The Championship Player of the Year award is always a contentious issue. The award is so subjective, as the winning player obviously should have the proper ability, but also should be awarded for giving as much as he can during the season, relative to their own ability.
With that in mind, many names spring straight to mind, with Anthony Knockaert of Brighton being the first one. Definitely talented and with a playing style easy on the eye, he would be an obvious choice for many. However, his style also means that he is bound to lose possession and appear “greedy” at times. This is probably not the nature of a ‘Best Player in the Championship’.
Chris Wood and Pontus Jansson are two more players who have had excellent seasons at Leeds United. Most of the weeks, they win their personal battles and are in the upper echelon of Championship players. However, Newcastle United are the division’s true barometer and when they came to Elland Road, things were not as Leeds fans expected. Reading a match report from that day will not find us much mention of Wood’s name. And despite big talk from home fans before the game, Jansson and Bartley struggled to contain Newcastle’s forwards with Gayle scoring twice.
What of Dwight Gayle then? 21 goals in 23 Championship starts is impressive. His movement and finishing have been top notch and there’s no doubt he’s too good for this league. With that being said, he’s playing in a top team and it wouldn’t be fair to say he’s the best player in the division.
Aaron Mooy of Huddersfield and Lewis Dunk of Brighton have had excellent seasons too. They definitely deserve a mention, but once again, they have just enough limitations to keep them from the very top place.
The obvious candidate and indeed the best candidate, JONJO SHELVEY. Yes, he had a poor game against Fulham having carried Newcastle’s midfield for weeks in the absence of Isaac Hayden. Yes, he was banned from playing for making racist comments; though one must remember this sport can punish people without proof of wrongdoing.
Despite all of this, Shelvey has taken the step down to the Championship in exactly the right manner. His range of passing is quite superb and the question raised this season of whether Shelvey is the best player to have ever played at this level is a valid one and a question which should at least be debated. His hard working nature, forward thinking, and with the inclination to always back his undoubted ability to be better than the opposition has led to him dictating so many games he’s played in. No other player on the shortlist will be entitled to claim and Shelvey is the deserving winner here.