The Championship: Five underwhelming performers this season.

Niko Kranjcar

Leeds United full-back, Brighton and Hove Albion attacker, Nottingham Forest's Algerian International, Reading's Welsh winger and Queens Park Rangers star all involved.

'Football is not played on paper' is a very, very old clique associated with the sport and it is one that ultimately rings true. it doesn't matter if you're a supporter of a non-league side or a Barcelona, it's very rare the game goes the way you predict.

We take a look at five players that were tipped to have a big impact this season, but as of yet still haven't delivered the goods.

Sam Byram - Leeds United

The 20-year-old touted future England star was the driving force of Leeds United last term. Neil Warnock even attempted to build the team around him to utilise his ability even more in the side than he could do at right-back by playing him in the central midfield role in some games.

Unfortunately this season didn't start well for him as a serious injury ruled him out of pre-season. And since then it hasn't got much better and now looks a shadow of the form shown last season.

Still a young lad, he can and will undoubtedly turn it around but unfortunately due to his eye-catching performances of last season, he has become a victim of his own success.

Will Buckley - Brighton and Hove Albion

A key and influential member of the Brighton side that finished in the play-offs last season under Gus Poyet, it's safe to say he hasn't had the same impact in Oscar Garcia's reign this term.

A former club record signing at £1m, the former Watford winger has proved to be a terrific signing in Brighton's Championship era. So much so, last season he was tipped as one of the best wingers in the Football League.

He has endured some injury spells this season, however, that is little excuse to why he has had such a limited impact. He has scored just once and created two goals in his 19 appearances and being mainly used as a wing-forward you would expect better.

Djamel Abdoun - Nottingham Forest

Abdoun was signed from Champions League outfit Olympiakos in the summer for a reported £2m and came with a very good reputation.

The Algerian international represented his country in the 2010 World Cup and the season prior to joining Forest, he scored an impressive 11 goals in 38 games.

Despite the hysteria over the winger, in a Forest shirt he has yet to really deliver. He has played 17 Championship games so far this season, failing to hit the net and creating just two of Nottingham Forest's 50 goals.

Still bedding into the English game, it's fair to say we haven't seen the best of him yet, but for £2m the return really has been quite poor so far.

Hal Robson-Kanu - Reading

The Welsh wizard was brilliant for Reading last season, scoring seven goals in 13 starts for the club and breaking the record for Reading's highest goalscoring midfielder in Premier League history.

It seems that success may have gone to his head as this season he has become nothing more than an average Championship winger - which is incredible for a player that was talking about one day playing for a top for club in the summer.

He has managed just two goals and two assists in 21 appearances for Reading with his last start coming last year. It may be down to fitness, or application but I couldn't begin to doubt his ability because on his day he can be unstoppable.

Niko Kranjcar - Queens Park Rangers

The most underwhelming transfer of the season is undoubtedly Croatian international Niko Kranjcar joining up with former boss Harry Redknapp at Queens Park Rangers.

Fans of various clubs around the Championship all shared the same disbelief that a player of Kranjcar's background and ability would be willing to join a Championship side, with many tipping them to run away with the league title.

I don't think I am being unkind when I say that Kranjcar has been distinctly average at this level, at least not on par with the better players in the league, which he was tipped to better without breaking a sweat.

Whatever the issue is, the Croatian just hasn't had the impact that many expected him to have at this level.

image: © apasciuto

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