Managers Of The Year, 2009-10

Yesterday’s tale of managerial woe must have been quite depressing for many.

Fortunately plenty of managers have sprinkled the season with stardust this year and what better place to start with than Roy Hodgson! The man who took Inter to the UEFA Cup final and Switzerland to the last 16 of the World Cup. His first fraught season at Fulham was marked by an initial run of 9 points from 13 league games, and survival on the last day thanks to coming back from 2-0 down, to win 3-2 against Man City. But this year has been Hodgson’s year – with Fulham’s fairy tale taking them across 32,000 miles, and past Juventus, Shaktar Donetsk, Hamburg and Wolfsburg, amongst others. And though the final prize eluded them, it’s to his and Fulham’s credit that they had much of the neutral world rooting for them.

At the other end, we had Carlo Ancelotti, who came with a reputation and managed to enhance it. Not only did he secure a historic double for Chelsea, he also had them playing with flair that Mourinho could only have dreamt of! With over 100 goals scored in the league and opposition teams dispatched by margins of 6, 7 or even 8 goals, Ancelotti has given Chelsea fans a season to remember.

Jose Mourinho might have sealed his place in the history books yet again by guiding Inter to their first Champs League final for over 30 years – they go in favourites to win it – and a decent chance of securing a historic treble, the first 2 of which are already in the bag. And close on Mourinho’s heels must be Lois Van Gaal, who has modelled his Bayern Munich side on the  Barcelona style of football which saw them conquer Manchester United and Lyon, and could make history yet. And another manager who we must grudgingly pay tribute to is Qique Sanchez Flores – who guided Atletico to the new Europa League Trophy despite winning just 3 matches along the way! Atleti are also in the Copa Del Rey final where they could conceivably pip Sevilla to their second piece of Silverware in the year! A final manager to impress in Spain this year has been the unsung Unai Emery. With Valencia’s financial difficulties as routine a story every summer as Wenger’s discovery of unknown talent, this season has seen Valencia climb above the usually efficient Sevilla, into 3rd spot. Further down the La Liga, Michel at Mallorca and Gregorio Manzano at Getafe have both done terrific jobs with the latter denied a Champs League place by an injury time winner by Sevilla!

But as far as redemption stories go, how can we look beyond Steve “Shteve” McClaren? Once written off as the Wally with the Brolly after his disastrous reign as England manager ended with elimination from the Euro 2008 qualifiers. McClaren won the Eredivisie this year with FC Twente – the club’s first League trophy ever, and he has been plucked by Wolfsburg to try his hand at the Bundesliga next year. Another EPL reject did an excellent job at Roma this year. Ranieri, sacked by Juve in 2009, exacted revenge by taking Roma to 6 places above Juve, just falling short of pipping Mourinho’s Inter. Another managerial success story in the Serie A is Gigi Del Neri, who took Sampdoria into the Champions League but his prize will be starting outside the top four next year as the manager of Juventus.

Mourinho might be headed to Real Madrid, but our last pick for a managerial success comes from the Bernabeu. The Real Madrid job is arguably the impossible job in football. In a club where politics and power invariably overshadow football, and where the manager is often a figurehead, caught between player-power and presidential whim, Pellegrini has managed to break some records even if he didn’t win the Liga or get Madrid any closer to the Champions League quarter-finals. He has made some hard choices, which have included sacrificing Benzema and Kaka, 2 of Perez’s big summer buys in favour of the less fancied Higuain and Granero and gotten results. A mere 3 points short of Barca and at an astonishing 96 points with 102 goals scored, its hard to imagine that Pellegrini could have done much better in his first year.

So that’s our list of winners for the 09-10 season! What did you think?

Football Quote “FQuote” for the day: Brian Clough “I wouldn’t say I’m the best manager, but I’m in the top one”

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