Norwich manager Alex Neil has been named the Sky Bet Championship Manager of the Month for February, with Nottingham Forest midfielder Henri Lansbury claiming the player honours in the division.
Neil has galvanised his players since arriving at Carrow Road from Hamilton, demanding a consistency which brought five convincing February wins in as many games.
George Burley, who chairs the Sky Bet Manager of the Month judging panel, said: “This is a fantastic start to his managerial career with Norwich City.
Football League Player and Manager of the Month awards
- Championship manager: Alex Neil
- Championship player: Henri Lansbury
- League One manager: Simon Grayson
- League One player: Izale McLeod
- League Two manager: Andy Awford
- League Two player: Jed Wallace
“With five wins out of five and a 100 per cent record for the month, he has taken the club from outside the play-off positions to be in contention for an automatic promotion.”
Sky Sports’ Football League pundit Don Goodman was also keen to praise the 33-year-old, who only became Canaries’ boss in January.
“Before Alex Neil took the hotseat at Norwich, the squad were struggling to get into gear, following their relegation from the Premier League,” said Goodman.
“However, since he took over, they have started to show the undoubted quality they have within the squad and are knocking on the door of an automatic promotion place.”
Speaking to Sky Sports News HQ, Neil said: "The players have responded to me since I came here and the fact they did so well during the month is testament to how they have adapted in such a short space of time.
"Our goal was to finish higher than seventh, but with the position we are in a the moment there is no reason to think we can't get an automatic spot."
Lansbury’s performances in February have also been recognised by the panel.
The 24-year-old was the fulcrum of Forest’s stellar February with goals in five successive games - including two free-kicks and a stunning curler against Wigan Athletic - allied to defensive diligence, consistency and a new maturity as he assumed the captaincy.
Nottingham Forest manager Dougie Freedman said: “He deserves it. The reason he got this is because he brought into the team philosophy, he got behind the team and made sure he played for the team.
“That’s why I made him the captain and it was an easy decision because he has been leading by example. He’s tactically very aware and he understands the game.”
"The reason he got this is (award) because he brought into the team philosophy, he got behind the team and made sure he played for the team."
Goodman added: “Henri Lansbury’s performances have brought a sense of enjoyment back to Forest fans, and he seems to have really taken to playing under Dougie Freedman.
“He added goals to his game in February and he is finally fulfilling the promise that he showed as a youngster at Arsenal.”
In Sky Bet League One, Preston boss Simon Grayson has been named manager of the month for February.
It was a perfect month for North End, who reaffirmed their promotion credentials with a maximum 15 points, 10 goals scored and none conceded - a tribute to Grayson’s man-management skills and level-headedness following an inconsistent spell.
“Simon has got Preston back into top gear with a perfect month gaining the maximum 15 points,” said Burley. “Scoring 10 goals and conceding none was an amazing achievement.”
“Grayson’s second Manager of the Month award this season marks a fantastic month for his Preston side,” said Goodman.
“Putting together a run of five consecutive wins, without conceding a goal, is a fantastic achievement at any point in the season, but is even more impressive during this fixture-packed period.”
Despite the winning run, which has lifted Preston into an automatic promotion place, Grayson is taking nothing for granted.
Speaking to Sky Sports News HQ he said: "All we are doing is concentrating on the next game. The players may talk about it, we are only human beings, but we just have to focus on the work rate ehic and philosophy we have here to achieve that target."
Crawley striker Izale McLeod has claimed the player honours in League One after a productive month in front of goal.
McLeod showed his full goalscoring talents with a hat-trick in the 5-1 win over Barnsley that owed everything to power, persistence and precision and he was also on target against Yeovil.
In League Two, Portsmouth secured an awards double after the achievements of manager Andy Awford and midfielder Jed Wallace were recognised.
Awford, who spent the whole of his professional playing career as a defender at Fratton Park, guided Pompey through six unbeaten games in February, amassing 14 points and posting four clean sheets.
The attacking mindset he has instilled was witnessed in a 6-2 win at Cambridge.
“An unbeaten February gave Awford’s Pompey side an outside chance of making the play-offs and improved the mood within Fratton Park,” said Goodman.
“The 6-2 away victory at Cambridge was the pick of the bunch with a Matt Tubbs hat-trick putting the gloss on the win.”
Awford said: "In January we were looking over our shoulder a bit as we were just four or five points away from the bottom two.
"But we've opened that gap now and we have to keep pushing on. We have not set ourselves any points targets or any playoff targets all we are doing is concentrating on the next target, which is the next game."
Wallace was the driving force behind Pompey’s surge up the table, tormenting defenders with his pace and directness.
He scored two goals in a month in which he put in a stellar performance at the Abbey Stadium, scoring one and setting up four more in the thrashing of Cambridge.
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