Report Card for Premier League Managers, 2012-2013 Season

Now that the 2012-13 Premier League season is over, it’s time to grade the performances this season by the Premier League managers. Like a regular school report card, if a manager receives a grade worse than a C-, then that manager should be sacked.

Sir Alex Ferguson, Manchester United: Alex Ferguson’s last campaign was a resounding success. The outgoing boss strangled the Premier League from the first month of the season, steering a steady ship while his title rivals flailed in the midst of controversy and rumor. The league season was a perfect showcase of Ferguson’s drive and control – and the burning desire that spurred him on his whole career. Sir Alex deserves credit for the coup of signing Robin van Persie that all but won the league, and tightening up United’s defense after the turn of the year. Ferguson will be disappointed with his final exit from Europe, but there was no better time for him to retire. His departure was handled with poise and punctuated with power. Simply the best. Ever. A

Roberto Mancini, Manchester City: Sort of like Jose Mourinho at Real Madrid, Mancini wore out his welcome among the players at the club. On the field, City were a grave disappointment, too often playing sluggish football devoid of real cohesion or energy. Mancini himself burned far too many bridges – both with players and the board, while his penitent for sending messages through the press was not appreciated by the club hierarchy. With his departure, more tears will be shed by supporters than people inside the club. That isn’t to say what Mancini did for City is minimized, and he’ll always have a special place at the club, but it was time for him to go. D

Rafael Benitez, Chelsea: On the field, Rafa Benitez’s reign at Chelsea was mediocre. He did achieve the goals – mainly, Champions League qualification and a trophy – that were set out for him when he took the job, but Benitez’s Chelsea wilted from the league title race, were poor in big games – two domestic cup semi-final losses – and Benitez failed to install any clear strategy or direction into the team. But this marriage was never about on-field performance. Of course, some of the abuse Benitez took at Stamford Bridge was excessive and mean, but an apology from Benitez for what he said about the club’s fans when he was at Liverpool would have cooled temperatures. The apology never came, and it was obvious that Chelsea was just a stepping-stone job for Benitez, to get his name back in the managerial pinwheel. Fans will never accept a manager cut out more for their CV than the club. Benitez was also incredibly self-promoting – taking all the credit for the team’s successes, and not taking any responsibility for the team’s failures, underlined by the rant at Middlesbrough when Benitez blamed the fans, the owner, his agents, the board, the players, the spirits, the universe, and the galaxy for all his problems at Chelsea. He may very well have been fired even if he was not, “The Interim One”. C

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