Sheffield United boss Chris Wilder hoists the Eurovision League One Manager of the Year award

Mike Holden by Mike Holden / 11 May 2017, 10:55

In the second edition of our Manager of the Year competition in the time-honoured Eurovision format, The Sack Race columnist Mike Holden (@Ratings_Mike) delves into League One.

Eurovision Introduction

Mike has enlisted an esteemed panel of journalists, bloggers, broadcasters, betting industry professionals and match-going fans from all 92 English clubs and we asked them all to vote for their top ten managers of the 2016/17 season in their respective divisions.

Each club had one representative and they weren’t allowed to vote for the man in charge of their own team. All 92 made their choices completely independently of everyone else.

The process is both thorough and extensive, making the end result difficult to dispute. But this is Eurovision remember, so don’t be too surprised if you spot the odd historical link between certain clubs and managers, not to mention a bit of geographical bias here and there!

The results of the competition will be published over the next few days with links through to our panelists and how they voted, while our master of ceremonies, Mike Holden, will offer his input on how he would have voted, explaining his choices along the way.

Each edition will be formatted as follows:

  • League Findings
  • Results Table
  • Where the votes went
  • The Panel
  • Mike's Picks

Click here for the League Two Results

League One Findings

Chris Wilder was highly unfortunate to miss out on the League Two award last season, when he romped to the League Two title as Northampton boss with 99 points, only to be pipped by John Coleman. But nothing was going to stand in his way this time around as he hit the ton with Sheffield United. No fewer than 15 voters gave Wilder top marks and five of the remaining eight ranked him second.

The achievement was remarkable given the high-profile gaffers who had failed at Bramall Lane prior to him. Nigel Clough and Nigel Adkins are both managers of Championship repute but had failed in their attempts to galvanise the Blades in recent seasons. Now Wilder gets a shot at the second tier for the first time having ended United’s six-year exile in scintillating style, averaging two goals scored per game.

Only Uwe Rosler came close. He picked up an incredible 239 points - enough to take the top prize in any other division - for his remarkable feats with Fleetwood. The German raised eyebrows when he rocked up on the Fylde coast just days before the season began and few expected a promotion challenge in his first season but the Cod Army were sensational when going 18 games unbeaten between November and March.

Fleetwood stayed in the automatic promotion hunt until the final day but were unable to catch Bolton and fell short of their best in the play-offs against Bradford. The big question now is whether they can hold on to Rosler for another season with much bigger clubs bound to be on the lookout between now and Christmas.

Third place went to Graham Alexander, another manager who threatened to clinch promotion for much of the campaign but ultimately came up short. Votes were cast before the outcome of the play-off semi finals was known and voters clearly hadn’t forgotten the great strides made by Scunthorpe at the back end of 2016, even though they faded after Christmas and were denied a trip to Wembley by a home defeat to Millwall.

Phil Parkinson was the only other manager to reach three figures in the Eurovision voting system. The former Bradford boss finished one place further back than last year in fourth, despite clinching automatic promotion with Bolton. Only one voter ranked Parkinson in the top two, whereas two clubs couldn’t find a place for him anywhere in their top ten!

Stuart McCall made up the top five, taking the Bantams one step further than Parkinson could manage last season. They will play Millwall at Wembley on May 20. The Lions were late arrivals in the top six, meaning Neil Harris was largely overlooked by the panel, finishing way back in ninth with Keith Hill, Darrell Clarke and Michael Appleton all ahead of him.

Results Table

League TOne

Where the votes went…

(12 points = Top pick, 10 points = 2nd pick, 8 points = 3rd pick, and so on)

Chris Wilder (254)

  • 12 - Bolton, Bristol Rovers, Bury, Chesterfield, Coventry, Fleetwood, Millwall, Northampton, Peterborough, Port Vale, Rochdale, Southend, Swindon, Walsall, Wimbledon
  • 10 - Bradford, Charlton, MK Dons, Oldham, Scunthorpe
  • 8 - Gillingham, Oxford, Shrewsbury

Uwe Rosler (239)

  • 12 - Bradford, Charlton, Gillingham, MK Dons, Oldham, Oxford, Scunthorpe, Sheff Utd
  • 10 - Bolton, Bristol Rovers, Bury, Coventry, Millwall, Northampton, Peterborough, Port Vale, Rochdale, Swindon, Walsall, Wimbledon
  • 8 - Chesterfield, Southend
  • 7 - Shrewsbury

Graham Alexander (160)

