THE AWE­SOME, TH YOU’VE GOT TO HE DIRE AND THE BE KID­DING ME!

CHRIS DUNLAVY HANDS OUT HIS AWARDS FOR THE P LAY­ERS AND PER­FOR­MANCES OF A FAS­CI­NAT­ING SEA­SON

The Football League Paper - - GRAHAM WESTLEY -

Far be it from me to sug­gest that the fine gen­tle­men who play our game got it wrong. But with vot­ing for the PFA Cham­pi­onship team of the year end­ing in March, a huge chunk of the sea­son is roundly ig­nored. Let’s face it: would Wat­ford’s Matej Vy­dra be the Player of the Year if votes were cast to­day? Af­ter nine games with­out a goal, I’d bet not. And what about Peter Whit­ting­ham? Ma­jes­tic up to Christ­mas, the tir­ing Cardiff mid­fielder sat out the en­tire run in but still won a place in the dream team.

So with the sea­son now at an end, it’s time to right some of those wrongs and re­ward the men who, like For­rest Gump, just kept on run­ning. Men like Liam Brid­cutt, scandalously ig­nored de­spite be­ing the di­vi­sion’s most con­sis­tent per­former.

It’s also time to hand out some other awards to the play­ers, man­agers and ‘global ad­vi­sors’ who made us laugh, cry and shake our heads in de­spair. PLAYER OF THE YEAR

LIAM BRID­CUTT – BRIGHTON LIAM Brid­cutt ain’t flash. He won’t bam­boo­zle a man like Wil­fried Zaha. He won’t tear past you like Craig Bel­lamy. And he won’t land a laser-guided 50-yard pass on your toe. But what he will do is make any match march to the beat of his own drum, set­ting the tempo, mak­ing time and space, re­fus­ing to be hur­ried and never, ever, los­ing the ball. Brid­cutt is the Cham­pi­onship’s ver­sion of Xavi, his un­der­stated ex­cel­lence only ap­par­ent when you look for it. An eight out of 10 man ev­ery game, the for­mer Chelsea young­ster could line up in any Cham­pi­onship side and make it bet­ter.

GOAL­KEEPER

TO­MASZ KUSZCZAK – BRIGHTON LAST sea­son, Brighton were at­trac­tive but por­ous. This year, they have the best de­fen­sive record in the Cham­pi­onship. The dif­fer­ence? A goal­keeper who makes fewer mis­takes than a brain sur­geon. Wasted at Man United, the 31-year-old Pole has showed just why he was once signed for £2.5m by pro­duc­ing a string of rock solid – and of­ten match­win­ning – per­for­mances. RIGHT-BACK

AHMED EL­MO­HAMADY – HULL CITY HULL’S player of the year and a man who makes Dani Alves look con­ser­va­tive. The Egyp­tian wing­back is the in­sti­ga­tor of count­less Tigers at­tacks, with enough pace to trou­ble even the quick­est op­po­nents. As tired­ness has kicked in and his form has dipped, so Hull’s goals have dried up. That is no co­in­ci­dence.

CEN­TRE-BACK

MARK HUD­SON – CARDIFF CITY ONCE given a tough time by the Cardiff fans,‘Huds’ has faced ques­tions over ev­ery­thing from his lead­er­ship skills to his abil­ity and po­si­tion­ing over the years. But in a sea­son lit­tle short of im­mac­u­late, the 31-year-old has an­swered them all, dom­i­nat­ing ev­ery striker he’s faced to give Cardiff the stur­di­est of bedrocks.

CEN­TRE-BACK

WES MOR­GAN – LE­ICES­TER CITY THE Cham­pi­onship’s best defender for years and years, and the recog­ni­tion he has re­ceived with a place in the PFA team of the year was long over­due. If Le­ices­ter’s play­ers had shown any­thing like the con­sis­tency of their skip­per, they’d be in the Pre­mier League by now. A class act who should be play­ing in the top flight.

