Monday, 2 April 2012

The Less Fashionable Managers are Setting the Trend

When the manager of the year award gets handed out at close of play - Sir Alex Ferguson will be pretty close to top of mind again this season.

And deservedly so.

Should he take this team to their 20th league title, it would be enough to win him the MOTY award 9 times out of 10.

But while his usual competitors for the crown are nowhere to be seen, it’s the less fashionable names that will come closest to knocking him of his perch.

The Chelsea manager, the Arsenal manager and the Liverpool manager will be more focused on trying to keep their jobs than winning the manager award.

And while Manchester City’s manager would usually have a shout if he took his club to second place, he will now see that as a failure considering the amount he has invested in the squad.

Instead, this seasons contenders will come from managers punching above their weight.

They may not have come close to winning any trophies.

They certainly didn’t do well in Europe.

But they did all exceed expectations at theirs clubs this season.

Who would have thought Brendan Rodgers would be 3 points behind Liverpool after 31 games.

Same can be said of Paul Lambert and his Norwich side.

Both only promoted to the Premier League this season.

And should Blackburn survive then Steve Kean should get an honourable mention.

But for me the MOTY so far has to be Alan Pardew at Newcastle.

Many people scoffed at Alan’s appointment just over a year ago.

Especially considering Chris Hughton had been doing such a good job.

Alan had relative success at teams like West Ham United and Reading but never had he the chance to work at a club the size of Newcastle United.

The club was in a sordid mess since Mike Ashley had began his reign and the way he treated Chris only fuelled belief that things would continue in the same vein.

Alan comes in on a 5 and a half year contract as a show of stability from Mike and all most people could think was - that’s going to be a big payday when he gets fired.

Not only does Alan have to deal with the circus that surrounds Mike but over the coming months and subsequent summer he had to watch arguably the 4 best performers of last season leave the club.

Andy Carroll and Jose Enrique headed to Anfield.

Joey Barton left for Queens Park Rangers.

And club captain Kevin Nolan joined up with West Ham United.

Take the top 4 performers out of any side and they would struggle, let alone an average team like Newcastle were.

Alan had other ideas though.

He wanted to put his own stamp on the club.

The talent in the departing 4 was obvious.

But there was a question mark over the character of at least 3 of them.

Alan obviously felt the juice wasn’t worth the squeeze and aimed to spend the transfer fees recouped on players he wanted at the club.

Demba Ba was picked up on a free transfer.

Demba has scored 16 goals in 26 games so far.

£9m was spent on Papiss Demba Cissé to partner him up front.

Papiss has scored 7 from 7 so far.

Add to this a central midfield partnership of Cheick Tioté with Yohan Cabaye and the team that Alan built was really starting to take shape.

So much so, that after 31 games, Alan finds himself level on points with Chelsea in 5th place.

Still in with a shout of a Champions League place.

And well clear of the chasing pack for European spots.

It’s a remarkable turnaround for a team only promoted to the Premier league last season.

Even more remarkable considering Mike Ashley is still in charge.

Alas, there is still a lot to play for this season.

And if Sir Alex does win the league title this season, it will be hard not to hand him the MOTY award.

But should Alan catch the 2 London clubs to secure Champions League football - the decision might not be so foregone...

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