As the season comes to an end, the thoughts of some within football will now turn to who has been the Manager of the Year this season. With Luis Suarez clearly being the best player, the consensus on the best manager has not been as clear cut with a number of candidates have a strong argument to the award. This article looks at the prospective candidates and why they will be in with a chance of winning.
Brendan Rodgers (Liverpool)
Brendan Rodgers has a good chance of winning the award whether Liverpool win the league or not. The Liverpool manager has caught the vast majority of football fans by surprise this season by leading the Reds to a title challenge. Rodgers has already achieved Champions League qualification for the Reds, something they have been without for almost five seasons. Most impressive has been the way that Rodgers has altered his tactics for specific games in order to get some great results for his side.
Home wins against Arsenal, Manchester United, Manchester City and Everton all demonstrated his tactical ability. The fact he has been able to pair Luis Suarez and Daniel Sturridge together without many negative consequences must also be applauded. Rodgers has also been able to bring through young players such as Jon Flanagan and the impressive Raheem Sterling. If Liverpool do go on to win the league, Rodgers will be the favourite.
Manuel Pellegrini (Manchester City)
Manuel Pellegrini has had a relatively sturdy first season in charge at Manchester City. The Chilean was able to claim his first piece of silverware when City won the Capital One Cup in February. Since then, City have gone out of the FA Cup and Champions League, which have both been seen as disappointments. Despite this, a title win is still currently in City’s hands and if Pellegrini is able to win the league, it will be seen as a very successful season. City’s early season home form has become a distant memory in recent months, but prior to their loss at the hands of Chelsea they were devastating and playing fantastic attacking football. Whoever wins the league deserves to, even if on goal difference, so Pellegrini will definitely be in contention for the award if City are able to claim their second Premier League title.
Tony Pulis (Crystal Palace)
Tony Pulis may be a surprise name on this list as his team aren’t challenging for any honours, but the job that the Crystal Palace manager has done, has been nothing short of remarkable. The former Stoke City manager came to Selhurst Park at a time where the Eagles only had four points. In the next 25 games under Pulis they have managed to gain 36 points to take them to the magic points total of 40. When Pulis took over Palace were seen as already being down by some pundits, but Pulis brought organisation and desire to the Eagles.
Palace have kept 11 clean sheets in the 25 games that Pulis has been in charge. This is perhaps what has kept them up in the end, as a strong defence has allowed them to win many games by just the solitary goal. Notable recent victories against Chelsea and Everton have shown how far they have come. The position Palace now find themselves in means they could finish in the top half. If they manage to do that, much of that will be down to Pulis.
Steve Bruce (Hull City)
Steve Bruce is another manager with a team in the lower part of the table who is a potential candidate for the award. The Tigers were many pundits’ favourites for relegation at the start of the season, but they now only need one point to ensure survival. Bruce has made some excellent signings for Hull that has helped them to do well in the Premier League. In the summer he signed Tom Huddlestone and brought in Jake Livermore on loan from Tottenham. Both players gave the Tigers vital Premier League experience. In January he signed Shane Long and Nikica Jelavic, who have given Hull an added cutting edge. As well as almost assuring survival in the Premier League, Hull have also reached the final of the FA Cup. Steve Bruce has brought the city a chance of major silverware which they have never done before. These two achievements show the great job that Bruce has done this season. If they are able to win the FA Cup, he will be a strong contender.
Roberto Martinez (Everton)
Roberto Martinez has taken Everton to the next level this season. The former Wigan manager has given the top four a run for their money and although they may just fall short of Champions League qualification, the Toffees have come a long way in a short space of time. Many would not believe that somebody could do a better job than David Moyes managed to do in his tenure at Goodison Park, but Martinez has taken Everton a step further this season. Martinez has brought a footballing identity to the Toffees that all the players have bought into. This possession based game has got the best of many of Everton’s players and has been the reason for their excellent form. Martinez has brought through Ross Barkley this season, but he has also made full use of his squad by fielding exciting players like Gerard Duelofeu and Bryan Oviedo before his injury. With a better squad than he had at Wigan, Martinez has shown that tactically he is able to battle with some of the top Premier League teams. Even if Everton do not qualify for the Champions League, Martinez should still be a strong contender.