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Sky Bet EFL Manager and Player of the Month: April winners

4 May 2023

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

Sky Bet Championship: Paul Heckingbottom (Sheffield United)

Sheffield United manager Paul Heckingbottom has been named the Sky Bet Championship Manager of the Month for April.

Even the lure of an FA Cup semi-final at Wembley could not deflect Heckingbottom from his true purpose of achieving automatic promotion. Six wins out of seven games with a 13-4 goals differential meant they accomplished it comfortably.

Heckingbottom said: “It has been a long, tough campaign but the commitment of everyone associated with Sheffield United has been rewarded with promotion.

“April has been hard, a total of eight games including an FA Cup semi-final at Wembley but we did not allow that game to distract us from our main goal of picking up points in the league to get over the line.

“This award is for everyone at the club, including our fantastic supporters.”

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

He said: “Paul and his team capped of a brilliant season with a fantastic set of results in April culminating in an automatic place back to the Premier League.

“A fantastic effort by Paul and his team especially with a lot of things happening off the pitch, their concentration and belief in each other sensationally paid off.”

Sky Sports’ EFL pundit Don Goodman said: “Mission accomplished for Paul Heckingbottom and Sheffield United as they saw off fierce challenges from Luton and Middlesbrough to secure promotion with three games to spare.

“He has to take huge credit for keeping the ship steady in some choppy waters at times!!

“He allowed his side to express themselves and show their quality, none more so than in the West Brom game, which secured their return to the Premier League.”

Sky Bet EFL trader Ivor Davies said: “At 7/2 there were a few teams ahead of Sheffield United in the betting for promotion before a ball was kicked, but Sky Bet have them just behind the Clarets on our expected goals model, so they are well worthy of their promotion even if its normally been Kompany and Burnley that have stolen the headlines.

“We make them even money to stay up next season in the Premier League in the early market.”

Sky Bet League One: Kieran McKenna (Ipswich Town)

Ipswich Town manager Kieran McKenna has been named the Sky Bet League One Manager of the Month for April.

Ipswich’s April stats alone are staggering. Eight games played, 22 points gained, 27 goals scored and just two conceded.

McKenna’s sumptuous side recorded 6-0 wins over Charlton and Exeter and had observers drooling over their football as they won promotion.

McKenna said: “You don’t have the season we’ve had and you certainly don’t have the finish we’ve had without the work that goes on from everybody who works for the club all through the year.

“The spirit and togetherness in the club is fantastic and everyone’s pulled in the same direction.

“That’s a massive part of what’s been successful this season and it’s great to be able to recognise that today.”

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

He said: “Ipswich finished off their push for automatic promotion in the same vein as they started.

“Great confidence in the way they want to play and in April, when the business end of the season beckons, they produce a stunning set of results. What a way to finish off a campaign.”

Sky Sports’ EFL pundit Don Goodman said: “It’s back-to-back Manager of the Month awards for Kieran McKenna as Ipswich continued their relentless march to promotion.

“The frightening pace set by the league leaders in League One has given neutrals a brilliant spectacle in 2022/23 and showed once again the strength in depth in the football pyramid in this country.”

Sky Bet EFL trader Ivor Davies said: “5/1 second favourites for the title and a 13/8 shot for promotion before a ball was kicked, Ipswich have been by far the best team on Sky Bet’s ratings this season and they secured automatic promotion back the Championship last Saturday by thumping Exeter 6-0.

“It’s been an impressive first season in management for the former Manchester United coach McKenna who will now be hoping that Plymouth slip up against Port Vale on Sunday to allow his side a chance of taking the Sky Bet League One title.

“All scenarios taken into account, though, Plymouth are still the favs to win the league at 4/7 with Ipswich 5/4 in the head-to-head match bet.”

Sky Bet League Two: Steve Evans (Stevenage)

Stevenage manager Steve Evans has been named the Sky Bet League Two Manager of the Month for April.

Steering your side over the automatic promotion line is no easy task in an eight-game month with some awkward fixtures, but Evans did exactly that. Stevenage lost just once as they gained 15 points to seal their passage to League One.

Evans said: “I am absolutely delighted to receive this award. It goes without saying that I receive it on behalf of Paul Raynor, Alex Revell, Ian Pledger plus all the players and affiliated staff at the football club.”

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

He said: “Pressure that mounts when trying to get into the automatic promotion places is immense throughout a season, even more so in the latter months, but when you have a manager with the experience that Steve has, that outside pressure seems to disappear.

“Keeping that belief and momentum on track is paramount and Steve and his Stevenage team have done brilliantly in April with their 15-point return, to seal that promotion place.”

Sky Sports’ EFL pundit Don Goodman said: “It was fantastic to see Steve Evans front and centre of the jubilant scenes at the Lamex Stadium as Stevenage secured promotion in front of a sell-out home crowd.

“He has proven time and time again his ability to bring a group of players together for a common purpose, as his unbelievable nine promotions proves.”

Sky Bet EFL trader Ivor Davies said: “A little over a year ago Steve Evans was appointed Stevenage boss with the club in a relegation battle.

“Fast forward a year and he is celebrating his ninth promotion as a manager!

