Yorkshire football's 2023-24: The managerial magic, pivotal players, special signings and boardroom blunders

Leeds United's play-off final defeat to Southampton brought the curtain down on a club season which has not been great for Yorkshire.

Premier League Sheffield United and Championship Rotherham United and Huddersfield Town were relegated and despite League One Barnsley and League Two Doncaster Rovers also making the play-offs none of our 11 sides won promotion.

There were still highs to celebrate amongst the lows as we look back on the ups and downs of 2023-24 in the White Rose county by dishing out some bouquets and brickbats.

Premier League player of year: Jack Robinson

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In a miserable Sheffield United season the centre-back stepped up with the determination and leadership too many team-mates lacked to enhance his reputation even as a fixture in statistically the worst defence in Premier League history.

Championship: Ethan Ampadu

Crysencio Summerville got the league award but Leeds' big strength was the central defensive combination of Joe Rodon and Ampadu, who edges it for being brilliant in midfield in the first half of 2023-24.

League One: John McAtee

CHAMPIONSHIP STARS: But Leeds United's Archie Gray, Ethan Ampadu, Crysencio Summerville and Joe Rodon missed out on promotionCHAMPIONSHIP STARS: But Leeds United's Archie Gray, Ethan Ampadu, Crysencio Summerville and Joe Rodon missed out on promotion
CHAMPIONSHIP STARS: But Leeds United's Archie Gray, Ethan Ampadu, Crysencio Summerville and Joe Rodon missed out on promotion

On loan from Luton Town, the Barnsley playmaker sparkled off Devante Cole with 15 goals and kept his form when the top-scorer lost his. Mael de Gevigney impressed too in his first English season.

League Two: Owen Bailey

Doncaster Rovers’ midfield ever-present was a key figure after his free transfer from Gateshead, pushed very hard by one of his team-mates (more on him later) and Bradford City right-back Brad Halliday.

Young player: Archie Gray

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FREE TRANSFER: Joe Ironside passed 20 goals with Doncaster RoversFREE TRANSFER: Joe Ironside passed 20 goals with Doncaster Rovers
FREE TRANSFER: Joe Ironside passed 20 goals with Doncaster Rovers

Marked out by Marcelo Bielsa as a 15-year-old, namedropped by Gareth Southgate in March and with a heavy name to wear on the back of a Leeds shirt, Gray was unflustered whether in central midfield, in the hole or most often at right-back.

Had he not broken through so late, Sheffield United's Oliver Arblaster would have pushed him, and Rav van den Berg overcame a tough start to excel at Middlesbrough.

Old player: Jonny Howson

PUNCHING ABOVE HIS WEIGHT: Sheffield Wednesday manager Danny Rohl was outstandingPUNCHING ABOVE HIS WEIGHT: Sheffield Wednesday manager Danny Rohl was outstanding
PUNCHING ABOVE HIS WEIGHT: Sheffield Wednesday manager Danny Rohl was outstanding

Why give all the credit to the kids? Boro captain Howson starred at 35, at one point as an emergency centre-back. Sheffield Wednesday's Liam Palmer and Doncaster's Richard Wood also showed if you are good enough, you are young enough.

Manager: Danny Rohl

Took over a Sheffield Wednesday team that even in October looked as good as relegated and won 50 points in 35 games despite a slow start.

Caretaker: Jon Worthington

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Got 22 per cent of Huddersfield Town’s wins (two) in three games.

Best summer signing: Joe Ironside

TWEET TWIT: Huddersfied Town owner/chairman Kevin NagleTWEET TWIT: Huddersfied Town owner/chairman Kevin Nagle
TWEET TWIT: Huddersfied Town owner/chairman Kevin Nagle

Twenty-four goals and he did not cost Doncaster a penny.

Best mid-season signing: Fabio Carvalho (Hull City)

Ike Ugbo's early six-goal burst was crucial for Wednesday and whilst fellow loanee Carvalho ultimately did not make the difference in Hull's play-off push, he did all he could.

Masterstroke: Grant McCann “resetting” the League Two table in February

Result: 43 points from 18 games, seven more than next-best Wrexham from 19, and into the play-offs.

Best decision: Sacking Xisco Munoz and bringing in Rohl

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If only Dejphon Chansiri had preferred the German when he interviewed both last summer.

Worst decision: Huddersfield moving on Neil Warnock

Sixteenth then, three managers later, Town are in League One.

Worst timing: Neill Collins’ sacking

Fifth with a game left, Barnsley thought they could get Dominik Thalhammer a work permit for the play-offs. The Home Office did not.

Most unheralded success: Harrogate Town

Their highest Football League finish (13th in League Two) and biggest points tally (63).

Biggest disappointment: Anel Ahmedhodzic

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The thought of the centre-back stepping up to the Premier League was exciting but he struggled badly.

Costliest injury: Liam Delap

If only the on-loan Manchester City striker had not missed three months of Hull’s season.

Patience award: Doncaster fans and board (shared)

Twenty-second in League Two after 28 games would have got many managers sacked but they recognised what they had in McCann.

Most depressing sacking: Liam Rosenior

Acun Ilicali binning Rosenior after just missing the play-offs because of Hull’s style of play. No wonder so few managers show loyalty.

Worst use of social media: Kevin Nagle

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The Terriers owner’s tweets browned off Warnock and undermined his successor, Darren Moore.

PR gaffe: Dejphon Chansiri

No one can compete with the chutzpah of a multi-millionaire asking 20,000 fans to cough up £100 each to pay the bills at Hillsborough.

Indecision... no, uncertainty of the season: Rotherham board

Tony Stewart was talked out of appointing Steve Evans in December to think long-term with coach Leam Richardson and director of football Rob Scott. After 27 games and relegation Richardson was out, Scott demoted, Evans manager and it is all about the short-termism of promotion.

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