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March's Sky Bet EFL Manager and Player of the Month winners

8 April 2022

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

Sky Bet Championship: Steve Morison (Cardiff City)

Cardiff City manager Steve Morison has been named the Sky Bet Championship Manager of the Month for March.

So impressive has been Morison’s approach to both the playing style and giving youth its chance at Cardiff, it is easy to forget it is his first managerial post. Ten points from four unbeaten games continued the Bluebirds’ resurgence.

Morison said: “It’s a good achievement, we had a really good month, and it shows that all the hard work we’ve put in has been recognised.

“We’ve come a long way from when we first took over and this is a realisation of the good work that we’ve done as a group, and as a staff; the Swansea game was a big blow around the place, but this helps to pick us back up.

“Our key message is that we’ve come a long way as a group and need to keep that work going. We’ve got seven games between now and the end of the season and we want to do the best that we can to finish as positively as we can.”

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Danny Wilson chairs the Sky Bet Manager of the Month judging panel.

He said: “We saw a terrific effort at this important part of the season from Steve’s team to haul themselves away from the pressures of the relegation zone.

“They did that with an impressive 10-point return from their four games which all but guarantees a place next season in the Championship.”

Sky Sports’ EFL pundit Don Goodman said: “It’s been tough at times for the Bluebirds this season, but Steve Morison deserves immense credit for the way he’s navigated his side to a stronger position.

“Points are at a premium at the best of times in the Sky Bet Championship, so picking up 10 during an unbeaten month deserves every plaudit.”

Sky Bet EFL trader Ivor Davies said: “Cardiff have flirted with relegation at times this season and at 33/1 for relegation going into the month still had an outside chance of getting drawn into it, but Steve Morison guided his team through the month unbeaten, moving from 21st place to 18th.”

Sky Bet League One: Steven Schumacher (Plymouth Argyle)

Plymouth Argyle manager Steven Schumacher has been named the Sky Bet League One Manager of the Month for March.

Any Argyle fans fearing the worst when Ryan Lowe departed in December have been swiftly comforted by Schumacher’s calmness and tactical acumen. Six wins from seven games, conceding just one goal, lifted his side into fourth.

Schumacher said: "I am really proud to have been named manager of the month for Sky Bet League One. 

“We have had a terrific month and put ourselves in a really good position for the rest of the season.

“The work from all of the staff, the players and everyone associated with the club has made an impact and has helped us perform the way we have been.

“I have the support of Keith Downing, Mark Hughes and Kevin Nancekivell as well as Darren Behcet with the coaching of the side.

“We all work extremely closely with the analysts, Jimmy Dickinson and Sam Morcom, who provide us with all the information we need to be able to put a game plan together for a matchday.

“It has been a real team effort, and everyone deserves to be recognised.

“We are in a good spot and are working hard to make sure we can continue this good form going forward into the final month of the season and try to achieve something special."

Steven Schumacher.jpg

Danny Wilson chairs the Sky Bet Manager of the Month judging panel.

He said: “Accelerating into fourth place after a terrific run of six wins from seven games. Five home wins has really given the momentum to Steven’s Argyle side. 18 points in March period is a set of results to dream of going into the final stretch of the season..”

Sky Sports’ EFL pundit Don Goodman said: “It’s not often a team can lose a manager and, within the same season, compete for promotion glory but that is the situation Plymouth find themselves in with just a few games to go.

“Ryan Lowe was heralded on the south coast, and for good reason, but if his successor can keep the positive momentum going, he could even surpass him! Six wins from seven in March was nothing short of fantastic.”

Sky Bet EFL trader Ivor Davies said: “March was only the fourth month of Steven Schumacher’s fledgling managerial career, but he guided his Plymouth side to 18 points out of a possible 21 to further enhance their promotion credentials.

“The Pilgrims are now 9/2 from 12/1 at the start of the month to be promoted, with the Green Army all but confirming their place in the Play-Offs at 1/8.

“It’s testament to the job Schumacher and his coaching staff have done that we are still talking about them in the promotion conversation, having been one of the favourites to be relegated at 3/1 before a ball was kicked.”

