When I first thought about writing this, my intention was to prove that my personal pick for Premier League Manager of the Year was, according to the facts and figures, a demonstrable leading candidate.

I’m talking about Rafa of course, but as I looked at the numbers, it became obvious that there’s also another frontrunner – maybe even one that would pip Benitez at the post.

It’s fair to say that many people’s favourite this year is Pep Guardiola. In absolute terms it’s hard to argue with the Manchester City manager’s claim, given the way his team has run away with the league, winning the title at a canter and playing some dazzling football along the way (especially in the first half of the season when they were demolishing teams by a number of goals).

However, if you think in relative terms, there’s a case to be made that given the resources at Man City’s disposal, there are other managers who have turned in better performances, pound for pound, over the course of the season.

Indeed, according to transfermkt.com, Man City’s net transfer spend makes even their closest rivals look like relative paupers:

manager of the year

(Source: www.transfermkt.com; league position as at end of 19/04/2018)

Points per game, per $m of average 1st squad  player’s annual salary:

manager of the year

(Source: www.statista.com )

Points per game, per average transfer market value of first team squad player (in Euros):

manager of the year(Source: www.transfermkt.com)

Looking at it in these ways there’s a strong case for Rafa, given he’s got a team that’s overperforming given the expectations and the resources available.

There’s also a case that the other two promoted teams have done likewise, but in my opinion the high level of net transfer spend last summer in preparation for their Premier League debuts, eliminates Wagner and Hughton from the running.

You will notice that there is one other team that appears towards the top of all of the table above – and that, of course, is Burnley. So while Sean Dyche has had a couple of extra seasons in the Premier League to build a squad with experience of the league and Rafa has had to chop and change his squad to clear out the dead wood, deal with relegation quickly followed by promotion and rebuild the ethos and culture of the squad, it’s fair to say that according to the numbers Dyche’s achievements have been at least on a par with Rafa’s.

However, I am still going to go with Rafa on this one – and that is not just black and white bias talking.

If you take into account the uncertainty around the club’s ownership, the broken promises regarding transfers and squad building, and the expectations at the start of the season (remember, Rafa was the favourite to be first manager to leave their post before the season kicked off) then under the circumstances, there’s no one that’s done a better job than Rafa Benitez!

You can follow the author on Twittter @Matt_J_Norton

To feature like Matthew Norton submit your article to [email protected] and/or for more info go here



  • Rich Lawson

    You know what,I’d give it to Klopp (and I hate Liverpool),he has beaten Man’ City 3 times this year by playing attacking football,and (shall we see the season out ?) might still win the European Cup.He doesn’t take it all to seriously and has the good grace to admit when they have been turned over,I like him.

    • GToon

      Good call. Mourinho is always decent with us too, regardless of the score line. The serial shopper at Man City goes mental when they lose though.

      • DB

        You seem to be hung up on Pep… Hes been one of the most gracious Managers this year but lets face it when we played Newcastle at our place they were an utter joke with two buses parked. Check out Klopps interview after today’s game against WBA.. Moaning about a dry pitch and WBA having the audacity to score from set pieces. Manager of the year relates to premier league not champs league.

      • Rich Lawson

        He does,he’s very petulant,walking onto the pitch the other day to have a go at the Ref’,what was he thinking !?

    • JEz_Brizzle

      He also is a great character – total emotion and passion – out there for all to see.

    • Peaky

      Yes agree,Klopp has been great since he came here and a brilliant character…

  • Alex

    Dyche deserves it for the “prouder than the proudest man in Proudsville” interview alone!

    • Ramalingam Raghavan

      Dyche has been with them for 5 years now. So it should not be too much of a surprise. Rafa has a had a lot of uncertainties inspite of which we are close to 8th which is just 1 below Burnley.
      We are straight form Championship without any much of backing.

      • JEz_Brizzle

        25% more points than us. Dyche’s management is not a surprise, but position in the table, run of form and the quality of players in his team – he does deserve it. If you want to go experience wise – Rafa is a top manager, been with the Toon for a few years with the same players pretty much, and the road has been rocky (albeit that the poor form was whilst Lascelles was injured – Captain and heart of defence – and we had many close games still).
        Rafa has done great, endured awful club management, a sales saga and transfer bullSh1t – brilliant. But Dyche deserves it more.

