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Six contenders to win Premier League Manager of the Year 2021/22

Guardiola Klopp

We are now fully engrossed in that crunch stage of the season where managers come under the spotlight more than ever.

Yes, a few bosses may already be dreaming of Piña Coladas and Canapés on the beach this summer, but for others there’s still everything to play for: the title race, top-four, Europe, top-10, survival, and even their futures.

When it comes to identifying the Premier League Manager of the Season, there’s usually a stand-out candidate. Like Pep Guardiola when Man City romped to the title last season or Jurgen Klopp when he created Premier League history at Liverpool.

In fact, if you win the title, there’s a pretty good chance that you’ll also get your mitts on the LMA Premier League manager award too; something which has happened in 24 of the last 28 seasons, and the last seven in a row.

Last 10 LMA Premier League Manager of the Year Winners

  • 2012: Alan Pardew (Newcastle)
  • 2013: Sir Alex Ferguson (Man Utd)
  • 2014: Tony Pulis (Crystal Palace)
  • 2015: José Mourinho (Chelsea)
  • 2016: Claudio Ranieri (Leicester City)
  • 2017: Antonio Conte (Chelsea)
  • 2018: Pep Guardiola (Man City)
  • 2019: Pep Guardiola (Man City)
  • 2020: Jürgen Klopp (Liverpool)
  • 2021: Pep Guardiola (Man City)

It could well be the same again this year as two of the best managers on the planet once again go head-to-head in a tantalisingly tense title race. Or could it be different this time around?

There’s always a slight chance that a manager is awarded for other achievements, such as Tony Pulis (2014) when he led Crystal Palace to their highest ever top flight standing and Alan Pardew at 5th-placed Newcastle (2012). So, while it does appear to be a two-manager race right now, we can’t rule anybody else out just yet.

Anyway, enough of the chit-chat, here are The Sack Race's own six contenders to scoop the annual honour…

Note: The LMA Premier League Manager of the Year award is voted by fellow professional managers

Football Tips
Pep Guardiola_743795

Pep Guardiola (Man City)

Titles may be the norm for a manager who has won the league in nine of his previous 12 seasons as a manager - La Liga (3), Bundesliga (3), Premier League (3) - but given that it's Man City's only remaining chance of silverware this season you get the feeling it would mean the world to Pep Guardiola to claim his tenth this month, especially given the extreme and relentless competition from friendly nemesis Jurgen Klopp.

On the three occasions Guardiola has won the Premier League he’s also been crowned the LMA Premier League Manager of the Year. If Man City do eventually pip Klopp's clan to the post then a fourth title in England will draw Guardiola alongside Kenny Dalglish, and above famous faces such as Bill Shankly, Jose Mourinho, Arsene Wenger, and Stan Cullis, while it would surely result in another individual LMA honour.

Most English Top-Flight Titles

  • 13 - Sir Alex Ferguson
  • 6 - George Ramsay | Bob Paisley
  • 5 - Tom Watson | Matt Busby | Herbert Chapman
  • 4 - Kenny Dalglish
  • 3 - Pep Guardiola | Jose Mourinho | Arsene Wenger | Billy Shankly | Stan Cullis

There are no weaknesses in Pep's Man City side, who have only been defeated three times in the league, responding in style each time. The strength in depth, especially going forward, remains extraordinary as is the manner in which Guardiola has negotiated the playing time of his top talents. We've yet not, however,  seen the best of £100m Jack Grealish but history shows us that it can take time to shine in this stellar squad of stars.

Jurgen Klopp_427227

Jurgen Klopp (Liverpool)

Liverpool have peaked at the perfect time. The relentlessly rampant Reds have already bagged the League Cup and remain bang in the mix for an unprecedented and utterly outrageous quadruple.

Jurgen Klopp’s side have admirably bounced back from what was a deflating and fatiguing end to last season, a season in which they finished 17 points adrift of winners Man City and, remarkably, five behind Man Utd. 

Klopp has recruited brilliantly in Ibrahima Konaté and Luis Díaz, adding more sparkling quality to an already excellent squad who are now as effective in hammering down low blocks as they are in slicing teams open through rip-roaring counter-attacks.

Liverpool are simply a joy to watch and it will be some effort if they do manage to claim their second title in three seasons, especially given that they were 14 points adrift of Man City in January, albeit with two games in hand, and have two cup finals on the horizon.

Thomas Frank_330567

Thomas Frank (Brentford)

While we’ll be surprised if either Pep or Klopp don’t win the award, you can’t get away from the outstanding job Thomas Frank has done at Brentford. 

