Blogs & Opinion


Craig Mackail-Smith, Kevin Davies and Guy Branston celebrate the Football League awards

Football League Bloggers - Football League Bloggers Posted 19th March 2014 view comments

skysports.com is going to get inside the minds of the players this season.

As well as a weekly blog from Leicester striker Kevin Phillips, we will also be speaking to some other seasoned campaigners in the Football League.

Brighton striker Craig Mackail-Smith, Preston frontman Kevin Davies and Plymouth defender Guy Branston - who will all appear on Sky Sports News Radio's new show FL72 Weekly - will be chatting to us about all manner of footballing issues.

The Football League Awards 2014 were presented last Sunday with 36 clubs shortlisted for 17 titles celebrating the most talented players and coaches, successful infrastructure, community spirit and fan interaction.

In the Championship, Burnley striker Danny Ings won the Sky Bet Player of the Year. The accolade went to Brentford's Adam Forshaw in League One, while Gary Roberts of Chesterfield recieved the League Two title. Gary Johnson of Yeovil took home the Football Manager award and Derby's star midfielder, Will Hughes, was honoured with the Young Player of the Year.

With these awards in mind, we asked out bloggers who would receive the nod if they were on the judging panel, what role their club plays in the Football League community and caught up with what they've been up in as the season heads ever closer to its climax.

CRAIG MACKAIL-SMITH

The clubs at the top of the Championship have had the best performing players so far; James Vardy and David Nugent up front and Wes Morgan at the back for Leicester have been outstanding, them Sam Vokes and Danny Ings at Burnley have been in great form.

I've played against Danny Ings before and yes, he did okay last season but this year, every performance I've seen he has been very, very good; he contributes to goals, scores every type of goal and he's young as well.

That success has got to be down to their manager Sean Dyche and I'm sure a lot of people wouldn't have thought Burnley would have been second in the table at this point of the season. Dyche has done a fantastic job at giving all those players great belief and it shows in their performances. They've kept digging away when everyone thought they'd be fading.

Derby have also impressed me. When we played them at the beginning of the season we went 1-0 up and then they played us off the pitch. They pass the ball well have a lot of through runners with Craig Bryson, Paul Coutts and Will Hughes in the midfield, they've definitely caught the eye.

When it comes to community spirit Brighton encourage us players to really get involved. There are schemes we can be a part of and some of the players are ambassadors, including Inigo Calderon, who won the community award last year for his work with the fans and local businesses.

It's hugely important that we're involved with our fans - we're in the job because they pay to watch us play. If we can give back to the community and the supporters by spending time with them then it builds a great relationship which you can feel in our stadium. It's a big friendly club with all the fans right behind the boys and these are important foundations we need to build on.

KEVIN DAVIES

We played out a 0-0 draw with Sheffield United live on Sky Sports Monday which was frustrating because draws seem to be the story of our season, I think that's 15 now. We've got ambitions to try and catch the top two in the league and especially with Wolves losing on Tuesday night but we need to be in that position to pounce at all times.

I know Coventry's Franck Moussa picked up the Mitre Goal of the Year Awards but I'd probably pick my volley against Wycombe in the FA Cup! I haven't scored too many like that.

In terms of a manager of the year I can't go beyond Sean Dyche. I think he's done an amazing job with the funds he's had available at Burnley and I think everyone expected them to fall away as the season went on but they've shown no signs of doing that.

They've only lost a couple of games all season with the size of that squad and no foreign import players show it what an amazing job he's done. I know the way he works; he's very professional and he keeps everyone very fit which has helped build confidence because he can pick the same side week in week out. There are a lot of managers out there doing a great job but Sean has got to be the standout one for me.

His striker Danny Ings was a well-deserved winner of Player of the Year. I've looked at his record before this season and though he'd scored goals he'd never really been prolific, but this season he's been outstanding and I think that boils down to confidence. I've seen it before with James Beattie at Southampton a few years back; he started scoring goals and then just started shooting from anywhere because he's got the confidence and the belief. We've got it with Joe Garner at Preston at the moment, more often than not he's shooting and he'll try things in training which someone who was lacking in confidence wouldn't try.

The Football League Awards also celebrate our community work and Preston is another club I've played for who are very much part of that. Players get a bit of criticism here and there but they do enjoy going out and mixing with the people that are paying to watch them come and play. It's a very important part of any football club and with what happened to Sir Tom Finney recently really brought everyone at Preston closer together. We all want success for the club and the club and community need each other. It's an extremely important part of being a footballer that you go out and see the local community that you're representing.

GUY BRANSTON

Last week I left Plymouth by mutual consent due to my ankle injury but I'll be back at the club to help out John Sheridan whenever he needs me. He said some really nice words when I left so I have to thank him for that because managers do read that stuff and maybe they'll realise I can be asset for them and that this agreement was a mutual one. It's now time for me to make decisions for Guy Branston rather than Plymouth make them for in June/July time. I'm looking forward to working on my business and doing more media work but will be focussed on getting back fit and back playing.

I can definitely see why Plymouth won the League Two Family Club of the Year last Sunday; the community spirit is amazing, the crowd always want to come to the ground and there are always plenty of families and kids on match day. Then there's Forza Verde 1886, a famous supporters club who are in the singing end. This year I've probably done more football in community activities than ever before by going and helping different sections of club by promoting the business and their efforts in the area.

Since Martyn Starnes came in as Chief Executive he's gone out there and is meeting all the local people, it's like he's campaigning to be President he's shaking so many hands! I was invited back to the club on Saturday to do a function for some disabled fans which was due to last 20 minutes - we ended up staying an hour and half chatting to everyone and eating pasties with those fans, having a laugh at the raffle and spending time with people that generally appreciate it, which was nice.

Don't forget download FL72 Weekly every THURSDAY morning from skysports.com

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