Premier League Manager of the Year: Saluting the achievements of Sean Dyche and Rafa Benitez

Chloe Beresford by Chloe Beresford / 23 April 2018, 09:41

With the Premier League LMA Manager of the Year award on the horizon, there is plenty of opportunity to hand this year’s title to Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola.

He has taken England’s division by storm this term as his possession-based style has borne fruit, taking the trophy with five games to spare.

Last year it was Antonio Conte who reaped the plaudits for winning the league with Chelsea during his first campaign on English shores, but there is no debate to be had about the Italian winning it again for his contribution in 2017/18 with the Blues currently in fifth position.

While Guardiola is the stand-out candidate, there are others who simply must be considered for some outstanding work in the top flight this season. Harry Redknapp and Alan Pardew are the only Englishmen to have ever won the award since the inception of the Premier League in 1992, but this term Sean Dyche is in the frame for his efforts with Burnley.

The Lancashire outfit have a net spend of just £12.3 million this season, but thanks to their manager have put themselves in contention for a Europa League place with 53 points from 35 matches so far. With a vastly more experienced boss, a much bigger budget and a more suitable infrastructure, Arsenal have gained only four extra points than Burney so far, albeit having played a game less.

His side tough in the air and capable of holding onto a lead, Dyche has instilled an old-fashioned sense of work-rate and regularity among his players. A regular 4-4-1-1 formation and a consistent lineup help with that task, but it takes superb man-management skills to bring out the most from players who are competing against the best in the world.

That charisma and eccentric charm can also certainly be seen in his press conferences, the 46-year-old bringing colour to what can often be dull affairs. This could be seen most when Dyche had to to come out and deny a story that had emerged, claiming he ate worms for breakfast.

"I also smoke exhaust pipes - that's what makes my voice like this," laughed the Burnley boss earlier this term.

"I have gravel for breakfast, that was another thing. For the record I definitely don't eat worms, although Bear Grylls would probably be happy with me, a little worm omelette!"

Another man who should be carefully considered is Newcastle boss Rafa Benitez. While supporters have been embroiled in a bitter disagreement with owner Mike Ashley over a lack of funding, their Spanish boss has been solidly exceeding expectations since bringing the Magpies up from the Championship.

Reports suggest that Benitez has working together with a sports psychologist in order to aid the likes of Jonjo Shelvey, bringing methods such as these learned from time abroad to improve the side and bring the most from a core group of players that came up with him from English football’s second tier.

When the team clearly needed reinforcements in January, the former Liverpool boss had to rely solely on loan players as the board refused to inject any cash in the side. Indeed, Newcastle look likely to finish in 10th place this term with a net spend of just £10.25 million, only the third time they will have finished in the top half of the Premier League since Ashley acquired the club in 2007.

After it looked like Newcastle were likely to face the drop, Benitez admitted the club were safe after an excellent win over Arsenal last weekend took them to a total of 41 points.

“We started learning without too much experience for some players in the Premier League,” declared Rafa after the match. Little by little we were growing and especially in this second part of the league, the team has grown in confidence.”

With all this in mind, the achievements of both Benitez and Dyche certainly deserve to be recognised in the forthcoming awards ceremony, even if there can only be one winner.

Managers Departed

Last man down

Phil Parkinson
Phil Parkinson
(Bolton Wanderers)
21st August
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