With the Premier League season nearing the finish line, Sky Sports pundits gave their picks for Premier League manager of the year.
Claudio Ranieri pretty much swept the board for these awards last season as he guided Leicester City to a surprise league title win, and indeed the former Foxes manager will be on Monday Night Football giving his take of what went wrong for the club, leading ultimately to his dismissal in February, in the months after.
The pundits, namely Jamie Carragher, Gary Neville, Thierry Henry, Alan Smith, Niall Quinn and Graeme Souness, all gave their verdict on the standout manager of the campaign – and the vast majority see Chelsea boss Antonio Conte as their choice for bringing the Blues to the brink of a league title in his first season at the club.
The reasons for picking Conte are reasonably similar across the board for five fo the six pundits. Arriving at a Chelsea side that had become seriously demoralised in the wake of Jose Mourinho’s disastrous final year at Stamford Bridge, Conte quickly instilled a newfound sense of belief within the players, altered the tactics to a brilliantly effective 3-4-3 and as a result Chelsea have been running away with the league for months.
Neville, however, doesn’t quite see that as being more impressive as the job Mauricio Pochettino has done at Tottenham. Spurs have been Chelsea’s biggest title rivals for some time, competing at a budget far below some of the teams below them, and the ex-Manchester United defender likes what he sees from the manager and the team he puts out:
“I love Tottenham, they’re probably my favourite team in the league to watch.
“Pochettino has built a team, brought players through and the budget is nowhere near the other clubs. For me he’s doing an amazing job.”
Although Tottenham look set to fall short in the league, successive top four finishes (and Champions League qualification) is an achievement in and of itself. Indeed, barring another end of year collapse like last season they also finally look set to finish above Arsenal in the Premier League table, something that has not happened for over two decades.