An Early Look at the Contenders for the Premier League Manager of the Season Award

The Premier League Manager of the Season award is always a contentious one. Whilst usually dominated by the manager of the league champions, there are often several contenders. Overachievers competing for Europe? The newly promoted side comfortable in mid table? Many managers situations can be looked upon favourably by fans and media alike.

This season for example, the league champions will be led by either Roberto Mancini or 10 time award winner Sir Alex Ferguson. Whoever comes out on top will be favourite for the award, and it will be an achievement for either. Mancini will have led an expensively assembled yet inexperienced in terms of title chases to victory over the masters of the craft, the team that look as though they could win titles in their sleep, led by the most decorated manager English football has ever seen. If Sir Alex wins it asserts his dominance once again, and puts another new challenger in their place, as he has done throughout his career.

Below the title chase you have Arsene Wenger. About a fortnight ago I wrote an article suggesting that the situation at Arsenal was close to dire straits, and that they needed a change. A good run since then has put them, with their skeleton squad, injury problems and horrific start, in prime position for automatic qualification to the Champions League.  Whilst I refuse to completely U-turn on that view, as they still look a long shot from trophy winners, his comeback this year deserves respect. Below that is 2010’s winner Harry Redknapp, the only English winner of the award in the league’s history, who kept Spurs hot on the heels of the top two for two thirds of the season, with his bargain group of stars that are dwarfed by the price of Liverpool and Chelsea’s signing over the past two windows. An outsider due to their recent struggles and that they have lost touch with the Manchester clubs, but a consideration nonetheless.

Outside of the top four lay Newcastle United, another bargain squad comfortably holding their own with two of the more expensively built squads, the faltering giants Chelsea and Liverpool. An achievement that is nothing less than stunning for journeyman manager Alan Pardew and his players. The sale of star striker Andy Carroll which at one time looked unambitious has turned out to be an inspired piece of business, considering the additions they have made. The shrewd signings of Demba Ba, one of the top marksman in the league, Yohan Cabaye — who has received nothing but rave reviews from all sources — and now the January addition of Papiss Cisse, whose short time in the north east has been lit up by a few highlight reel goals so far have turned so called relegation candidates into Europa League contenders. Their reluctance to fall away as many overachievers do in the second half of the season has made their season all the more impressive.

Of all the clubs promoted from the Championship, most will have expected QPR, with the financial backing of sports and airline tycoon Tony Fernandes to impress the most, with their signings of established Premier League players. However the opposite has occurred and it is they who struggle. Swansea, who lit up the Championship with Brendan Rogers’ style of attractive passing, has continued that on into the Premiership, where midfield anchorman Leon Brittain is in the same league as Xavi and Iniesta of Barcelona in terms of completed pass statistics. Their signings were cheap ones from abroad — i.e. star goalkeeper Michel Vorm, or from the championship such as Danny Graham up front. A home record to be proud of and a few big results against Manchester City and Arsenal have seen them comfortably making it into the notoriously difficult second season. They will be joined there by Norwich City, who under the stewardship of the shrewd Scot Paul Lambert have adapted to the Premier League in the same impressive manner that they did to League 1 and the Championship. More lower league signings and a willingness to stick with the players that got them there means that that they too have no worries of a fight to avoid the drop at this stage.

Honourable mentions also go to Martin O’Neill, who has turned a solid but uninspiring Sunderland side into exciting climbers, as he did years before with Aston Villa, and Blackburn Rovers’ Steve Kean, who received dogs abuse due to his side’s poor form for large parts of the season however will have to respected if he can lead them to safety after the loss of captain Chris Samba and his defensive partner Ryan Nelsen.

As mentioned this is an early look, as there is still football to be played this year and still important developments to unfold in front of us, both at the top and at the bottom, where it is particularly tight. However the surprising achievements of a few teams this year warrants the already wide array of potential nominees.

