We are just four game weeks away from the epic conclusion of what has been a nervy, jaw-dropping and gut wrenching Premier League season.
With several managerial changes earlier in the summer, we have witnessed tactical advancements this season which would surely be etched in our minds forever. As the tumultuous campaign nears its business end we bring you the top five candidates for the Premier League Manager of the 2013-14 season.
1. Steve Bruce, Hull City
Hull’s campaign has been nothing short of superb. Steve Bruce has masterminded an attacking 3-5-2 setup at the KC Stadium which has earned rich dividends over the course of the season.
Bringing in the likes of Tom Huddlestone and Jake Livermore has been a masterstroke, while January acquisitions Nikica Jelavic and Shane Long serve to prove that money was well spent.
Hull also have made history by reaching the final of the FA Cup, a record that dates back 84 years ago when the club reached the semi finals of England’s oldest Cup competition.
They have also picked up memorable victory at home beating Liverpool and would fancy their chances of doing a ‘Birmingham’ in the FA Cup final against Arsenal in the coming month.
2. Tony Pulis, Crystal Palace
From desperation to sheer delight in a matter of months. That’s how you would describe Crystal Palace’s 2013-14 EPL season.
The Eagles endured a dismal start to the season with just one win and nine defeats from their first 10 matches. As Tony Pulis came at the managerial helm replacing the outgoing Ian Holloway, Palace had only four points in the bank, and were staring down the barrel.
The 56 year has overseen one of the great escape stories in recent years, as Palace, now with 40 points on the board, can look forward to another season in England’s top flight. Pulis has brought great organisation at the back and bringing discipline to a team that plays within its own limitations.
Palace co-chairman Steve Parish also deserves the credit for selecting the former Stoke City boss to guide his team out of danger, and boy they done it with some style.
3. Jose Mourinho, Chelsea
Can Mourinho deliver the title yet again in his second home coming at Stamford Bridge? Gathering pace from a slow start, the Special One has taken the Blues within touching distance of their lost Premier League crown and his team are also in the Champions League semi final.
Should the Blues beat Liverpool at Anfield in two weeks time and win their remaining three games, the title will be on its way to London.
It’s still all to play for the Blues , a campaign which will always be remembered for selling Juan Mata to arch rivals Manchester United. But if they come out with a cup double, who will care!
4. Roberto Martinez, Everton
Time is surely the best judge of an individual. Who would know this better than Everton manager Roberto Martinez.
Having won Wigan an improbable FA Cup last season, the Spaniard was unable to keep the Latics up in the Premier League. Had he done so, he might have not been in our list, for the Toffees may not have landed him at Goodison Park in the first place.
The 40 year old is a shrewd tactician and perhaps has envisioned something which the most ardent of Everton fans wouldn’t have imagined when he was appointed. Champions League Football was on his agenda when he walked through the doors, and boy has he lived up to his words.
Exploiting the loan market for a sustainable success strategy, Martinez brought in Gareth Barry, Rome Lukaku and Gerard Deulofeu, all three who have been the crux of the team who currently lie fifth, a point adrift of Arsenal in the fight to the finish for Europe’s elusive Club competition.
Should he fail, Martinez will still have orchestrated a brilliant season for Everton.
5. Brendan Rodgers, Liverpool
Should Liverpool win their first Premier League title in the club’s illustrious history, the last Championship which came 24 years ago, Brendan Rogers will be acknowledged as a Football messiah in the streets leading to Anfield.
It has been nothing short of an exceptional display from the Reds given their main objective before the start of the season was to secure a top four berth for Champions League next campaign.
Lest the Merseyside comically implode at the business end, Liverpool are sure to rub shoulders with the big daddies in the upper echelons of Europe’s elite club competition next season. The 2013-14 has been a season of bonafide success for the Reds and Brendan Rodgers deserves every bit of credit for the resurgence.
After all, not many managers show the courage the play the Cruyff-esque 4-3-3 setup in the Premier League. Oops, I didn’t mention the diamond formation.
So who do you think deserves to win the Manager of the season award? Let me know in the comments below…