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12 Apr 2019

SKY BET EFL MANAGER OF THE MONTH AWARDS: MARCH 2019

The winners of the Sky Bet EFL Manager of the Month Awards for March are: 

Sky Bet Championship: Dean Smith (Aston Villa)

Aston Villa manager Dean Smith has been named the Sky Bet Championship Manager of the Month for March.

A perfect month and maximum 15 points from five games included wins over three Midlands rivals - Derby, Nottingham Forest and, of course, Birmingham.

Smith said: “I’m delighted to have been named Manager of the Month – it’s a reward for all the staff here at Aston Villa. We’ve had a good month and we now need to make sure we keep it going.”

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

He said: “Dean is ‘Villa’ through and through and that means the results achieved in February will be even more satisfying.

“Aston Villa won all five of their matches in the month, scoring 13 goals and conceding only two.

“Wins against three Midlands rivals while climbing into the Play-Off places were the icing on the cake.”

Sky Sports’ EFL pundit Don Goodman said: “What a transformation Dean Smith masterminded in his team during the month of March.

“At the end of February, it was almost impossible to imagine Aston Villa putting a run together to realistically challenge for a Play-Off spot let alone be in pole position to secure one, but the tightening up of a porous defence and the return to fitness of Jack Grealish has transformed them into the team that all the others may fear most.’’

Sky Bet EFL trader Ivor Davies said: “Dean Smith has got Villa flying at the minute. The Villains have won their last seven matches and look red hot going into the Play-Offs.

“They were 50/1 for promotion at the start of the month and are now as short as 9/4 to make a return to the top tier of English football this season. I don’t think anyone will look forward to playing them in this form.”

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Sky Bet League One: Mick Harford (Luton Town)

Luton Town manager Mick Harford has been named the Sky Bet League One Manager of the Month for March. 

It is too simplistic to suggest that Harford has a team which runs itself as Luton continue to charge towards automatic promotion.

Motivating his players to maintain their standards, he led them to a 14-point haul from six unbeaten matches.

Harford said: “It’s an honour to accept the award on behalf of the football club, and that’s what it is – it’s for the football club.

“When I took the role I wasn’t in it for any self-gratification, it was a case of coming in to help the football club and try to put it in a better place. I think that we as a group have achieved that.

“Firstly, I’d like to thank the board for supporting myself and the staff. I’d like to thank my staff, who have been amazing and worked tirelessly over the last few months.

“But mainly, this award that I am accepting on behalf of the football club, is mostly down to the players. They have been absolutely amazing in the period that I’ve been in charge, so I’d like to give them a big thank you.”

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

He said: “Mick has maintained Luton Town’s remarkable momentum in a very busy unbeaten month.

“Automatic promotion has always been the objective and looks increasingly realistic for a club that is performing well in every department.”

Sky Sports’ EFL pundit Don Goodman said: “It’s never easy for a group of players to lose a manager, but after Nathan Jones moved to Stoke at the start of the New Year, leaving the Hatters top of the table, you’d have been forgiven for expecting their form to dip a little.

“CEO Gary Sweet’s decision has turned out to be a stroke of genius, turning to a man who knew the club inside out, Harford has kept the ship sailing through to the verge of a famous consecutive promotion.”

Sky Bet EFL trader Ivor Davies said: “There’s not much more you can say about Luton. The Hatters set a new club record of 28 league games unbeaten at the weekend and are all but certain of back-to-back promotions.

“Mick Harford has come in and done a great job since Nathan Jones left for Stoke at the start of January. They boasted a tremendous record in March to sit seven points clear in League One and are 1/10 to lift the title having been 4/9 at the start of the month.”

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Sky Bet League Two: Micky Mellon (Tranmere Rovers)

Tranmere Rovers manager Micky Mellon has been named the Sky Bet League Two Manager of the Month for March.

Mellon has timed his side’s automatic promotion push to perfection. Five wins from five games, an 11-1 goal differential and entertaining play aplenty has his players bursting with confidence and crowds flocking to Prenton Park.

Mellon said: “I always worry about the title of this award because it looks like it is solely just me. I really mean this, it is an entire group effort, including everyone at the Club and the fans.

“We had a fantastic month, it is a whole group reward for a lot of work that went on in a difficult month (March), we got results from good performances. So, it is a great reward for everyone. Well done to all.”

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

He said: “Micky has really got Tranmere ticking during one of the most important periods of the season.

“A perfect 15 points from five matches - with his exciting team scoring 11 goals and conceding only one - has brought the feel good factor back to Prenton Park.”

Sky Sports’ EFL pundit Don Goodman said: “It’s at the business stage of the season where a well-timed run of good results can propel a side from mid-table into the Play-Off mix and that’s exactly what happened for Micky Mellon at Tranmere in March. 

“The 100% record took them to within four points of the automatic promotion positions and mean that Tranmere’s season is a long way from finished.”

Sky Bet EFL trader Ivor Davies said: “Tranmere have been the surprise package in League Two this season and won all five games in March.

“Micky Mellon’s side have all but guaranteed they finish in the Play-Off places (1/25 to make top seven) and are 9/4 shots to be promoted from 11/1 at the start of the month.”

The Sky Bet Manager of the Month judging panel comprises former Ipswich Town manager George Burley, Sky Sports’ EFL expert Don Goodman; EFL Communications Director Mark Rowan, League Managers’ Association Director Olaf Dixon and Sky Bet EFL trader Ivor Davies.