Who do you think should be named manager of the season at this current stage? Vote below, and share your opinions in the comments section underneath. And let us know if you think there are managers who weren’t included that you think should be contenders.

27 thoughts on “An Early Look at the Contenders for the Premier League Manager of the Season Award”

  1. Let’s be honest here; Sir Alex? Wenger? Really? Only on a fan site could an under performing Arsenal be up for manager of the year. Sure, they’ve had a good run of form, but only because they’re actually playing up to their skill.

    For me, it’s gotta be Brendan Rodgers, with Alan Pardew. Sure, I’m a sucker for clubs fighting above their weight class, but isn’t that what this is all about? Managers who know how to use what they have to get results? Not managers with super talented teams who show flashes of their brilliance every now and then.

    1. how many teams can lose their THREE f***ing best midfielders and hope to stay even?
      6 injured fullbacks at one point?
      This arse team finished 4th and basically was turned over during the summer-fall.
      if you finish 4th and lose THREE best offensive midfielders, chances are you are finishing 4th again.

      Most people in august gave them zero chance of getting that fourth spot simply because you can not lose 3 of your 4 offensive weapons and hope to stay at the same position. No team can.

      And as much as I despise the alcoholic scot, even I have to give him credit for this season.
      They lost Van Der Sar and replace him with not one but two green keepers (cmon, Lindergaard spendt 6 YEARS on the bench in Norway!!) so that is a HUGE loss, their defence is either feeble like Rio, or young-unproven, Evra is getting worse with age and their best defender was hurt.
      Their midfield is the very definition of mediocre (how many top euro teams would start any of these guys?) and bringing back the old guys only highlights a problem Fergie refuses to address (havent bought a central midfielder since 2007?)
      Rooney is what he is: plays well then disappears for long stretches, the top scorer in the league cant get a game but the forwards are the deepest of their four positional squads.
      United is a very, very mediocre team and Fergie gets all the blame for that (along with the Glazers) for spending less than Arsenal. He is responsible for putting this team together but he should get credit for getting the most out of them in England. They are NOT a world class team since they cant even beat 2nd tier euro teams and are worlds away technically from those teams. But in england, he has the touch because 12-14 of their games are against the english type teams, the Stokes, Sunderlands, Wolves, West Brom, Wigan, QPR, Bolton etc.
      Fergie knows how to beat these teams.
      And on paper, Citeh have two squads of international players and United shouldnt have been within sniffing distance of United.

    2. I’m inclined to give a lot of respect for Sir Alex, because he is probably going to win a league title without really (I’m sure I’ll get flamed for this) having a good team. Wenger has galvanized the situation well. I still think something isn’t quite right there though.

      For the record, Pardew and Rodgers would be my top two, in any order.

  2. Martin O’Neil has taken a team that was doing poorly and has used the exact same talent and turned the squad around in a massive way.

    I know Tony Pulis won’t get many plugs, but he led Stoke City to the second best English team performance in Europe, behind Chelsea.

  3. B Rodgers. most under appreciated manager is D Moyes hands down what he has done with no money is impressive for 10 flash just results.

  4. Hate to be repetitive, but for me it’s Rogers or Pardew. Given the expectations before the season started you’d be sitting pretty if you had laid a bundle on Swansea to stay up (as I’m sure The Gaffer did), let alone finish mid table.

    There are certainly sound arguments for others, but I always look at these kind of votes in terms of what was achieved with what was available.

  5. It should go to Alan Pardew. If Newcastle finish in a Champions League spot, unthinkable at the start of the season for them to finish in a European spot, or even finish in the top five it has to be Pardew.

    A seemingly unpopular appointment after the Chris Hughton fiasco he has steadied the ship and made Newcastle a respectable outfit. As the author mentioned, some very astute signings and Newcaslte have flourished under Pardew’s leadership.

