2018 proved to be quite the year in the Championship, and it’s Leeds that end it at the top of the pile following the promotion of Leeds, Fulham and Cardiff last season. We take a look at the team of the year based on our statistical ratings of players to have made at least 30 appearances since the start of January.
GK Sam Johnstone (Aston Villa and West Brom) - 6.75
With thirteen clean sheets and more saves than any other Championship goalkeeper in 2018 (141), Johnstone made the short journey from a loan spell at Villa to Midlands rivals West Brom in the summer, aiding promotion bids for both clubs last season and this.
DR Ryan Shotton (Middlesbrough) - 7.13
Versatile Boro defender Shotton is the sort of no nonsense defender Tony Pulis likes and he has certainly got the best from his former Stoke player on Teeside, be that on the right of a back four or a three.
DC Adam Webster (Ipswich and Bristol City) - 7.23
Replacing the outbound Aidan Flint, Bristol City swooped for Ipswich graduate Webster in the summer and he has picked up where he left off. Only two players produced more interceptions in 2018 (75), despite the young centre-back missing ten matches.
DC Mark Beevers (Bolton) - 7.30
Key to Bolton’s dramatic survival at the tail end of last season and their chances of beating the drop this, Beevers’ ability to be in the right place at the right time in the box has been crucial. The 29-year-old won the fifth most aerial duels in 2018 and made more clearances (320) than any other player.
DL Barry Douglas (Wolves and Leeds) - 7.15
It’s fair to say that it was a real shock when Wolves allowed Douglas to leave in the summer, so pivotal was the Scot to the club’s title winning campaign. The 29-year-old hasn’t had quite the same impact at Elland Road but played an important role in the Whites table-topping season so far regardless, with the opportunity to win back-to-back Championship titles.
MC Shaun Williams (Millwall) - 7.22
A big miss for the Lions during a spell on the sidelines, Williams’ all action displays in the middle of the park have been crucial to Millwall’s success. He scored six goals in 2018, while producing 69 tackles and 65 key passes in 39 league appearances.
MC Alan Browne (Preston) - 7.22
Another midfielder that has a big part to play in both the defensive and offensive efforts of his team, Browne made 76 tackles in 42 appearances in 2018, though it was his goalscoring prowess that was pivotal to Preston. The Irishman chipped in with 14 goals over the course of the year, which was more than any other central midfielder.
AML Joe Lolley (Nottingham Forest) - 7.36
While Forest made some eye-catching signings from further afield last year, none have been as effective and shrewd as that of Lolley. The winger ranked fourth for dribbles in 2018 (94), scored nine goals and registered the second most assists in the Championship (10).
AMC Jack Grealish (Aston Villa) - 7.43
The most important player in Villa’s push to the play-off final last season, Grealish made a slow start this time around but the playmaker has improved under Dean Smith. He ended the year ranking third for key passes (88), second for dribbles (101) and was fouled 67 times more than any other player (167), while registering eight assists.
AMR Pablo Hernandez (Leeds) - 7.32
The league’s creator-in-chief has been superb since the summer appointment of Marcelo Bielsa and the real driving force behind Leeds’ title push. The Spaniard ends 2018 with five more assists than any other player (15) having registered the most key passes (112), while scoring ten times himself.
FW Lukas Jutkiewicz (Birmingham) - 7.70
Birmingham’s most important player, first in beating the drop last season and an unlikely promotion push this, Jutkiewicz’s hold up play and aerial dominance is vital to the Blues’ approach. The striker scored 14 times in 2018, registering a further eight assists - with only three players having a direct hand in more goals, winning almost 200 more aerial duels than any other player (457).