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06 Jan 2017

SKY BET EFL MANAGER OF THE MONTH AWARDS: DECEMBER 2016

Sky Bet Championship: Chris Hughton (Brighton & Hove Albion)

Brighton & Hove Albion manager Chris Hughton has been named the Sky Bet Championship Manager of the Month for December.

Hughton oversaw another stellar month from his side by steering them to 13 points from a maximum 15 as they continued their serene progress towards automatic promotion.

His calmness under pressure is being transmitted to his players.

Hughton said: “As a manager it’s always wonderful. In effect, I’m only picking it up on behalf of my staff, but more so for the players.

“They’ve been outstanding for me and it’s always a nice feeling when the club gets recognised for a way of playing.

“I’m picking it up on behalf of them.”

George Burley chairs the Sky Bet Manager of the Month judging panel.

He said: “Chris has made Brighton & Hove Albion the team that you have to finish above to win the Sky Bet Championship.

“Their consistency has been fantastic and the manner they have been playing is a great testament of how Chris manages his team.”

Sky Sports’ EFL pundit Don Goodman said: “Chris’ Brighton side have again exceeded expectations this season as they tussle against his former club Newcastle (where he is still held in high regard by the fans) for the Championship top spot.

“With the resources afforded to him, Chris is performing a brilliant job on the south coast and is quite rightly beginning to gain a reputation as one of the best British coaches out there.”

Sky Bet Football Trading Manager Paul Lowery said: “December is arguably the toughest month in the Sky Bet Championship season with the games coming thick and fast but after a goalless draw to start the month Brighton cut through their opponents in merciless fashion.

“Hughton has assembled a side that is strong in all areas and will be keen to get one over on the team that relieved him of his role just months after winning them promotion.

“Entering December at odds of 4/1 for the title The Seagulls are now just 11/10 to lift the trophy in May.”

 

Sky Bet League One: Keith Hill (Rochdale)

Rochdale manager Keith Hill has been named the Sky Bet League One Manager of the Month for December.

Bottom in mid-September, Hill’s side finished 2016 in fourth after another swashbuckling month that reflected Hill’s footballing beliefs in scoring 11 goals during their four wins from four games, including a 3-2 victory over leaders Scunthorpe.

Hill said: "I’m really pleased to win the award, but it has been a team effort. The players deserve a lot of credit for putting our plans into practice on the pitch and they deserve this award in recognition for what we achieved in December. 

“We were in good form heading into the month and I was absolutely delighted to start it with a win away at Carlisle United in the FA Cup. We rolled from one game to the next with an honesty and an endeavour, and to win all four league games, against very tough opposition, is testament to the players’ exceptional work rate and professionalism.

“Their attitude has been brilliant and we’ve been reaping the rewards because of that.”

George Burley chairs the Sky Bet Manager of the Month judging panel.

He said: “Keith is showing that if you keep working hard enough progress will be made and he has taken Rochdale from bottom position in September to fourth at the end of December.

“They won all four games in the month, scoring 11 goals, including a great win over leaders Scunthorpe United. The improvement they have made shows they are promotion contenders.”

Sky Sports’ EFL pundit Don Goodman said: “The transformation in form from the middle of September to now has been incredible, with Rochdale moving from rock bottom to fourth in League One following an extraordinary run of form, especially at home.

“For a team of Rochdale’s size, the job that Hill has done for a number of years is incredibly impressive and he’ll be hoping they can go one better than last season and earn themselves a Play-Off spot.”

Sky Bet Football Trading Manager Paul Lowery said: “Keith Hill seems a perfect fit for Rochdale as indicated by his largely successful spells in charge of the club.

“It was a slow start to the campaign for ‘Dale this term and at one point Hill’s men were 5/2 to be relegated to League Two.

“However, his side have played with such freedom in the last two months that they now find themselves at the dizzy heights of fourth in the table and rated odds on at 8/15 to finish in the Play-Off positions.

“All of Rochdale’s games seemed to be tight affairs at the start of the season but Hill’s men are now being encouraged to play attacking football.

“They still conceded a goal per game on average in December but when you are scoring at the rate they are it doesn’t matter. The fans are surely loving times under Hill and he fully deserves this month’s award.”

 

Sky Bet League Two: John McGreal (Colchester United)

Colchester United manager John McGreal has been named the Sky Bet League Two Manager of the Month for December.

With his side sliding down the table, McGreal demonstrated his bravery in December, switching to three at the back and making positive, early substitutions when needed.

Ten points from four games are proof that both ploys worked.

McGreal said: “It’s very flattering to receive the award, Steve Ball and I are obviously delighted, but the credit must go to the players for the way they’ve adapted to what we’ve asked them to do.

“We’ve changed the system, had players come back from injury and the whole squad has had the belief and talent to go out there and perform.

“Even during the run without winning, they believed in themselves and the results in December were a reward for their hard work and application.

“They’ve shown what they are capable of and we all want to continue December’s form into the New Year and the second half of the season.”

George Burley chairs the Sky Bet Manager of the Month judging panel.

He said: “It is great to see a young manager doing well in his first job and John is certainly doing that at Colchester United.

“After having a difficult spell he changed his formation round to bring the best out of his players and that has worked very impressively as they gained three wins and a draw in December.

“Colchester United are a club committed to bringing young players through and John is showing that he is the ideal person to do that.”

Sky Sports’ EFL pundit Don Goodman said: “It’s fair to say the start of the season didn’t go entirely to plan for McGreal or Colchester and at one stage it appeared they could be in for a difficult struggle against relegation.

“But the team rallied around their manager in December and an unbeaten run leaves them in a much more comfortable position at the turn of the year.”

Sky Bet Football Trading Manager Paul Lowery said: “Colchester were teetering at the end of November, so McGreal will be really pleased with the month.

“He switched systems to 3-5-2 and was able to gently re-introduce often injured frontman Chris Porter to his lineup whilst maintaining a steady run of results which saw a 0-0 draw at resolute Mansfield followed by a 22/1 treble of wins that has them back on the edge of the Play-Off places. 

“McGreal has one of the biggest squads in the League at his disposal and one that should be capable of kicking on during the second half of the year to make a run at a return to League One.”

 

The Sky Bet Manager of the Month judging panel comprises former Ipswich Town manager George Burley, Sky Sports’ EFL expert Don Goodman; EFL Marketing Director Drew Barrand, League Managers’ Association Director Olaf Dixon and Sky Bet Football Trading Manager Paul Lowery