What would a football team be without their manager? Sometimes better off; but most often a team would be absolutely lost without their manager. 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 2017 nominations for Football Manager of the Year as part of The Mastermind Awards. Enjoy!
♥ Antonio Conte
What Antonio Conte managed to achieve in his first season as Chelsea manager was absolutely immaculate. After intuitively changing to a back three following a horrific 3-0 defeat to Arsenal, the Blues went on a rampant run, smashing records and going on to win the 2016-17 Premier League title with ease, accumulating more wins than any other side in Premier League history. Chelsea completely dominated over nearly every team they played against and instantly after changing to a 3-4-3 in October, the Blues suddenly became unbeatable. Impressively, Conte managed to get the best out of every single player, including players neglected by Chelsea in the past such as Victor Moses and David Luiz, and players who had severly struggled the season before like Eden Hazard and Diego Costa. Everything that Conte did with Chelsea in 2016-17 was magical and his tactics and ability to man-manage every single one of his players were always spot on. Antonio Conte isn’t just the best manager in the Premier League, he might be the best in the world.
After thwarting Juventus in the 2016-17 UEFA Champions League final, Real Madrid and Zinedine Zidane became the first club and manager to win the competition two years in a row. It was a feat that seemed practically impossible before this year as season after season the defending champions could not repeat, could not reach the same heights they achieved the year before. But Zinedine Zidane was the first man to make it happen. The French manager has managed to take over where all of his predecessors left off absolutely seamlessly and hasn’t looked lost at all in his first big job in football. He’s turned Casemiro into a world star, Isco into one of the world’s most intelligent footballers, and has still managed to find a balance between playing his stars like Ronaldo and Kroos and giving time to young talents like Marco Asensio. The scariest thing is that still being so new to management, Zinedine Zidane will only improve from here.
Pep Guardiola didn’t have an outstanding first season in charge of Manchester City as the Sky Blues only finished 4th, but his second season in charge has been something utterly spectacular. Since a 1-1 draw in the second game of the season against Everton, Man City have won every single match, breaking records along the way and coming close to breaking even more, including the win streak record that Chelsea set last season. The Citizens have just been firing on all cylinders and every single player is in top form, working for their manager every step of the way. Manchester City haven’t even needed the injured new-signing, Benjamin Mendy, because Guardiola has turned Fabian Delph into one of the most capable left-backs in the league. Kyle Walker’s been a brilliant signing, while John Stones is finally living up to his potential. On top of that, players like David Silva, Kevin de Bruyne, Fernandinho, Leroy Sane and Raheem Sterling have been on a different planet this season; better than they’ve ever been before. With more away wins in a row than any other man in Premier League history, Guardiola is achieving wonders at Manchester City this season and obviously it’s so early to call but if they continue on at this rate, they will break all kinds of records and could become one of the greatest Premier League sides ever assembled.
Getting Marco Silva through the door was possibly the best business Watford have ever done. The Portuguese manager nearly kept Hull City up last season when all hope seemed lost, winning all but two of his home games in charge of the club. Marco Silva is the reason why Harry Maguire now plays for Leicester City. He’s the reason why Andy Robertson now plays for Liverpool, why Sam Clucas plays for Swansea and why Oumar Niasse is finally being given a shout at Everton. Silva managed to get the best out of each of his players at Hull City and nearly helped them avoid the drop, a job that no other manager could have done.
Since moving to Watford, Silva has achieved similar wonders as the Hornets sit 8th in the table, compared to their 17th place finish of last season when Walter Mazzarri was in charge. Watford have played with so much verve and energy this season and haven’t even had to rely on star players like Troy Deeney and Etienne Capoue as a new set of key stars have emerged instead. The signing of Richarlison has proved to be one of the best of the summer and the young Brazilian has been one of the Premier League’s top players so far this year. He’s also managed to get the best out of players who struggled under Mazzarri like Abdoulaye Doucoure and Christian Kabasele, and more recently has been seeing improvements from Will Hughes and Marvin Zeegelaar. Marco Silva is a brilliant, tactically intelligent manager and is slowly building his reputation as one of the very best in the world.
Masimilliano Allegri had big boots to fill after replacing Antonio Conte in charge of Juventus, but he has been equally ebullient for The Old Lady, leading them to the UEFA Champions League final twice, three Serie A titles and three Coppa Italia titltes. Masi Allegri is truly something special and even despite all the success he’s achieved at Juve, remains criminally underrated. One of Allegri’s most notable achievements at Juventus has been turning Paulo Dybala into one of the very best footballers in the world. The Argentinean striker was crucial for the club last year and they would not have made it to the final without him. The three-time Serie A Coach of the Year also has to be credited for bringing in key players like Mario Mandzukic, Gonzalo Higuain and Miralem Pjanic, all of whom were critical to the club’s UEFA Champions League run of last year. With a 70% win rate since joining Juventus, Masimilliano Allegri has to be thought of as one of the best managers in the world and could even claim this year’s Football Manager of the Year award as part of The Mastermind Awards.
It hasn’t been a perfect start to life in Manchester for Mourinho, but he has been very good and is the only manager of the club since the Sir Alex Ferguson era to win a title. The Portuguese manager secured two titles last season in fact, narrowly beating Southampton to the EFL Cup and then more impressively, the UEFA Europa League at the end of the season. This season, Manchester United have been outstanding and if it hadn’t been for Man City’s stunning form, everyone would be talking about the Red Devils as Premier League favourites. The signings of Nemanja Matic and Romelu Lukaku have been two of the best of the summer and Mourinho was crucial in securing both signatures. Mourinho also has to be given credit for bringing in the likes of Eric Bailly, Paul Pogba and Henrikh Mkhitaryan; and perhaps even more impressively getting the best out of Jessie Lingard, Ander Herrera, Ashley Young and Antonio Valencia. Jose Mourinho is a genius of a manager and although probably not the best of 2017, what he’s managed to accomplish with this Manchester United side that Moyes and Van Gaal desperately struggled with is a massive achievement.
So there it is! The nominees for Football Manager of the Year as part of the 2017 Mastermind Awards. Like what you read? Subscribe for more and make sure to be back here on December 5th to begin voting for all the awards! See you soon!
♥ = The Mastermind‘s choice for each award category.