LEFT-BACK

WAYNE BRIDGE – BRIGHTON WASHED up? Don’t be­lieve it. Bridge might have gone a bit rusty on the benches of Man City and Chelsea but a bit of South Coast sea air has rein­vig­o­rated the for­mer Eng­land flier. Un­flap­pable at the back with de­liv­ery to die for, the 32-year-old has strolled through the sea­son like John Tra­volta at an am­a­teur dance-off.

MID­FIELD

AL­MEN ABDI – WAT­FORD MUCH has been made of Matej Vy­dra’s goals but the Czech striker is the fi­nal lick of paint to Abdi’s bricks and mor­tar. Slick as Si­na­tra on the ball but shot through with steel in the tackle, the on-loan Udi­nese man is the Cham­pi­onship’s best all-round mid­fielder. MID­FIELD

KIM BO-KYUNG – CARDIFF CITY PER­HAPS the Cham­pi­onship’s most un­der­rated player, Kim was ini­tially dis­missed as a bit of a work­horse. But as Cardiff have gone through the gears, so has the South Korean, show­cas­ing his abil­ity to read the game and see a pass long be­fore any­one else. Tai­lor-made for the Pre­mier League. FOR­WARD

TOM INCE – BLACK­POOL OK, so dad Paul’s £25m val­u­a­tion was a bit daft. But con­sid­er­ing young Tom has played the ma­jor­ity of his games on a pitch re­sem­bling an ill-kept al­lot­ment, his record – 18 goals, 14 as­sists – is as­ton­ish­ing. A Pre­mier League club surely awaits.

FOR­WARD

TROY DEENEY – WAT­FORD THE self-con­fessed “tran­sit van” to Vy­dra’s Rolls-Royce, Deeney could never be de­scribed as el­e­gant, or even skil­ful. But with­out his self­less, bruis­ing holdup play, the Czech wouldn’t be half as ef­fec­tive.When the Hor­nets’ pro­mo­tion push fal­tered, Deeney was the man who dragged them over the play­off line. And when you con­sider that he was in jail un­til Septem­ber, 19 goals is one hell of a to­tal. FOR­WARD

JOR­DAN RHODES – BLACK­BURN YES, Glenn Mur­ray scored more. But he wasn’t in a team play­ing dread­ful football, un­der four dif­fer­ent man­agers with a board hell bent on em­bar­rass­ing the club. Nor did he have an £8m price tag hang­ing round his neck. With 28 goals, the di­vi­sion’s most in­stinc­tive fin­isher sin­gle-hand­edly kept Rovers up. Just imag­ine what he could do at a good team.

SIGN­ING OF THE YEAR

PADDY MAD­DEN – YEOVIL TOWN (CARLISLE - YEOVIL, £25,000)

SEA­SON? Cen­tury more like. Ut­terly stag­nant in his two years at Carlisle, Dubliner Mad­den scored just two goals in 32 league games for the Cum­bri­ans, his time spent mainly in the treat­ment room and on the bench. Then came a loan move to Yeovil in Oc­to­ber that yielded seven goals. At that point, Carlisle boss Greg Ab­bott could still have re­alised what he was miss­ing. In­stead, he flogged Mad­den to Yeovil for just £25,000 and was forced to watch in hor­ror as the 23year-old plun­dered 22 goals in 35 games, fir­ing the Glovers to fourth place and be­com­ing League One’s lead­ing marks­man. Hailed by Gary John­son as “one of the best sign­ings of my ca­reer”, God knows what Mad­den is worth now.

MUG OF THE YEAR

SHEBBY SINGH

WITH money to burn and no un­der­stand­ing of football, Singh was to agents what an open win­dow is to a bur­glar. Fleeced left, right and cen­tre, Black­burn’s “Global Ad­vi­sor” shelled out mil­lions in agents’ fees and happily sanc­tioned wages of £35k a week for the likes of Jor­dan Rhodes and Danny Mur­phy. Best of all was the £606,000 he handed to agent Mar­cos Oliveira for a job lot of Por­tuguese play­ers, all of whom turned out to be hope­less.

