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

11 February 2022

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

Sky Bet Championship: Marco Silva (Fulham)

Fulham manager Marco Silva has been named the Sky Bet Championship Manager of the Month for January.

Silva inspired a month for the ages at Craven Cottage as his swashbuckling side rattled in goals from every angle, 23 in five games, which featured seven at Reading and six against both Bristol City and Birmingham in a 13-point haul.

Silva said: “I thank the panel for selecting me as the recipient of the Championship Manager of the Month award for January. 

“A massive part of being recognised with this award is the collective effort from everyone at Fulham Football Club which includes the players, football and coaching staff and all of the staff that work so hard behind the scenes at Craven Cottage and Motspur Park. 

“January was a good month for us but we know that we haven’t achieved anything at this point, and we must continue in a positive way until the end of the season.”

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

He said: “Mouth-watering football with goals galore for Marco’s Fulham. 13 points and 23 goals in their five January games is fantastic entertainment for the watching faithful.”

Sky Sports’ EFL pundit Don Goodman said: “Goals, goals and more goals were the order of the day for Marco Silva in January.

“In a five-game stretch, his side scored a remarkable 23 times, threatening the history books and providing Silva with one of the easiest Manager of the Month wins imaginable. With the Premier League in their sights, Fulham look like a team possessed.”

Sky Bet EFL trader Ivor Davies said: “January saw the Cottagers go eight points clear at the top and their title odds slashed accordingly from 8/13 at the start the month into the current price of 1/9.

“Silva’s side were sent off the 5/1 pre-season favourites back in August and they have surpassed all expectations so far under the Portuguese’s leadership.

“They’re now 1/100 to be promoted back to the Premier League at the first time of asking from 15/8 before a ball was kicked.

“After two years out of the game, Silva is passing this test with flying colours.”

Sky Bet League One: Liam Manning (MK Dons)

MK Dons manager Liam Manning has been named the Sky Bet League One Manager of the Month for January.

MK Dons were the busiest team in League One in January, making the most of their seven games by collecting 14 points and moving into the Play-Off places. Organisation was key as Manning’s team kept four clean sheets.

Manning said: “I’m honoured to receive this award, but it wouldn’t have been possible without the dedication and hard work of our staff as well the players, of course, performing on a matchday.

“We have a team-first mentality at MK Dons because we know the only way we will be able to enjoy sustainable success is by working together and believing in each other.

“January had its challenges due to the transfer window but the players and staff remained focused and avoided all distractions, and were able to, ultimately, deliver on the pitch with some important results.

“Those results have put us in a good spot with just over a quarter of the season left to play but we will continue to take each game as it comes. There are still lots of points to be won however our focus is only on Saturday’s fixture with Ipswich Town.”

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

He said: “Games came thick and fast for Liam’s team in January, so squad management is paramount.

“He embraced this brilliantly and after seven games returned home with 14 points and a spot the Play-Off positions.”

Sky Sports’ EFL pundit Don Goodman said: “The Dons have promotion on their minds and a strong January from Liam Manning’s side has done plenty for their chances.

“Despite a busy schedule of seven games, MK Dons averaged two points per contest, keeping their cool and composure through one of the busiest – and most vital – periods of the season.”

Sky Bet EFL trader Ivor Davies said: “Liam Manning’s Milton Keynes Dons gained more points than any other team and saw them go from Play-Off hopefuls at 9/1 for promotion a month ago to realistic promotion contenders at 7/2 now with just over a quarter of the season remaining.

“A Championship team as recently as the 2015-16 season, The Dons do boast second-tier pedigree but with some bigger-name clubs in League One with much bigger budgets, they were expected to be mid-table at best this season.

“Finishing in the top six (8/13) would represent an excellent first season in charge for Manning.”

Sky Bet League Two: Rob Edwards (Forest Green Rovers)

Forest Green Rovers manager Rob Edwards has been named the Sky Bet League Two Manager of the Month for January.

