As the season’s final games near, awards season is almost upon the league. It feels like every award doesn’t have a clear favorite.
Perhaps the most intriguing of these award races is the manager of the year.
In what has been one of the more interesting Prem seasons in a while, the managers have put on great shows. From greats to newcomers, there have been so many storylines to follow.
The title race has put two managers in the driver’s seat. Pep is in this conversation every year, but it’s unlikely he’ll win. Arteta should be the favorite, as the Spaniard has built a contender out of this Arsenal squad.
Other managers like Emery and Howe will get votes, as they have both had excellent seasons. However, Roberto de Zerbi may be the dark horse candidate. The Italian has found a way to make Brighton an even more formidable side with a squad brimming with untapped potential.
There is no denying that the Manager of the Year award is the least sexy of the big awards. It’s often too scripted and favors the title winner, but this year will likely produce a surprise winner.
Pep is the best manager of his generation, even if critics point to his lack of European success without Messi. His focus has been totally on the Champions League for a few seasons now, despite constant success in the Prem.
With Haaland leading his star-studded side, Pep’s conquest of Europe took precedence over the Prem this season. You could see blips in form, especially at the start, which allowed Arsenal to take complete control of the title race. Despite the domestic struggles, City looked like the best team in Europe throughout the early Champions League season.
As the season drew on, City really began clicking. The amount of creativity Pep was able to get out of his side pushed the team forward and let them score in bunches. At the same time, the defense has been the biggest area of improvement.
Almost by accident, City have found themselves leading the title race, and Pep’s improvements have pushed them to this position. However, their rise has been more of City being consistently good while their rivals have fallen apart. This is a good City side, but it’s not that 100-point team, and their ambitions are clearly elsewhere.
Having won so many of these awards, it’s tempting to have Pep as the favorite. While he is probably the best manager in the league, this hasn’t even been his best season.
Arteta has gone from a meme to an intriguing manager for any club looking for a long-term manager. Given the chaos that plagued the London club, the turnaround under Arteta should make him the favorite.
For almost the entire season, Arsenal seemed destined to become champions. They had a great attack that was on the shoulders of a youth revolution. A veteran midfield helped bring stability to the side and cleaned up mistakes on both sides of the ball.
If last year’s Amazon series showed anything, it was how much Arteta focuses on building a culture. He is not the tactician that his peers are, but he knows what buttons to press on his squad. This is exactly the type of manager a young side needs, and it paid off.
Unfortunately for Arsenal fans, the wheels completely fell off. Injuries really took their toll, and Arteta just couldn’t get production out of replacements. Arteta struggled to figure out opponents once they prepped for his side as well.
While Arsenal will not win the title, Arteta has finally led the club back to the Champions League. If it hadn’t been for injuries and coaching mistakes, Arteta could have been the runaway favorite.
Roberto de Zerbi
Last year, Graham Potter earned praise for his work with Brighton and was the talk of the league. When he left for Chelsea, no one could have blamed Brighton had they struggled.
Appointing de Zerbi was a bold move. The Italian had spent time coaching in Italy and Ukraine but had never made massive waves anywhere. At the time, it seemed like a step backward for a club that had done so much right.
Unlike Potter, de Zerbi is very flexible tactically and has experimented with different players and styles. Watching de Zerbi’s side is like the dollar store version of City. A free-flowing offense that is built off a solid backline.
If Brighton qualifies for the Champions League, de Zerbi has a good shot at the award. At the moment, Emery and Howe have done excellent jobs, with Howe in a better position now. Additionally, many critics may attribute Brighton’s success to the organization rather than the coach.
For those who root for the underdogs, de Zerbi would be a good candidate for the award. Clubs across Europe have to be looking at de Zerbi as an interesting prospect.
This Prem season has had so many great highs and lows for both managers and players. All eyes should be on the Manager of the Year award, given how much fun the race will be. It’s fitting for the most exciting league to have their awards races be just as exciting.
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