Rochdale manager Keith Hill has been named the Sky Bet League One Manager of the Month for December.
Bottom in mid-September, Hill`s side finished 2016 in fourth after another swashbuckling month that reflected Hill`s footballing beliefs in scoring 11 goals during their four wins from four games, including a 3-2 victory over leaders Scunthorpe.
(Russ Green on behalf of Hill)
Hill said: “I`m really pleased to win the award, but it has been a team effort. The players deserve a lot of credit for putting our plans into practice on the pitch and they deserve this award in recognition for what we achieved in December.
“We were in good form heading into the month and I was absolutely delighted to start it with a win away at Carlisle United in the FA Cup. We rolled from one game to the next with an honesty and an endeavour, and to win all four league games, against very tough opposition, is testament to the players` exceptional work rate and professionalism.
“Their attitude has been brilliant and we`ve been reaping the rewards because of that.”
George Burley chairs the Sky Bet Manager of the Month judging panel.
He said: “Keith is showing that if you keep working hard enough progress will be made and he has taken Rochdale from bottom position in September to fourth at the end of December.
“They won all four games in the month, scoring 11 goals, including a great win over leaders Scunthorpe United. The improvement they have made shows they are promotion contenders.”
Sky Sports` EFL pundit Don Goodman said: “The transformation in form from the middle of September to now has been incredible, with Rochdale moving from rock bottom to fourth in League One following an extraordinary run of form, especially at home.
“For a team of Rochdale`s size, the job that Hill has done for a number of years is incredibly impressive and he`ll be hoping they can go one better than last season and earn themselves a Play-Off spot.”
Sky Bet Football Trading Manager Paul Lowery said: “Keith Hill seems a perfect fit for Rochdale as indicated by his largely successful spells in charge of the club.
“It was a slow start to the campaign for ‘Dale this term and at one point Hill`s men were 5/2 to be relegated to League Two.
“However, his side have played with such freedom in the last two months that they now find themselves at the dizzy heights of fourth in the table and rated odds on at 8/15 to finish in the Play-Off positions.
“All of Rochdale`s games seemed to be tight affairs at the start of the season but Hill`s men are now being encouraged to play attacking football.
“They still conceded a goal per game on average in December but when you are scoring at the rate they are it doesn`t matter. The fans are surely loving times under Hill and he fully deserves this month`s award.”