Last night saw the announcement of Burnley’s Danny Ings as the Sky Bet Championship Player of the Season, defeating Leeds United striker Ross McCormack and Leicester City playmaker Danny Drinkwater. But did the Football League make the right decision?
Both McCormack and Ings have been pivotal to their respective teams this season. When comparing the two we must consider what we expect from a striker. A key aspect of both players game is their efficiency in front of goal. McCormack leads the goal scoring charts in the Championship with 24 goals in 35 appearances, whilst Ings holds a slightly less impressive but still noteworthy record of 20 goals in 34 appearances. As a result, the Leeds striker has a goal every 131 minutes, whilst Ings has scored every 150 minutes. Statistically then, McCormack is the more prolific centre forward, raising the question of how the Football League can justify their conclusion. Some could argue that it was down to the role of Ings, not just in front of goal, but also contributing to the rest of the team. However, both the Burnley frontman and McCormack have 7 assists; therefore this is inconclusive.
It is, however, easy to pick the statistical loopholes in the awarding. It’s also easy to forget that the Player of the Season is voted for by the 24 Championship managers, suggesting that Ings as the focal point of the Burnley team was more impressive and more of a threat than the less supported McCormack. Ings’ partnership with Sam Vokes is possibly the most feared in the Championship, with 38 goals combined, whilst McCormack alongside his most prolific partner, Matt Smith, totals 33 goals. This makes the decision more understandable; as part of a strike force, Ings will seem more threatening than McCormack, and more teams have been relinquished by his partnership with Vokes. Alongside this, Ings is the star player in a talented Burnley side currently sitting in 2nd place, holding a ten point lead over 3rd place Derby. This might explain how Ings would’ve been preferred, as Leeds currently sit 14th with a disappointing 44 points. Therefore, McCormack will look less impressive surrounded by an inferior team, showing how more of the 24 Championship managers will view Ings as a better player.
Looking at the players individually, I believe the award was wrongly awarded, as McCormack is statistically better in a worse team. However, from a managers point of view, I can understand how Ings’ ability will be emphasised by being surrounded by a top class team. Make no mistake, Danny Ings deserves the Player of the Season award, and maybe it wouldn’t have made sense to award a player from a team in 14th Player of the Year, but should McCormack have received greater consideration?