Deciding on who has been the best team within a league is always rather subjective. Does the team who wins the league always deserve it? Yes, in as much as those players taking part, regardless of their cost in the transfer market or how much they’re paid, have amassed more points than anyone else. Simple! Of course results are important. More often than not, those with a proper team ethic will definitely perform well.
Let’s start with the obvious; Newcastle United. Despite calls of “buying the league” from rivals, Newcastle have in fact spend rather a lot less than other clubs in the division, based on the fact they were forced to sell a number of top players after relegation and didn’t re-invest that money. They certainly fit the bill in terms of team ethic; battling defensive displays at places like Wolves and, more importantly, Brighton and Huddersfield showed them to really good effect.
Newcastle though have a genuinely world class head coach. His influence is so great that without him at the helm, I have no doubt the Newcastle team would have performed slightly under the level they have.
Brighton have been excellent to watch, a more swashbuckling style keeps the fans amused but does leave them rather vulnerable sometimes. Part of being a great team isn’t just playing up to your abilities; it’s working hard together as a unit to achieve results. Brighton have shown their soft underbelly at Leeds and Nottingham Forest in recent weeks which is a definite negative.
Huddersfield have most certainly outperformed people’s expectations, manager David Wagner receiving many plaudits. For me, he deserves them but it’s that which again puts me off slightly in naming them as the best team in this division. Rather like the Benitez effect at NUFC, without Wagner I feel these Huddersfield players would not be in the lofty position they find themselves in.
So who then; Leeds, Fulham, Reading? Newcastle, by virtue of being top of the league? Not for me. I’ll throw the name of Preston North End at you. Sitting 9th in the Championship at the time of writing, 5 points off a play-off place and with a goal difference of +6 is no mean achievement. I’ve nothing against Simon Grayson, however, he’s just not in the class of Benitez, Wagner or Championship winner Hughton and his team is one of the least valuable in this division in terms of transfer market value. It’s been a hell of an effort so far and I would argue it’s made them the best team in the Championship.