FLOP OF THE YEAR

DAR­REN AM­BROSE – (CRYS­TAL PALACE TO BIRM­ING­HAM)

THOUGH they could ill af­ford it, £250,000 seemed a steal for a man widely re­garded as one of Palace’s best play­ers, a mid­fielder whose 35yarder at Old Traf­ford in 2011 was de­scribed by Gary Neville as the best goal he’d ever seen by an op­pos­ing player at Old Traf­ford. Alas, sev­eral in­juries and just six ap­pear­ances later, it’s Palace who are laugh­ing all the way to the bank.

RES­UR­REC­TION OF THE YEAR

IP­SWICH TOWN

BLACK­BURN could have had him.Wolves should have kept him. But in the end it was Ip­swich who brought Mick McCarthy out of the man­age­rial deep freeze and were rewarded with a stun­ning re­ver­sal of for­tune. Un­der Paul Jewell, the Trac­tor Boys were a pas­sion­less sham­bles, get­ting smashed ev­ery other week and tum­bling head­long into League One. Then “Big Mick” ar­rived and, 15 wins from 34 games later, Ip­swich are one of the steel­i­est out­fits in the Cham­pi­onship. How Wolves fans must wish they could say that.

MAN­AGER OF THE YEAR

PHIL PARKINSON – BRAD­FORD

UP un­til last week,Yeovil’s Gary John­son was the only con­tender. But when a man­ager takes a League Two side to a Wem­b­ley fi­nal twice in the same sea­son, he wins by de­fault. Fairy­tale wins over As­ton Villa and Arse­nal made Brad­ford the first fourth-tier side in 50 years to reach the League Cup fi­nal, where they were soundly trounced 5-0 by Swansea. But af­ter a nasty slump, Parky has ral­lied his thread­bare squad, snatch­ing a play-off berth on the fi­nal day and then beat­ing Bur­ton in the semis to book a re­turn to the cap­i­tal. It will be their 64th game of a re­mark­able sea­son. “You see the Pre­mier League teams com­plain­ing with the squads they’ve got,” said Parky.“We’ve done it with 19 play­ers, no loans. They’ve been tremen­dous.” As has their gaffer.

RE­TURN OF THE YEAR

ED­DIE HOWE – BOURNEMOUTH

BACK af­ter a mid­dling spell at Burn­ley, Dean Court le­gend Howe turned the Cher­ries from over­paid un­der-per­form­ers into a side who will be play­ing in the Cham­pi­onship next year, all in seven re­mark­able months.

GOAL OF THE YEAR

NATHANIEL CHALOBAH – (WAT­FORD v LE­ICES­TER)

NO ques­tion. No ar­gu­ment. It sim­ply is not pos­si­ble to hit a ball harder or truer than the Wat­ford mid­fielder did against Le­ices­ter. The goal frame was prac­ti­cally up­rooted as the ball seared past a help­less Kasper Sch­me­ichel.

MO­MENT OF THE YEAR

17 SEC­ONDS OF MAD­NESS! – (BRENT­FORD v DON­CASTER)

BRAD­FORD’S win at As­ton Villa was mag­i­cal but, for sheer drama, noth­ing beats the fi­nal act of an ab­sorb­ing League One pro­mo­tion bat­tle.When Brent­ford were awarded a 93rd-minute penalty, Donny – sec­ond by two points – were fac­ing the play-offs. The Bees were go­ing up. Then Mar­cello Trotta thrashed his kick off the bar, Rovers broke up­field and, with the fi­nal kick of the sea­son, James Cop­pinger scored to clinch the ti­tle. From down and out to up as cham­pi­ons in 17 crazy sec­onds.

FOR­WARD - TROY DEENEY

GOAL­KEEPER – TO­MASZ KUSZCZAK

PLAYER OF THE YEAR - LIAM BRID­CUTT

FOR­WARD - JOR­DAN RHODES

FOR­WAR

CEN­TRE-BACK - MARK HUD­SON

SIGN­ING - PADDY MAD­DEN

RD - TOM INCE

MO­MENT - BRENT­FORD’S PENALTY

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