Derby County manager Gary Rowett has been named the Sky Bet Championship Manager of the Month for December.
Rowett employed his tactical nous superbly to inspire a 16-point haul from six games with only one goal conceded. When December began, Derby were eight points off the automatic promotion places. When it ended, they were in them.
Rowett said: “It’s a great accolade for us, and I say us because although it’s me picking up the award, there’s a lot of people behind the scenes who’ve worked incredibly hard, my immediate staff that have been with me for a while plus the people we inherited at the club.
“I think the players have grown in belief and camaraderie throughout the season, and sometimes it takes a bit of time to create that synergy amongst the players because we’ve started the season with a lot of change in terms of new faces and players leaving.
“December was certainly a good month for us and you could see a lot of that work in action, we only conceded one goal in the whole month in six games, winning some really tough games on paper and performing really well.”
George Burley chairs the Sky Bet Manager of the Month judging panel. He said: “Gary was a very popular choice of manager for Derby County and he is showing how shrewd the appointment was.
“Their unbeaten December was rounded off with an impressive win at Portman Road which took them into the second automatic promotion place.”
Sky Sports’ EFL pundit Don Goodman said: “After fending off reported interest from Stoke and securing Gary onto a new long-term contract at the club, Mel Morris will be a very happy man this week.
“One of the brightest English management talents in the game, I believe Gary is destined to have a career in the Premier League and it wouldn’t surprise many if that was with Derby after the terrific three months they have had.”
Sky Bet EFL trader Mikey Mumford said: “Gary Rowett is making a habit of picking up these awards and if he set the benchmark high when scooping the award in October, then Rowett must be applauded for his exploits in December where his Derby side won six, conceded just once and dropped only two points.
“This incredible run sees them occupy the automatic spot behind Wolves and Rowett’s philosophy of remaining grounded after a good run of form will be vital if his side are going to stay there until May.”
The Sky Bet Manager of the Month judging panel comprises former Ipswich Town manager George Burley, Sky Sports’ EFL League expert Don Goodman; EFL Marketing Director Drew Barrand, League Managers’ Association Director Olaf Dixon and Sky Bet EFL trader Mikey Mumford.