  • 10 - Fleetwood, Gillingham, Shrewsbury
  • 8 - Bradford, Bury, Charlton, Coventry, Millwall, MK Dons, Rochdale, Swindon
  • 7 - Bolton, Peterborough, Port Vale
  • 6 - Bristol Rovers, Northampton, Oldham, Southend
  • 5 - Chesterfield, Oxford
  • 4 - Walsall, Wimbledon
  • 3 - Sheff Utd

Phil Parkinson (128)

  • 10 - Southend
  • 8 - Bristol Rovers, Port Vale
  • 7 - Chesterfield, Northampton, Oxford, Rochdale, Sheff Utd, Swindon
  • 6 - Bradford, Charlton, Millwall, MK Dons, Shrewsbury, Wimbledon
  • 5 - Oldham, Scunthorpe, Walsall
  • 4 - Peterborough
  • 3 - Fleetwood
  • 2 - Bury

Stuart McCall (99)

  • 8 - Northampton, Oldham, Peterborough, Sheff Utd
  • 7 - Bury, Millwall, Southend
  • 6 - Chesterfield, Coventry, Port Vale, Scunthorpe
  • 5 - Fleetwood
  • 4 - Bolton
  • 3 - Gillingham, Oxford, Rochdale
  • 2 - Charlton, Wimbledon

Keith Hill (97)

  • 12 - Shrewsbury
  • 10 - Sheff Utd
  • 8 - Bolton, Scunthorpe, Wimbledon
  • 7 - Bradford, Walsall
  • 6 - Bury
  • 5 - Gillingham, MK Dons
  • 4 - Fleetwood, Swindon
  • 3 - Bury, Oldham, Peterborough
  • 2 - Chesterfield
  • 1 - Northampton, Oxford

Michael Appleton (85)

  • 7 - Coventry, Fleetwood, Gillingham
  • 6 - Swindon, Walsall
  • 5 - Bolton, Peterborough, Rochdale
  • 4 - Bury, Oldham, Port Vale, Shrewsbury, Southend
  • 3 - Bradford, Charlton, Chesterfield, Millwall
  • 2 - Bristol Rovers
  • 1 - Scunthorpe, Sheff Utd, Wimbledon

Darrell Clarke (75)

  • 8 - Walsall
  • 7 - Charlton
  • 6 - Gillingham, Peterborough
  • 5 - Bury, Port Vale
  • 4 - MK Dons, Northampton, Oxford, Rochdale
  • 3 - Coventry, Wimbledon
  • 2 - Bolton, Fleetwood, Millwall, Scunthorpe, Sheff Utd, Shrewsbury
  • 1 - Bradford, Oldham, Southend, Swindon

Neil Harris (65)

  • 10 - Chesterfield
  • 8 - Fleetwood
  • 6 - Bolton, Rochdale, Sheff Utd
  • 5 - Charlton, Swindon
  • 3 - Bury, MK Dons, Southend
  • 2 - Northampton, Oldham, Oxford, Port Vale
  • 1 - Coventry, Walsall

Phil Brown (57)

  • 7 - Oldham, Wimbledon
  • 5 - Bradford, Millwall, Sheff Utd, Shrewsbury
  • 4 - Gillingham, Scunthorpe
  • 3 - Bolton, Swindon
  • 2 - MK Dons, Peterborough, Rochdale
  • 1 - Charlton, Chesterfield, Port Vale

John Sheridan (50)

  • 10 - Oxford
  • 5 - Southend, Wimbledon
  • 4 - Bradford, Charlton, Chesterfield, Coventry
  • 3 - Northampton, Shrewsbury, Walsall
  • 2 - Gillingham
  • 1 - Bolton, Peterborough, Rochdale

Neal Ardley (37)

  • 7 - Scunthorpe
  • 6 - Fleetwood
  • 5 - Northampton
  • 4 - Bristol Rovers, Sheff Utd
  • 3 - Port Vale
  • 2 - Coventry, Swindon
  • 1 - Bury, Gillingham, Millwall, MK Dons

Paul Hurst (16)

  • 6 - Oxford
  • 5 - Coventry
  • 3 - Scunthorpe
  • 2 - Walsall

Mark Robins (8)

  • 7 - MK Dons
  • 1 - Shrewsbury

Robbie Neilson (7)

  • 5 - Bristol Rovers
  • 2 - Southend

Karl Robinson (7)

  • 7 - Bristol Rovers

Lee Clark (6)

  • 4 - Millwall
  • 2 - Bradford

The Panel

A huge thanks to all of our panelists - check out their pages below!

