The League Managers Association (LMA) is the trade union for managers in the Premier League, Football League and National representative sides. It was established in 1992, coinciding with the introduction of the Premier League and major structural change in English league football.
In 1992 Claudio Ranieri was halfway through his two year stint at Napoli. Twenty-four years later, his Leicester City side are potentially three wins away from winning the Premiership. Much has been said of the fact that this time twelve months ago, Leicester City were clawing their way out of the relegation zone. The transformation under Ranieri has been miraculous. The 64 year old Roman has twice been awarded Premier League Manager of the Month this season in November and March. Many would find it hard to begrudge Ranieri the accolade of League Managers Association Manager of the Year. In actuality Ranieri’s chances of winning are slim.
In the twenty-three years of the League Managers Association, they have each year voted on a Manager of the Year. Of the fifteen men who have received the honour, a grand total of one has come from outside the UK. That man is Arsene Wenger who won the award in 2002 and 2004. The 2002 award came off the back of Arsenal breaking a three year Manchester United monopoly over the Premier League title. The second of his two Manager of the Year awards came at the end of Arsenal’s 2003/2004 unbeaten invincibles season.
The most decorated LMA Manager of the Year is unsurprisingly Alex Ferguson who won the award in 1999, 2008, 2011 and 2013. The second most decorated manager is compatriot and another former Manchester United Manager, David Moyes. Moyes won the award three times while at Everton.
The list of notable absentees is long. Despite winning the League and League Cup in 2005, FA Cup and League Cup in 2007 as well as the League and League Cup again in 2015, José Mourinho has never won the LMA Manager of the Year. Instead of Mourinho the LMA opted for David Moyes in 2005, Steve Coppell in 2007 and Eddie Howe last season. Another Chelsea manager, Carlo Ancelotti, who won the double in 2010 was snubbed in favour of current England boss, Roy Hodgeson. The combination of Champions League and FA Cup wins was also not enough for Roberto Di Matteo, who lost out to Alan Pardew.
This season could see a buck in the trend. Both Ranieri and Tottenham boss Mauricio Pochettino have excelled this year. Pochettino has crafted an exciting young team at White Hart Lane, who are set to finish above North London rivals Arsenal for the first time since 1995. At the same time Ranieri is on the precipice of overseeing the greatest shock in Premier League history.
The more likely candidate is Chris Hughton. Hughton has taken Brighton from 20th in the Championship to just two points off an automatic promotion place. While Hughton played for the Republic of Ireland during his career, qualifying through his Irish mother, he was born and grew up in Essex. Promotion for Brighton would see them return to the top flight for the first time since 1983.
Either Ranieri or Pochettino would fully deserve their Manager of the Year award. Yet if history is anything to go by, then it is more likely to be a manager from the UK or Ireland. Will 2016 be the year that Arsene Wenger gains some company on the Manager of the Year honour roll?