A manager can often make or break a football club and the best in the world can make a team of average players look like superstars. These are The Mastermind‘s Nominations for Football Manager of the Year.
Antonio Conte ♥
In my books, Antonio Conte is the supreme ruling leader in terms of managers for 2016. The Italian manager is filled with passion and wears his heart on his sleeve every single match that his team plays. You might think that constantly yelling at his players every single match might just annoy them, but every single player speaks so highly of Conte and his brilliant man-management and tactical awareness about the game. In 2016, Antonio Conte managed to take a below average Italy team and lead them all the way to the quarter finals of European Championships, only losing to Germany on penalties, while brilliantly beating the likes of Spain and Belgium in the process. He then joined Chelsea FC and has since revolutionized the 3-4-3 formation so much that it now looks just about the most effective formation in the world of football. He’s also managed to get the best out of players like Hazard, Costa and Matic that struggled last season and he’s brought players like Victor Moses, David Luiz and Pedro back into the fold, players that you just never thought were going to work out with the Blues. Chelsea are playing the 3-4-3 formation better than anyone who has ever tried it and Conte has to be given a massive amount of credit for that. His intelligence and tactical awareness have been second to none so far this 2016-17 Premier League season and he could end up winning this award as well.
Leicester City had 5000/1 odds of winning the 2015-16 Barclays Premier League title but somehow they managed to achieve it. The club were a bit of a shambles before Claudio Ranieri arrived at the club, nearly surviving relegation by just two wins the season before (2014-15). But after Ranieri arrived, things instantly started to look better and players like Mahrez, Vardy and Kante transformed from below average Premier League players into the three best players in the league. Ranieri stuck with the same eleven for almost the entire season and it resulted in him losing just 3 matches with the Foxes in the league. His positivity, fun attitude about life and brilliant tactical awareness ensured that every single player in 2015-16 was made to look like a superstar even though most of them were far from it. Players like Wes Morgan who was beginning to fall out of favour under Nigel Pearson, Christian Fuchs who was released by Schalke 04 for not being good enough, and Danny Drinkwater who was the aforementioned Pearson’s third choice central midfielder for a long period of time in 2014-15, were three of the best players in the league in 2015-16 and Claudio Ranieri deserves so much recognition for that. No team has ever achieved a greater feat than Leicester City did in 2015-16 and they could not have done it without Claudio Ranieri.
Nobody expected Portugal to win Euro 2016 but somehow Fernando Santos managed to pull it off. The Portuguese manager is not a household name in world football by any means but had a massively successful year with the European giants. One of the keys to Santos’ success with Portugal at the summer tournament was trusting every single player and rotating his squad game in and game out. Every single outfield player on the squad played at the tournament and so when other teams got tired, Portugal had the legs to keep on going. That is exactly what happened against France in the final as it took 109 minutes for someone to find the back of the net, but Portugal finally did it as their energy levels were just too much for Leus Bleus to cope with. Throughout the tournament, Santos wasn’t afraid to drop big-name players like Ricardo Carvalho and Joao Moutinho when they weren’t playing well for less-experienced players like Renato Sanches and Jose Fonte. He didn’t fear the fact that he didn’t have a big-name centre forward and instead trusted wingers Nani and Cristiano Ronaldo to hold the line and do the job of scoring goals which they were extraordinarily successful at during the tournament, finishing as joint second highest scorers. But most importantly, Santos’ don’t lose mentality took them all the way to the final and the manager has to be given a massive amount of credit for his country’s surprise Euro 2016 win.
In my opinion there is no better manager in world football from a tactical perspective than Diego Simeone. Guardiola? Conte? This guy can outplay those guys in his sleep and did so with ease in 2016 (with Guardiola anyway) with a squad not even half as good. Sure Simeone has fantastic players like Diego Godin, Koke and Antoine Griezmann but the rest of his starting lineup are all players who are nowhere near the discussion for being best in their position yet Diego Simeone still manages to get the best out of them and lead them to glory year after year. Simeone showed his tactical class when he outplayed Bayern Munich in every footballing department in the UEFA Champions League semi-final, and then nearly led his team to victory in the final, losing a 1-1 draw with Real Madrid on penalty kicks. What Diego Simeone has managed to achieve with this Atletico Madrid team not just in 2016 but ever since arriving at the club in 2011 has been unbeliavable and although he’s as crazy as a bat, the Argentinean manager might just be the best in the business.
Jurgen Klopp has transformed Liverpool ever since arriving from Borussia Dortmund back towards the final months of 2015 and has turned them from a side that looked likely to finish 7th every single year to a side that is now making a genuine challenge for the 2016-17 Premier League title. The signings that he has made in Sadio Mane, Georginio Wijnaldum and Joel Matip have all been classy acquisitions while he’s also managed to transform the likes of Adam Lallana, Philippe Coutinho and James Milner into much better players. A lovable guy with a great sense of humour, Klopp is also one of the best man-managers in the world and knows exactly how to manage different personalities and get the most out of every single player in his side. He might have a more entertaining personality than any other in the world of football, but whether or not he is the best manager as well is up for you to decide.
It hasn’t been the best of starts to life for Pep Guardiola at Manchester City but he is slowly and steadily making his impact and is still in a great position to take his team all the way to the title. Generally regarded as one of the best managers of his time, Guardiola has had another fantastic year in 2016, reaching the semi-finals in the UEFA Champions League and winning the German Bundesliga and DFB Pokal with Bayern Munich. Although things could have gone better at the start of this season for the Citizens, there is certainly still better things to come for his side in 2017 and Guardiola has already managed to transform them into a much better attacking unit than they were under Manuel Pellegrini.
So there it is The Mastermind‘s Nominations for Football Manager of the Year as part of The Mastermind Awards 2016. So where can I vote?! Voting is now open here -> VOTE: The Mastermind Awards 2016. Enjoy! And if you haven’t done so already, make sure to check out The Mastermind Award Nominees 2016 Page for all the details on who and what is up for every single award. Have fun! 🙂