The winners of the Sky Bet Championship Manager and Player of the Month for December are:
Manager: Jonathan Woodgate (Middlesbrough)
Middlesbrough manager Jonathan Woodgate has been named the Sky Bet Championship Manager of the Month for December.
Patience has been the key on and off the pitch at The Riverside - Woodgate has gradually instilled in his young side a steeliness to pick up points in adversity, notably a 2-0 win at West Brom which made it 13 points from six games.
Woodgate said: “I’m really pleased, not for myself, but for everyone here. It’s all about a team effort, and there’s some fantastic staff at this football club who really care.
“We have a fantastic team spirit at the club, and that togetherness is key to everything we do.”
Danny Wilson chairs the Sky Bet Manager of the Month judging panel.
He said: “After a very difficult start to his managerial career in result terms, Jonathan has really turned the fortunes of Boro around.
“Having a chairman who is regarded as one of the best in the business has undoubtedly helped the team to stabilise and take onboard Jonathan’s philosophy and the patience is paying off.
“A terrific December gave his team a return of 13 points from their five games and will certainly give his young side the confidence to believe they are a match for any team in the division, particularly after their 2-0 win at West Brom.”
Sky Sports’ EFL pundit Don Goodman said: “Life looked very difficult for Woodgate’s Boro, following their 4-0 hammering at Elland Road at the end of November.
“It would have been easy to assume Woodgate’s time was running short, making their subsequent turnaround in fortunes ever more impressive.
“Thirteen points in six games from the hectic festive schedule has catapulted the Teessiders up the table, with a 2-0 victory over then-league leaders West Brom the pick of the performances.”
Sky Bet EFL trader Ivor Davies said: “Boro were 4/1 and one of the favourites for promotion at the start of the season, but they were languishing in 20th place at the start of the month just a point clear of safety as short as 6/4 for relegation.
“They now sit in 16th place in the table, 10 points clear of the drop and as big as 22/1 for relegation. They will be looking up and not down though and are 8 points off 6th placed Swansea. They are an 18/1 shot to finish in the playoff places.”
Player: Conor Chaplin (Barnsley)
Barnsley striker Conor Chaplin has been named the Sky Bet Championship Player of the Month for December.
Diminutive in stature, Chaplin made a huge in impact in December with five goals and two assists in six games.
His energy and effervescence were matched only by his delight in scoring a hat-trick against QPR and the uncomplicated style of his finishing.
Barnsley manager Gerhard Struber said: “I am very happy for Conor. He has been a very important player for us and his goals have helped us a lot. He has a great mentality and wants to learn quickly.
“You can see how well he is doing and that he deserves this award, his goals have been very important, he needs to continue this now and I think he can do that.”
Chaplin said: “I am really happy to win the award. The overall goal is that the team needs to win matches, but it is always nice to get recognition as part of that.
“If you win an award like this, I think it shows that you are doing your best for the team, but there is always room for improvement and I would sacrifice any award for myself if it meant the team winning more matches.
“We’ve got a big game this weekend and I hope we can continue our recent good form.”
Sky Sports’ EFL pundit Don Goodman said: “After putting his clinical finishing on full display during the month of December, 22-year-old Conor Chaplin has become the toast of Oakwell in recent weeks.
“The former Coventry striker bagged five goals over the Christmas period, securing some invaluable points for the South Yorkshire outfit.
“The highlight, of course, was his wonderful hat-trick in the 5-3 win over QPR – a feat that is sure to live long in the memory of Tykes fans.”
Sky Bet EFL trader Ivor Davies said: “Thanks to Conor Chaplin’s five goals in December Barnsley have given themselves a realistic chance of staying up now and are just three points off safety.
“The Tykes traded as short as 1/6 at the start of the month but after going on an unbeaten run of five games in December and picking up two wins and three draws Sky Bet have eased them out to 4/6 in the betting.”