The Premier League released its six-strong shortlist for Manager of the Season on Thursday, with the curtain beginning to fall on yet another enthralling campaign in the English top flight.
With no more than two weeks to go until the end of the season, Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City are closing in on a historic treble, Newcastle are on the verge of securing Champions League qualification under Eddie Howe, and Brighton boss Roberto De Zerbi is still in with a shot of a European place at the Amex.
All three managers’ achievements have been recognised by the Premier League, who placed to trio alongside title-chasing Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta, Aston Villa manager Unai Emery and Fulham head coach Marco Silva on the esteemed shortlist.
There was, however, no room for Bournemouth’s Gary O’Neil or Wolves’ Julen Lopetegui, who have both masterfully steered their relegation-threatened sides clear of the drop and into mid-table.
Mail Sport’s writers have put forward their votes and explained why their pick should take home the Premier League’s Manager of the Season crown.
Title rivals Pep Guardiola (left) and Mikel Arteta (right) headline the Premier League’s Manager of the Season shortlist after excellent seasons with Manchester City and Arsenal respectively
JACK GAUGHAN – Pep Guardiola
There’s not a lot left to say about Pep Guardiola. Seven seasons into his reign, he is on the verge of lifting a fifth Premier League trophy, and his teams have always done so with style and a verve that very few can match. Certainly not for any great period of time.
This has not been an easy campaign by any stretch for Guardiola, who had to come up with new ways of playing when City just weren’t clicking after the World Cup.
Trusting Rico Lewis, reinventing John Stones and subtly altering the back three in possession are key reasons why City are set to finish top — and that is down to the tactical dexterity of their boss.
Unlike others across the division, Guardiola gets on with the job without complaining. The no-excuses mentality has served his team well over the years and this season is another fine example of that.
Manchester City manager Guardiola has overseen yet another remarkable season at the Etihad
IAN LADYMAN – Mikel Arteta
No title, no trophies but lots of credit and absolutely no evidence of his team bottling their joust with City at the top of the Premier League.
Last season, Arsenal finished fifth with 69 points. Same old, same old.
This time round they will finish with a total somewhere close to the 90 points accrued by Arsene Wenger’s ‘Invincibles’ in 2004.
That is just about the biggest compliment I can pay Arteta, who has brought a talented and committed young team to the boil after three-and-a-half years in the job. Welcome back to relevance, Arsenal.
Arteta must take huge credit for Arsenal’s superb Premier League title challenge this season
DOMINIC KING – Roberto De Zerbi
THIS, to be clear, is not a deliberate snubbing of Pep Guardiola. The way he has brought City to peak in this most remarkable season, with challenges that have never before been faced, has been a masterclass and he will surely win the LMA award.
But, as an alternative, De Zerbi has been outstanding in his debut campaign. In his first game against Liverpool, he set Brighton up to be adventurous and brave and got a 3-3 draw that should, really, have been a win. What you have seen from De Zerbi in the time since is a man who has made players improve in front of your eyes.
Brighton were already a good team but they have become superb and for him to be on the cusp of doing something that has never been done in their history — leading them into Europe — must have some form of recognition.
A demanding individual whose team play attractive football. This urbane Italian deserves our utmost respect.
Brighton have continued to improve since Roberto De Zerbi’s arrival at the club last September
CRAIG HOPE – Eddie Howe
What Howe has (over) achieved at Newcastle is proof that good managers do make a difference. Players previously written off as Championship standard have been improved mentally, tactically, technically and physically.
Look at Joelinton, Miguel Almiron, Jacob Murphy, Fabian Schar, Sean Longstaff, Joe Willock — they were all bottom of the league when he arrived.
Yes, he has spent £250million in 18 months, but he has also spent it well — Howe is across everything when it comes to recruitment. Still, though, the majority of his outfield are starters he inherited — and made better.
If Newcastle finish the season with Champions League football, and having made a cup final, Howe — for me — deserves to be recognised as the best manager, at least within the context of the tools with which he has been working, compared to the likes of Pep Guardiola.
In-form Newcastle are on the brink of Champions League qualification thanks to Eddie Howe
IAN HERBERT – Mikel Arteta
Without Arsenal and Mikel Arteta, there would have been no Premier League drama. We would have been watching Manchester City steamroller to another title these past nine months. The wheels falling off should not detract from the way Arteta has assembled and inspired a young squad with a substantial English component and without an entire nation state to bankroll things.
