Sunderland manager Phil Parkinson has been named the Sky Bet League One Manager of the Month for January.
Possibly the only man on Wearside not panicking in December, Parkinson made the bold call to drop Aiden McGeady, instilled a togetherness in his squad and led them to 14 points and a 10-2 goal differential from six unbeaten games.
Parkinson said: “We’ve had a good run of results, the performance level has been excellent and we’ve got ourselves in the mix. That was the intention and now the hard work really does start, but I’m really pleased with the return of points.
“The things that have really helped us are the work ethic on the training pitch, getting a real pattern of play to our game and consistent team selection.
“It was a bit frustrating for the lads that haven’t been in the team, but they’ve been fantastic and I do think that’s been a key factor.
“When you go with the same team for quite a while, the others who are out of the team are so important and they’ve driven the standards in training on.”
Danny Wilson chairs the Sky Bet Manager of the Month judging panel.
He said: “It was a great January for Phil and his team, who never panicked in their approach to games and it really paid off.
“Moving into the business end of the season, Sunderland are one of the favourites to gain promotion, and quite rightly.”
Sky Sports’ EFL pundit Don Goodman said: “Things were starting to look bleak at the back end of 2019 for Sunderland, but the outlook appears a whole lot brighter now thanks to the wonderful job Phil Parkinson managed throughout January.
“A six-game unbeaten run steadied a rocking ship at the Stadium of Light, putting the Black Cats firmly back in play-off contention.
“The job is far from done, but this may prove to be the pivotal period of Sunderland’s season, should they be successful at the business end of the campaign..”
Sky Bet EFL trader Ivor Davies said: “After a tough start to life as Sunderland boss Phil Parkinson has turned things around at the Stadium Of Light.
“His team are now only two points off the top six, having sat in mid-table at the start of the month.
“They were 11/2 for promotion, but after going undefeated in January the Black Cats are now a 2/1 shot to be promoted back to the Championship.”