Third time lucky for Parky?
IT WOULD be daylight robbery if Phil Parkinson was to miss out on the Coca-Cola League One manager-of-the-month award for the third month running.Colchester United boss Parkinson was in the frame to scoop the November and December awards, only to be pipped at the post by Doncaster's Dave Penney and Oldham's Ronnie Moore.
By Carl Marston
IT WOULD be daylight robbery if Phil Parkinson was to miss out on the Coca-Cola League One manager-of-the-month award for the third month running.
Colchester United boss Parkinson was in the frame to scoop the November and December awards, only to be pipped at the post by Doncaster's Dave Penney and Oldham's Ronnie Moore.
There was a strong case for Parkinson to have won both accolades, but it should be a case of third-time lucky today, when the manager-of-the-month for January is revealed.
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United won all seven of their fixtures during January, as part of a run of eight straight victories and a remarkable 18 wins from their last 20 matches. Results in cup competitions do not usually have a bearing on the outcome, but the U's could do no more than win all of their four league fixtures.
Parkinson presided over home league successes against Nottingham Forest, Bristol City and Port Vale, and a 2-0 away win at Walsall. This propelled the Essex club to top spot in League One, until their continued interest in cup competitions enabled rivals Southend to jump above them - the U's have two games in hand over the Shrimpers, and are only two points adrift.
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No other League One club can boast a 100% record during January. The next best is Southend, who remained unbeaten during the last month, with three league wins over Oldham, Brentford and Swindon, and two away draws at Blackpool and Tranmere.
Draw specialists Chesterfield were also unbeaten for their five league games last month, though Roy McFarland's side drew three of those.
Parkinson, therefore, looks odds-on to be named the top League One manager for January. He won this accolade on a couple of occasions during his first year in charge at Layer Road, in March 2003 and September 2003.
In addition to Penney and Moore, the other League One managers to have scooped awards this season have been Huddersfield's Peter Jackson (August), Southend's Steve Tilson (September) and Barnsley's Andy Ritchie (October).
Meanwhile, the U's will be putting all the cup excitement to one side as they concentrate on this Saturday's home league game against mid-table Bradford City.
All talk this week has been of the U's lucrative FA Cup fifth-round tie, at either Chelsea or Everton, following their fourth-round victory over Derby County (3-1) last weekend, and the subsequent televised draw on Monday.
Colchester's trip to either Stamford Bridge or Goodison Park will be screened live on Sky TV on Sunday, February 19 (kick-off 4pm).
Parkinson's men also have an LDV Vans Trophy southern area final to look forward to, against fellow League One high-fliers Swansea City. The first leg will be at Swansea's Liberty Stadium on Tuesday, February 21.
And yet the league remains the priority. The U's may never have a better chance of winning promotion to the Championship, so Parkinson has instructed his players to remain tight-lipped about the cup distractions.