As Zlatan and CR7 continue to deny father time and age like fine wines, the second tier has it’s own group of ‘Golden Oldies’.
Squad veterans often provide value both on and off the pitch. A cool head on it as he coaches his teammates through tough situations, and a mentor nurturing the talent around him off it. While Football Manager criminally underrates a player once they pass their prime, I’m here to respect and put the limelight back on these veterans. So, with no further ado, here is my Best Championship ‘Golden Oldies’ XI, featuring the league’s finest over 32’s.
Goalkeeper: Ben Foster (Watford)
‘The Cycling Gk’ is excelling both on and off the pitch, justifying his inclusion in the XI ahead of a plethora of talented aged second tier ‘keepers.
An undoubted Premier League quality player in my opinion, Watford’s late season charge suggests he’s not done with the top tier just yet. With his gameday go-pro footage providing an interesting insight into the life of a ‘keeper, much of the Hornet’s sting has been via a formidable defence that Foster is pivotal to.
Right Back- Kyle Naughton (Swansea)
Another ‘Golden Oldie’ who’s more used to Premier League football, Naughton has shown a positional versatility to help prolong his prime.
Switching between full back and centre back for the Swans this season, Naughton was pivotal to the once league best defence that had the Swans flying. While their form is beginning to falter now, he’ll be key to nurturing talent such as Cabango and Latibeaudiere to push for promotion again next season.
Centre Back: James Chester (Stoke City)
Playing alongside second tier rookie Souttar, Chester has been an experienced head for the Potters’ plethora of young talent.
While boasting the 4th best tackles per game for centre backs this season, Chester makes up for being unconventionally short with a dogged defensive presence. The perfect compliment for the lanky, aforementioned Souttar, O’Neill has spoken in length about Chester’s impact for the club as a seasoned professional.
Centre Back: Michael Morrison (Reading)
After being a stalwart for a perennially relegation threatened Birmingham side, Morrison has shown a new lease of life at the other end of the table with the Royals.
When Paunovic joined Reading this summer, ageing centre half like Morrison could’ve feared for his future at the side. However, juxtaposing those fears is the reality, as Morrison has been a regular fixture in the Reading side, providing an experienced head amongst their abundance of exciting prospects.
Left Back: George Friend (Birmingham)
One of the Championship’s most consistent defenders in the 2010’s, Friend recently ended an impressive spell with Boro to follow former manager Karanka to Birmingham.
Like the right back for this XI, Friend has also shown a similar versatility to avoid being left behind as he’s aged. After starring for eight years at full back, which included two PFA TOTY selections in the second tier, moving between his preferred position and centre back suits his ever deteriorating pace.
RM: Colin Kazim-Richards (Derby County)
Finding ‘Golden Oldies’ on the flanks when the position is so reliant on pace can be tough, so I’m relying on Kazim-Richards to put in a shift on the wing for this XI.
With a journeyman career any FM player would be proud of, Richards has impressed in the first year back in English football with the Rams. The youthful squad has struggled as a whole, making Richards’ 7 goals an impressive feat, and a return to form for the veteran will be vital to Derby’s survival hopes.
Central Midfield: John Obi Mikel (Stoke City)
The only Champions League winner in this XI, Mikel has been key to maintaining Stoke’s status as a career graveyard for Europe’s elite.
A model professional brought to Stoke in an attempt to cure the club of the toxicity that’s plagued them for so long, his attitude has been exemplary to the Potters young core. Often keeping things ticking over in Stoke’s midfield, Mikel characteristically hasn’t stole the headlines as he didn’t for all those years in Chelsea.
Central Midfield: Bradley Johnson (Blackburn)
In his prime, Johnson was the epitome of the age old cliché “too good for the Championship, not good enough for the Premier League”.
Now at 33, Johnson has an impressive football league CV spanning over his 17 year career in the professional football. Other than a two year spell in the Prem’ with the Canaries, Johnson became synonymous with the second tier through the 2010’s. Now, he shares the pitch with Harvey Elliot, who was still in nappies when Johnson began his footballing career.
Left Midfield: Albert Adomah (QPR)
Moving from one midfielder that never really stepped up to the Premier League to another, Adomah appeared in every Championship campaign in the last decade.
Peaking during his role in Villa’s attempts to return to the top, Adomah has regularly pushed for promotion during his decade in the division. For QPR this season, Adomah has been reduced to cameos off the bench, but as I said before, it’s tough to find ‘Golden Oldie’ wingers.
Striker: Steven Fletcher (Stoke City)
It may seem mildly biased to include three Potters in this team, but as we’re shackled by FFP, I’m not overly proud on our reliance on ‘Golden Oldies’.
Contributing to Stoke’s weird amalgamation of either incredibly young, or incredibly old stars, Fletcher has maintained his reputation as a consistent scorer in the second tier. A target man who complimented Campbell perfectly before his injury, Stoke have struggled immensely when the senior Scotsman has been out injured.
Striker: Lewis Grabban (Nottingham Forest)
Another who’s struggled to even go beyond the second tier, Grabban has an impressive scoring record at this level.
One of few players to have three 20+ goal scoring campaigns in the Championship, he’s bounced around a fair few promotion chasing sides. Finding a home in Nottingham recently, Grabban is hoping to be ‘captain fantastic’ and fire Forest back to a Premier League where many will say they belong.
So there you have it, there’s my ‘Best Championship ‘Golden Oldies’ XI’. As the spotlight is so often cast on the next generation, it’s been nice to look back at those ‘Golden Oldies’ changing with times and becoming accustom to this chapter of their careers. Do you agree with who I’ve chosen? If not, let me know what you think in the comments below, or tweet us @FanHub_Football .