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Player Of The Last Ten Years Poll, Final: Steven Fletcher Vs Steed Malbranque

So this is what it has all been building up to, the final. You've been casting your votes for weeks now, and finally you can choose your champion between Steven Fletcher and Steed Malbranque... Let battle commence!

Steven Fletcher

Okay, so I am sure there will be some dismay that Fletcher has made it all the way this far and the draw was certainly good to him. Nevertheless, he has made it this far.

As the saying goes, you can only beat what is in front of you, and that pretty much sums up Fletcher's time at Sunderland so far. He hasn't been spectacular or flashy, but he has got the job done. He has just got his head down and done what he was brought to do - score goals. Mr Reliable.

Whilst that may struggle to ignite the imagination, there is a lot to be said of it, particularly in a striker. A certain dependability that when a chance comes his way he is just going to slot it home with a minimum of fuss. I can't think of many chances - if any - that he Steven Fletcher has wasted in a Sunderland shirt.

That is just as well, really. He couldn't afford to miss them such was their sparsity. WE couldn't afford him to miss them. It was easy to forget amongst the derby hysteria and Simon Mignolet heroics, but his goals beat Wigan, twice, last season and where would we be without them alone?

We'd be preparing to start the season in the Football League, that's where. Instead of a plethora of exciting signings, and begging Hull to take our dross, we'd be watching them court our top players whilst we built a team around the players we are now all mostly hopeful of seeing leave.

That was the value of Steven Fletcher last season. His goals in tight games accounted for 12 points last season, almost a third of the club's league total, and the fact he made such a huge difference despite missing a quarter of the campaign with injury just highlights his quality.

Steven Fletcher: A quiet, unassuming character who grafts without complaint, scores without fuss, and can be depended upon when all others can not. That sounds like a great Sunderland player to me. Many, many, more of that type, please. (MG)

Steed Malbranque

If Steven Fletcher's presence in this final is a surprise, then surely the same can not be said of Steed Malbranque?

'He scored nee goals, man!', some will be crying right now, no doubt. 'He couldn't last 90 minutes!', others will protest. Both valid, both accurate enough to warrant acknowledgement.

So what if he wasn't the perfect player? So what if he had weaknesses? Sometimes we can be so eager to obsess over what a footballer can't do that we start missing what he CAN do, and what Steed Malbranque could do was entertain.

His trademark shuffling pritstick feet got bums off seats and created a buzz and anticipation that few others have been able to replicate in red and white over the past decade. He could beat a man with a swerve of the hips, a slide of his boot, or a subtle shift of his gaze.

His lack of goals will always be the big complaint, but he could never be accused of failing to provide them. Just ask Darren Bent or Djibril Cissé and I am sure they will be more than happy to note the role Malbranque played in their goalscoring success on Wearside.

Malbranque was a player I personally found impossible to not enjoy watching. Was he style over substance? I don't think so personally, but even if he was what brilliant style he had. (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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