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November reigns

Peter Beagrie - Peter Beagrie Posted 8th December 2011 view comments

There were some fantastic managerial performances throughout the Football League in November. Here's my guide to the best of the bunch:

Championship Manager of the Month

Nominees: Malky Mackay (Cardiff), Sam Allardyce (West Ham), Derek McInnes (Bristol City), Keith Hill (Barnsley)

I'll start by mentioning two of the more unfashionable clubs, who have been absolutely brilliant in the month of November.

Mackay: did Cardiff proud last month

Mackay: did Cardiff proud last month

The turnaround at Bristol City since Derek McInnes took over has been nothing short of staggering. He managed to mastermind 12 points from five games in an unbeaten run in November, including a monumental win against Southampton and a draw with second-placed West Ham. They weren't able to put on a show for the Sky Sports cameras last week, but I spoke to the players, supporters and people at board level at the club and they're convinced they have the right man in charge.

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Keith Hill has been fantastic for Barnsley, who picked up three victories from four games in November - and they all came in Yorkshire derbies against Hull, Doncaster and Leeds, who were flying at the time. When you look at the position they were in at the start of the month, you can see how far they've come. Hill won't compromise his principles by playing a long-ball game and they've started December in a positive vein against Peterborough.

There's a sense of belief and consistency at West Ham that you don't usually get when teams come down, so Sam Allardyce deserves a lot of credit. We saw it with Newcastle two years ago and perhaps Kevin Nolan, who was in that side, has been the leader on the pitch for Big Sam. Four wins and a draw made it a big month with the highlight undoubtedly being the 2-0 away win at Middlesbrough that ended their nine-month unbeaten home record. The Hammers only conceded two goals in those five games too.

They are all genuine contenders, but for me the outstanding candidate is Malky Mackay of Cardiff. Aside from their league form, you'd have to say their Carling Cup win over Blackburn was fantastic and you wouldn't have known which was the Premier League side in that game. That performance came on the back of 13 points in five unbeaten league games in November and they look like the genuine article. Mackay has had to cope with the loss of Craig Bellamy, Chris Burke, Jay Bothroyd and Michael Chopra, some phenomenal attacking talent, yet he's producing the goods again.

PETER'S PICK: Malky Mackay

League One Manager of the Month

Nominees: Chris Powell (Charlton), Karl Robinson (MK Dons), Gary Megson (Sheff Wed), Richie Barker (Bury)

Everybody is chasing Chris Powell and Charlton. They had a seven-point lead by the end of November, they brought Huddersfield's unbeaten run to a clinical end and it was a fabulous month. That great result capped a quality November and might just tip the award in his favour.

For me it's a choice between Powell and Karl Robinson, whose side won four games out of four in all competitions, scored 18 goals, had 11 different scorers and really entertained. They are playing with confidence and I will pat Karl on the back because I know he's had offers to go to other clubs, but decided to stay with Mission MK. He told me that if he jumped ship then he wouldn't be able to convince players to believe in him. It's a refreshing approach.

Gary Megson has solidified Sheffield Wednesday's start to the season with two wins and a draw in November. They've been organised solid and conceded just one goal. Over the years, we've seen a lack of consistency at Wednesday and a tendency to concede goals against lesser sides, but Megson seems to have sorted that problem out and they are doing well to keep on the coat-tails of the other big teams in League One.

Bury seemed a little bit jittery after getting promotion, but the month of November was brilliant for them. They got nine points from nine, including wins at Oldham at Walsall, and it was a great month for Richie Barker, who is still in his infancy as a manager.

PETER'S PICK: Chris Powell

League Two Manager of the Month

Nominees: Graham Turner (Shrewsbury), Mark Yates (Cheltenham), Paolo Di Canio (Swindon), Lawrie Sanchez (Barnet)

It was a perfect month for Graham Turner and Shrewsbury with nine points out of nine. It was attacking football all round with 11 goals scored, although most came in that 7-2 win at Northampton when everything slotted into place. Knowing Graham, he'll be disappointed about the two goals he conceded there! He has to be a contender for the award.

Paolo Di Canio had a very good month and seems to be imposing some presence and panache onto the way the West Country club are performing. They had two wins and a draw in November and thumped Huddersfield 4-1 in the FA Cup. Admittedly, it was a weakened Huddersfield side but they have one of the best squads in League One and it was a semi-giantkilling from Di Canio.

There's been an incredible transformation in form at Barnet. Lawrie Sanchez has had to cope with numerous injuries to key players but seven points out of nine is a great return for them. With their financial situation, they need to get things right in the league and in the cup and they've progressed in both the FA Cup and the Johnstone's Paint Trophy in November.

However, my choice would be Mark Yates, who led unfashionable Cheltenham to three wins out of three. They find it difficult to attract players and don't have much money, so Yates is doing a great job. I played against him and he was an uncompromising centre-half / right full-back and always had a great attitude and application. He has transferred those skills into management and is desperate to do well. Cheltenham conceded a single goal in November and are now up in the automatic promotion places. He will need to keep everybody free from injury in that small squad though.

