The 2017-2018 Premier League was won at a canter by Manchester City, who played some sublime football and never looked like relinquishing their place at the top of the English football pyramid once they were there. Pep Guardiola, having struggled in his first season in England, has brought his philosophy that has been tried and tested successfully in Spain and Germany to bear on Premier League teams, with resounding triumph. It is therefore fair to assume that many would call for Pep to be given the Manager of the Year award and be done with it. However, I believe that there are others that deserve at least a mention, or might even challenge Pep more than the likes of Manchester United, Tottenham Hotspur or Liverpool did his City side.
1 – Pep Guardiola
It is fair to say that Man City have walked to Premier League triumph this year. Yes there have been blips in an otherwise stellar season, their exit in the Champions League quarter final to Liverpool and the 3-2 derby defeat to Man Utd being examples, yet one cannot argue against the claim that they are one of the best Premier League sides of the modern era. Much of this has been down to Pep Guardiola, the players he has bought have slotted into his system with relative ease, plus the old guard of Vincent Kompany, David Silva and Sergio Aguero have shown their experience and quality once again. City’s defensive frailties have been highlighted but haven’t been as much of a problem as they were last season, due to their attacking prowess which has been delightfully orchestrated by Kevin De Bruyne. A League Cup and Premier League title is a great return and puts Pep in the driver’s seat for the Manager of the Year competition.
2 – Sean Dyche
What a year it has been for Burnley!! Many tipped them for relegation at the beginning of the season, but with a few games left, they have a fighting chance to get themselves a Europa Cup spot. Now, who would have predicted that! All of that is down to the spirit created by Dyche as well as his tactical nous, especially seeing as he does not have a huge budget. Chris Wood was a shrewd purchase from Championship side Leeds United last summer, whilst goalkeeper Nick Pope has been putting in performances that might well see him at this year’s World Cup for England, at the expense of teammate Tom Heaton. It is truly commendable that a club such as Burnley will most likely finish just a few points behind Arsenal and above the likes of Everton or Leicester City. It is for this reason that Sean Dyche is my manager of the year, what he has done with Burnley is astonishing, and I am surprised that his efforts have not been picked up by a “larger” club.
3 – Rafael Benitez
When Newcastle United were relegated a couple of seasons ago with Benitez at the helm, I thought it was a shame that the Premier League lost such a managerial talent, but felt safe in the assumption that if anyone was going to bring Newcastle back up at the first attempt it would be Rafa. Newcastle, at the time of writing, are sat in 10th place, which is a remarkable achievement when you consider the budgetary restrictions in place at Newcastle. It is a testament to Benitez’s abilities that United went from looking like relegation candidates around Christmas to a mid-table side. In order to continue this upward trend, Newcastle need to back Benitez with a sizeable transfer budget otherwise I can easily see him plying his trade elsewhere next season, especially when you consider some of the jobs that may be available come the summer.
4 – Jurgen Klopp
Liverpool have played some great attacking football this season, and boast the league’s top scorer and PFA Player of the Year winner in Mohammed Salah. They are the only team to have done the double over Manchester City in the league this year; and the way they dismantled the league winners over two legs in the Champions League quarter final highlight the attacking quality that Klopp has at his disposal. Liverpool are one of the best counter-attacking sides in Europe this season, and if they can successfully negotiate Roma I believe they can beat anyone in a one off match, meaning the Champions League is a real possibility. However, the same problems still plague Klopp’s team. A shaky defence and questionable keeper mean that the ability to mount a serious title challenge is debatable at best. Although, I do fancy Klopp to rectify those problems in the summer transfer market. Jack Butland is potentially going to be available on the cheap if Stoke City are relegated, and a smart buy at right back would potentially solve their defensive problems. Overall, Liverpool have had a brilliant season, and can boast the title of “Man City Slayers”, something they share with such a small number of teams that you could count them on one hand.
5 – Chris Hughton
Brighton, like Newcastle, were pipped for relegation at the beginning of the season. However, under the calm guidance of Chris Hughton they have negotiated themselves to what seems like safety. Having found goals from Glenn Murray and a keeper who in Matt Ryan looks to be made for the Premier League, Brighton and Hughton have the building blocks to build on what can be seen as a successful season in the Premier League. Of course they will have to strengthen heavily in the summer in order to keep up with the other teams around them, but I feel that as long as they have Hughton at the helm then they can be confident of giving Premier League season number two a good go and surviving for a third season.