LMA Manager of the Year 2020: Jurgen Klopp, Chris Wilder or a Football League hot shot?

Jack Kitson by Jack Kitson / 13 February 2020, 08:46

While near enough all managers selflessly direct the praise and plaudits onto their players after a success of some sort - whether it be a league title triumph, cup win or promotion - deep down we all know that they will secretly be thrilled at receiving an individual honour, such as the LMA Manager of the Year award.

The accolade is handed out annually by the League Managers Association to a manager that has enjoyed a truly exceptional season in English football. For example, this could be for winning the Premier League title - aka Pep Guardiola (Man City, 2018) - or performing wonders with a less fancied team - aka Steve Coppell (Reading, 2006 and 2007).

Below we’ve taken a look at how the main contenders are currently shaping up, and whether the award is a one-horse race, two-horse race, or maybe a hidden gem could spring a surprise...

Jurgen Klopp (Liverpool)

Jurgen Klopp appeared so nailed-on to scoop the award that bookmakers Bet Victor took the LMA Manager Market down before Christmas, only to re-open it this week due to Chris Wilder’s continued success in his first ever Premier League season.

To many though, it’s still difficult to look past the Liverpool manager, who is priced at just 1/12 to bag the prize. 

At the time of writing, the undefeated Reds have accumulated a sensational 73 points from a possible 75 so far this season meaning they are well on course to becoming the Premier League’s second ‘Invincibles’ side, and in the process smash a shedload of records e.g. most points, most wins, most home/away wins, consecutive wins, winning margin etc.

Should, as expected, Klopp proceed to hoist the Premier League title then he’d become the first German gaffer to achieve this feat, while a fabled treble could well be on the cards with his troops vying for a second success Champions League trophy, and the FA Cup.

Liverpool fans may well have had to be patient - 30 years to be precise - but in Klopp, who has already been named Manager of the Month five times, they have a truly majestic manager who has drawn parallels with the iconic Bill Shankly; through his passion, charisma and iron will to win.


LMA Manager of the Year 2019: Chris Wilder

Chris Wilder (Sheffield United)

We’re running out of superlatives to use for our ‘Manager of the Decade: 2010-2019’ - Chris Wilder - who continues to pull up trees, after a remarkable few years in which he’s propelled Sheffield United from League One up to 5th in the Premier League - within two points of a Champions League spot.

Wilder has been a breath of fresh air in the top-flight, where he has remained loyal to his own style of play, as well as to many of the players who have helped orchestrate the memorable journey. To think that he only spent £43m in the summer too, in stark contrast to fellow newbies Aston Villa who splashed out £100m more.

Even if the Blades don’t secure a European spot, Wilder - currently 6/1 in the betting - should still run Klopp extremely close, as he bids to defend the LMA trophy he won last season.

Brendan Rodgers or Nuno Santo?

In truth, it’s difficult to look past anything other than a two-horse race between Klopp and Wilder.

However, football is famed for its unpredictable nature which is what makes it such an engrossing sport.

It’s not likely, but Liverpool could suddenly endure a wretched run of form, as could Sheffield United.

If this is the case, another couple of managers could force their way into contention for the managerial top honour. Brendan Rodgers enjoyed a stunning start with Leicester, and while they went off the boil somewhat over the winter period, the Foxes are still in a prime position to secure a top-four spot for only the second time since 1963.

Rodgers, a 20/1 shot in the betting, deserves credit for the way he’s moulded together an entertaining team that are tactically flexible and at times devastatingly rip-roaring on the break. They are currently among the highest goalscorers (third) with one of the meanest defences (third). 

The man-manager deserves praise but the 2014 victor may well have to wait to add another LMA honour to the mantle piece.

Elsewhere, Pep Guardiola is a 33/1 shot to win the award for the second time in three years, while Nuno Santo is an outsider at 40/1. Like Wilder, the popular Wolves coach is in the frame for a top-four finish while his troops are also bidding to reach the latter stages of the Europa League.


Could Brentford boss Thomas Frank be an outside bet?

Anyone else?

Admittedly it’s not often we seen a non-Premier League boss crowned LMA Manager of the Year. After all, its only happened on five occasions since the award came into existence back in 1993.

However, two of those five winners have occurred in the last five seasons; both in the Championship when Eddie Howe (2015) and Chris Wilder (2019) led Bournemouth and Sheffield United respectively up to the Premier League.

With this in mind, Brentford boss Thomas Frank could be worth a look as he bids to lead the Bees into the Premier League for the first time in their history - they’ve been absent from the top-flight since 1947.

Similarly, Bristol City (Lee Johnson) and Preston (Alex Neil) have never tasted Premier League football so promotion would be both a historical and significant achievement for each club. Meanwhile, Sabri Lamouchi (Nottingham Forest) and Marcelo Bielsa (Leeds) are both bidding to return their clubs back to the Promised Land after lengthy absences.

Elsewhere, Gareth Ainsworth’s Wycombe are worth keeping an eye on in League One, as are Mark Robins’ Coventry who have enjoyed a decent season to date despite not having a home ground.

Managers Departed

Last man down

Russ Wilcox
Russ Wilcox
(Scunthorpe United)
7th August
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