Rabu, 2 Januari 2013

F365's Top Ten Managers Of 2012

We do this every year (the top three were Lambert, Rodgers and Redknapp in 2011) and this time there was no doubt about No.1. But who else gets credit for 2012?

10) Alan Pardew (Newcastle)

You might wonder why the manager of a Newcastle side threatening to flirt and possibly grope relegation is anywhere near this list but the first half of 2012 was simply phenemonal for Alan Pardew's Newcastle, starting with a 3-0 win over Manchester United and incuding a six-match winning run (which bizarrely ended with a 4-0 defeat at Wigan). Between January 1 and the end of the season, seventh became fifth as Newcastle's points tally was only bettered by the two Manchester clubs.

It's fair to say that 2012 has ended badly - not helped by a summer of barely negligible transfer activity and a raft of injuries to key players - but from January to May, Pardew did more than enough to suggest that an eight-year contract wasn't an absolutely batsh*t mental idea.

9) Nigel Adkins (Southampton)
This time last year, this list included promoted managers Neil Warnock, Brendan Rodgers and Paul Lambert because they were all on course to keep their teams in the Premier League. One was sacked weeks later, while the other two end 2012 struggling at different, 'bigger' clubs. You get the feeling that Adkins is more likely to find himself 'doing a Warnock' as his position at Southampton has always seemed a tad precarious.

But every week that Southampton are doing enough to suggest survival is not a pipe dream is a tick by the name of Adkins, who lost top spot but not promotion in the second half of the Saints' Championship season. Not even spending £7m on Jay Rodriguez can destroy his reputation if he keeps Southampton in the Premier League. Wait a minute, that's bollocks - spending £7m on Jay Rodriguez was insane and almost cost him a place on this list.

8) Steve Clarke (West Brom)
When the name of Claudio Ranieri is mentioned as a possible replacement for Roy Hodgson, the actual appointment of a quiet man with no actual managerial experience must be rather underwhelming. Clarke is softly spoken, not prone to hyperbole, seemingly lacking in bonhomie and looks like a balding schoolboy in his pullover/tie combination.

It's gone quite well, hasn't it? The Baggies are showing what can be achieved with little investment (Claudio Yacob was free, Romelu Lukaku a loan) and a great deal of discipline. West Brom are well-organised, neat and thoroughly deserving of impressive home victories against Liverpool, Everton and Chelsea that see them end 2012 entrenched in the top eight.

7) Arsene Wenger (Arsenal)

Ending 2012 pretty much where you start 2012 is a feat when you lose your finest asset somewhere in the middle. Arsenal began 2012 in fourth and end 2012 on course for fourth. They began 2012 in the Champions League knock-out rounds and end 2012 in the Champions League knock-out rounds. Mission accomplished.

The road has not been smooth - losing in the Capital One Cup to League Two Bradford and losing at home to Swansea were low points - but credit is due for a run of nine wins in ten Premier League games from February to April that overturned Tottenham's 13-point advantage and delivered a Champions League place yet again. Oh and credit is due for bringing us the divine Santi Cazorla.

6) Sam Allardyce (West Ham)

When Ricardo Vaz Te scored the winner to take West Ham back to the Premier League, it must have been particularly sweet for Sam Allardyce because he had taken a punt on a promising but raw talent who had only ever put together six months of decent form (for Barnsley) in his career. The goal that earned promotion was his 12th in just a few months for the Hammers.

As 2012 becomes 2013, Vaz Te has largely been sidelined but a free transfer move for Momo Diame has paid dividends, lo-fi moves for Jussi Jaaskelainen and James Collins have proved sensible and Andy Carroll's loan has grabbed all the headlines but very few of the goals. And most importantly, West Ham look pretty steady in mid-table.

5) Sir Alex Ferguson (Manchester United)
Two places higher than the 2011 list despite not winning anything in 2012 and contriving to throw away an eight-point lead in six games to lose the title. How the hell did that happen? Well, it's happened for three reasons: a) United have amassed an awful lot of points in the first half of this season despite looking frankly rubbish for the most part, b) they have surpassed 2011/12's Champions League 'efforts' already and c) he showed an awful lot of gumption to sign Robin van Persie when fans and pundits were screaming that he should have spent the club's money on just about anything but a 29-year-old striker with no sell-on value.

'It's a year that's brought another title but it feels like it might be the last for a while,' was the quote from this list last year. This list obviously didn't know that Manchester City's challenge in the latter half of 2012 would be so anaemic.

4) Roberto Di Matteo (Chelsea)

Chelsea won 12 of their 23 Premier League games under Roberto Di Matteo in 2012. Extrapolated over a season, his record would deliver 69 points - usually good enough for fifth and nowhere near good enough for Chelsea. Fair enough, he put all his eggs in one rather sexy basket at the end of last season, but Chelsea's start to this campaign - including Champions League exit and an abject performance in defeat to West Brom - gave the impression that their league form might be the norm and Champions League victory the fluke.

But winning the Champions League (and to a much lesser extent, the FA Cup) and beating Barcelona over two legs rightly earns him respect. Never mind the 'style', feel the silverware.

3) Roberto Mancini (Manchester City)

'Mancini is slowly becoming more important than the money,' was a line in last year's list and that prophecy seemed bang on the nose when Mancini played a blinder in the final leg of the title race. After losing ground in March and April, Mancini used the most rudimentary mind games and repeated a mantra of "the title race is over" until United started to believe enough to drop eight points in six games. Of course, it helped that Sir Alex had a brain fart and detailed Ji-Sung Park to man-mark Yaya Toure at the Etihad.

Since that glorious 'Agueeeeroooooooooo' day, things have not gone so well for Mancini. A summer of frustration in the transfer market has been followed by a stumbling start to the season not helped by the Italian's incessant faffing with formation and personnel. Is he still more important than the money? Right now, the money is pulling away.

2) Chris Hughton (Norwich City)

When 2011 became 2012, Chris Hughton's Birmingham were 12th in the Championship. As 2012 becomes 2013, Chris Hughton's Norwich are mid-table in the Premier League. You'd have to say things have gone moderately well for Hughton in 2012.

It began in Birmingham with an incredible run of just three Championship defeats in a gruelling 24-game run-in. They eventually lost to Blackpool in the play-offs but Hughton emerged with his reputation intact and enhanced. He was the obvious choice to replace Paul Lambert at Norwich and showed his shrewdness in the transfer market with moves for Steven Whittaker, Robert Snodgrass, Michael Turner, Sebastien Bassong, Alexander Tettey, Mark Bunn and Javier Garrido. Six of those signings started a 1-0 win over Manchester United that has been the highlight of a second season in the Premier League which is currently far from difficult.

Word of warning: His Norwich predecessor topped this list at the end of 2011.

1) 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 the Scotsman's entry on this list at the end of 2010. It remained so apt at the end of 2011 that we repeated the line again. We've waited an awful long time for Everton to start one season how they ended the last.

Some stats: Everton have lost only seven Premier League games in 2012. Only the two Manchester clubs have earned more points in this calendar year. They have lost only once at home since March.

Some memories: Beating Mancheser City, Chelsea and Tottenham at home, the comeback against Manchester United that derailed their title challenge, the opening-weekend victory over the same opposition this season.

When you also bring in Kevin Mirallas for half the price of a Jack Rodwell, it's fair to say that it's been a grand old year.

source: http://www.football365.com/topical-top-10/8364544/Top-Ten

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