Sky Bet League Two: Joey Barton (Bristol Rovers)

Bristol Rovers manager Joey Barton has been named the Sky Bet League Two Manager of the Month for March.

Lost amid his side’s relentless drive into the play-off positions with another five wins from seven games has been the solid foundation on which he has built Rovers’ momentum. They kept four clean sheets and conceded just three goals.

Barton said: “I’m delighted to win manager of the month. It’s a collective win for our group and testament to the hard work put in by staff and players.

“The players in particular have continued to improve and as we enter the championship rounds, we must capitalise on our momentum and continue to turn up and pay our dues everyday if we are to get what we want from this season.”

Danny Wilson chairs the Sky Bet Manager of the Month judging panel.

He said: “Joey Barton’s men had a super return of points to continue a very impressive consistent run of form. 15 points came from their seven games, only conceding three goals, gives them a deserved place in the Play-Off positions in March.”

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Sky Sports’ EFL pundit Don Goodman said: “They may be one of many sides embroiled in the hectic promotion battle in League Two, but few are entering the business end of the campaign with a better platform for success.

“Barton has his Rovers side well-drilled at present and thanks to their sturdy defence, they’ve become very hard to beat, at just the right time.”

Sky Bet EFL trader Ivor Davies said: “Joey Barton’s Bristol Rovers side took 15 points from seven games in March to strengthen their promotion push.

“Rovers were 5/2 second favourites for promotion before a ball was kicked, but after an indifferent first half of the season they were languishing in 17th place at the turn of the year and traded as big as 20/1 for promotion midway through December.

“Those odds have been contracting gradually over the weeks and are now back into 7/2 from 11/1 at the start of March and all credit must go to Barton and his staff – they have turned things around in 2022 and no other club has taken more points than them this year in Sky Bet League Two.  

“After Saturday’s win over Bradford, The Gas now sit in 5th place in the table with six games left to play, and at 8/13, look likely to finish in the top 7.”

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

Sky Bet Championship: Djed Spence (Nottingham Forest)

Nottingham Forest wing-back Djed Spence has been named the Sky Bet Championship Player of the Month for March.

A dynamic force down the Forest right all season, Spence is always looking for an end product. His run and trickery earned a penalty at Sheffield United, he had two assists against Reading and drove home a 30-yard screamer against QPR.

Nottingham Forest manager Steve Cooper said: “The award is good recognition for an impressive month of March for Djed, but we have really enjoyed working with him ever since he joined the club.

“He has been an important player for us this season and he has really committed to our way of playing.

“It is important that he keeps his focus, concentrates on continuing his development and strives for more achievements in the future.”

Spence said: “I’m really happy to receive this award. It’s good for me personally but I wouldn’t have been able to win this award without the help and support of my teammates.

“I’m really enjoying my football at Forest this season. I’ve benefited from playing regularly which is what I set out to do at the start of the season.

“We are doing well as a team at the moment but there is a long way to go so we need to kick on and see what we can achieve.”

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Sky Sports’ EFL pundit Don Goodman said: “Epitomising the fantastic form of his Forest side, Djed Spence is a worthy winner of March’s award after a brilliant month that seemed to have it all.

“The link-up between him and Brennan Johnson down that right hand side has been electric and Spence proved a constant threat for Steve Cooper’s team last month, highlighted by his sumptuous strike from range against QPR.”

Sky Bet EFL trader Ivor Davies said: “Boro must be kicking themselves after they let Spence leave on-loan to Forest, with the young right back steadily progressing as the season has gone on.

“In March, the 21-year-old was the league’s stand-out player, with two assists and goal as The Tricky Trees went unbeaten, and are now into 3/1 from 8/1 at the start of the month to be promoted.

“Bottom of the table after four games, Forest were as big as 100/1 for promotion after the club parted ways with Chris Hughton, but Spence has thrived under Steve Cooper and they are the form team in the Championship now heading into the final 10 games of the season.

“The Reds are 2/7 to clinch a top 6 finish, and in this form, none of the other teams will fancy playing against Spence or his team-mates in the Play-Offs. Could this finally be the year they end their 23-year absence from the top-flight?”

