In December Tangerine Dreaming announced a team of the first half of the season putting forward a team of players who had played against Blackpool and observed by TD. No Blackpool players were named in their in order to be shed of any potential bias. Players have been picked to fill a 4-3-3 formation for purely arbitrary reasons. Here is the Championship team for the second half of the season.
Vito Mannone gets the nod here for his outstanding performance at Bloomfield Road to keep Hull in the game.. Clearly a Premier League ‘keeper (he’s on loan from Arsenal) and given he’s unlikely to play too many games at the Emirates he’d be an excellent signing for any middle to lower Premier league team.
George McCartney picked up the nod here for being resolute in defence, but surprisingly strong going forward, willing to get beyond his midfield and showing good initiative in a West Ham team that unpicked Blackpool brilliantly.
Lee Peltier sneeks in here in front of Keiran Trippier for his stronger defensive attributes. He matched up superbly to Matthew Phillips physically and technically whilst adding a nice dynamic in attack as Leicester regularly broke Blackpool down 3-3 in a pulsating draw in March.
There’s an anomaly here and one with some credence. Only one centre back has been named here, and one other isn’t going to be named for the sake of filling up the team. Solid centre backs seem to be the order of the day in the Championship and few have really stood out. This may be partly because the games against Blackpool usually see the Tangerines throw most defences out of kilter consequently skewing the outcome here. However, the finest centre back witnessed by TD in the second half of the season is James Chester of Hull. Not only a solid defender, but very adept at stepping out with the ball in to midfield to offer extra dimension.
Liam Lawrence ended the season at Cardiff, but when at Portsmouth he was the central point of a midfield that were structured superbly on the counter and his passing beyond the Blackpool defence sparked a good few chances which test Matthew Gilks.
The Championship has a plethora of central midfield talent, any number of players could have easily made these positions. Here the two slots go to Mark Noble, who is way above the standard of the Championship and arguably is good enough to play at the highest of high levels. His energy is amazing, technically it’s hard to fault him, in fact it would be good to know what his weaknesses are. Injury prone perhaps? The other spot goes to Daniel Drinkwater who formed part of a potent midfield three for Leicester and his passing not only showed good awareness of tempo, but incision was plentiful too. Was it a coincidence that Leicester faded after he was substituted at Bloomfield Road?
Hull seemed to focus a lot of their attacks down their right side and at first Cameron Stewart looked very sharp, however,Hull’s attacking edge gained greater clarity when Joshua King came on. Stronger and more direct than Stewart he rocked Stephen Crainey back several times building up quality pressure before a late Hull equaliser.
Jermaine Beckford showed all his attacking attributes from improvisation, to sharp acceleration added to intelligent running to trouble Blackpool all night long. His first goal againstBlackpoolwas spontaneous and would have beaten any ‘keeper due to his speed of mind and invention.
Erik Huseklepp was first class for Portsmouth at Blackpool and the fact that Birmingham seized him when they could showed that his talents are also valued elsewhere. His movement in the box was instinctively perpetual and showed great technical qualities in holding up the ball and laying it off in well structured counter attacks.
The Ultimate Championship Team
Here’s a team of the season allowing for games that TD has witnessed elsewhere and other footage outside of Blackpool games. There may be dispute about a couple of the team, but TD thinks it’s close to the ultimate Championship team. A team which would match most teams in the Premier League, attack and entertain.
A rock solid ‘keeper and centre back partnership. Two aggressive and highly attacking full backs. Energy and technical quality in the midfield from Karacan and Noble allied to the expceitional creativity provided by Lallana. Up front there’s the central striking threat of Rickie Lambert who’s would be supported and served by the powerful running of Matthew Phillips and the subtle ability and crossing prowess of Chris Burke.
Hopefully this gives a slightly different view away from the PFA team of the season which is the most mainstream perspective and throws some light on the talent that exists within this country. There’s some genuine quality who could adapt to the Premier League with relative ease and this doesn’t just apply to the Championship. There are plenty of players from League One and Two who could make the transition. If Premier League clubs want to surrender to the whims of agents rather than being studious and diligent on prospective signings then that’s their loss and the Football League’s gain.