Ancelotti, Ferguson and Wenger have done what was expected of them so they would have a chance, but none of their sides have been dominant at the top.
We can rule out a few from the equation. Phil Brown at Hull, Brian Laws at Burnley and Mick McCarthy at Wolves are all battling against the drop. One of them will probably make it, and that man will deserve a medal, but we don’t know who that will be. Just out of interest, did you know that Brian Laws has only won one game in his last twenty-three as a manager? He has won one in eleven with Burnley and hadn’t won in twelve with his old club Sheffield Wednesday. It was a strange appointment wasn’t it?
Avram Grant at Portsmouth has an impossible job. Roberto Martinez at Wigan and Gianfranco Zola at West Ham have been disappointing, Steve Bruce at Sunderland started well and is now having a bit of a nightmare and Sam Allardyce has done OK but is still Sam Allardyce!
Liverpool’s Rafa Benitez is definitely not in contention. Like him or loathe him, Rafa has had a poor season. Although Manchester City are closing in on a top four spot I don’t think Roberto Mancini would deserve the award as he hasn’t really done much more than Mark Hughes who was sacked.
That leaves us with Harry Redknapp, Martin O’Neill, Alex McLeish, David Moyes, Tony Pulis, Owen Coyle and Roy Hodgson.
All of those men deserve a creditable mention but I’m going to disregard Owen Coyle for walking out on Burnley. Harry has done a fantastic job at Tottenham but silly defeats against the likes of Wolves may cost him dear in the end. O’Neill has taken Villa to one Cup Final and may take them to another. It has been a good season, but they need to take the next step in the league and he hasn’t quite managed to do that yet.
David Moyes continues to do a great job at Everton but the difficult first half of the season rules him out. Tony Pulis is achieving the impossible by turning Stoke into a mid-table team, as is McLeish at Birmingham.
For me, however, at the top of the pile is Roy Hodgson at Fulham. He takes his side to Old Trafford today, sitting tenth in the table and looking to do the double over the champions after beating them 3-0 at Craven Cottage earlier in the season. Their last game was at Juventus in midweek in the Europa League.
Just look at that previous paragraph and remember that it is unfashionable Fulham that we are talking about. An unfashionable manager at an unfashionable club and they are doing themselves proud.
At sixty-two years old Hodgson is one of the most experienced managers in the league. Fulham is the sixteenth club that he has managed. He has plied his trade in Sweden, Switzerland, Italy, Denmark and Norway, as well as England. He has also managed the national teams of Switzerland, the United Arab Emirates and Finland.
That is a remarkable CV for a man who early in his career was dubbed, ‘the nicest man in the world.’
He has made Fulham into a strong Premier League team by playing the game fairly and in the right style. He goes about his business in an unassuming way and is one of the most knowledgeable men in the game today.
Whatever happens at Old Trafford today and in the rest of the season, I hope Roy Hodgson gets the recognition he deserves.
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