Sky Bet League One: Barry Bannan (Sheffield Wednesday)

Sheffield Wednesday midfielder Barry Bannan has been named the Sky Bet League One Player of the Month for March.  

Short on stature, long on talent and huge on influence, the 32-year-old simply mesmerises League One opponents. Involved in over half of Wednesday’s 17 March goals, he scored three himself, all of them sumptuous long-range shots.

Wednesday manager Darren Moore said: “I’m really pleased for Baz, his family and all of us at Sheffield Wednesday. It goes to show the magnificent season he’s having and the consistency he’s shown.

“Nobody deserves it more than Baz, and long may it continue as we go into the final run-in. We’re all delighted for him and it’s fully deserved.” 

Bannan said: “It’s a great achievement, but it could have been any one of my teammates.

“I’m happy to be here on behalf of the team because any one of them could equally deserve it.”

Sky Sports’ EFL pundit Don Goodman said: “The consummate professional who continues to wreak havoc in the third tier, Barry Bannan is no stranger to these kinds of accolades, and for good reason.

“The midfield maestro was everywhere for Sheffield Wednesday in March, having a hand in everything the Owls did well, including three goals of his own to add to his collection. His talent simply doesn’t belong at this level.”

Sky Bet EFL trader Ivor Davies said: “Sheffield Wednesday captain Barry Bannan was in outstanding form once again during March, with the former Scottish international scoring three goals from outside the penalty area and registering two assists as he helped his side tighten their grip on a Play-Off spot.

“The Owls are almost certain to finish in the Play-Offs now at 1/7 from 11/10 at the start of the month.

“One of the favourites for promotion before the season started at 11/4, Wednesday had a slow start to the season and traded as big as 13/2 at the start of the year but have hit their straps in the last couple of months, in large part thanks to the performances of Bannan.

“We currently have them bottom price at 13/8 for promotion (9/4 at the start of the month) and we will be keeping them onside for the rest of the season.”

Sky Bet League Two: Ruel Sotiriou (Leyton Orient)

Leyton Orient striker Ruel Sotiriou has been named the Sky Bet League Two Player of the Month for March. 

The 21-year-old’s Orient career has taken off since the arrival of Richie Wellens. Playing from the start and in a central role, his dynamic energy, hunger to shoot and crisp ball-striking contributed to six goals and an assist in eight games.

Leyton Orient manager Richie Wellens said: “Since coming back into the side Ruel has been in fantastic form, and his goal tally speaks for itself.

“He’s been effective, his confidence is high, and I think he’s taken well to what we’re trying to do – and vice versa, I’ve been really happy with his output.”

Sotiriou said: “With the new Head Coach coming in there’s been a real buzz about the place, and everyone has bought into what we’re trying to do.

“I’ve really wanted a run of games, and getting it, I feel I’ve been able to show what it is I pride myself on, which is scoring goals.

“I’m feeling good, I’m sharp and feeling strong, and with the results we’ve had recently and way we’ve been playing, the confidence around the team keeps growing."

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Sky Sports’ EFL pundit Don Goodman said: “Goals are never more vital than at the business end of the season, and Ruel Sotiriou delivered the goods!

The Orient youngster bagged goals in 6 of his teams 8 games during the month of March, literally firing a team in a relegation battle to almost certain safety.”

Sky Bet EFL trader Ivor Davies said: “Ruel Sotiriou has seen his career take off again under new boss Richie Wellens and the feel-good factor is once again back at Brisbane Road, with the 21-year-old Cyprus international scored six goals in eight March games to help Orient to 11 points.

“The O’s were an 18/1 shot to go down at the start of March and were slipping down the table at a rate of knots having not won a League Two game since the start of December, but that is almost impossible now thanks to Sotiriou’s clinical finishing ability.

“For Orient, it’s a case of finishing as high up the table as possible now with a view to next season where they will be one of the favourites again to be promoted, but only if they can keep hold of players like Sotiriou in the summer. They are 9/4 to finish the season in the top half from 11/2 at the start of March.”

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