An exciting campaign for Brentford, Fulham’s brilliant run to the play-offs and another troubled year for QPR are all reflected in our selections for our west London Championship team of the season. Here’s who we’ve chosen…
Alex Smithies (QPR)
Dan Bentley has been outstanding for Brentford, but QPR would have been relegated without the equally brilliant Smithies. The fact he was Rangers’ best player by miles says it all about their miserable season. He won them enough points by himself to keep them in the Championship.
Maxime Colin (Brentford)
While some of his performances have been below par, particularly during the early part of the season, Colin has on the whole done a solid job for his team and impressed at right-back – an area where Fulham and especially QPR have had some problems.
Harlee Dean (Brentford)
Brentford’s player of the season has improved year on year since his move to Griffin Park from Southampton in 2011, initially on loan. His game moved up another level this term, particularly during the latter part of the campaign when he was outstanding.
Tomas Kalas (Fulham)
The on-loan Chelsea centre-back has played a key role in Fulham reaching the play-offs. They have looked a long way from promotion contenders at times – usually times Kalas has not played. With him they have looked much more solid. He’s made a huge difference.
Ryan Sessegnon (Fulham)
Scott Malone has served Fulham well, providing a decent attacking outlet on the left flank and chipping in with six goals. But the exciting Sessegnon has shown his vast potential since making the step up to the first team at the age of just 16. He has already scored seven goals, with two of them coming in a brilliant display at Newcastle, and has impressed both at left-back and on the left of midfield.
Tom Cairney (Fulham)
After another excellent year, Cairney looks like he would be at home in the Premier League. With fine technique and a great ability to find space, he’s been one of the Whites’ stand-out players once again.
Ryan Woods (Brentford)
Last season Woods showed he was capable of running a Championship midfield and he has continued to progress. At 23 and with a steely determination and nice range of passing, his potential is huge. On his day there few better midfielders in the division.
Stefan Johansen (Fulham)
What a first year in English football for the Norwegian, who has got better and better since his move from Celtic last summer. Slavisa Jokanovic pushed hard for him to be signed at a time when the head coach was at odds with the Fulham hierarchy over transfer policy – and his judgement has proved to be spot on. With a series of fine performances – and 13 goals – Johansen has been the midfield driving force in the march to the play-offs.
Such has been Jota’s impact since his return in January from a loan spell at Eibar, the Spaniard is included despite only being with Brentford for the second half of the season. In that four-month spell he has scored 12 goals and produced moments of sublime quality, not least his classy goal in a recent derby win against QPR.
Sone Aluko (Fulham)
Another attacking player who has helped shape Fulham’s excellent season. He has had a key job in his off-the-front role and has been a nightmare for defenders to deal with.
Lasse Vibe (Brentford)
An overused cliche about stepping up to the plate definitely applies here. With Denmark international Vibe having not always convinced prior to Scott Hogan’s big-money move to Aston Villa, many feared for Brentford when their star striker left in the summer. Step forward Vibe, who netted 16 goals and established himself as a forward to be reckoned with during an excellent season. Scott who?
Ones to watch next season…
Rico Henry (Brentford)
While Sessegnon looks destined for the top, Brentford have their own very promising teenage left-back. After Jake Bidwell opted to leave for QPR, in came Henry, who looks a great prospect. Like Bidwell, he spent a chunk of the season out with a shoulder injury. There the similarity ends. While the solid but always unspectacular Bidwell had a thoroughly unremarkable season at Rangers, the 19-year-old Henry is a definite upgrade by the Bees.
Sergi Canos (Brentford)
Like Jota, Canos added a touch of real quality when he was signed from Norwich in January, having previously impressed while on loan at Brentford from Liverpool. At 20, he’s another fine prospect and could make a major impact over the next year or so.