In a poor season for our Capital clubs in the Sky Bet Championship two players shone through with a number of outstanding performances. Alan Judge (Brentford) and Ross McCormack (Fulham) were recognised by the Football League this year for their fantastic individual campaigns, and were both nominated for Championship Player of the Year.
Although each eventually fell short of the award which was given to the mercurial Andre Grey of Burnley, these nominations demonstrate the amazing achievements of these two players in club sides that have had relatively unremarkable seasons.
Alan Judge scored 14 goals and provided 11 assists in 38 league appearances of Brentford this season.
Alan Judge made his loan move to Brentford from Blackburn permeant on the 2nd June 2014 and has since become an integral cog in the Bees midfield. His fantastic performances at the start of the 2014/15 season led to much interest from Bristol City last summer, who reportedly tried to sign the Irish midfielder. His decision to stay in West London proved to be a good one and Judge started this Championship year in style, scoring a brace on August 15th over the same Bristol side that had tried to sign him. Judge carried his form through the first half of the Bees’ campaign, and three goals and four assists saw the midfielder win October’s Championship Player of the Month. The Irishman continued his form in front of goal through a hectic Christmas period, scoring a number of important goals to keep Brentford clear of the relegation zone.
Unfortunately for Judge a horrific tackle from Ipswich’s Luke Hyam in early April ruled him out for the remainder of the season, much to the dismay of fans around Griffen Park. However he was recognised for his outstanding contribution to Brentford’s season by being named in the Championship Team of the Year, and was awarded both Brentford Supporter’s and Player’s Player of the Year. Brentford manager Dean Smith now faces a tough challenge to keep the talismanic 27 year old at Griffen Park for next year’s campaign, and will have to fend off growing interest from top level Championship and Premier League clubs.
Ross McCormack scored 23 goals in 45 games for Fulham this season.
Since his record £11 million pound move from Leeds to Fulham in July 2014 McCormack has suffered patches of turbulent form. This looked set to continue at the start of the 2015/16 campaign when the Scot failed to score in Fulham’s first five games, but a brace in the Capital One Cup against Sheffield United sparked a return to form and McCormack went on to score 5 in his next 7 for the West Londoners. McCormack continued these impressive performances through the Christmas schedule, netting 11 times between late October and early February and contributing heavily to his side’s increasingly desperate fight against relegation. The striker profited significantly from the appointment of Slaviša Jokanović in December. The tactics of the Serb benefitted the Scot greatly, allowing him to combine effectively with fellow striker Dembele and form a formidable partnership.
After another run of four games without a goal the Craven Cottage superstar found his goalscoring boots again in March, and another run of 5 goals in 7 games allowed the Londoners to put points between themselves and MK Dons in 22nd, which ultimately kept Jokanović’s side in England’s second tier. After finishing a wonderful season in London it now remains to be seen whether McCormack remains in Fulham over the summer, and with proven goalscorers in much demand the Cottage faithful will be hoping their side can fend off interest in both Dembele and their Player of the Year, McCormack.
By Freddie Stuart.
(The Guardian, walesonline.co.uk,getwestlondon.co.uk)