Since the award was established in the 1993/94 season, the Premier League Manager of the Season award has been dominated by the manager whose team has won the title. In fact, only four managers have won the award without winning the Premier League trophy in the same season.
This season, Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola is arguably the top contender for winning the award. Although Manchester City were one of the favourites to win the EPL at the beginning of the season, the Spaniard has done this playing his brand of football which was previously seen at former clubs Barcelona and Bayern Munich. His exciting and attractive style of football has lit up the Premier League, whilst proving critics wrong who suggested his style could not work in England. City were crowned champions last week with five games still to play.
This had led to many critics believing Pep deserves the award. But does City’s sheer dominance of the league automatically mean Pep should be awarded it, or is somebody else more worthy?
One of the biggest surprises this season has been Burnley FC. Their manager, Sean Dyche, is in his fifth year with the club. During that time Dyche won promotion to the Premier League after a four-year absence. Burnley’s spell in the top flight would initially only last one season as the club were later relegated. However, to Burnley’s credit, the club would keep their faith in their manager as Dyche would later sign a contract extension. This decision would later be rewarded as Dyche guided Burnley to the top flight for a second time in the 2015/16 season. This time Burnley would finish in 16th place and survive the drop.
At the beginning of this season, the realistic expectation of most Burnley fans would have been of staying in the Premier League for another season. Whilst most of the big clubs invested handsomely in the summer - Manchester City in particular having a NET spend of around 138 million, Burnley’s was a much more modest 15 million.
However, with both clever investment and Dyche learning from previous experiences, Burnley have been one of the Premier League’s surprise packages this season who are now on the brink of European qualification. They currently sit in 7th position with 53 points. Only a late collapse would see Burnley miss out on playing in Europe next season. In addition to this, Dyche has improved the form of many of his players, giving them the platform to shine at Turf Moor. This has even led to players being called up to play for their respective nations – Nick Pope and James Tarkowski for example being called up to the England squad.
In an era where the sacking of a football manager is part of the modern game, Burnley have proved that sticking with their manager can lead to amazing results. In doing so, Dyche has defied expectations and critics alike.
Should Dyche be awarded the Manager of the Season award, or should the overall dominance from Manchester City mean that Guardiola deserves this award instead? Or maybe another manager deserves this award even more?