“Before a ball was kicked The Boro were a shorter price for relegation at 7/1 than they were for promotion at 8/1, but after 8 weeks of the season they have been neck and neck with Stockport as the best side in the division since on our expected goals model, which is a credit to the job Evans and his staff have done this season.” 

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

Sky Bet Championship: Gustavo Hamer (Coventry City)

Coventry City forward Gustavo Hamer has been named the Sky Bet Championship Player of the Month for April.

Hamer was the driving force behind Coventry’s surge into the Play-Off places. A ball of constant motion dragging his side through games from box to box, his material contributions were two goals and four assists in seven games.

Coventry City boss Mark Robins said: "I am delighted for him. He's been one of the best midfield players in the league for the last few months.

"He has scored some brilliant goals and helped with assists. I am delighted to have him with us."

Hamer said: "I am buzzing, to be fair. I didn't expect it. It's so nice to have been recognised for this award, especially as it is across the entire Championship.

"It's been a busy week of awards, having been named as the Club's Player of the Season last week, voted for by the fans, and now this is the icing on the cake.

"I am proud of the team, who have played their part too. We're in a fantastic position in the table and we have a big game on Monday, which I am very much looking forward to."

Sky Sports’ EFL pundit Don Goodman said: “March’s Sky Bet Championship Player of the Month Viktor Gyokeres has taken most of the plaudits this season and he has been exceptional, but that should not detract from the excellent Gustavo Hamer who shined brightly in April.

“Possibly underappreciated outside the club, but certainly not within it, the midfielder was awarded with the fans’ Player of the Season award on Monday night and should Coventry secure a Play-Off spot, it will have been in no small part down to Gus.”

Sky Bet EFL trader Ivor Davies said: “Coventry midfielder Gustavo Hamer was in sublime form for the Sky Blues during April scoring two goals and contribute four assists in seven games during the month to help maintain Coventry’s position in the Play-Offs.

“A top half finish would have been about par for Hamer and his team-mates before a ball was kicked this season and after a slow start, they have once again punched above their weight.

“A top six finish was available at 100/30 before the season started and barring a miracle they will finish in the head into the Play-Offs as a 5/1 shot to end their 22-year exile from the top flight.”

Sky Bet League One: Conor Chaplin (Ipswich Town)

Ipswich Town striker Conor Chaplin has been named the Sky Bet League One Player of the Month for April.

A dream month to cap a dream season for Chaplin who scored 10 goals in eight April games and added an assist. Coming onto the ball from a number 10 role has been his making, as shown by his hat-trick against Charlton and a clever lofted finish at Barnsley. 

Ipswich Town manager Kieran McKenna said: “Conor’s had a fantastic season and deserves the accolades that he’s getting but he also knows he’s had a wonderful set of teammates in that dressing room who’ve helped him in training every day and helped him out on the pitch.

“Individual awards whether that’s for managers or players is the reflection of the work of a lot of people and it’s nice that Conor was able to recognise that by bringing the whole squad together for his photo."

Chaplin said: “I’m very pleased to pick up the award, not just because of the goals but becaue of the month we’ve had as a team, as a club.

“It goes to show how consistent we were in April, and how we’ll we’re playing. The amount of goals we’ve scored is a testament to my teammates for the amount of chances we created.” 

Sky Sports’ EFL pundit Don Goodman said: “No stranger to recognition after picking up three prizes at Ipswich Town’s end of season awards earlier this week, Chaplin has been in scintillating form all season.

“An incredible tally of 26 league goals led his team to promotion and leaves him in pole position to secure the League One Golden Boot, too.”

Sky Bet EFL trader Ivor Davies said: “Chaplin was once again in outstanding form during April as the Ipswich No.10 scored 10 goals in eight games to cap off a fantastic season and put him a goal clear of Jonson Clarke-Harris in the Sky Bet League One scoring charts and a 1/4 shot to win the Golden Boot heading into the final day.

“Before a ball was kicked Chaplin was as big as 50/1 to win the top scorer gong.”

Sky Bet League Two: Andy Cook (Bradford City)

Bradford City forward Andy Cook has been named the Sky Bet League Two Player of the Month for April. 

Whenever Bradford needed a goal to bolster their promotion push, Cook answered the call just as he has all season, with razor sharp instincts, trademark headers and a solo effort against Sutton among his five goals and two assists.

Sky Sports’ EFL pundit Don Goodman said: “It’s hard to overstate Cook’s importance to Bradford this season, with 35 goal involvements second to only Erling Haaland among players in England’s top four tiers.

“The Bantams look destined for the Play-Offs and will be a team to be feared, so a huge amount of credit must go Cook’s way for that– and indeed Mark Hughes’ for providing an atmosphere that has allowed him to flourish.”

Sky Bet EFL trader Ivor Davies said: “Andy Cook has been phenomenal this season and the last month was no exception as the Bradford striker netted five goals and two assists during April to help put the Bantams on the brink of mathematically securing a Play-Off spot.

“The talismanic striker was priced as big as 25/1 before a ball was kicked to finish the season as League Two’s top marksman – an award he has duly romped home with.

“Cook will be hoping to fire Bradford to glory in the Play-Offs and we make his side 5/2 joint-favourites to go up this season and end their two-year stay in the fourth-tier of English football.”

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