Who is your Premier League Manager of the Year?
Saturday’s win at the King Power Stadium all but confirmed Newcastle staying up and hoisted the Magpies into the top half.
This has sparked a number of media articles, as well as fans on social media, to raise the question of whether Rafa Benitez should be a candidate for the award.
For a lot of people the equation will be simple, the best manager is the one with the best team that finished top of the Premier League.
From 1993/94 to 2008/09 that rang true, only once in 16 seasons did somebody win the award who didn’t also lift the Premier League title. In 2000/01, George Burley received the award after taking Ipswich to a surprise fifth place in their first season after promotion, Alex Ferguson the one to miss out despite Man Utd winning the title.
However, after that happening only once in 16 seasons, the last eight years have seen another instances.
It was Harry Redknapp (Spurs) who was crowned Premier League Manager of the Year in 2009/10, Alan Pardew (Newcastle United) in 2011/12, then Tony Pulis (Crystal Palace) in 2013/14.
So could the same thing happen this season?
Well, there are certainly some worthy contenders as it stands now.
With a minimal net spend allowed by Mike Ashley last summer (2017) and no players allowed to be bought in the last two Januarys, the Newcastle manager could easily have walked away or let the team/club collapse.
Instead, he has got the very most from this group of players and they have clearly been a better team than the sum of their individual parts. Currently in 10th after promotion, maintaining that position would be a brilliant achievement.
Inspirational stuff from Sean Dyche.
Burnley are seventh and indeed only five points behind sixth place Arsenal, Newcastle’s win at Leicester helped them move six points clear of the Foxes in eighth.
Seventh spot is very likely to provide European football and if that comes off, Dyche will have done a superb job with relatively meagre spending at an unfashionable club.
Brighton are currently 13th in the table and seven points clear of relegation.
I think it rates at least an honourable mention the job he has done, to get a smaller club such as Brighton promoted and then have a season where they have never really looked likely to go down.
Very similar to Hughton at Brighton but Huddersfield are even smaller and less fashionable.
They were nailed on by everybody to be relegated but instead they have spent the whole season out of the relegation zone and currently 16th and four points clear, another win and the odd draw would probably ensure staying up – which would represent a great year for them.
Currently third in the Premier League but having played some brilliant entertaining football, scoring a lot more goals than everybody else, apart from one certain team.
After that three goal first leg win, if Liverpool complete the job tonight, then they are only two steps away from winning the Champions League. Would that be enough to sway things?
When Rafa Benitez did that in 2005, he was maybe unlucky for it to coincide with Jose Mourinho securing a record number of PL points (95) as Chelsea won the title.
For all the five above are ‘contenders’ to be mentioned, some more than others, there can be only one winner.
Yes there have been incredible amounts of money spent but Man Utd have spent just the same.
Manchester City though have played the most brilliant football and a couple of reverses in recent times can’t take that away, they have still only lost twice in the league this season and have won 27 of the other 30!
They are still on course to win the most points ever in the Premier League era, their projected 100 points total would be five more than Chelsea in 2004/05.
Whilst in terms of goals, Chelsea managed 103 in 2009/10 but Man City are projected to get 107 based on current figures.
Plus, nobody would be really surprised if they bounced back and somehow overturned Liverpool’s three goal Champions League advantage tonight.