Three Covid-related postponements to end 2021 couldn’t halt the Forest Green charge as Edwards’ side swept through an unbeaten month to earn 14 points from six games.

The highlight was an emphatic 4-0 away win at second-placed Tranmere.

Edwards said: “It’s great recognition for the whole group, all of the players and staff. January was a really tough month, and a lot of sides did really well – so it’s pleasing to see everyone here rewarded for their hard work.

“It shows the consistency of the players and the work the staff put in day-in, day-out to keep all of the players strong and healthy.

“There is so much hard work that goes on behind the scenes that people might not necessarily see, so it’s a credit to a lot of people.”

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

He said: “Forest Green are really applying the pressure on the chasing pack. Rob Edwards’ team produced a 14-point haul in January from their six games including a 4-0 win at second placed Tranmere.”

Sky Sports’ EFL pundit Don Goodman said: “Forest Green look primed for League One football at present and Rob Edwards deserves all the credit in the world.

“January looked a tough stint for Rovers, with a trip to Tranmere highlighting the schedule. But his side made short work of their title rivals, dispatching them 4-0 during a mightily impressive unbeaten month.”

Sky Bet EFL trader Ivor Davies said: “Forest Green’s charge for the League Two crown is unrelenting under Rob Edwards and his vegan friendly side swept through another unbeaten month earning fourteen points from their six games; scoring 23 goals in the process and conceded just once.

“Rovers are a shoo-in for the title at 1/16 from 8/15 at the start of the month, boasting a 10-point cushion at the top of League Two.

“They are fourteen points clear in the automatics and at 1/250 to be promoted this season, will definitely be playing League One football next season for the first time in their history.”

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

Sky Bet Championship: Antoine Semenyo (Bristol City)

Bristol City striker Antoine Semenyo has been named the Sky Bet Championship Player of the Month for January.  

The young striker has long been touted as an explosive talent waiting to burst into life. Could the month in which he turned 22 be that moment with three goals and three assists, courtesy of pacy direct running, vision, skill and finishing?

Bristol City manager Nigel Pearson said: “Antoine has made great progress and a real contribution to the collective effort. Everyone at the club is proud of him for winning this award.

“He is a real threat with his power and pace – he must be a nightmare to play against! His challenge now is to keep developing and adding elements to his game to make him even more effective.”

Semenyo said: “It was a great honour to be nominated in the first place and to win the award is very special.

“Our performances have improved since the New Year and credit to all the players and staff – we are definitely heading in the right direction.

“I’ve just got to keep working hard for the team and doing my job.”

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Sky Sports’ EFL pundit Don Goodman said: “A firecracker of a player with youth very much on his side, Antoine Semenyo has a massive future ahead of him and performances along the lines of what he produced in January will have everyone taking notice of his obvious abilities. Contributing goals and assists, he’s a constant spark for his Bristol City side.”

Sky Bet EFL trader Ivor Davies said: “Bristol City striker Antoine Semenyo has enjoyed a stunning return to the first team over the last couple of months, as he helped The Robins pick up two wins and a draw to create daylight between themselves and the other teams fighting it out around the Championship relegation zone.

“The Reds were a 9/2 chance to be relegated at the turn of the year, but thanks to the performances and goals of Semenyo they look to have eased any fears and start this month at a much more comfortable 25/1 in 17th position. City are 18/1 to finish the season in the top half.”

Sky Bet League One: Michael Smith (Rotherham United)

Rotherham United striker Michael Smith has been named the Sky Bet League One Player of the Month for January.

Rotherham scored five goals in January. Smith headers, whether of the towering or stooping variety, accounted for three of them, a determined run and shot for the fourth, while the fifth was an own goal at Crewe caused by yet another header.

Rotherham United manager Paul Warne said: "To win it two times in a season is hugely impressive.

"He leads the line quite well - I don't know if I've mentioned that!

"He does score the odd goal, which is quite nice as well, so I'm really pleased for him.

