Brentford Manager Mark Warburton has been named Sky Bet Championship Manager of the Month for November and, just to round off the celebrations, striker Andre Gray has also become the Sky Bet Championship Player of the Month for November.
These magnificent achievements are simply further examples of Brentford’s progress this season being acknowledged and recognised by the football fraternity.
On the face of it, Brentford’s five consecutive victories last month over tough opposition (aren’t they all!) in Derby County, Nottingham Forest, Millwall, Fulham and Wolves with fourteen goals scored, culminating in the club shooting up into third place in the Championship table, a mere one point behind the leaders, would have appeared to make Mark Warburton a shoo-in for the award but, just like most things in life, it wasn’t quite as simple as that.
He faced, and had to overcome, some tough opposition in fellow nominees Gary Rowett of Birmingham City, Mick McCarthy of Ipswich Town and Neil Lennon of Bolton Wanderers.
Rowett has made a fantastic start at his new club where he took over following the debacle of an eight-nil home defeat to a rampant Bournemouth, and his managing to right the ship so quickly is a Herculean achievement.
The experienced Mick McCarthy has presided over Ipswich Town’s surge into the promotion frame after four wins in the last month, and, as Brentford found out to their cost in October, Neil Lennon’s arrival has revitalised Bolton Wanderers, particularly at home.
Thankfully, the judging panel which comprised Chris Hughton, Sky Sports’ pundit, Don Goodman, Football League Chief Operating Officer Andy Williamson, the League Managers’ Association Director Olaf Dixon and Sky Bet Football Trading Manager Paul Lowery having sifted the evidence, thankfully came up with the correct answer and chose Mark as the winner.
Their comments also beat testimony to his achievement:
Chris Hughton, a fellow manager who chairs the Sky Bet Manager of the Month judging panel commented:
For a team that won promotion last season Brentford have made a fantastic start to the new campaign.
To record five straight wins in the Sky Bet Championship is a wonderful achievement and Mark Warburton is thoroughly deserving of this award.
Goodman was equally complimentary:
Brentford continue to impress in their first season in the second tier for twenty-one years.
Securing their fifth straight Championship win with a four-nil demolition job of Wolves, Warburton will be dreaming of a repeat of last season’s promotion heroics.
Paul Lowery added his two-pennorth:
For me there was no other contender for this month’s award. Brentford have been breathtaking under Warburton during November.
I have written about Mark, his background, approach and achievements fairly regularly over the past few months (http://tinyurl.com/orkxkpz) and there is no need for me to repeat my words.
I will simply let his record since becoming Brentford manager almost exactly a year ago, speak for itself.
After succeeding Uwe Rosler, Warburton was in charge for the last twenty-seven League games of last season which saw seventeen wins, six draws and only four defeats and an incredible haul of fifty-seven points obtained. In that time we scored forty-three goals and conceded only twenty-four.
We finished in second place in the league with a massive ninety-four points.
He was also undefeated in his first eleven matches of which the first six were won.
His midas touch has continued this season with Brentford winning ten of the nineteen matches played to date, including the current run of five consecutive victories, the best run in this division for the club since 1935, and we start December in the Playoff places.
Today’s award is exceptionally well timed as Brentford have now played an exact season’s worth of forty-six league games under Mark, and the combined record of last season and this makes stunning and almost unbelievable reading:
Played – forty-six, Won – twenty-seven, Drawn – ten and Lost – nine. Goals For – seventy-three, Goals Against – forty-eight. Points Gained – ninety-one.
We are one measly point short of averaging two points per game over an entire season and he has an overall winning percentage of well over fifty percent.
I have not checked and don’t have the time or will to do so, but I would be amazed if this record has been matched or surpassed by many other teams around the world, let alone just in this country.
This is Mark’s second such award since his appointment, as he was also successful in December 2013, his first month in charge, and he was also nominated in January and March of this year.
Mark would be the first to admit that Brenford’s ongoing success is not simply about him, but he is the catalyst, the glue that binds us together and makes us far better than the sum of all our individual parts.
If that was not quite enough then there is also the equally amazing achievement of Andre Gray to celebrate.
He scored five goals and assisted in two more as Brentford won all five of their Championship matches in November.
This represented an amazing transformation for the young striker who had previously gone eight matches without a goal.
Brentford were also reportedly looking to bring in another experienced striker to take the weight off Andre when suddenly everything changed.
Mark Warburton had highlighted the need for him to become more forceful and try and impose himself more on the game and Andre certainly took notice of his instructions.
Suddenly everything fell into place and he started to bully defenders who had previously dominated him and his pace and power, instant shooting and clinical finishing ability, all aided and abetted by a newly developed sense of self-belief, has transformed him into a formidable opponent who is now treated with caution and respect by defenders who have started to drop off him slightly, worried as they are by his electric pace.
His goals were all valuable and breathtaking in their variety as well as in his calmness and the deadliness of his finishing.
A wonderful first time effort against Derby, clinical finishes against Nottingham Forest and on two occasions at Millwall were followed by a rampaging run and venemous shot against Wolves where he held off the challenge of three defenders before scoring.
He also provided two assists as well as becoming an excellent focal point in attack, holding the ball up well and bringing his team mates into the game.
All in all a month to remember for a young player, who it must be noted was playing in the Conference last season and has taken the rise of three divisions in his stride, with eight goals to his name so far this season, and the prospect of many more to come.
The judging panel chose Andre ahead of fellow nominees Blackburn Rovers striker Rudy Gestede, Leeds United midfield player Alex Mowatt and Birmingham City goalkeeper Darren Randolph.
Fellow striker Dan Goodman said:
Gray’s goals have been pivotal in Brentford’s recent run, with the centre-forward running defenders ragged throughout the month.
Mark Warburton believes he has the talent to make the step up to the Premier League.
Who are we to disagree?
Who indeed as the season just gets better and better.
This is a wonderful time to be a Brentford fan and let’s just enjoy it.
Oh, and as for the so-called curse of the Manager of the Month, we can totally discount it as we are New Brentford now.