  • JEz_Brizzle

    While I love the thought of Rafa as Manager of the Year, and concur that he has endured an pitiful regime that most managers would have walked from, I think there’s fat (cashley) chance of him being awarded it. Firstly, as mentioned, Pep has his team firing in an amazing way with fantastic football that benefits the premier league and has the pundits wetting themselves. Almost a whole season unbeaten is remarkable. I would end there and say it is nailed on that he will get it. However, as your stats show, Sean Dyche is doing an amazing job given the tools at his disposal. They are firing well above their weight consistently throughout the whole season, and there is potential for them to be in the top six for European footy next year (side issue, will we be allowed to play when we leave?).So I think it is between the two of them.
    Rafa has us in an amazing position, but if you think back to only January, it was all doom and gloom – almost assured relegation.Yes there was the Sale side of things, but the results before say alot – October to March – 5 wins in 23 matches. Sorry, that is not Manager of the Year form, even with the squad we have.
    Don’t get me wrong, I think Rafa has done extremely well given everything and is probably 3rd to 5th Manager down that list. Without him, I feel we would already be relegated. His january transfer siginings have been a rabbit out of the bag especially given the influence of the Fat Man, who seems intent on fussing it all up to have a laugh on us fans.
    I hope Sean Dyche gets it – he does deserve it, in my humble opinion (backed by your stats)

    • GToon

      “Football that benefits the premier league “? Having the backing of a dictatorship and simply buying success benefits nobody other than that club. They were nothing before the money arrived. That’s worth remembering. Do you think having a team like Celtic, Barcelona, Real Madrid, PSG or Man City is a benefit to any league? They ought to go and play in their own back garden and leave the development of the game to the other clubs. Money and greed should have no place in sport but unfortunately they have and thanks to Sky that is the overwhelming factor for their success. The one consolation I’d like to see is one of these pundit sycophants actually dismiss Guardiola and his achievements in an instant and actually recognize that without the money he couldn’t have done it. And then hand the award to Dyche. A proper manager. Or even to Wenger for his refusal to just throw money at the problem.

      • JEz_Brizzle

        Agreed completely about the award of manager, and also agree about it only being the money that buys the quality of player we are seeing at the top. Wenger has been very shrewd bringing in great talents and spending little – however his teams have lost pace of recent, so was that so wise when he reportedly had the money to bring in quality.
        But the Premier League is seeing some of the best talents here. Are Man City the best footy team on the planet at the moment? One of for sure. And that is forcing the level of our league higher. We have had great competitiveness against Man City, Man U, Arsenal, Spurs – the top teams. Yes we have gone on to lose most of those, but we competed well. Our game improved against them. Our players learned more, and probably gained confidence on how well they competed.

        Guardiola has done a great job though. How many managers have tried to put top players together and failed. Certainly the turnover of managers at Man City, Man U (since SAF) and Chelski show it is not easy to get great players firing in great form. So Guardiola has to be part of the key, despite the fortune he is able to call upon for what he sees as the missing peice.

        But we are in agreement – Dyche for Manager of the Year

        • GToon

          Ta for the reply. I get your point about raising the bar. I just think they can raise it artificially high that’s all, punching well above their weight. I think I could accept people praising Guardiola if there was more acknowledgment of the part the money has played in his success. I think I am biased though as I think he is a coward. He’s only ever managed the best team in its respective league. I was absolutely enthralled by Wengers invincibles. They were amazing to watch and that was down to him not just the money. Ditto with Leicester. I moved to Nottingham in 1979 from the north east just in time to witness the success of Clough, surely one of the greatest managers there has ever been. I have all the time in the world for people who make something from nothing in any walk of life but I find it hard to appreciate the success of those that “already had” in the first place. I loved the way Keegan took our team of youngsters and cast offs to the premier league and I appreciated how he tried to build on success, money generated in the first place by his ability to fashion a team rather than just buy one. The city fans these days talk about now being self sufficient but to me that’s like buying a pauper a Ferrari and then the pauper saying they only have to pay for the petrol. Sorry, I’m just very bitter and a bit irrational where that team and what they stand for are concerned.