PETER'S PICK: Mark Yates

Championship Player of the Month

Nominees: Peter Whittingham (Cardiff), Billy Sharp (Doncaster Rovers), Liam Fontaine (Bristol City), Carlton Cole (West Ham)

Carlton Cole has been playing with an injury, which has stopped him starting every game, but he seems like a striker rejuvenated right now. He's playing with lots of confidence and set up both goals against Hull, while also scoring in three successive games. He was very impressive in the box against Derby, scored as a sub against Coventry and also came on and scored against Middlesbrough.

The front three of Nicky Maynard, Stephen Pearson and Albert Adomah have taken all the headlines at Bristol City, but you need your defenders to be strong, reliable and resolute, especially in the absence of captain Louis Carey. I feel Liam Fontaine has stepped into the breach as skipper and his return from injury has coincided with a greater defensive stability. He has been key to the revival of Bristol City.

Peter Whittingham has been playing in more of a central role and playing with more responsibility. It's great to have strings to your bow and we know he possesses great ability from free-kicks, but he also boasts the knack of arriving late in the box as a midfielder. In central midfield he gets more of a chance to show his shooting prowess and his passing remains effortless - as does his ball-striking, as four goals in four straight wins will testify.

But you can't look past what has been an emotional month for Billy Sharp, who decided that the best way to pay tribute to the tragic loss of his baby son was to play and score against Middlesbrough. I would suggest that will be the most memorable goal for him and his family, no matter how many he goes on to score in his career. We should salute a fabulous professional, whose focus and goals have lifted his team off the bottom of the table in a tragic November for him personally.

PETER'S PICK: Billy Sharp

League One Player of the Month

Nominees: Michael Morrison (Charlton), Ched Evans (Sheffield United), Jabi Ibehre (MK Dons) and Peter Sweeney (Bury)

Bury were in impressive form in November and their outstanding player was Peter Sweeney, who inspired his side with a fine range of accurate passing, setting up the winning goal against Preston and scoring a screamer against Walsall.

It's surprising to see big Jabi Ibehre playing in the withdrawn number 10 role, linking the play, because he was an out-and-out battering ram of a centre-forward when I used to play against him. Karl Robinson, in his wisdom, has played him in behind and his movement and link-up play have been pivotal to his team's November goal rush, including two for himself.

Ched Evans scored all three of Sheffield United's league goals in November, including winners against Carlisle and Chesterfield. He probably has the most shots of any player in League One, such is the belief in the power of his striking. He still hasn't set Sheffield alight like he was expected to after his £3million transfer, but he possesses a goal threat and can unhinge teams.

But my choice would be Michael Morrison because he's been a rock for Chris Powell. Strong and dominant, he has been a model of consistency during Charlton's charge to the top. He helped the club to two clean sheets, including a shut-out that brought Huddersfield's unbeaten run to an end and also found time to make a nuisance of himself in the opposition box to cap a great November.

PETER'S PICK: Michael Morrison

League Two Player of the Month

Nominees: Nick Powell (Crewe), Tyrone Barnett (Crawley Town), Jack Butland (Cheltenham Town), Billy Kee (Burton Albion)

A star for newly-promoted Crawley Town, Tyrone Barnett has once again proved a handful for defences up and down the country, as a forceful long-range shot and a powerful header against Oxford proved. He got four goals in four competitions in November.

November was also a great month for some young talent in the division. England U17 International Nick Powell of Crewe scored two goals and produced some assured individual displays on the wing. He dribbles past opponents, reads the game well and has added a finishing touch to some great approach play.

Keeping the shots out hasn't been a problem for Cheltenham's young starlet Jack Butland. He's only 18 years old, but has been putting in commanding performances in November. He let in just one goal, made some great saves and he has an unflustered aura that defenders appreciate. His easy presence and self belief is remarkable among more senior players.

But Jack has just missed out on my vote, which goes to young Billy Kee, who in the month of November showed just how "Kee" he is to Burton's promotion aspirations. His goals have been the icing on the cake of some outstanding examples of the art of centre-forward play. The £20,000 his manager paid for the talented 20-year-old looks like an absolute bargain.

PETER'S PICK: Billy Kee

Do you agree with Peter's choices? Have we missed out someone from YOUR club? Let us know in the feedback box below...

Comments (5)

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  • 1

Danny Hunt (Hull City fan) says...

Robert Koren, Snodgrass and Davies should all be in this!

Posted 18:41 10th December 2011

Russ Long (Leeds United fan) says...

totally agree with other comments, while i admittedly don't keep up to speed with otherr teams best players, i do recognise the pure brilliance of robert snodgrass and feel dissappointed i don't even see his name mentioned if even as a possible contender. Still, lets hope his praise comes in the form of promotion back to where we and he belongs. MOT

Posted 23:25 9th December 2011

Nick Atkinson (Leeds United fan) says...

how come robert snodgrass isnt in the running for the championship player of the month he has been playing fantastic

Posted 19:35 8th December 2011

Nick Atkinson (Leeds United fan) says...

how come robert snodgrass not in the running for player of the month he has been playing fantastic

Posted 19:30 8th December 2011

Nathan Brien (Leeds United fan) says...

Where on earth is Robert Snodgrass on that list?, the guy has had an inspiring month. Also what about Craig Davies?, instead you put Carlton Cole in. I sometimes wonder about these posts.

Posted 19:28 8th December 2011

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