"He gets the attention that he deserves but that's because he's part of a really good team and I know he's more than thankful to his teammates for that."

Smith said: “It's really nice to have picked up the award twice this year from a personal point of view, but as I said last time, this is an award for all of the team's efforts.

"I might have got some of the goals but I wouldn't be able to do that without the platform that everyone else provides and you only need to look at how many clean sheets we're keeping to see that this is an effort from across the pitch.

"As grateful as I am to be Player of the Month, I'd trade the personal accolades for us to be promoted come the end of the season. That is the overall objective and that is something you can only achieve as a team and not by yourself."

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Sky Sports’ EFL pundit Don Goodman said: “Aerial prowess is a valuable commodity – especially in the rough and tumble of the EFL - and Michael Smith has it in spades. Four January goals were directly, or indirectly, affected by the Rotherham striker’s head, and he was even able to add a fifth with the ball at his feet. Smith’s fantastic season goes from strength to strength.”

Sky Bet EFL trader Ivor Davies said: “October’s winner Michael Smith was at it again during January as the Rotherham striker scored five goals in six games to take his total to sixteen goals on the season (his best ever goal return).

“The Millers now sit six points clear at the top of League One and are into 4/11 from 5/4 at the start of the month to finish the season as Champions.

“Smith will also be chasing individual honours this season as the big frontman sits in third place in the top scorer charts and a 5/1 shot to finish the season as League One’s top marksman.

“Sunderland’s Ross Stewart and Morecambe’s Cole Stockton are both tied on eighteen goals and Sky Bet have the front three at 5/4, 3/1 and 11/2 respectively

“Either way we are confident that Smith and his teammates will have plenty to look forward to over the next couple of months and at 1/25 its almost certain that the South Yorkshire club will once again be playing Championship football next season.”

Sky Bet League Two: Luke McGee (Forest Green Rovers)

Forest Green Rovers goalkeeper Luke McGee has been named the Sky Bet League Two Player of the Month for January. 

The 26-year-old has blossomed under Rob Edwards whose reward in January was five clean sheets in six games, including an outstanding series of stops in the draw with Exeter, and a keeper who is comfortable with the ball at his feet.

Forest Green manager Rob Edwards said: “I'm very pleased for Luke. He's been really consistent this season and has been a high performer."

"Big shout-out to Dan and Thommo, the goalkeeping department, as well - Lewis Thomas pushes him every day and I know Luke will say that as well."

"Being a goalkeeper is difficult, but he's performed really well and deserves this. He needs to keep it going now.”

McGee said: "I'm over the moon to have won it as it's a first for me."

"I'm massively appreciative of the boys for helping to keep five clean sheets out of six in January, so credit has to go to them."

"The defence in front of me has been great but when called upon I've been able to pull a few saves out of the bag and it's been one of the most consistent months I've had. I think the save towards the end of the game at Tranmere was my favourite, or maybe the one against Stevenage."

"I have to thank Rob Edwards, Richie Kyle, Dan Connor and all the staff as well for instilling confidence in me from the very beginning and allowing me to put together the run I knew I was capable of."

Sky Sports’ EFL pundit Don Goodman said: “Goalkeepers aren’t always recognised in the same terms as their outfield counterparts, but Luke McGee is a prime example of a shot-stopper more than deserving of this award.

“Crucial to Forest Green’s outstanding run, McGee kept five clean sheets in the month of January and came up with a host of impressive saves to keep Play-Off hopefuls Exeter City at bay.”

Sky Bet EFL trader Ivor Davies said: “Going into the New Year, The Green Army were four points clear at the top of League Two and an 8/15 chance to win the title, but after another unbeaten month and some outstanding performances between the sticks from McGee, they are now ten points clear of closest challengers Tranmere.

“Now as short as 1/16 to finish the season as Champions - and at 1/250 for promotion - they are all but guaranteed to be playing League One football next season for the first time in their history.”

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