          • JEz_Brizzle

            Sorry you feel so bitter about the money, but money doesn’t buy success – how many millions have City spent and how many managers? Regarding Pep’s skills being only money based, he has a pretty damned good CV as a player, and learnt his management training at Barca, taking them over. Barca obviously saw something in a ‘rookie’ manager to let him take the reigns, when they can more or less draw attention from any manager they choose – so they could have chosen career results, but no, he had that something. He managed to have a great set of players, but as a host of top teams have shown, top players don’t necessarily get the results without the guidance of a top tactical manager. His record at barca for a Rookie is incredible really – and within 5 years had won World Manager of the Year – clearly doing something right. He then left and went to Bayern Munich and produced the results again. And now he’s at Man City and we are seeing the results of him guiding top talented players to get the results – which other managers with all the money they want have not managed.
            What is it 24 titles in 10 years?
            Regarding money in the game, yes it lifts one club to new heights and challenges those already at the top, but money in the game is now part and parcel of the game. I think your ferrari example is a little wrong, I think it is more like you buy a top kit car and ask the manager to assemble and tune it. You can have an 800 bhp engine, but if it is tuned wrong or you have the wrong gearbox or diff, it is not going win the races.
            We bemoan Ashley taking the money out and not investing… why? … because we are going backwards… it has for a long time been about bringing top talent in – e.g. bringing Shearer to the Club. Lovely if you can raise new talents, make profits – but the game for all has changed.
            Any yes, I loved the Wengers invincibles (bit to young to remember Cloughy tho), and SAF also threw in the young kids too and deserves the credit.

            With all above said about Pep – just to confirm – Dyche for MOY.

        • thewildchimp

          Don’t forget that the likes of Sanchez and Ozil deserted in the midst of the season. I have seen Wenger angry at the players many times this season. That means he told them one thing and they were doing the other.

      • Jezza

        Excellent comment.

      • DB

        How sweet… sounds like you want to play in the Scottish League. The only way to break the top 4 monopoly that guarantees massive income through CL revenue was to invest big time. Maybe you would prefer United & Arsenal to share the league year in and year out? This investment brings huge revenue into the PL and every club in the PL benefits from that. People around the world dont want to watch Newcastle vs Bournemouth but will watch world class players/teams like City & Liverpool. City is now in a position to generate its own revenues because of that initial massive investment. sounds like sour grapes to me…….

  • Leazes.

    I think it goes on the number of monthly awards you win…can’t be certain but Pep has four and can’t be beaten

    is it overachievement to get 3 wins more than expected with a club who has struggled all season, a couple of unexpected results against Manure and Arsenal doesn’t make Benitez a candidate just because he’s achieved safety.

  • MichaelMaximusMoose

    Josep Guardiola will be manager of the year & rightly so.
    a comment from his wife, my husband is a born leader but can`t change a light bulb

    • GToon

      Mate, without money he’d be nothing. If he was at a mid table club he’d be nothing. Don’t believe the hype!

      • Jezza

        True. Anybody can be manager of the year if they are given £300 million every transfer window.

        • thewildchimp

          Not a Pep fan, but Pellegrini was on the same boat and he flopped. Guardiola knows what he’s doing but I don’t think he’s really any better than Klopp or Pochettino.

  • Simon Ritter

    Dyche has been fantastic at Burnley. They sold two of their best players last year and he has kept improving the team. He got £25m for Keane and £11.5m for Andre Gray. That’s the mark of a top, top manager.

  • Weyhhadaway

    Dyche deserves it, he is doing it for a no name club and he is not known either in the wider football world. But it Will probably go to Pep. So good on him and the other Brit manager Hughton. They both Try to play good football and are developing into the top end of management. The common thread I see is that their clubs didn’t panic or get greedy at the first sign of a blip and can their guy. They have both benefited from that backing and are showing that we do actually have some talent in this country outside of the merry go round of fat sham and his “old school” mates.

    • GToon

      Eddy Howe does a very good job too with very little. Unfortunately it’s people like Guardiola who will stand in the way of Howe and co making it to a bigger club and hence developing their skills further.

  • GC

    Sean Dyche for me. He looks and sounds like a bouncer and probably scares the sh%te out of his players to perform. Still more interesting than the top 5’s Xbox football. I’d be top of the Prem if I had those resources.

    • Jezza

      Fair enough but even Sean Dyche was given a lot more money to spend than Rafa.

      • daveybwoy

        That’s not true though is it?

        • Jezza

          Sean Dyche was allowed to spend £15 million on a striker. That’s more than any Newcastle manager has been allowed to spend on any player in the 11 years since Ashley came along.

  • Alan Pardew

    There’s a good chance I could win French Manager of the Year. It’s something I have got my eye on!