10) Neil Warnock (QPR)
If all three promoted sides stay in the Premier League, it is Neil Warnock who will get the least credit simply because he's had the most money. He has been allowed to bring in almost a whole new XI of players - some of whom who are on the kind of wages (Joey Barton and Shaun Wright-Phillips chief among them) that would pay for half Norwich's squad - to add to a team that had already eased to the Championship title.
But any manager who brings up a team from the Championship and keeps them around and about the point-per-game curve deserves at least some credit - especially when even those within the club query whether you're the right man for the task. One question, though: If QPR do go down, how will he blame Carlos Tevez?
9) David Moyes (Everton)
'Look at the league table now and you will wonder what on earth Moyes is doing on this list. But look at the statistics for the calendar year and you will see...' was the opening line of Moyes' entry on this list at the end of 2010. A year later and not a lot has changed. They ended the Premier League season in better form than Tottenham and then had to sell Jermaine Beckford, Yakubu and Mikel Arteta to leave themselves woefully short of goal threat. Consequently, 2011-12 has not begun well at all.
Moyes continues to make, if not silk, then some kind of durable synthetic material out of a sow's ear. While those financial constraints exist, mid-table is the equivalent of a title challenge. Lord help them if he leaves for sunnier climes.
8) Roberto Mancini (Manchester City)
There are some who would never have Roberto Mancini on such a list simply because he is not working within the same parameters as other managers. But a lack of parameters comes with its own problems - managing egos, managing a squad, managing expectations. Budgeting may not be a problem but managerial problems never end with budgets.
The first half of 2011 saw him meet targets with controlled ease - a Champions League place and a trophy. The second half of 2011 seems him on track for the second target - a genuine title challenge. As a side, he has delivered tantalising football boosted by the acquisition of Sergio Aguero. It's Aguero's arrival coupled with his own high standing within the club that saw him backed to the hilt in the Carlos Tevez debacle. Mancini is slowly becoming more important than the money.
7) Sir Alex Ferguson (Manchester United)
His team have amassed the most Premier League points in 2011, claimed the title with quite a few inches to spare and are very much in the race again despite their rivals and neighbours spending oodles of money this summer. And yet he's only 7) on this list with six managers below him who have won bugger all this year.
So where does he lose points? Mostly for facing Barcelona in the Champions League final and quite clearly having absolutely no clue how to beat them despite Ferguson boasting of a 'plan'. The 'plan' was rubbish. And now he's led a team to a disastrous European campaign that ended in ignominy/Switzerland. Oh and the jury is still out on his £19m keeper. It's a year that's brought another title but it feels like it might be the last for a while.
6) Kenny Dalglish (Liverpool)
When Dalglish took over from Roy Hodgson (our manager of the year in 2009), Liverpool were languishing in lower mid-table. By the end of the season, they were in sixth and that - on current form at least - is where they will probably end 2011/12. That they are already double figures away from the leaders is irrelevant - this season is all about taking Liverpool back to the top table. Missing out on the Champions League will be acceptable as long as they're within touching distance and putting up a fight. Dalglish has given Liverpool fans their self-respect again in 2011.
The signings have been distinctly hit (Luis Suarez) and miss (Andy Carroll) but it's fair to say that the club is a far happier place to be as 2011 becomes 2012 than it was when 2010 became 2011. The real test comes in 2012 now expectations have been raised.
5) Alan Pardew (Newcastle United)
Chris Hughton was a place higher on this list 12 months ago - following what appeared to be the terrible, terrible decision to give him the sack. Newcastle were 13th and on course for the mid-table finish that Pardew would go on to secure, but Hughton's face clearly did not fit at what used to be St James' Park. Pardew was a highly unpopular appointment as fans derided him as Mike Ashley's Cockney puppet.
An early blow came with the sale of Andy Carroll and the lack of time or funds for a replacement, but Pardew guided Newcastle through the rest of the season before implementing a summer plan to lose those players with big egos and big wages. They were replaced by cheaper, decidedly more French, alternatives and Newcastle started the season in barnstorming fashion. They may yet be pulled into the mediocrity below, but for now we should heartily applaud Pardew's 2011.
4) Tony Pulis (Stoke City)
As 2011 becomes 2012, Stoke are likely to be in roughly the same position as they ended 2010 - mid-table and safe from relegation but short of a European challenge. Is that enough considering the significant funds spent this summer? In normal circumstances then perhaps not, but Stoke reached an FA Cup final, claimed a Europa League place and have made a bloody good fist of challenging on two fronts.
While other managers moan about having two games in a week, Pulis has embraced the challenge and taken the Potters through to the Europa knock-out stages while still doing enough at home to easily maintain their status as the most recent addition to the 'Premier League stalwart' club. Pretty? No. Pretty efective? Oh yes.
3) Harry Redknapp (Tottenham)
Making this list for the fourth successive season (and people think we don't like him) is a manager who has lost only seven Premier League games so far in 2011 and has also claimed the not-inconsiderable scalp of AC Milan. Too many draws in March and April cost Tottenham a second successive season in the Champions League but they end 2011 on course to return for another crack in 2011/12.
But Redknapp's finest work came off the pitch as he persuaded Daniel Levy to make a decision based on football rather than business and sign Scott Parker, persuaded Emmanuel Adebayor to give him a year of his time and decided that the 40-year-old Brad Friedel was worth at least another season in the top flight. All this and he got Jonathan Woodgate, Alan Hutton, Robbie Keane, Wilson Palacios and Peter Crouch off the wage bill. Or rather the 'chairman's done a deal...'
2) Brendan Rodgers (Swansea)
The little fella with the highest pass completion rate in the Premier League was bought by Brendan Rodgers for just £400,000 in January. That man is Leon Britton and he was followed by the finest free signing of the summer - goalkeeper Michel Vorm. Add goalscorer Danny Graham for £3.5m and Rodgers has bought the spine of his team for less than £4m. No wonder he's become one of the hottest managerial properties in the Premier League.
Promotion from the Championship was secured via the play-offs after poor spring form saw them lose the momentum that should have taken them straight to the top flight. Frankly, they were everybody's favourites to challenge Derby's unwanted 11-point record but have instead proved very, very difficult to beat at the Liberty Stadium - even if they are awfully easy to beat on the road.
There was some scoffing when Swansea appointed a manager who had failed so miserably at Reading, but it looks increasingly likely that Rodgers needed am ambitious club prepared to buy into his vision of Welsh tika-taka.
1) Paul Lambert (Norwich City)
Nick Miller tells me that his Norwich-supporting, heterosexual friend would happily fellate Paul Lambert in gratitude for the phenomenal job he has done at Carrow Road. We're only dealing with 2011 right now so we'll gloss over the promotion from League One and fast-forward straight to post-Xmas Championship form of suffering just two defeats in 2011 before securing promotion to the Premier League.
Lambert's recruitment policy of going for hunger (see Grant Holt) over experience is paying serious dividends as the summer purchases of Steve Morison, Anthony Pilkington and Bradley Johnson already look shrewd. If their home form can keep them ahead of the point-per-game mark, they should survive to face the second-season syndrome that has previously claimed Reading and Hull.
The football may not be pretty but Holt and Morison are masters at bullying defenders used to facing a little more finesse, and Lambert is a master of getting the best out of unheralded footballers desperate to prove they belong at the big table.
One final word of warning, mind - this time last year, Ian Holloway was the manager of 2010.