With the end of the season, come end of the season awards. Player of the Year, Young Player of the Year, Team of the Year, they’re all great awards for the players that make the Premier League so great. There is one award that goes to the men that organize and instruct these players week in week out. The Manager of the Year Award. Talent only gets teams so far, look at Queen Park Rangers for a prime example of that. Managers are vital for teams maximizing their talent and are some of the most important people in the league. There are plenty of viable candidates for the award this season, but some are better than others. The top three candidates for me are Ronald Koeman, Alan Pardew, and Jose Mourinho.
First off is Ronald Koeman. The Dutchman was appointed this summer as Southampton was being forced to sell off the spine of their team. After selling Ricky Lambert, Dejan Lovren, Adam Lallana, Luke Shaw, and Calum Chambers, many had projected that the Saints would be in the relegation scrap this season. Koeman came in and actually improved the team. He and the board brought in more than adequate replacements and helped the sustain a serious challenge for the top four. Last season the team fell away from the upper reaches of the table around Christmas time. This season they were in the top four as late as February, and, if Arsenal win the FA Cup, will be in the Europa League. After selling off so many of the players that Koeman himself made a joke on Twitter about it, the Dutchman has guided his side to their highest ever Premier League points tally and their highest ever Premier League finish.
To many fans’ surprise, especially Newcastle fans, Alan Pardew is a legitimate candidate for Manager of the Year. After a terrible start with Newcastle, Pardew was able to get his team together and string five wins on the bounce, launching them into the European spots. After handing Chelsea their first loss of the season, the Magpies started to level off in the Christmas period. Despite the good run of form, Newcastle fans already had their minds made up about their manager and put him under relentless pressure. Eventually Pardew got an offer from Steve Parish to manage Crystal Palace. Newcastle got 26 points in 19 games under Pardew. Since he left, they have 10 points in 18 games and could be relegated on Sunday if results go against them. Since replacing Neil Warnock with the former Newcastle manager, Palace have been one of the form teams of the Premier League. After 17 points in their first 20 games, Palace have gained 28 points in 17 games under Pardew. For both the improvements he has made since taking over at Palace and the rapid decline in the fortunes of his old team, Pardew has a good case for manager of the season.
The final candidate is the most obvious one, Jose Mourinho. Chelsea walked the league this season under the guidance of the Portuguese manager. They are setting a new league record for most consecutive days at the top of the league and the London side have been by far the best team in the league. Chelsea winning the league isn’t exactly a surprise to anyone, but the way they have done it and the dominance they have shown should be commended. As much as many fans will have to admit it, Mourinho has done a great job with Chelsea this season and, despite not winning any manager of the month awards, has a very good case for manager of the season.
I’ll go with Jose Mourinho for manager of the season. He has orchestrated one of the most dominant league performances in Premier League history and has not let another team touch Cheslea’s dominance all season. It’s almost the boring choice because they won the league, but, considering the season they’ve had, it’s probably the right choice.