Brighton boss Chris Hughton retains Eurovision Championship Manager of the Year award

Mike Holden by Mike Holden / 12 May 2017, 13:39

In the third episode of our Manager of the Year competition in the time-honoured Eurovision format, The Sack Race columnist Mike Holden (@Ratings_Mike) takes a look at the Championship.

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 is formatted as follows:

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

League One Results | League Two Results

Championship Findings

The Championship title may have slipped through his fingers on the final day but Chris Hughton had no trouble defending his Sack Race manager of the year crown. The Brighton boss is the only one of last year’s four winners to retain the award. Next year, he’ll have to eclipse the likes of Antonio Conte, Mauricio Pochettino, Pep Guardiola, Jose Mourinho and Jurgen Kloop if he wants to complete the hat-trick.

Last season, Hughton finished streets ahead of the field with only Sean Dyche putting up a genuine chase. This season, it was a much closer-run thing with David Wagner pushing him all the way. Nine clubs ranked Hughton as their number one, compared to eight who favoured Wagner. Only four voters didn’t have them both men in the top three of their scorecards.

Slavisa Jovanovic was a comfortable third, despite picking up only one maximum. His Fulham side crept into the top six in the final fortnight but the Serbian’s impressive work - and some scintillating football in the process - was very well received. All but two out of 23 clubs had Jokanovic in their top five, eight of them ranking him in the top three.

In fourth was the curious case of Jaap Stam, who you might have thought warranted a bit more recognition for a third-placed finish with unfancied Reading. However, maybe it’s a sign that awareness of the expected goals principle is so widespread nowadays that many voters look beyond results and account for the element of luck that has allowed the Royals outperform their shot data.

Opinion was seemingly divided on Nigel Clough. He was ranked first by five different clubs for guiding Burton to safety in their first ever season at this level, yet six other voters ignored his claims altogether. Nonetheless, the former Derby boss finished above title-winner Rafa Benitez, no doubt helped by the fact all the votes were cast before the Magpies leapfrogged Brighton on the final day.

And with cruel irony, Garry Monk had to settle for seventh, the same position occupied by his Leeds United side. In almost any other year, the 75-point haul he accumulated in his first season at Elland Road would guarantee a play-off berth and you suspect he probably would have made the top three had the votes been cast a couple of weeks ago.

Results Table



Where the votes went...

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

Chris Hughton (230)

  • 12 - Barnsley, Blackburn, Bristol City, Cardiff, Huddersfield, Ipswich, Newcastle, Nottm Forest, Wolves
  • 10 - Burton, Fulham, Leeds, Reading, Rotherham, Sheff Wed
  • 8 - Aston Villa, Birmingham, Brentford, Derby, Preston, Wigan
  • 7 - Norwich, QPR

David Wagner (218)

  • 12 - Brighton, Burton, Derby, Fulham, Leeds, Norwich, QPR, Rotherham
  • 10 - Aston Villa, Barnsley, Blackburn, Brentford, Cardiff
  • 8 - Barnsley, Bristol City, Ipswich, Newcastle, Nottm Forest, Reading, Wolves
  • 7 - Sheff Wed, Wigan

Slavisa Jokanovic (167)

  • 12 - Wigan
  • 10 - Bristol City, Ipswich, Newcastle, Wolves
  • 8 - Blackburn, Norwich
  • 7 - Barnsley, Cardiff, Preston, Rotherham
  • 6 - Aston Villa, Brentford, Brighton, Derby, Huddersfield, Leeds
  • 5 - Nottm Forest
  • 4 - Birmingham

Jaap Stam (146)

  • 12 - Birmingham
  • 10 - Huddersfield, Norwich
  • 8 - Brighton, Leeds, Rotherham, Sheff Wed
  • 7 - Aston Villa, Brentford, Bristol City, Fulham, Nottm Forest
  • 6 - Blackburn, Newcastle
  • 5 - Burton, Cardiff, Derby, Ipswich, Preston, QPR
  • 3 - Barnsley
  • 2 - Wolves

