First and foremost congratulations must go to Sylvan Ebanks-Blake, Matty Fryatt and Grant Holt for winning their player of the year awards in their respective leagues. But those of you who know anything about life outside the Premier League will know all three winners share a familiar trait. They are all strikers who have had very successful seasons in front of goal. Clearly their success is obvious with the awards they have just picked up and whilst you cannot take anything away from this year’s winners, I feel the Football League has failed to look beyond the front line for the best players.
For me, Ebanks-Blake was the obvious choice because he has scored the most goals, but has he necessarily been the best player in the Championship? Well it is a tough decision and as always came down to a matter of opinion on the part of the guys at the Football League.
However, I think it may be worth having a look at some other contenders to see whether they may have perhaps been a better choice for this year’s award. My first pick would go to Ebanks-Blake’s team mate Michael Kightly who has had a superb season for Wolves. The England Under 21 international may have tailed off slightly in the last part of the season but before Christmas he was hot property at Molineux with a number of Premier League sides reportedly interested.
Kightly stayed with Wolves and now looks certain to get a taste of the big time when Mick McCarthy’s side are promoted. It will be interesting to see next season who does better in the top flight, Kightly or Ebanks-Blake. Another contender who was left out is Jordi Gomez who has played a huge part in Swansea’s remarkable first season in the Championship.
The Spaniard is on loan from Espanyol for the season and needed very little settling in time before becoming familiar with the English game. Clearly having Roberto Martinez in charge has helped in his development and considering he is described as a defensive midfielder a return of 13 goals in all competitions is not something to be sniffed at.
Two more contenders could have been either one of the Hunt twins at Reading. Noel Hunt arrived in the summer from Dundee United and has enjoyed a good first season in England with 12 goals in all competitions. The combination with his brother Stephen Hunt, who had been tipped to move on after Reading’s Premier League relegation, proved deadly in the opening months of the season. The brothers’ performances were good enough to earn them both a call-up to the Republic of Ireland national side and I would expect them to continue to flourish whichever division they play in.
Those are just four examples of players who could have been considered for the award and I am sure those of you who watch Championship and League 1 or 2 football week-in week-out would have your own choices as well. Hopefully next year the Football League will not overlook those players that do all the hard graft before the strikers steal all the glory.