Premier League Manager Rankings For Season 2014/15
1. Garry Monk, Swansea
Taking Swansea to their best-ever points total is a hugely impressive achievement considering the plaudits the Jacks received under Brendan Rodgers and Michael Laudrup, and Monk deserves tremendous credit given his lack of previous managerial experience. While widely considered to have continued with the tactics of his predecessors, there’s been a more direct approach in possession (averaging ‘only’ 50% is unusual for Swansea), and the mid-season loss of Wilfried Bony went almost unnoticed, because the structure and organisation of the side is superb.
2. Alan Pardew, Newcastle / Crystal Palace
Pardew is the only man to have coached two different Premier League clubs this season – and he did a fine job with both, though admittedly his achievements were helped by the limitations of Neil Warnock and John Carver. Nevertheless, the statistics are clear – extrapolate his points-per-game ratio from both clubs over the course of the season, and Newcastle would have finished 10th, and Crystal Palace 5th. Such extrapolation overstates Pardew’s impact (consider how Newcastle bombed in the second half of last season), but both clubs were far, far better off with Pardew than without him.
3. Jose Mourinho, Chelsea
Mourinho always wins the league in his second season, having done so with Porto, Chelsea, Inter, Real Madrid and now Chelsea again. The signings of Cesc Fabregas and Diego Costa provided creativity in midfield and a ruthless goalscorer upfront, although the defensive section of the side was even more impressive. For the first half of the campaign Chelsea looked like the best team the division had witnessed for years, and while there was a post-Christmas decline in terms of performances, results barely suffered.
4. Ronald Koeman, Southampton
Many would argue Koeman is the manager of the year, although this is largely based around Southampton’s predicament last summer, which was hugely sensationalised. Realistically, they did extraordinarily well to attract huge sums for reasonable footballers, and as long as the money was reinvested in even a vaguely sensible manner, midtable was likely. For much of the season Southampton looked set to do even better than that, with an incredibly solid defence, good midfield organisation and great impacts from Dusan Tadic, Graziano Pelle and Sadio Mane. The post-Christmas slumps suffered by Tadic and Pelle meant Southampton couldn’t maintain that form, but Koeman’s job was still highly impressive.
5. Nigel Pearson, Leicester
One of the most peculiar seasons in Premier League memory. Leicester were bottom for 17 straight weeks and simply looked unsuited to this level of football. At one point, Pearson was supposedly sacked, then reinstated. But then came a quite staggering change in fortunes, partly because of increased tactical variety, suggesting Pearson learned lessons from his first half-season as a Premier League manager. His attitude in press conferences has won him few admirers, but 14th place was significantly above expectations.
6. Mark Hughes, Stoke
A shock 1-0 victory at Manchester City showed the impressive organisation and counter-attacking ability within Hughes’ side, and that was effectively the template for many of their best performances. Hughes has successfully retained Stoke’s traditional qualities while providing a more technical edge in the final third, and a comfortable upper-midtable finish is all anyone could possibly ask for.
7. Dick Advocaat, Sunderland
The Dutchman won many admirers due to the fact he clearly absolutely loved his short spell at Sunderland, and in achieving survival before the final day of the season, it’s impossible to argue with his record. His tactics were usually bold, fielding three out-and-out strikers across the frontline, and while a couple of Sunderland’s victories under him were hugely fortunate, he achieved his objective.
8. Tim Sherwood, Aston Villa
Villa were in absolute state when Sherwood took charge – in real danger of relegation, and the lowest scorers in the entire Football League. Sherwood’s back-to-basics approached was exactly what was required, with the main tactical approach simply to involve Christian Benteke more. The run to the FA Cup final, meanwhile, has meant Villa supporters have had something to get excited about for the first time in years.
9. Arsene Wenger, Arsenal
Arsenal have two different types of seasons – they either start brilliantly and tail off, or start poorly and improve dramatically in the spring. They always finish in the Champions League places. This was the latter type of campaign, and while Arsenal would have hoped to be closer to the top of the league, a second consecutive FA Cup final provides a reason to be positive.
10. Tony Pulis, Crystal Palace
For the second consecutive campaign, Pulis took charge of a relegation-threatened side and guided them to easy survival. His approach was blunt, often using a quartet of centre-backs across the backline, but predictably the defensive organisation was good, there was a big set-piece threat, and he even managed to get Brown Ideye scoring too.