Nigel Clough (134)

  • 12 - Aston Villa, Brentford, Preston, Reading, Sheff Wed
  • 10 - Nottm Forest
  • 8 - Cardiff, Fulham, Huddersfield, QPR
  • 7 - Birmingham, Newcastle
  • 6 - Norwich
  • 5 - Barnsley
  • 3 - Brighton, Bristol City
  • 1 - Ipswich

Rafael Benitez (109)

  • 10 - Barnsley, Derby, Preston, Wigan
  • 7 - Blackburn, Ipswich, Wolves
  • 6 - Burton
  • 5 - Aston Villa, reading, Rotherham
  • 4 - Bristol City, Huddersfield, Leeds, Nottm Forest, Sheff Wed
  • 3 - Birmingham
  • 2 - Brentford
  • 1 - Brighton, Norwich

Garry Monk (94)

  • 10 - QPR
  • 7 - Derby, Huddersfield
  • 6 - Fulham, Wigan
  • 5 - Brentford, Brighton, Bristol City, Newcastle, Sheff Wed, Wolves
  • 4 - Blackburn, Burton, Cardiff, Reading, Rotherham
  • 3 - Preston
  • 2 - Ipswich
  • 1 - Aston Villa, Barnsley, Birmingham

Paul Heckingbottom (74)

  • 10 - Brighton
  • 6 - Cardiff, Ipswich, Nottm Forest, Preston
  • 5 - Birmingham, Fulham, Norwich
  • 4 - Derby, Newcastle
  • 3 - Blackburn, Brentford, Reading
  • 2 - Aston Villa, Bristol City
  • 1 - Burton, Leeds, Sheff Wed, Wigan

Carlos Carvalhal (68)

  • 7 - Burton, Leeds, Reading
  • 6 - Bristol City, Rotherham
  • 5 - Huddersfield
  • 4 - Aston Villa, Barnsley, Wigan, Wolves
  • 3 - Ipswich
  • 2 - Birmingham, Blackburn
  • 1 - Newcastle

Simon Grayson (55)

  • 6 - Birmingham, Wolves
  • 5 - Blackburn
  • 4 - Brentford, Brighton, Fulham, Ipswich, Norwich
  • 3 - Burton, Leeds
  • 2 - Derby, Huddersfield, Nottm Forest, QPR, Sheff Wed
  • 1 - Bristol City, Cardiff

Neil Warnock (39)

  • 7 - Brighton
  • 6 - Barnsley
  • 4 - QPR
  • 3 - Fulham, Huddersfield
  • 2 - Burton, Leeds, Newcastle, Norwich, Rotherham, Wigan
  • 1 - Blackburn, Brentford, Nottm Forest, Wolves

Dean Smith (33)

  • 5 - Leeds
  • 3 - Aston Villa, Norwich, Nottm Forest, QPR, Sheff Wed, Wolves
  • 2 - Brighton, Cardiff, Reading
  • 1 - Derby, Fulham, Huddersfield, Preston

Gary Rowett (13)

  • 5 - Wigan
  • 3 - Rotherham
  • 2 - Barnsley, Fulham
  • 1 - Reading

Steve Bruce (7)

  • 3 - Newcastle, Wigan
  • 1 - Rotherham

The Panel

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

Aston Villa: Kevin Hughes (@KevHughesie)

Barnsley: Doug O’Kane (@dougokane88)

Birmingham: Chris Quinn (@chrisquinn3)

Blackburn: Mikey Delap (@MikeyDelap)

Brentford: Greville Waterman (@grevwaterman)

Brighton: David (@cgullman)

Bristol City: Dave Sainsbury (@ViaductDave)

Burton: Gabriel Sutton (@FootballLab)

Cardiff: Marc Shewring (@paxoccfc)

Derby: Tim Devine (@TimJDevine)