Many predicted that the Premier League new boys would struggle and suffer an instant return to the Championship, such has been the case for the two teams that beat them to automatic promotion last season: Norwich and Watford. In contrast, Frank has more than proven he has what it takes to wine and dine at the Premier League's superstar-crammed managerial table.

Just ask Thomas Tuchel whose Chelsea side were pummelled 4-1 on their own patch, or Mikel Arteta who was outclassed in the season-opener. Jurgen Klopp's Liverpool were clawed back in a thrilling 3-3 duel, while Frank has twice outwitted David Moyes.

Just like the animated Frank on the touchline, on the pitch his side play with buckets of energy. Throw in dollopings of risk, adventure and excitement, and you can see why they have caused so many clubs problems.

Brentford have had their testing moments of course, this is the Premier League we're talking about here. They endured a particularly troubling start to 2022 yet stuck to their guns - Frank deserves huge credit for luring over Christian Eriksen - and recently hit the 40-point mark with four games to spare.

Whisper it quietly…they could even still finish in the top-10.

Eddie Howe_1

Eddie Howe (Newcastle)

10 games into his Newcastle tenure and Eddie Howe - who had been out of work for 18 months - had claimed just one win against fellow strugglers Burnley, leading to criticisms that his appointment had back-fired. 

Fast-forward to May and Eddie Howe now finds himself in with a chance of being crowned the Premier League’s Manager of the Year - he previously scooped the overall LMA award in 2015 after he propelled Bournemouth into the top-flight.

The Toon’s turnaround has been pretty spectacular. At the time of writing they’ve won 10 league games in 2022 alone - more than the entirety of 2021 (eight) - which is up there with the likes of Liverpool and Man City.

There’s no getting away from the fact that Howe had cash to splash in January - the most in Europe - yet the money was invested shrewdly on the likes of Dan Burn, Bruno Guimarães, Keiran Trippier, Matt Targett, and Chris Wood who have all played key roles in Newcastle’s turnaround. So much so that a top-10 finish appears increasingly likely.

It's not just been a case of throwing money at players and hoping they gel together, instead Howe's coaching credentials have shone through, particularly from a defensive perspective. He's also improved players he inherited, such as Joelinton and Jonjo Shelvey.

More importantly is the way in which the former Bournemouth boss has galvanised a frustrated fanbase which was at an absolute nadir under Steve Bruce. St James' Park is buzzing again.

David Moyes West Ham

David Moyes (West Ham)

So often when a team shakes up the top order they then fail to back this up the following year. This can be due to a variety of reasons; having players pinched, dealing with more games on the schedule, and rivals strengthening in the transfer window.

Yet West Ham have proved that last season was no fluke at all. They don’t have the strength in depth or spending power of those teams around them, but for the majority of the campaign they were in the top-four conversation. They still have a chance of securing a second successive top-six finish, which would be admirable since they’ve juggled domestic duties with a stunning surge to the Europa League semi-finals: they've played 50+ games so far with a pretty small squad.

There's been no Jesse Lingard either this time around, and only one recognised striker. However, Declan Rice could well now be considered amongst the top midfielders in the league, while Jarrod Bowen has become Moyes' key cog in attack. If only the hierarchy had backed Moyes in January…

The Scot, who has previously won the outright LMA award on three occasions, will be wounded following the Europa League exit but can look back on another terrific campaign.

Graham Potter_1

Graham Potter (Brighton)

Graham Potter quietly continues to exceed expectations at Brighton who this season have already claimed their highest-ever Premier League points tally and could finish in the top-10 for the first time ever.

Despite losing £50m Ben White Brighton have a solid defensive record, there have been impressive away wins at Arsenal and Spurs, and a brilliant 2-2 draw at Anfield. "He is definitely [one of the best coaches]," Jurgen Klopp said in March. "I respect a lot what Graham is doing. I really hope that people here know what they have. 

"Between football people, Graham is really highly regarded. I like watching his team a lot, I don't like playing them too much. He's a really good one."

Brighton found things difficult during the opening 10 weeks of 2022 but have got back on track in recent weeks. As always, turning possession into goals has plagued them on numerous occasions, something Potter will be desperate to figure out going forward.

It's not been a spectacular season by any means but Potter’s seaside project continues to sail in the right direction, in the process elevating his own managerial reputation to new heights.

Premier League Odds

Round of Applause

Patrick Vieira has done an admirable job at Crystal Palace, transforming the club’s style, giving exciting young players the chance to shine, and even took four points off Pep Guardiola.

If Mike Jackson keeps Burnley up then he fully deserves to be in the mix for the award. He’s done an exceptional job since replacing Sean Dyche, resurrecting a club that appeared down and out.

Mikel Arteta’s Arsenal have been excellent on their day and are definitely heading down the right road, which could soon lead back to the Champions League.

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