KARANKA

08 Jan 2016

SKY BET FOOTBALL LEAGUE MANAGER OF THE MONTH AWARDS: DECEMBER 15

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

Sky Bet Championship: Aitor Karanka (Middlesbrough)

Middlesbrough manager Aitor Karanka has been named the Sky Bet Championship Manager of the Month for December.

It was a Rolls Royce of a month for Karanka’s side with 13 points garnered from five games – all against promotion rivals - and a 7-0 goals differential.

His shrewd tactics were in evidence as Boro ended Brighton’s long unbeaten start.

Karanka said: “It’s a lovely honour to have but I think this a reflection of how well our team is playing at the moment.

“The best example is that Adam Clayton has been named as Player of the Month as well, and he’s part of a team that has worked very hard to reach our current position in the table.  

“It’s an award for everyone here at Middlesbrough, including all the players and coaching staff, and we are very pleased to receive it.”

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

He said: “It was a fantastic month for Middlesbrough, remaining unbeaten in five games – all against promotion rivals.

“Their away wins at Ipswich and previously unbeaten Brighton, shows they are firm favourites to win the Sky Bet Championship this season.”

Sky Sports’ Football League pundit Don Goodman said: “Karanka’s Middlesbrough side are looking menacing and have started to pull away at the top of the Sky Bet Championship table.

“This is already Aitor’s second Manager of the Month award this season and Boro have put themselves in a great position to go one better than last year and reach the Premier League.”

Sky Bet Football Trading Manager Paul Lowery said: “Boro dominated the festive period in the Championship - especially at the back, where their run of clean sheets in the League stretches back to the end of October.

“A complete December shutout of their opposition would have been priced at 50/1 before the start of the month which shows what a rare achievement this was for the club.

“Such a dominant December has really convinced us bookmakers that Karanka’s side are the real deal and they have moved from 15/8 at the start of the month to a skinny 8/15 to lift the title come May.”

ADKINS

Sky Bet League 1: Nigel Adkins (Sheffield United)

Sheffield United manager Nigel Adkins has been named the Sky Bet League 1 Manager of the Month for November.

Consistency has been a problem for Adkins’ side this season, something he managed to rectify in December.

United gained nine points from nine and only conceded one goal as they moved back into the promotion picture.

Adkins said: “On behalf of the players, staff and all at Sheffield United FC, I’d like to thank Sky Bet and The Football League for this Manager of the Month award. It is in recognition of our winning football during the month of December.”

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

He said: “December proved to be an excellent month for Nigel as his team gained a 100% record and only conceded one goal in three games. 

“This is the consistency which he has been looking for and it has taken the club back into the promotion mix.”

Sky Sports’ Football League pundit Don Goodman said: “Nigel’s perfect December has thrown the League 1 promotion chase back open.

“Sheffield United were hotly-tipped for promotion before the season, but their inconsistency has hindered them up until now. I expect them to push on from their strong Christmas form and must now be considered genuine promotion contenders.”

Sky Bet Football Trading Manager Paul Lowery said: “After a tougher than expected start to the season, Nigel Adkins has started to steer the Blades in the right direction.

“Three wins out of three made it a Happy Christmas period for the Sheff Utd manager, which included a crucial win over promotion rivals Coventry.

“The treble was priced at 11/1 before a ball was kicked and Adkins will be hoping for a few more good runs to push the Blades back into contention for at least a Play-Off spot with hopes of returning to the Championship at the end of the season.

“We now have Sheffield Utd priced at 7/1 to be promoted via the Play-Offs.”

DERRY

Sky Bet League 2: Shaun Derry (Cambridge United)

Cambridge United manager Shaun Derry has been named the Sky Bet League 2 Manager of the Month for December.

Derry made a remarkable impact in the university city, giving his new charges the belief to climb back towards the Play-Off places.

The highlight of their three wins and a draw in four games was a 2-1 victory at leaders Plymouth Argyle.

Derry said: "This accolade is a recognition of the work performed by everybody at the club during the month December, including all the coaching staff, the players and all the staff who work at Cambridge United.

"December was a good month for the club and my highlight would certainly be the win we secured away to Plymouth, who are great side in this division as shown by their League position.

"Although I have been nominated before, this is my first Manager of the Month award and as a young manager aspiring to achieve a successful managerial career, I'm very proud to have been recognised in this way by the League."

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

He said: “Shaun has made a great start at his new club, gaining three wins and a draw during December.

“He lead the club to an outstanding win at leaders Plymouth Argyle which has taken Cambridge United back towards the Play-Off places.”

Sky Sports’ Football League pundit Don Goodman said: “Shaun Derry’s introduction at Cambridge has already begun to pay dividends, as he dragged the team from 18th in November to sit tenth going into the New Year.

“The board knew that it was a risk to appoint a relatively inexperienced manager, but Derry is repaying their faith and must now be aiming for a top 7 finish.”

Sky Bet Football Trading Manager Paul Lowery said: “Cambridge have flattered to deceive a little after being one of the best backed teams in Sky Bet League 2 before the start of the season.  

“After making the move to Derry in mid-November they took a while to get going but they kicked into gear at the end of November and carried that into December, a month where they went unbeaten and scored 8 goals in 4 games.

“When Derry arrived the club the U’s were 12/1 to finish in a top 7 position but after wins over strugglers Barnet, Dagenham & Redbridge and pace setters Plymouth during the last month, Derry’s side have halved in price and now sit at 6/1 with a place in the top half now odds-on.”

The judging panel comprises former Ipswich Town manager George Burley; Sky Sports’ Football League expert Don Goodman; Football League Chief Operating Officer Andy Williamson; League Managers’ Association Director Olaf Dixon and Sky Bet Football Trading Manager Paul Lowery