Fulham: Sam Dymond (@sammydymond)

Huddersfield: Andy Lawson (@djandylawson)

Ipswich: Dave Pilgrim (@mickeystockwell)

Leeds: Ian Burdin (@burdinho)

Newcastle: Daniel White (@danwhitepr)

Norwich: Richard McTiernan (@rmctie)

Nottingham Forest: Lee Clarke (@Clarkey_No1)

Preston: Phil Parkinson (@Parkypark)

QPR: Mark O’Haire (@MarkOHaire)

Reading: Mark Sugar (@marksugar)

Rotherham: Paul Hinchliffe

Sheff Wed: Dom Howson (@domhowson)

Wigan: George Weah’s Cousin (@GeorgeWeahsCousin)

Wolves: Nick Goff (@nickgoff79)

Mike's Picks

12 points - Chris Hughton

For a club that had been out of the top flight for 34 years, Brighton held their nerve incredibly well to secure automatic promotion, which made their late collapse in the title chase all the more surprising. Everybody knew Hughton’s approach before the season but his operation was so efficient, few teams could do anything about it.

10 points - Slavisa Jokanovic

Jokanovic proved in his previous job at Watford that he’s a shrewd tactician who has the measure of the division but few would have expected him to produce a team so scintillating as this Fulham side. Make no mistake, the Cottagers have set a standard on a par with the top two since the October international break.

8 points - David Wagner

Wagner has slightly overplayed the underdog card in recent weeks but Huddersfield have enjoyed a fine season and they’ve been a match for anybody when fresh and at their best. Growing concerns over their mentality prevent me from making Wagner top dog but the Terriers have contributed immensely to the campaign as a whole.

7 points - Garry Monk

75 points is 75 points. It might not be enough for the play-offs this time around but it’s a long way ahead of what anyone should have realistically expected in Monk’s first season given the lack of stability and resources at Elland Road. The former Swansea boss has forged a real identity that makes the team much greater than the sum of its parts.

6 points - Nigel Clough

There was no magic formula that enabled Burton to keep relegation at arm’s length, it was purely the result of sheer hard work. Clough instilled an exceptional mentality among his players, whereby intensity was sustained for 90 minutes in virtually every game and no single setback was allowed to undermine their efforts next time out.

5 points - Rafa Benitez

Newcastle took the back-door route to the title and never quite lived up to expectations, yet it’s credit to Benitez that they never really lost control of their destiny in that climate and invariably delivered when it mattered most. There were a scalp for everybody, there’s no escaping that, and they got their rewards for treating the division with the respect it deserves.

4 points - Jaap Stam

There are two ways of looking at Reading’s achievements this season. There’s clearly more to their mediocre shot data than meets the eye and whatever those game-management secrets might be, they’re almost entirely attributable to Stam and his possession-based philosophy. But ultimately, it always comes back to those underlying numbers.

3 points - Carlos Carvalhal

Wednesday have made heavy weather of this season but that won’t matter one bit if they go on to clinch promotion at Wembley later this month. Last season was fun, they rode the rollercoaster and came up just short. This season, it feels more business-like and Carvalhal deserves credit for keeping them on course in a comparatively cooler climate.

2 points - Neil Warnock

Warnock’s ability to make average players produce above-average football was evident within weeks of his arrival at Cardiff last October. Only three different players had found the scoresheet for the Bluebirds in the opening nine matches but Warnock soon freshened it up and had them climbing the table, to such an extent that the final two months were played in flip-flops.

1 points - Simon Grayson

Start better and finish better - that’s the message for Simon Grayson after another solid campaign for Preston. The Lancashire club lost six of their first eight matches and five of their last six but take the 32 matches that come thick and fast in between, and you find yourself looking at a comfortable play-off outfit on course for 79 points.

Betting Odds Tips

Managers Departed

Last man down

Darren Moore
Darren Moore
(Doncaster Rovers)
1st March
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