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The Best Premier League Managers of 2019

The 2020s have finally arrived and the next decade promises to be just as exciting as the last for football fans. However, before looking to the future, it is time to look back at the past year and those who have made outstanding contributions to the sport. The Premier League attracts some of the best football managers in the world so here will take a quick look at which of them have been the most impressive over the past twelve months.

Chris Wilder – Sheffield United

It was an incredible year for Chris Wilder. He began 2019 in sixth place in the Championship and he ended it in the top half of the Premier League. Along the way, the team managed to collect as many away points in the Premier League in 2019 as Tottenham Hotspur, despite not playing their first game in the competition until August. They also collected more away points in the Championship in 2019 than Derby County, despite the fact that they haven’t played a Championship game since May. It truly was an amazing year for Chris Wilder and it would be difficult to overstate his achievement.

Jurgen Klopp – Liverpool

Liverpool under Jurgen Klopp in 2019 were fantastic. They collected the most Premier League points, they won the Champions League and the Club World Cup, and they have gone into 2020 with a very healthy lead at the top of the league. However, the year was marred by a poor start. This time last year, they had a seven point lead at the top of the league but then lost their advantage with four draws and by early March things looked very different.

However, the team has not suffered a Premier League defeat in a very long time and they haven’t lost a league match since January last year. They are currently in an excellent position and they are the overwhelming favourites to win the league this year. They have some of the league’s top players and Klopp has just signed a new long-term contract. In short, things are looking very promising for 2020.

Pep Guardiola – Manchester City

With all the trophies that Pep Guardiola managed to collect last year, one would expect him to be the undisputed best manager of the year. However, it was no ordinary year and this season City have been suffering. They have lost to Norwich, Wolves, Liverpool and Manchester United, effectively ending their title hopes.

Prior to this year, Guardiola had two excellent years with City. However, this year his flaws have begun to show. He lost the Champions League quarterfinal match against a poor Tottenham side in the spring, and left his team exposed against Liverpool and United this season. While he has suffered due to Aymeric Laporte’s injury, his decision not to buy a centre-half in the summer always looked like a mistake. There are other apparent flaws in the team and Guardiola’s thinking, but he is still very much one of the top managers in the game.

Brendan Rodgers – Leicester City

Brendan Rodgers has performed wonders at Leicester City in a relatively short space of time. When he took over the team seemed directionless and were stuck in the middle of the table, but had a good set of young players. Now he has turned them into the only team that looked as if it could challenge Liverpool for the title and a team that seems set to return to the Champions League. While there is still work to be done, things are definitely looking up.

On the whole it is a young and vibrant team, with the exception of players such as Kasper Schmeichel, Jonny Evans and Jamie Vardy, who are all over 30. Rodgers inherited the majority of the players when he took over and he has shaped the players into a force to be reckoned with. It will be exciting to watch the team develop in the coming months and years.

Nuno Espirito Santo – Wolverhampton Wanderers

It has been another impressive year for Nuno Espirito Santo. After starting the season with a run of six games without a win, no one was expecting much from the team and most fans would have been happy to be anywhere around the table’s midpoint. However, they are now seventh in the league and have a Europa League match against Espanyol coming up.

While Santo no doubt benefits from working for a club that can spend £80 million in a summer with no pressure to sell, the players still need to be coached. Adama Traore is just one example of a player who has been transformed under Santo’s guidance. As Matt Doherty said, “We leave meetings before games thinking there’s just no way we can’t win this game. Tactically I think he’s on another level… he’s a world-class manager”.

Steve Bruce – Newcastle United

Very few people were pleased when Steve Bruce was appointed to replace Rafa Benitez. Bruce had not managed in the Premier League for four years and his last game ended in relegation. He was a man who was happy to get a mid-table Championship job this time last year, and he had a tough act to follow.

However, a few months on and things are not looking so bad for Newcastle. They are around the mid-point in the table and only a couple of points below tenth place. While they may not play the most elegant football in the league, it really doesn’t matter. When Bruce took over the team looked destined for relegation and this is no longer the case. He certainly deserves to be credited for a job well done.

Roy Hodgson – Crystal Palace

It was an impressive 2019 for Crystal Palace under Roy Hodgson. Over the course of the year, they amassed more points than Tottenham Hotspur did. They managed to build a positive goal difference over 12 months without having a prolific goal-scorer, and in the middle of the year, they lost a £50 million defender who they did not replace.

They are not an elegant team but they can produce some exciting results. They enjoyed away victories last year over teams such as Wolves, Leicester City, Arsenal and Manchester United. At the start of 2019, they looked like they faced a battle to avoid relegation but now they will be targeting their second top-half Premier League finish. There are Palace fans calling for Hodgson’s exit, but so far, he has done a truly impressive job.

Sean Dyche – Burnley

At the start of 2019 Burnley were in the bottom three in the Premier League, one year on and the team are comfortably in the middle of the table. Impressively they collected more points than either Everton or West Ham in 2019. The team seems to perform in streaks; they had an eight-game unbeaten run this time last year before suffering four straight defeats in the spring. This pattern has been repeated, but it seems to be good enough to keep the team safe. Their success is largely down to the pairing of Chris Wood and Ashley Barnes, who both scored 15 goals last year, more than Harry Kane did. They have been supplemented by the signing of Jay Rodriquez (for just £5 million), and genuinely look to be a team that are on the up.

Maurizio Sarri – Chelsea

While Maurizio Sarri may not have ended the year as Chelsea’s manager, he did produce some impressive results with the team. At the end of last season, the team had just two defeats in twelve games, securing them a third place finish in the league. They also won a trophy and lost another cup final on penalties. The only thing to put a real dampener on the year for Sarri was the fact that he had to leave the club at the end of the season as the fans and owners turned against him.

When Juventus offered Chelsea money to take away a manager they wanted to sack but couldn’t really afford to, it was the perfect opportunity. It brought Sarri’s time at Chelsea to a possibly premature end, and he should certainly be recognised for the impressive work he did with the team last season.

Frank Lampard – Chelsea

Lampard took over at Chelsea in difficult circumstances and so far, he has exceeded expectations. With just one new signing, who Lampard did not choose, Chelsea have secured their place in the top four and qualified for the next phase of the Champions League, far more than anyone truly expected.

He has been helped by other teams, such as Spurs and Manchester United, underperforming. However, he has also produced some good results. He restored faith in Tammy Abraham and Mason Mount, brought Willian back out, and more. He is a relatively inexperienced manager, but so far, the signs are positive.

OCA News Editor