Player of the Season: Nicky Ajose (Swindon Town)
I’ve picked Ajose because although he finished second in the goalscoring charts behind Will Grigg, he played in a side that didn’t have much to shout about this season.
A haul of 24 goals in a team that finished 16th is a pretty fine effort, even if a few were penalties. In addition, Ajose had easily the highest ratio of shots on target (72%) when compared to the other strikers in the goalscoring charts. Finally, his goals were scored at an average of just 138 minutes per strike; an exceptional record at any level.
Bradley Dack of Gillingham won the PFA Award for the division’s best player, but this was announced weeks before the end of the season. Whilst he’s undoubtedly a very good player, he couldn’t halt the Gills’ woeful end of season form that saw them drop from automatic promotion contenders to missing out on the play-offs altogether.
Going back to Ajose – he could be a man in demand this summer so it’ll be interesting to see whether the Robins can hang onto their leading marksman.
Manager of the Season: Gary Caldwell (Wigan Athletic)
Caldwell successfully guided the Latics to promotion at the first time of asking following last season’s relegation from the Championship.
This job was the Scotsman’s first managerial role and he deserves a lot of credit for guiding his team to the League One title.
Sure he had a large budget, including Premier League parachute payments, but Wigan were falling like a stone when he took over. To turn a club with a losing mentality around in the way he has is not easy, and in the end they were promoted quite comfortably.
Managers and head coaches of the other top six clubs also deserve credit. Had Burton and Walsall not lost their managers to bigger clubs during the season, they’d probably have pinched the award from Caldwell. Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink and Dean Smith both deserve huge credit for setting those clubs up for a great season, as do Nigel Clough and Jon Whitney for carrying on the good work.