Football

Championship: 2012/13 Team of the Season

Zaha recently inspired Palace to the play-off final (©GettyImages)
Zaha recently inspired Palace to the play-off final (©GettyImages).

It's been another exciting and competitive season in the Championship, closely fought with any team capable of beating each other.

Just 33 points separated relegated Peterborough United and champions Cardiff City. To give some context: 30 points is the current difference between Manchester United, champions of the Premier League, and seventh-placed Liverpool.

Cardiff dominated top spot for most of the year, but individuals from many a team have contributed, staking their claim for a place in the Championship team of the season.

Here is my XI. Who would be in yours?

Goalkeeper: Kasper Schmeichel | Leicester City

Son of arguably the greatest goalkeeper in football history, Kasper is finally starting to prove his worth in his own right.

A noteworthy shot-stopper, who commands the box brilliantly, is positionally excellent and his distribution contributes massively to the Leicester City attack.

Tomasz Kuszczak of Brighton pushed him awfully close, but Schmeichel just about edges it for me. Expect to see him in the Premier League next season.

Right-back: Marco Cassetti | Watford

Part of Zola's Udinese loan revolution this season, Cassetti has been both excellent in defence and attack.

Zola will be hoping his team can get promoted to sign the wing-back permanently in the summer as he's contributed pace, strength, speed and creativity in this season's Championship charge.

His work rate is phenomenal and it's no coincidence the player has made over 150 appearances for AS Roma. From Serie A to the Championship, he has been one of the league's shining lights in defence.

Centre-back: James Chester | Hull City 

At the heart of the promotion winning City defence, making 44 appearances in a side to concede just 52 goals all season.

Solid at the back, a good passer of the ball and good in the air, he possesses all the right attributes for a centre-back.

Aston Villa are reportedly knocking on the door and it's no surprise. Surely Steve Bruce will offer a good enough contract to secure the 24-year-old's services in the Premier League next year.

Centre-back: Tom Lees | Leeds United

Lees won the Young Player of the Year award at Elland Road in his first full season with the club, and has been called up to the England Under-21 squad for all of his efforts.

The Leeds defence may not have been at it's absolute best, but a couple of high-profile mistakes aside, Lees has looked like he will have a great future, along with a successful campaign this year.

Left-back: Marcos Alonso | Bolton Wanderers

Formerly of Real Madrid, this has been a breakthrough season for the 22-year-old Spaniard.

Since the arrival of Dougie Freedman as Wanderers boss in November, the defender has been virtually ever present. Comfortable on the ball, good aerial ability and his defensive abilities have improved drastically. He has immense vision and accuracy with passing distribution, the ability to take on players and a threatening shot in his locker.

Alonso is the real deal and out of contract in the summer. With interest from Serie A side Fiorentina, Alonso could be swapping the Championship for European football next term.

Right-wing: Wilfred Zaha | Crystal Palace

Such was the early season dominance from Zaha at Palace, Manchester United spent £15m to secure his services, making him Sir Alex Ferguson's final signing.

He was immediately loaned back to Palace, where he really is the heartbeat in attack. Greased lightning would struggle to keep up, and when he gets in his stride he creates the impression of at times being completely unplayable.

Centre-midfielder: Aron Gunnarsson | Cardiff City

Tough tackler who often wins possession in the middle of the park and is more than dynamic enough at turning it into attack quickly.

A box-to-box midfielder, and one of the first names on the Cardiff team-sheet. The dominating enforcer, it must be a manager's dream to have a player like this 23-year-old in their team.

Centre-midfielder: Nathan Chalobah | Watford

Creative in attack, strong and quick to defend, like Gunnarsson at Cardiff, the Chelsea loanee never seems to tire.

Instrumental in the Watford promotional campaign, and puts himself in with a serious shout for a place in the Chelsea squad next season. 

Left-wing: Tom Ince | Blackpool

Playing for a team only securing survival on the penultimate game of the season, Ince has created more goals than any other player in the division with 14, whilst chipping in with a massive 18 goals.

It will be a miracle if father Paul manages to hold onto the winger in the summer, but this year he's been one of if not the most standout performer of the whole season. I'm sure many defenders will still be having nightmares over the summer.

Striker: Jordan Rhodes | Blackburn Rovers

In a season in which practically nothing was sure, five managers supervised this team in what was literally a circus show at times.

One thing was fixed, and that was the predatory marksmanship of Scotland international Rhodes. £7m seemed like a gamble when it was paid for his services earlier in the season, but that price tag has surely doubled after scoring a whopping 28 goals in the Championship.

Striker: Charlie Austin | Burnley 

Despite missing the last few weeks of the season, the 23-year-old rocked defences hitting the back of the net 28 times.

Smashed a few goalscoring records at Burnley, including quickest run to the 20-goal mark in just 17 appearances. The striker did suffer a slight dip at the end of the season. His early season efforts were unstoppable which grants him his place in the team, just in favour of Glenn Murray of Crystal Palace.

Do you agree with this team or any of the selections? Who would be in your team of the season?

 

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