F365's Top Ten Championship Players

The Football League starts this weekend. With seven of the voted top ten players in last season's Championship leaving the division, we pick our current top ten...

Last Updated: 05/08/14 at 08:23 Post Comment

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10) James McArthur (Wigan Athletic)
With the departure of Wigan Player of the Year Jordi Gomez to Sunderland after his contract expired, James McArthur, who finished second in that particular vote, only increases his standing at the JJB Stadium. He did exactly the same a year earlier when James McCarthy left for Everton.

It seems odd that the Premier League call never came for McArthur, who impressed in the Wigan side that won the FA Cup but were relegated. Perhaps it's due to his slightly dogged and workmanlike style in comparison to the greater flair of McCarthy, but it seems that the midfielder has gone under the radar of lower-half Premier League clubs.

Their loss is Wigan's considerable gain, and McArthur will surely prove vital in Uwe Rosler's promotion bid. Wigan threatened to spoil the play-off party last season, only to slip away in April. Without any Owen Coyle this time, things could be different.


9) Nathan Redmond (Norwich City)

Maybe I'm just a little bit blinded when it comes to Redmond after picking him as my potential signing of the season last summer. Then again, it isn't easy to be a Norwich winger when the four strikers (Gary Hooper, Ricky van Wolfswinkel, Johan Elmander and Luciano Becchio) score eight league goals between them and have just 35 shots on target.

Redmond managed just ten less by himself, and also got more assists than any other player currently at Carrow Road - if he stays he would be an integral part of the club's bid for re-promotion.

Only turning 20 in March, Redmond is still raw as a winger, but has managed to amass 121 career club appearances and 11 England Under-21 caps by such a tender age. If he can improve his crossing consistency, there is no reason why he cannot eventually excel at the upper end of the Premier League.


8) Troy Deeney (Watford)

It seemed that Watford striker Deeney was nailed on for a Premier League move only weeks ago, but now that prediction looks less than secure. The fees paid by Fulham and Leicester for Ross McCormack and Leonardo Ulloa respectively have increased the price on the head of a striker with 43 league goals in two seasons in the second tier - seven-figures sums were mooted. Burnley's Sean Dyche says Deeney is too expensive, whilst Harry Redknapp may instead choose to keep Loic Remy after his failed medical at Liverpool.

If Deeney does stay, Watford would fancy their chances of again enjoying the spoils of a partnership between him and Matej Vydra, who has again returned on loan from Udinese, the Hornets again the recipients of their cosy relationship with the Pozzo family. Arsene Wenger didn't pick up on this one when he questioned the Frank Lampard loan deal.


7) Will Hughes (Derby County)

George Thorne would have made this list with ease after his summer move from West Brom, but after the 21-year-old midfielder suffered a cruciate knee ligament injury in pre-season (ruling him out for nine months), his inclusion seemed unnecessary. That left one Derby player on our list, and someone that is over two years younger than Thorne.

Will Hughes only turned 19 in April, and yet has already played seven times for England's Under-21 team - he could be still playing in that team at the Under-21 European Championships in 2017. He is a flair player, comfortable when dribbling on the ball and with an impressive range of passing.

Some of those on our transfer blog have questioned why Hughes has not already arrived in the Premier League, but the truth is surely that signing a new four-year deal at Derby this summer is a sensible move. He will get another season of regular football under the coaching of Steve McClaren, and this looks like a club on the up. Expect Hughes to be sitting at the top table (with Derby or otherwise) by this time next year.


6) David Marshall (Cardiff City)

Another player who it was assumed would be making a Premier League move this summer, Cardiff have instead managed to stave off reported interest from both Arsenal and Southampton - that could be key in their attempt to respond after a shambolic debut Premier League campaign.

The Championship is a league in which there are a number of fine goalkeepers (Karl Darlow, Ali Al-Habsi and Alex McCarthy to name but three), but Marshall must surely be deemed as the best of the lot. Manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer went one step further last month, describing him as "the best goalkeeper in the Premier League" last season. That's a little ballsy.


