Is it really just about results? Are triumphs always tangeable?
Sometimes, it is easy to forget that there are more than 6 managers in the Premier league. This isn’t through any disrespect or indeed is done purposely, it is purely down to the sheer amount of airtime the ‘big 6’ club’s get on our tv screens these days. Every day you turn the TV on to see Conte, Klopp, Mourinho, Pep, Potch & Wenger sat in a press conference. However, there’s so much more to the Premier League...
Manager of the season is not just determined on who wins the title, who achieves their club’s target (ie Liverpool targeting Champions League football or Huddersfield surviving relegation.) For me, and for many others, it is about HOW these respective targets are achieved.. The style of play, how a manager can utilise his squad, his ability to juggle fixtures in busy periods, and perhaps most importantly how each manager can work within his given resources / restraints.
A lot has been made this season about Manchester City’s at times, outrageous football, and Liverpool’s ability to counter and destroy teams with their magnificent front 3. But, the Premier League is about much, much more than just the top 6 clubs, and for that reason 3 of my 5 manager of the season candidates come from clubs outside of the top 6, and here's why...
My 5 candidates
Rafa Benitez - Newcastle
What Rafa has achieved with that squad is nothing short of outstanding. Basically zero spending and let's be honest a Championship squad with the exception of 2 or 3. The St. James Park faithful expect hard work and passion if nothing else. Something Rafa seems to have instilled in his squad, who with some real investment could be a real force to be reckoned with in the top 10 if they keep hold of Rafa. With a world class manager and a major investor, think Man City. Why not?
Sean Dyche - Burnley
What can you say? Little Burnley have defied all the odds and are sitting pretty in 7th with only the ‘big 6’ above them. You literally cannot explain how good a job Dyche has done with Burnley, proof that sticking with your manager can pay dividends. They don’t play the most attractive football, their style is pretty straight forward and old-fashioned, but they are incredibly organised, in the main very defensively sound, and they have bucket loads of graft. Dyche has put his faith players who aren’t necessarily household names, but whom are very important to the way they play. The Clarets will now be praying that Man United, Spurs or Chelsea win the FA Cup, and providing they finish in 7th, this will land them in the Europa League. Who’d have thought it hey? Burnley in Europe? Dreamland!
Pep Guardiola - Man City
Okay they have unlimited funds and an unbelievable squad but has a Premier League team ever played football the way City have this season? Probably not. They have taken PL style and finesse to a new level. The problem Pep has is, with the unlimited money comes huge expectations, but there is no doubt that with Pep at the helm Man City look like they are going to take some catching and could dominate for the next few years at least.
Jürgen Klopp - Liverpool
A work in progress? Jürgen told the LFC fans to turn from doubters to believers and what the LFC faithful has witnessed this season with the devastating press and counter football has blown many away. Problem is for Liverpool fans, it is always ‘next year’ but there has been significant progress made this year. Jürgen’s style is very much all or nothing, some would say this is Klopp’s only real negative, but there record against the top 6 once again this season has been fantastic. It is fair to say Liverpool FC under Jürgen Klopp are definitely going places.
Chris Hughton - Brighton & Hove Albion
Special mention to Hughton, by rights BHAFC had no chance of staying in the league, and with just 6 games left Hughton has them in 13th 7pts above the drop zone. An unbelievable achievement for the south east club! Purely staying in the Premier League was the remit for Hughton, but there's a certainly a class about the Brighton manager that a lot of people within football respect and admire.
So to summarise..
Given the bast amounts of money in the Premier league these days, I find it very refreshing that managers / coaches like Sean Dyche & Rafa Benitez are managing to squeeze out every ounce of quality, game-management and most importantly good old fashioned hard work. All this on a fraction of the budget of their colleagues in the ‘big 6’. On the same token, their must always be a special mention for Eddie Howe. Perhaps he has now taken Bournemouth as far as he can given the finances at the south east club, but what an amazing job the young coach has done there.
That being said, Burnley are no longer just fighting to remain a Premier League club, and are incredibly dreaming of being a European club, and for that reason my manager of the season is, Sean Dyche.