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Your Sky Bet Manager and Player of the Month December winners!

7 January 2022

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

Sky Bet Championship: Chris Wilder (Middlesbrough)

Middlesbrough manager Chris Wilder has been named the Sky Bet Championship Manager of the Month for December.

The subtle changes he has made at the Riverside since arriving in November are paying off royally with 13 points from five unbeaten games and just a single goal conceded. Energy levels, confidence and optimism are all on the up.

Wilder said: “It’s been a real team effort.  It’s a been a great start and a terrific month for us. This is a nice reward for both the club and the fans, who have been fantastic. But we have to stay humble and keep working hard.”

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

He said: “Packing games into a month for any team is difficult, especially over the festive period, but Chris’s team did so and returned 13 points from their five games conceding only one goal. Boro are very much in the Play-Off picture.”

Sky Sports’ EFL pundit Don Goodman said: “When you look at the start that Chris Wilder has made at Middlesbrough, it’s a mystery how he was allowed to stay out of the game so long after his departure from Sheffield United last March.

“Their record in December, built on defensive solidity, was exemplary as they dominated a number of difficult fixtures to rise to just outside the Play-Off places.”

Sky Bet EFL trader Ivor Davies said: “Results and performances have been excellent since Chris Wilder replaced Neil Warnock at the start of November and after his only loss against Preston at the end of last month, Boro went unbeaten in December dropping just two points out of 18.

“Sky Bet now rate Boro as the fifth best team in the division and have them priced at 11/2 to be promoted from 18/1 at the start of the month.”

Chris Wilder.jpg

Sky Bet League One: Lee Johnson (Sunderland)

Sunderland manager Lee Johnson has been named the Sky Bet League One Manager of the Month for December.

Sunderland were the busiest team in League One in December. They made the most of their six games with a 14-point haul and a huge 17-3 goal differential as Johnson juggled his squad and lifted them to the top of the table.

Johnson said: “It’s nice win this award and my thanks goes out to all the players and staff at the football club, as it’s only possible with their unwavering commitment.

“I accept this award on behalf of those who have sacrificed in the special month of December for SAFC. Now, our focus quickly turns to Wycombe Wanderers this Saturday afternoon.”

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

He said: “Lee made the most of his squad in the busy December period and it paid dividends. 14 points from six games is no mean feat and takes them into the New Year in an automatic promotion place.”

Sky Sports’ EFL pundit Don Goodman said: “The little wobble they suffered in October seems to have been put firmly behind them, so for Lee Johnson and Sunderland, December could prove to be the month that they put some inconsistency behind them and started a sustained march towards promotion.

“Hugely convincing wins over Morecambe, Doncaster and Sheffield Wednesday added gloss to an unbeaten month where they opened a gap to the chasing pack and piled the pressure onto Wigan, who fell victim to several Covid postponements around Christmas.”

Sky Bet EFL trader Ivor Davies said: “9/4 preseason favourites Sunderland hit their straps under Johnson during December, as his side went undefeated in their six league games to leave them just one point off top spot in Sky Bet League One.

“We still have leaders Rotherham as 10/11 favourites for the title but after the Black Cats’ impressive form we have cut them into 11/4 second favourites from 9/2 at the start of the month.

“This will be Sunderland’s fourth season in the third tier and Johnson’s main aim will be getting them out of it. At 8/15 to be promoted it’s looking increasingly likely that this could finally be their year.”

Lee Johnson.jpg

Sky Bet League Two: Micky Mellon (Tranmere Rovers)

Tranmere Rovers manager Micky Mellon has been named the Sky Bet League Two Manager of the Month for December.

While other teams suffered call-offs, Mellon’s side played on – and how. They won all four of their fixtures without conceding a goal to retain their status as the best defensive unit in all three EFL divisions and move into the top three.

Mellon said: “I’m really pleased, not just for myself but for everyone involved. The players, the staff and the supporters. It’s not just about me, there are a lot of fantastic people around me who deserve a lot of credit.

“The fan base has helped to drive us forward so it is a massive collective effort. I always give these awards/trophies to the fans and it goes into the fan park because it doesn’t belong to me, it belongs to the football club.

“Of course, we’ve got to go again now and keep winning games because the ultimate aim is to be successful at the end of the season but it’s great to be recognised for our hard work during December.”

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

He said: “A perfect return from their four games without conceding a goal demonstrates great consistency from Micky’s team, who are now in touching distance of the automatic places.”

Sky Sports’ EFL pundit Don Goodman said: “Tranmere’s defensive solidity has been clear to see for some time, but it was brought into sharp focus in December with a string of 1-0 wins to thrust themselves into the Play-Off positions.

“With a run of winnable fixtures to kick off the New Year, Mellon and his men will be hoping they can extend their run and keep themselves in the Play-Off picture for the rest of the season.”

Sky Bet EFL trader Ivor Davies said: “The Super White Army’s success so far this season has been built on the back of the meanest defence in all three EFL divisions, conceding just 14 goals all season in the league.

“Rated at 4/1 to go up before a ball was kicked in the summer, they are now legitimate contenders for promotion at 15/8, having been as big as 6/1 at the end of November.

“At 4/6 the minimum requirement for Mellon’s men now would be a top seven finish but they will be maintaining an aspiration of automatic promotion, which they are priced at 3/1 to achieve.”