5) Andy Reid (Nottingham Forest)

Saying the name Andy Reid to a follower of Premier League football tends to draw a guffaw of laughter followed by an overly banterous reference to his weight - Forest supporters are more than happy with such ignorance.

In fact, Reid has improved immeasurably from a man whose career seemed to be slipping away. He was named as the fourth best player in the Championship last season despite Forest failing to make the play-offs (of the top three only Ross McCormack remains in the division), and Reid now displays commitment and professionalism even he would admit was lacking from his early career.

Reid's influence at the City Ground was epitomised by the huge gap between Forest's record with and without their most experienced player. They lost just three of the 32 matches he played last season (1.84 points per game), but of the 21 he missed only four were won (0.80 points per game). I only hope that has persuaded you that this was an unbiased selection. Mostly.


4) Jordan Rhodes (Blackburn Rovers)

There still remains a valid question as to whether Jordan Rhodes would net regularly in the Premier League but, in the Championship at least, there is no better scorer of goals. It's now 53 in two seasons since gaining promotion from League One with Huddersfield, and a frankly ridiculous 94 in his last three campaigns. There is an accurate criticism/argument from some Blackburn supporters that he contributes nothing else other than goals but, until they dry up, few will complain too readily.

With Blackburn never enjoying a position within the top seven in the Championship last season, it appeared that the club would need to build around Rhodes in order to make a promotion push. Whether the signings of Chris Brown (from Doncaster) and Luke Varney (Leeds) constitutes that remains to be seen, but it's easy to be sceptical.


3) Leroy Fer (Norwich City)

Quite how long Leroy Fer will be at Carrow Road for is anyone's guess, but it is difficult to ignore the presence of a 2014 World Cup goalscorer and semi-finalist, so in he must come.

The Dutchman got married and went on honeymoon following the World Cup (including this astounding wedding dance), and only returned to Norwich on Monday, with Neil Adams admitting that it will be hard to hold on to Fer.

"He's just played in the World Cup, he scored a goal and he's going to be in demand from bigger and more wealthy teams," Adams said. "Obviously with our relegation last season we're going to be at the mercy of that. I've said many times I'd love to keep them all but we have to be realistic.

"If it happens, it happens, if it doesn't I'd love for him to be playing all season with us. I'm not resigned to losing him. I hope he stays here, but you've got to be realistic. At this moment he's a Norwich City player. I'm keeping my fingers crossed he will be but at the same time we've got to be realistic."


2) Ross McCormack (Fulham)

Tea was understandably spat from mouths across the Football League when Fulham chose to celebrate their pitiful relegation by sploshing £11million on Ross MocCormack, a striker with 12 career top-flight goals, all for Motherwell in the Scottish Premier League. It's also worth pointing out that before last season, McCormack had scored 29 goals in 133 Championship matches over four seasons. Gulp.

However, whilst it fails to address the matter of the hefty pricetag, there is little doubt that McCormack could take Fulham back to the Premier League at the first time of asking. His 28 league goals last season was 47% of Leeds' entire total, and there is little doubt the Scot kept his side in the Championship - whether his move to Fulham will be any more settled remains to be seen.

One thing is for sure: With Kostas Mitroglou (£12million) in place, Fulham better hope that last season was not a flash in the pan for McCormack. Leeds paid just £350,000 for him in 2010.


1) Jordon Mutch (Cardiff City)

At the time of writing Mutch remains a Championship player, but Harry Redknapp and QPR seem certain to complete a deal for the midfielder. A £5million bid has been instantly rejected, but with QPR likely to follow that up with an improved offer, the word is that Cardiff have given up any hope of holding on to a midfielder that impressed more than most in the Premier League's bottom half last season. He has just one year remaining on his contract.

At just 22, Mutch was easily Cardiff's best outfield player last season, scoring seven times in 37 appearances, and seems to have earned a second shot in the top flight. For now, he tops our list.

Daniel Storey - Follow him on Twitter

Apparently Leeds are about to sign Frederik Sorensen, a young centre back from Juve. If that goes through then IMO you have your new number 1 right there
- TriggerSA

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