No one saw this squad, with the second youngest average starting XI in the division behind Southampton, challenging in anything like the way they have. Arteta has brought out the best in players.
Not just Bukayo Saka, a joy to behold, but the likes of Granit Xhaka, who has evolved from a lumpen holding midfielder into a fine left-sided player.
Arteta has a fraction of the world-class talent City can turn to on the bench. When we look back on this season, it will be the challenge of Arsenal we remember.
Arsenal stars such as Ben White (left) and Bukayo Saka (middle) took great strides this season
CHRIS WHEELER – Pep Guardiola
If Pep wins the Treble with Manchester City, he has to win it. Mikel Arteta and Eddie Howe have enjoyed fantastic seasons, and Roberto De Zerbi has stepped in to do a fabulous job at Brighton.
What about Thomas Frank at Brentford, too? But it would be ludicrous to overlook Guardiola if he can emulate Sir Alex Ferguson’s team of ’99.
The Champions League has long been Guardiola’s holy grail at City. If he can win the European Cup as well as the Premier League and FA Cup, then the man deserves it.
Ferguson received a knighthood for winning the Treble. The very least Guardiola should get is manager of the year.
City would be the first English side to win the treble since Manchester United in 1999 (above)
TOM COLLOMOSSE – Unai Emery
The Aston Villa boss just edges out Roberto De Zerbi because Brighton were in far better shape than Villa when they succeeded Steven Gerrard and Graham Potter respectively.
Emery found a squad who looked to be heading for a relegation battle under Gerrard and transformed them, to the extent that the Spaniard will now be disappointed if his team fail to qualify for Europe this term.
Emery has also done the trick using virtually the same players as Gerrard had, with January signing Alex Moreno the only significant addition. Expect that to change this summer.
One of Emery’s conditions for joining Villa was that he be given full control of first-team affairs, and he will be heavily involved in transfer business, with Villa expected to be very active indeed in the market.
With the backing of billionaire owners Nassef Sawiris and Wes Edens, there is more excitement at Villa than there has been for many years.
Unai Emery’s tactical expertise has transformed Aston Villa into one of the league’s top sides
SAMI MOKBEL – Pep Guardiola
Not the most startling of choices — but the only choice. What a team he has assembled. The talent speaks for itself, but the mentality he has instilled in his players — wow. Relentless.
Ferocious. Ruthless. The team is an embodiment of their manager — and what a manager he is.
City are closing in on the Treble. The Premier League is virtually sealed, they are overwhelming favourites to defeat United in the FA Cup final. And then, of course, there’s the Champions League. Pep’s holy grail.
City stand as the most complete team in European football. All that is down to Guardiola.
Guardiola’s success has been helped even more by free-scoring goal machine Erling Haaland
DANIEL MATTHEWS – Roberto De Zerbi
When the Italian arrived at Brighton in September, he faced a tough enough task just to emulate the great work of Graham Potter.
But over the course of a season, De Zerbi has taken Brighton to greater heights. All while introducing a new, unique, high-tariff style to the Premier League. Albion’s tilt at Europe is a triumph of good coaching.
What an addition De Zerbi has been: high-octane football, frayed tempers and a string of outstanding wins. Last Sunday’s victory at Arsenal must rank as one of the finest away displays at a title-chasing side for some time. It followed wins over Manchester United, Liverpool and at Chelsea.
Here’s hoping De Zerbi is not poached before he can build something truly special. Or that all his sharpest tools are taken from him. The Italian will be at a big club before long but this journey with Brighton will be a wild ride as long as it lasts.
Gary O’Neil deserves praise for keeping Bournemouth up despite falling short of a nomination
MATT BARLOW – Gary O’Neil*
I’m going off menu and choosing Gary O’Neil.
Keeping Bournemouth up despite their limited resources, after a fairly shambolic summer of recruitment, an awful start to the season and the instability of a takeover is a remarkable achievement.
He has done it with some degree of comfort and playing an attractive style of football. Not bad for a rookie.
(*not on Premier League shortlist)
Perhaps O’Neil should have been selected over Fulham head coach Marco Silva, who failed to receive a single Mail Sport writer’s vote… Silva’s newly-promoted side sit 10th in the top flight
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