Steve Evans column: The best players I’ve watched this season

(Photo: Action Images)

By Mansfield Town manager Steve Evans

FOOTBALL is all about opinions and the wonderful thing is that in this game everyone is entitled to one. The EFL recently announced their teams of the season for the Championship, League One and League Two.

When I analysed each of the teams, it was difficult to find fault, but I have selected a player from each league that, for me, should have been a certain pick.

Let’s start with the Championship. The EFL team of the season is: Stockdale (Brighton), Smith (Huddersfield), Jansson (Leeds), Dunk (Brighton), Malone (Fulham), Shelvey (Newcastle), Mooy (Huddersfield), Knockaert (Brighton), Murray (Brighton), Gayle (Newcastle) and Wood (Leeds).

There are a number of exceptional players – the likes of Tom Ince (Derby), Lee Tomlin (Bristol City), Ronaldo Vieira (Leeds) and Sone Aluko (Fulham) – who have not made the selected team but, for me, there is a stand-out absentee.

Liam Bridcutt (Leeds) is a Premier League player playing in the Championship. He gets around the pitch, can make great passes, gives his team a defensive shield, makes great tackles, has enthusiasm in bundles and is inspirational in a great club having a wonderful season.

It was my pleasure to sign him, initially on loan, at Elland Road last season and he was fantastic. In my opinion, he should have been chosen.

In League One, the chosen team is fearsome: Ripley (Oldham), McLaughlin (Fleetwood), Wheater (Bolton), Beevers (Bolton), Meredith (Bradford), Fleck (Sheffield United), Oztumer (Walsall), Morris (Scunthorpe), Gregory (Millwall), Sharp (Sheffield United) and Vaughan (Bury).

It means the likes of Charlie Wyke (Bradford, ex-Carlisle), Matty Taylor (Bristol Rovers, now Bristol City) and Leonardo Da Silva Lopes (Peterborough) have not been selected. The latter is just 18 years old and is brilliant for one so young.

Yet one player who would be an automatic choice for me is Marvin Johnson (Oxford). He is enjoying a fantastic season and is sure to play Championship football in the future if he keeps up the quality of his performances.

He has superb technique, can strike the ball with real accuracy and opens up defences with apparent ease.

Stag will do: Mansfield Town manager believes there was one glaring omission from the EFL’s League Two Team of the Season (photo: Media Image)

League Two also has some wonderful players selected: Forde (Portsmouth), Mellor (Blackpool), Bradley (Plymouth), Burgess (Portsmouth), Stevens (Portsmouth), Potts (Blackpool), Coppinger (Doncaster), Carey (Plymouth), Marquis (Doncaster), Godden (Stevenage), Watkins (Exeter).

It shows how strong the division is when the likes of Nicky Adams (Carlisle), Luke Berry (Cambridge) and Tommy Rowe (Doncaster) don’t make the cut.

However, there is no doubt in my mind that Luton’s Danny Hylton should be there.

He is a very talented lad and the difference in watching Luton play without him is very, very noticeable. He has a good manager in Nathan Jones and assistant in Paul Hart teaching him. The lad works so hard and gets rewarded with his goals. His movement is terrific and he wants to improve every time he plays. Those are fantastic attributes to have.

As for the EFL managers of the season, there is no doubt for me they have got these right. David Wagner (Huddersfield, Championship), Uwe Rosler (Fleetwood, League One) and Darren Ferguson (Doncaster, League Two) have done a fantastic job.

They also have two things in common: they are at stable clubs which are run by fantastic chairmen.

As for the overall EFL Player of the Season, there can only be one winner for me. Leeds striker Chris Wood is having a phenomenal season.

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