Bolton: Richard McCormick (@RMc2407)

Bradford: Matt Briggs (@MattPBriggs)

Bristol Rovers: Rik Barker (@rikbarker)

Bury: James Bentley (@jamesisaburyfan)

Charlton: Kyle Andrews (@KyleHAndrews)

Chesterfield: Graham Smyth (@GrahamSmyth)

Coventry: Gavin Horsfall (@GHorsfall)

Fleetwood: Rob Stocks (@robstocksbpl)

Gillingham: Graham Saunders (@grumpygillsfan)

Millwall: Millwall halfwayline (@millwalljdb)

MK Dons: Harry Wilmin (@HarryWilmin)

Northampton: Tom Rostance (@TJRostance)

Oldham: Dave (@Aldehulme)

Oxford: George Elek (@GeorgeElek)

Peterborough: Neil Hubbard (@NeilJHubbard)

Port Vale: Unofficial Vale (@unofficialvale)

Rochdale: Ady Ogden (@adyogden)

Scunthorpe: Chris Sumpter (@chrissumpter80)

Sheff Utd: Ian Rands (@unitedite)

Shrewsbury: Patrick Leahy (@salop76)

Southend: Reece Killworth (@reecekillworth)

Swindon: Sam Morshead (@SamMorshead_)

Walsall: Matt Vale (@MattDVale)

Wimbledon: Matt Rickard (@mat_rickard)

Mike’s Picks

12 points - Chris Wilder

After five years coming up short of expectations, Wilder clearly had some big mental blocks to push through but it was nothing a trip to the off licence couldn’t sort out! Once the tipping point came, there was no stopping the Blades: 100 points, 92 goals scored and just three defeats in 42 matches stretching back to the end of August. Phenomenal.

10 points - Uwe Rosler

An incredible first-half record was the platform for a remarkable season, ably demonstrating Rosler’s eye for tactical detail and ability to exploit opposition weaknesses. He also played a blinder in the media sense too, keeping a young side on the straight and narrow at critical points in the campaign. Understandably, they just ran out of steam in the end.

8 points - Phil Parkinson

Phil Parkinson inherited a squad capable of promotion but he wouldn’t have been short of excuses had he come up short. The sale of Zach Clough in the midst of a public row between controlling partners threatened to derail their season but Parky kept the focus on the football, grinding out results week after week in the most functional way possible.

7 points - Neil Harris

It took Millwall a while to get going but a remarkable FA Cup run, beating three Premier League teams along the way, more than compensates for a poor start. Promotion is ultimately the target and after staying the distance in a prolonged game of catch-up, the persistent Lions are back at Wembley and just 90 minutes away from the Championship.

6 points - Stuart McCall

Adaptability is McCall’s greatest asset and Bradford’s season has moved forward in two distinct phases. A shift from Phil Parkinson’s functional approach to something more expansive reinvigorated the mood at the start of the season, then some tidy business in January turned Bradford into a more effective outfit later in the campaign.

5 points - Darrell Clarke

The departure of 16-goal Matty Taylor to arch-rivals Bristol City at the end of January would have derailed most teams but, under Clarke, the Pirates only became stronger and more consistent as a unit. Had they kept Taylor, or at least found an adequate replacement, they would surely now be preparing for the play-offs. Expect big things next season.

4 points - Graham Alexander

Alexander started the campaign where he left off the previous one but performances dipped alarmingly after Christmas, once the promotion race became tense, and results soon followed suit. Overall, it looks a good season relative to expectations but it could - and probably should - have been so much more. Another top six finish should be the bare minimum next term.

3 points - Keith Hill

There’s only so many times you can perform the same trick before it gets taken for granted and Hill would probably be higher up the pecking order had this been his first season in the division. In Hill’s four seasons at this level, Rochdale have finished 9th, 8th, 10th and 9th with 68, 63, 68 and 69 points respectively.

2 points - John Sheridan

The similarities between this season and last are uncanny. Sheridan returned to Oldham in mid-January and produced nine wins in 22 matches to drag the Latics out of the drop zone to the comfort of 17th place on 54 points. Had those two remarkable acts of escapology sandwiched a truly dreadful spell in charge of Notts County, the recognition would have been greater.

1 point - Michael Appleton

Artistic merit gets Appleton the nod ahead of other potential candidates. An eighth-placed finish in your first season following promotion isn’t a bad effort but they arguably had enough quality to finish in the top six and really should have won the Checkatrade Trophy. A nearly team - the Yellows need to take charge of their own destiny next term.

Betting Odds Tips

Managers Departed

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Mark Cooper
Mark Cooper
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