The 2017/18 Sky Bet Championship season is yet to fully resume, as one of Aston Villa or Fulham are battle it out for a spot in the promised land of the Premier League. However, there was plenty to look back on from the regular campaign, prior to the play-offs. Thanks to EFL Stats, we can reveal the top 5 passing teams from the season gone by.
Bottom of that table is actually Cardiff City, who will indeed by playing their football in the promised land after a superb effort to finish behind champions Wolverhampton Wanderers. Millwall were second from bottom, another team to enjoy a strong season, despite just missing out on the play-offs. Just above are Bolton Wanderers, who survived on the final day, and Burton Albion, who dropped back into League One after two years in the second tier.
All we are really interested on is those higher up this particular table, and praising them for their attractive styles of play. Notable mentions go to Reading, Sheffield United and Aston Villa, for narrowly missing out on the top five spots. Starting from five to one, here are the top five passing teams from the 2017/18 Sky Bet Championship campaign.
It won’t come as a shock to see Brentford high up on this category. Head coach Dean Smith has implemented this brand of football throughout his managerial career, starting at Walsall, and then into the Championship when the Bees came calling. They may have missed out on the play-offs, but they were in contention until the final few weeks. In total, 21,775 passes were completed.
4) Nottingham Forest
It is quite interesting to see mid-table Nottingham Forest so high up. It has to be remembered that they have had a few different managers over the season too, all of which would have had their own ideas and strategies to implement. It started with Mark Warburton, who is another ‘passing manager’. He would be dismissed in December, and caretaker Gary Brazil oversaw two games, before ex-Middlesbrough boss Aitor Karanka led them from January 8th onwards. They completed 21,886 passes.
3) Norwich City
Head coach Daniel Farke quickly set his side the task of playing a possession-based style. They took time to truly settle into his methods, and it could be argued they never did based on their mid-table showing. Still, they will be better for this season going into next, where they will be targeting a play-off position without a doubt. The fact only two teams completed more passes than them does tell a story, but ultimately they didn’t have the campaign they wanted. Overall, it was 22,263 passes made.
The champions played like champions through their intricate passing style. Nuno Espirito Santo worked them hard in pre-season to play in this manner, and that hard work clearly paid off come the end. They won the title and that looked like the case from quite an early stage. They can move into the Premier League looking to continue with this style, hoping to earn more plaudits, as most importantly. collect many points along the way. They made 23,098 passes.
No shock by this whatsoever! We all knew Fulham would be topping this list, by perhaps what would be the most interesting would be to see how close the second would be. Wolves were still the best part of 1,800 passes behind Fulham, which clearly shows how insistent Slavisa Jokanovic is on playing this pure brand of football. This clearly worked based on their successful campaign, although that will largely be determined if they can beat Aston Villa in the play-off final or not. They made a whopping 24,857 passes.