With the final round of Football League fixtures taking place this weekend, Beagrie has named his Player, Manager and Game of the Season from the Championship, League One and League Two.
Player of the Season – Danny Ings
Just edging out Derby’s Craig Bryson, Burnley striker Ings is my man in the Championship.
After a couple of seasons of little or no football due to serious injury, the frontman is certainly rehabilitated and rejuvenated. The loss of scoring sensation Charlie Austin could have been fatal to Burnley but Ings’ 25 goals in a 46-goal partnership with Sam Vokes has guaranteed the Clarets a return to the Promised Land.
His pace, movement and thirst for work have tested every Championship defence and the Premier League is the next stop for a man on a mission who is determined to make up for lost time.
Manager of the Season – Sean Dyche
Apologies to Nigel Pearson and Uwe Rosler, particularly if the dedicated German triumphs with Wigan in the play-offs, but my vote goes to The Ginger Mourinho.
Burnley were one of the bookies’ favourites for a season of struggle but Dyche’s pragmatism and man-management has given a group of good players the belief and structure to become a great Championship team.
A model of consistency with partnerships all over the pitch, Burnley have defied the odds on an absolute shoestring. Only 25 players have been used but striking back-up came in just at the right time in Ashley Barnes, while Dyche’s side features no egos but plenty of personality and spirit. Just like the man himself.
Game of the Season – Derby 4-4 Ipswich
This was significant in that it was the first match after the sacking of Nigel Clough and because of a motivational half-time speech by incoming boss Steve McClaren as County trailed 4-1.
Derby’s troops rallied to a draw with an 88th-minute equaliser from Bryson and continued to climb from 14th place and 12 points to their current lofty position of third with 84 points.
Player of the Season – Carl Ikeme
There have been many outstanding performers in the third tier of English football, with Sam Baldock, Kieran Agard, Callum Wilson and Britt Assombalonga’s striking prowess there for all to see and applaud but I have picked table-topping Wolves’ giant stopper, Carl Ikeme.
Wanderers’ last line of defence has been worth his weight in gold if not goals, making vital saves in the early stages of games that the Molineux men have then gone on to dominate and win.
For all their craft, creativity and considerable threat in the final third, it is Ikeme who has been the solid foundation that this sensational season has been built upon.
Manager of the Season – Kenny Jackett
A late bid by Nigel Clough and an outstanding season for many teams – none more so than little Leyton Orient, who have been phenomenal in the circumstances – but what Jackett has done under great pressure and scrutiny at Wolves gets my vote.
He has produced, on the back of successive relegations, a predominantly young and attacking team, while he has also managed to sort the wheat from the chaff, offloading senior pros affected by the negativity of the past two campaigns and replacing them with hungry and talented footballers.
Kenny knows League One inside out and, more importantly, what it takes to get out of it, and he has used various systems and taken maximum advantage of the loan market, too.
Michael Jacobs and James Henry have added creativity and individuality to supplement Bakary Sako and while the sale of Leigh Griffiths to Celtic could have given Jackett a major headache, he beat several managers to the signature of Nouha Dicko, who has been an instant hit with the Molineux faithful and will be a sure-fire success in the Championship.
Well done Kenny and the Wanderers.
Game of the Season – Coventry 4-4 Preston
A goal-fest at Sixfields which was brilliant for fans and neutrals alike but enough to send managers grey and prematurely bald.
I would like to offer a case for the defence but neither side had one, instead concentrating on all-out attack.
Both Coventry and Preston scored in time added on in the second half, with North End thinking they had stolen the three points when Chris Humphrey netted, only to see Mathieu Manset break their hearts and leave honours even.
Player of the Season – Gary Roberts
The outstanding individuals in League Two have been Scunthorpe’s Sam Winnall, Rochdale’s Scott Hogan and my choice, Chesterfield’s Roberts.
Roberts was a marquee signing at this level for the Spireites and has consistently provided moments of magic to either score or assist his team-mates.
A wonderfully balanced player with a wand of a left foot, the 30-year-old’s craft and guile has taken Chesterfield to automatic promotion and repaid manager Paul Cook’s faith in him.
Manager of the Season – Nigel Worthington – possibly!
I am going to have to sit on the fence and wait until the end of the play-offs as if York are victorious, Worthington will definitely deserve the League Two gong.
The top four sides are not a surprise – Scunthorpe, Chesterfield, and Fleetwood have the strongest squads and biggest budgets, while Rochdale play the most attractive football – while fifth-placed Burton went close last term and seventh-placed Southend have threatened to escape the third tier for years.
Sixth-placed York, on the other hand, still contain many non-League players in their squad and after successfully steering the Minstermen clear of relegation danger last season, Worthington has improved them considerably this.
I think his achievement is even greater than that of Russ Wilcox at Scunthorpe, who led my old side to a 28-game unbeaten run and promotion.
Game of the Season – Fleetwood 5-4 Mansfield
This Fylde Coast thriller left everybody in the ground, including the referee, breathless and is my game of the season.
Fleetwood went ahead after 18 seconds, with Gareth Evans finishing off a flowing move, but were then 2-1 down after 13 minutes and that set the tone for the rest of the game.
Mansfield more than played their part and looked like heading back to Nottinghamshire with a brilliant point after Ross Dyer leapt on to a spilled Sam Clucas strike to bring parity on 89 minutes.
But Fleetwood poured forward and Antoni Sarcevic converted a last-gasp penalty to ensure he got three goals and his side got three points. We saw a soccer spectacular featuring lots of bright young things, great attacking football, and reasons why Fleetwood came so close to automatic promotion.