The Sky Bet Manager of the Month judging panel comprises former Barnsley manager Danny Wilson, Sky Sports’ EFL expert Don Goodman; EFL Communications Director Mark Rowan, and Sky Bet EFL trader Ivor Davies.


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

Sky Bet Championship: Isaiah Jones (Middlesbrough)

Middlesbrough wing-back Isaiah Jones has been named the Sky Bet Championship Player of the Month for December.

The dynamic 22-year-old contributed four clean sheets, the only goal against Swansea, both assists in the win at Blackpool and a run for the decisive penalty against Bournemouth - not bad for a wing-back in his debut EFL season.

Sky Sports’ EFL pundit Don Goodman said: “The young winger has proved a crucial member of Boro’s squad in their recent ascent towards the Play-Off positions, particularly impressing in the games against promotion-chasing Bournemouth and Nottingham Forest. 

“The 22-year-old Londoner was performing well under Neil Warnock and you could argue he has taken his form to another level under Chris Wilder.”

Sky Bet EFL trader Ivor Davies said: “Isaiah Jones has been a key player since Chris Wilder arrived at the club in November and played in all five games during December as Middlesbrough moved into play-off contention.

“Jones was part of a Boro side that kept four December clean sheets, and the wing back also picked up three man of the match awards in the process.

“If their hot form continues, Boro can expect to finish in the Play-Offs which we have them priced at 11/10 to do so from 9/2 at the start of December.”

Sky Bet League One: Dan Barlaser (Rotherham United)

Rotherham United midfielder Dan Barlaser has been named the Sky Bet League One Player of the Month for December.

Much of Rotherham’s success this season has been orchestrated by the quarter-back play of Barlaser, spinning searching passes to teammates. The technician added goals in December, four of them expertly finished in as many games.

Barlaser said: “I’m absolutely delighted, I’ve never won an award like this before. Of course, I have to thank my teammates, we have been on a great run of form together and I’ve managed to contribute to that. 

“You don’t win any individual awards without the efforts of everyone involved, the lads, the manager and the rest of the staff have all contributed massively and I can’t thank them enough. 

“For example, a couple of the goals I scored were penalties won by teammates and another was a lung-busting run from Chieo (Ogbene) to get the ball to me, so I’m extremely grateful to everyone. 

“The lads as a collective have been brilliant, so credit must go to them as well.”

Sky Sports’ EFL pundit Don Goodman said: “The former Newcastle-trainee has been a mainstay of Paul Warne’s promotion chasing team this season, but only recently has he added goals to his impressive display.

“None of these were more important than the winner against Cambridge in the build-up to Christmas which cemented their place on top of the tree when Father Christmas arrived.”

Sky Bet EFL trader Ivor Davies said: “Dan Barlaser was once again in outstanding form for Rotherham during December as The Geordie Pirlo scored four goals in five games to help his team consolidate their position at the top of Sky Bet League One.

“The Millers are now odds on with Sky Bet at 10/11 from 11/10 at the start of the month to finish the season as Champions.

“Players like Barlaser, Smith, Rathbone and Wiles are all too good for this level and we believe its highly likely that at 1/5 they will all be back playing Championship football again next season.” 

Dan Barlaser.jpg

Sky Bet League Two: Jake Beesley (Rochdale)

Rochdale striker Jake Beesley has been named the Sky Bet League Two Player of the Month for December. 

Four goals and an assist in three games for the 25-year-old who has become the fulcrum of the Rochdale attack. He managed a variety of finishes, too, including a cheeky backheeled flick at Bristol Rovers and a calmly stroked clip against Newport.

Rochdale manager Robbie Stockdale said: “I’m really pleased for Jake. I’m sure he will say it’s a collective effort and that it’s the team that have helped him win the award.

“But it’s really nice when one of your players earns an individual award because it means he’s playing well and scoring goals.

“What Jake offers us is really important for the team, but ultimately he’s in the team to score goals. Thankfully now he’s hit good form and he’s taking a lot of those chances. Long may that continue.”

Beesley said: “It’s great to win it. I have to thank my teammates for all their help in the games.

“It was a bit of a shock because you don’t really think about individual awards, especially mid-season, but it’s always nice to win things.

“It shows that you’re doing well and doing a good job for the team, so it was nice to hear that I’ve won it.

“I felt confident going into games and it’s always nice to score. I feel like I’m always working hard for the team and even when I don’t score, I feel like I’m bringing other things to the game.

“As a striker you are judged on your goals, so it’s nice to start putting them away regularly.”

Sky Sports’ EFL pundit Don Goodman said: “After a really difficult start to December, Beesley’s goals for Rochdale helped secure three vital points against Newport County to keep a comfortable gap between them and the relegation dog fight. 

“With fixtures building up thanks to unplayed games from the Christmas period, Rochdale will be hoping Beesley can pick up where he left off and continue to fire them up the table in 2022.”

Sky Bet EFL trader Ivor Davies said: “The Rochdale striker’s four goals in three games wasn’t a bad return for a side struggling in the bottom half of League Two.

“Those four goals took his tally to nine for the season and whilst it’s unlikely at 20/1 he’ll finish the season as the League Two top scorer, his goals will be vital in helping keep Rochdale in the division and get them pushing towards the top half of the table.

“Dale are priced at even money to finish in the top half, which would represent a good season for Beesley and co.”

The judging panel for the Sky Bet Player of the Month comprises Sky Sports’ EFL expert Don Goodman; EFL Communications Director Mark Rowan and Sky Bet EFL trader Ivor Davies.

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