The Football Manager Team of the Season has been announced at The Football League Awards 2016.For the first time, the award recognises 11 outstanding players and one manager that have excelled across the three divisions of the Sky Bet Football League this season.
The all-star line-up was revealed at the gala ceremony at Manchester Central on Sunday evening in front of over 600 guests from clubs, sponsors and the football industry.
The Football League Awards 2016 was being hosted in Manchester for the first time, the same city in which The Football League was officially formed 128 years ago to the day. In its 11th year, the awards ceremony celebrates on and off pitch excellence across The League’s 72 clubs.
Based on a 4-3-3 formation, the team was selected after a local media representative - nominated by each club - selected their own team from the division their club played in. The selections were then put together to create a shortlist of players for each position, which a national judging panel then chose the final Football Manager Team of the Season with Opta’s player statistics assisting the selection process.
The full Football Manager Team of the season is as follows:
Goalkeeper: Adam Smith (Northampton Town) – A fans' favourite at Sixfields keeping 13 clean sheets and conceding just 39 goals in the club’s historic season. Smith’s impressive form has been key to Northampton being crowned champions of Sky Bet League 2.
Defender: Bruno (Brighton & Hove Albion) – An ever-present in the Brighton team this season playing 3,344 minutes, the Spanish right-back has also added scoring to his game with his first goal of the season coming against Fulham on the 15th April.
Defender: George Friend (Middlesbrough) – Friend enjoyed a memorable 2015 being named in the PFA Team of the Year and captaining Boro on his 150th appearance. The full-back has also been commended for his off pitch contributions in the local Teesside area, being named the PFA Player in the Community for 2016.
Defender: Craig Morgan (Wigan Athletic) – The Latics’ club captain has been integral to their promotion push, helping to keep 15 clean sheets while contributing at the other end of the pitch with two goals this season.
Defender: Daniel Ayala (Middlesbrough) - The Spaniard has starred as Boro have conceded just seven league goals at the Riverside in their race for automatic promotion, leaving them top of the Sky Bet Championship with just four games to play.
Midfielder: Alan Judge (Brentford) – The energetic Republic of Ireland international has played over 3,100 minutes this season, scoring 14 goals and notching nine assists. The midfielder was shortlisted for the Sky Bet Championship Player of the Year.
Midfielder: Bradley Dack (Gillingham) – A driving force behind Gillingham’s promotion push with 13 goals and nine assists, having played over 3000 minutes.
Midfielder: Joey Barton (Burnley) – Barton’s experience and leadership has proved invaluable for Burnley this season as they look to achieve an immediate return to the Premier League. The midfielder has been ever-present, making 36 appearances in the Championship this season.
Forward: Kemar Roofe (Oxford United) – The 23-year-old has enjoyed an outstanding season making 37 appearances and scoring 17 goals for the U’s, spearheading the clubs push for promotion as well as helping them to a Wembley appearance in the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy Final.
Forward: Nicky Ajose (Swindon Town) – The top goal scorer in Sky Bet League 1 with 21 goals in 32 games, the young striker has been a shining light for Swindon Town in his first season at the Robins.
Forward: Andre Gray (Burnley) – The front man has been central to the Clarets’ promotion push. In his first season at Turf Moor, Gray has scored 22 goals in 37 games for Burnley to add to the two goals he scored for Brentford in August to put him top of the Sky Bet Championship goalscorer chart.
Manager: Chris Wilder (Northampton) – The mastermind behind Northampton’s historic campaign, as he has turned the club from relegation battles to champions of Sky Bet League 2.
Many of the team were in attendance at the ceremony to acknowledge their inclusion in the special line-up.
Shaun Harvey, Chief Executive of The Football League, said: "During another action-packed Football League season it is important to acknowledge outstanding performances, both on and off the pitch.
“We’re delighted to recognise this special group of nominees who have shown exceptional levels of talent, dedication and achievement. Congratulations to everyone who was nominated and particularly our winners, all of whom are deserving of their accolade.”
All the news, reaction and photos from the awards can be found via The Football League’s Twitter page, @football_league, while the awards ceremony was also broadcast live on The Football League’s YouTube channel.
To find out more about The Football League Awards, and for a full list of award winners, visit www.FLAwards.com or search #FLAwards on Twitter.