recruited such a man, and victory in this tournament would be a fitting tribute to his efforts. (CW)

Steven Fletcher

Cards on the table time here - I don't really think either of these two players are semi-final worthy. The draw has been kind to both.

Now I liked Bolo Zenden as much as the next man. He has a very good player in terms of technique. But let's be perfectly honest and acknowledge he was pretty much a nothing player at Sunderland upon whom time has shone a very kind light. In two years at the club Zenden started 13 games. Fact is, he wasn't even 'great' enough to get into that Sunderland team, never mind the final of this.

So if you were, quite understandably, thinking that Fletcher probably hasn't done enough in red and white, then you may want to think again given his 31 games.

And what a 31 games it has been. 11 goals, almost all of them crucially important and dripping with quality. There were goals than Robin van Persie himself would have been thrilled with in there, such as his one touch screamer against Wigan, his outside of the boot prob at Fulham, and his sumptuous back-heel against Reading.

Fletcher isn't a player who has come to Sunderland on a free at the back end of his career to sit on the bench and look all smouldering. He is here in his prime and scoring goals in the Premier League.

But it would unfair to cite only his goals. His first touch and distribution in the final third is as good as we have seen from any Sunderland striker in the modern era, and his movement is generally very clever too. I maintain that he is just a yard of pace away from being completely out of our league.

What speaks most loudly for Steven Fletcher, however, is that all he has achieved for Sunderland was done as the lone striker in the most negative team we have probably ever seen. To score 11 goals in that team is absolutely remarkable. (MG)


Be sure to make your vote count and send one of these two through to the final. Make your voice heard below, because you only have until 11pm (GMT) tonight to get your vote in...

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