THE DUKE HAS A NEW TITLE...
Jutkiewicz bags Player of Month honour
BIRMINGHAM boss Garry Monk hailed Lukas Jutkiewicz as ‘phenomenal’ after the striker scooped the Sky Bet Championship Player of the Month award for October.
The Duke weighed in with five goals, including a hat-trick against Rotherham, as the Blues powered up the Championship table.
“Everyone at the club is absolutely delighted for him,” said Monk. “It’s thoroughly deserved. Lukas’ worth to the team since we’ve come in has been immense.
“People talk about the goals, but it’s not just that. It has been his all-round contribution this month and those months previously – phenomenal. His challenge is to continue that.”
Jutkiewicz, 29, added: “It is lovely to pick up this award. I very much appreciate it, but it has been a good month for us as a team.
“A lot of the credit goes to my team-mates. I rely on the service they provide and that has been top quality.
“Playing regularly helps. Since the manager has come in I have played in all the games and it helps with your confidence to know that a manager is willing to pick you week in, week out.”
In League One, another onsong forward scooped the honours. Freddie Ladapo weighed in with six goals and two assists to assist Plymouth’s revival.
The 25-year-old said: “It was a fantastic month for me and I’m enjoying my football a hell of a lot.
“Coming here as a new player, you want to just hit the ground running and get going, and I think the goals I’ve scored have given people a lot of confidence in me – and playing in front of 10,000 fans every week is fantastic.
“Six goals in six games – I think this is the best goalscoring form I’ve been on so far, and long may it continue.”
Pilgrims boss Derek Adams said: “Freddie works very hard for the team and deserves all the plaudits that have come his way.”
In League Two, Grimsby goalkeeper James McKeown picked up the prize. The 29-year-old kept four clean sheets in five games and saved a penalty against Exeter.
“Being a goalkeeper, you might get the odd well done here and there but in general you don’t get a lot of recognition,” he said. “It was a good month for us as a team, not conceding goals, but that isn’t just down to me.
“It is not just down to the back four either, it is down to the whole team, so I suppose it is for everyone. To get something like this at the end of it is like the cherry on top really.” Modest QPR boss Steve McClaren shared the praise around after landing the Sky Bet Championship Manager of the Month trophy for October.
After a nightmare start to the season, the R’s rallied with the help of some astute loan signings. An October haul of 13 points from five unbeaten games lifted the west Londoners into the top half.
“I have got to say the response of the players has been good, but the main factor in why we’ve had such a good October was the staff I have got around me,” said the former England manager.
“It is all about people, it is all about players, it is all about staff – and the staff have been absolutely magnificent.”
Coventry boss Mark Robins bagged the League One gong. His side lost their opening game of the month to leaders Portsmouth, but then won their remaining five games.
Robins said: “We played some good football early on without getting the results that we deserved to get, but I think that everybody has worked really, really hard behind the scenes and the players have been brilliant this month.”
It took Paul Tisdale a decade at Exeter to scoop a Manager of the Month award, but he has now managed it in three months at new club MK Dons. His side enjoyed a near-perfect October, collecting 16 points from a possible 18.
“Things are going really nicely, but I want to be very careful not to get too carried away,” he said. “I have certainly concentrated on the process of our performances – the results are nice as they are a product of that, but there is a lot more work still to do. It is early days.”
ECSTATIC: Birmingham’s Lukas Jutkiewicz celebrates scoring against Reading and, inset top, with his trophy. Inset middle: Plymouth’s Freddie Ladapo and inset bottom: Grimsby’s James McKeown