    Brendan Rogers must be considered but Pardew has done more than keep Newcastle away from the relegation battle this year he has outmanaged both Andre Villas Boas and Kenny Dalglish. Let’s just think about that…

  6. After having lost Fabregas & Nasri right before the start of the season ( and not having Wilshere) all season most pundits didn’t think Arsenal would finish in the top 4. Even a two weeks sites like this were running articles that said Arsenal are better off without Arsene. What Arsene has done with Arsenal has been fantastic, that all being said I have to give Pardew credit if they qualify in a Europe spot.

    1. Are you kidding me? While I don’t believe Mancini should deserve the award he deserves a place on the list. This year he has managed some of the biggest personalities in football. First with the ever restless Adebayor and his move to Spurs. People still forget to remember that he also had to manage an discontent kolo toure coming out of a drug ban and dealing with Man city’s decision to fine him for defaming the team. His control over the two situations has been superb and allowed for almost no explosion in the dressing room. Furthermore the situation with tevez has even earned the praise of Sir Alex which is pretty hard. He has turned the situation from a land of no return to carlitos providing ever needed assist for the win against chelsea which was a make or break situation for Man city. Thus to say that managing man city requires no skill think again. I still don’t believe that he fully deserves the medal just yet but if he can pull out the league at the end of the season he definitely deserves an honorable mention.

      1. He’ll be on the list, Mancini, but it won’t be b/c he distinguished himself this year in a positive light.

        Mancini publicly stated Carlos Tevez was finished at the club. Not only did he go back on his word but he somehow managed to blow the lead they built up the entire season.

        Mancini has shown his true managerial colors this year for all to see.

        1. While Mancini did say Carlos would never come back, he made sure that after Carlos did come back he came back on mancinis terms. He made sure that tevez had no power whatsoever on the team. I disagree that Mancini has been shown in a negative light. He now has almost total control of arguably football’s biggest personality in balotelli. This season has revealed Mancini as a manager that can exert total control over the team. When he first took over the media was able to report fights almost every training session. This year nothing that bad has been reported in squad harmony.

          1. That’s just the issue. You can give a second chance but not after you tell the whole world a player will never play at the club again. The run in for City has gotten so bad, Mancini was forced to go back to the player he shunned.

            Should Tevez perform a miracle guess who loses a lot of power?

            Nothing bad happened this year except telling the captain of the team he’s no longer welcome until bringing him back in. Right.

          2. First of all Mancini said “if I have my way he will be out, He’s finished with me” so clearly he didn’t get his way and after having time to cool down and speaking to the owners then said if he apologised to him and the players etc then the matter could be put behind them. Tevez refused so Mancini said go and rot then, which he did for a while then he went on strike but gave in and apologised in the end as getting fined every month and no wages didnt seem to please him. So do try and get it right people eh!

            If Mancini wins the league besides it being a Miracle what with some of the decisions against and the luck shall we say of there rivals not to mention the constant snipping of the press while bigging up Utd as some sort of under dog heros while making a meal out of every City story no mater how trivial. Mancini will have more than deserved it as his team need to be more than twice as good as utd to even near win it! Failing that Miracle then it should goto Brendan Rodgers, if he keeps up current form that is.

  7. To Fernando. I disagree that City’s run in has gotten so bad that City really needed Tevez to come back. If you look at the results before Tevez’s introduction at Chelsea, City were on a great streak with a slight blip at lisbon and had a hangover on the trip to swansea. All credit to Brendan Rodgers who learned after that 4-0 loss to city at the beginning of the year, his team shut down every city attack and frustrated city. However city came back and showed their credentials with a superb comeback against lisbon without Tevez. City still have 2 on form strikers in Balotelli and Aguero who can fire in goals any game. I personally believe that Tevez is only back in the team to boost his sale value for the summer transfer window. Thus if Tevez does perform a miracle and helps city win the league it’s a win-win for city and tevez. City win the league and get a high transfer sum. Tevez will never be happy in Manchester or England and Mancini knows that now. Also by the time of Tevez’s exile Kompany had already been named the official club captain.

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