11. Sean Dyche, Burnley
This is a strange one. At times Burnley were truly dire – they scored just three goals in their final 12 games of the season, for example. Yet Dyche was barely allowed to invest in the team last summer, and had done well simply to get this group of players promoted in the first place. This is nothing more than an upper-midtable Championship squad, with only a couple of players likely to be snapped up by Premier League clubs. In that respect, Dyche deserves credit for the side’s good defensive record, and seven wins isn’t a bad total.
12. Mauricio Pochettino, Tottenham
A fairly unremarkable first season for Pochettino, and judgement of his performance largely comes down to how much credit you think he deserves for Harry Kane’s incredible rise. Without him, this could have been a disastrous campaign. The organisation of the side has been good, the players have bought into the Argentine’s methods, although this still doesn’t feel like his squad. We’re yet to see any expertise in the transfer market, which will determine whether Spurs can push on.
13. Louis van Gaal, Manchester United
Manchester United finished in the Champions League places, the target at the start of the campaign. In recent months, things started to come together, with some fabulous passing in an impressive victory at Anfield particular evidence of Van Gaal’s impact. Overall, though, this was largely as expected, and you wonder whether United could have finished higher had Van Gaal not messed around with formations that seemed unworkable early in the campaign.
14. Sam Allardyce, West Ham
West Ham signed a lot of players last summer – Cheikhou Kouyate, Enner Valencia and Diafra Sakho, plus Alex Song and Carl Jenkinson on loan. An improvement on last season was therefore natural, although the slump in the second half of the campaign means 12th place is probably slightly below what we expected. Neither Allardyce nor West Ham wanted to continue their relationship, which sums up the season.
15. Alan Irvine, West Brom
An entirely unremarkable spell in charge, certainly, but considering his appointment was met with astonishment and many predicted relegation, it’s worth remembering that West Brom only spent one week (in September) in the bottom three.
16. Manuel Pellegrini, Manchester City
Manchester City replicated the mistakes of their previous title-defending campaign, failing to push onto the next level. Pellegrini’s tactical acumen was questionable at times, and City were genuinely outclassed in defeats to Arsenal, Manchester United and Liverpool. Losses to Burnley and Crystal Palace, meanwhile, put Pellegrini’s job at risk, although 79 points and second place is hardly disastrous.
17. Brendan Rodgers, Liverpool
A dramatic decline from last season owes much to the loss of Luis Suarez and (effectively) Daniel Sturridge, the Premier League’s top two scorers last season. The new signings haven’t proved effective, and a 6-1 defeat to Stoke was an abysmal end to the campaign. Yet midway through the campaign Rodgers’ switch to a 3-4-3 formation was highly effective and produced a run of ten wins and two draws from 12 matches, and while that proved unsustainable, Rodgers hasn’t become a bad manager overnight.
18. Gustavo Poyet, Sunderland
Sunderland had a couple of horrendous results under Poyet – an 8-0 defeat at Southampton, and a 4-0 home loss to Aston Villa. Strangely, the club’s defensive record was actually reasonably good, although there was very little attacking spark.
19. Chris Ramsey, QPR
Two wins in 12 games before QPR’s relegation was confirmed isn’t anything to shout about. Ramsey was put in a difficult position, but we’ll have to assess his performance next season before judging him as a manager.
20. Neil Warnock, Crystal Palace
He recorded three victories, but simply seems unsuited to top-level football in the modern era. With Pulis and Pardew creating solid yet exciting sides either side of his spell, it’s difficult to see what Warnock offered the side.
21. Roberto Martinez, Everton
Everton improved in the spring, but this was an awful campaign considering the promise Martinez showed in his debut campaign. Changes are needed ahead of 2015/16.
22. Paul Lambert, Aston Villa
Lambert’s approach in his first couple of seasons was very brave – clearing out the squad and introducing a group of youngsters. But having weathered the initial storm, Villa failed to push on. There was no attacking invention whatsoever, and the goalscoring record was historically bad.
23. Steve Bruce, Hull
Hull spent huge money last summer and yet had almost nothing to show for it. It feels like Bruce chased technical quality, therefore sacrificing some of the discipline and organisation obvious at Hull last season – and ended up with neither.
24. John Carver, Newcastle
Newcastle are a mess, and Carver shouldn’t take the blame, but when he took charge relegation wasn’t even being considered, and on the final day it was a distinct possibility.
25. Harry Redknapp, QPR
A horrendous performance with a decent squad. But what puts him bottom of this list is his resignation – the day after deadline day, leaving his successor unable to bring in his own players, and with a medical excuse which looks increasingly flimsy.
What do you think? Do you agree or disagree with Michael’s ranking table for last seasons Premier League managers? Help spread the word of his latest post by tweeting it to your followers…
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May 29th, 2015 by Michael Cox
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