Liam Manning has been named Sky Bet League One Manager of the Month for January.
The MK Dons Head Coach wins the award for the second time this season, having received the honour back in September.
Nobody in the division picked up more points than Manning’s Dons in January (14), as they climbed from seventh to fourth in the Sky Bet League One table.
As well as securing four wins and two draws, his side also kept four clean sheets, conceding just three goals in total.
Amongst the Dons’ seven January games were impressive away wins at play-off hopefuls Portsmouth and Wycombe Wanderers as well as a home victory over rivals AFC Wimbledon at Stadium MK.
“I’m honoured to receive this award but it wouldn’t have been possible without the dedication and hard work of our staff as well the players, of course, performing on a matchday,” said Manning after receiving his second Manager of the Month award this season.
“We have a team-first mentality at MK Dons because we know the only way we will be able to enjoy sustainable success is by working together and believing in each other.
“January had its challenges due to the transfer window but the players and staff remained focused and avoided all distractions, and were able to, ultimately, deliver on the pitch with some important results.
“Those results have put us in a good spot with just over a quarter of the season left to play but we will continue to take each game as it comes. There are still lots of points to be won however our focus is only on Saturday’s fixture with Ipswich Town.”
Manning was shortlisted alongside Michael Appleton (Lincoln City), Mark Bonner (Cambridge United) and Leam Richardson (Wigan Athletic).
He is the fourth man in charge of MK Dons to win multiple EFL Manager of the Month awards in the same season, following on from Paul Ince (October 2007, December 2007, April 2008), Roberto Di Matteo (November 2008, April 2009) and Karl Robinson (January 2015, April 2015).
Former MK Dons manager Danny Wilson chairs the Sky Bet Manager of the Month judging panel. He said: “Games came thick and fast for Liam’s team in January, so squad management was paramount.
"He embraced this brilliantly and after seven games returned home with 14 points and a spot the Play-Off positions.”
Sky Sports’ EFL pundit Don Goodman said: “The Dons have promotion on their minds and a strong January from Liam Manning’s side has done plenty for their chances.
“Despite a busy schedule of seven games, MK Dons averaged two points per contest, keeping their cool and composure through one of the busiest – and most vital – periods of the season.”
Sky Bet EFL trader Ivor Davies said: “Liam Manning’s Milton Keynes Dons gained more points than any other team and saw them go from Play-Off hopefuls at 9/1 for promotion a month ago to realistic promotion contenders at 7/2 now with just over a quarter of the season remaining.
“A Championship team as recently as the 2015.16 season, the Dons do boast second-tier pedigree but with some bigger-name clubs in League One with much bigger budgets, they were expected to be mid-table at best this season. Finishing in the top six (8/13) would represent an excellent first season in charge for Manning.”
Meanwhile, Dean Lewington missed out on the Sky Bet League One Player of the Month honour.
Lewington was a key factor behind the Dons’ excellent defensive record in January but was pipped to the award by Rotherham United’s Michael Smith.