10. Arsene Wenger
After a torrid start to the season for Wenger’s Arsenal and that horrific 8-2 drubbing at Old Trafford thanks to the ruthless display of the champions. However, Wenger’s 7-year inch for some silverware has somewhat rejuvenated the team as a whole, turning the young pups into men. Yes, Arsenal have been lacking the likes of Jack Wilshere, Aaron Ramsey and other big names throughout the season. Without Robin van Persie, Wenger would be on the other end of the table but a recent 7-game winning streak has consolidated their aspirations for Champions League football next season – something which seemed impossible.
9. Sir Alex Ferguson
Manchester United would’ve had to have had a pretty poor season for Fergie not to be in any top ten. The reason Ferguson is so high up on this list whilst performing what seems a routine title winning campaign. However, Ferguson has probably never been as scared for inferiority since Jose Mourinho jetted to England. Mancini has built a fantastic team which, as a United fan hurts me to say, is superior to Ferguson’s. However, selling Carlos Tevez has swung in his favour, the Argentine and a certain Mr. Balotelli have become ticking time bombs, this along with the unity on the other side of Manchester has propelled United only to touching distance of the title race, it remains better luck next time for Fergie.
8. Harry Redknapp
Recent form wouldn’t have Redknapp on this list and perhaps he has become somewhat distracted by the talk of him becoming the heir apparent for the England job. Other tussles in court and the nagging of the Europa League in his ear seemed to have caught up to Tottenham in recent weeks, dropping out of the title race and into fourth position. The mid-season form from Spurs was tantalising but you just felt it was all coming to a horrible conclusion – and it did, just when everyone was fooled into believing they were title hopefuls.
7. Martin Jol
Sneaking under the radar somewhat, Jol is looking to manufacture a team that is willing to hit the top half of the table. The foundations are currently in the process of being built with the likes of Ruiz, Pogrebnyak and Diarra joining an already established unit that had been built under the likes of Hodgson and Hughes. They have become free scoring, being the highest scorers at home outside the top four, higher than the likes of Newcastle, Liverpool, Everton and level with Chelsea. Jol will only be improving his squad in the summer and god only knows where Fulham will end up next season, their away form only letting them down currently.
6. Martin O’Neill
What a success story Martin O’Neill has become in the north east of England. Under Steve Bruce, Sunderland were lacking goals and guidance and were staring a relegation battle square in the face. O’Neill is renowned for getting the best out of his players and his appointment coincided with the return of Fraizer Campbell and a new set of beliefs. O’Neill’s early form propelled them into touching distance of European football. One can only wonder what O’Neill can build upon for next season.
5. Paul Lambert
In preparation to the start of the season you would have seen the Norwich side as huge favourites to be relegated come May. On paper, Lambert possesses one of the weakest sides in the league but the harmony and perhaps shocking displays has led them to safety and with ease at that. They haven’t been under the spotlight as much as the other promoted teams which has helped the Scot and Norwich and they have improved since their last stint in the league in 2004-05. Plucking points at Anfield and thrashing Newcastle at home, putting in valiant displays against the champions home and away – Lambert has created a side which can tackle any side and perhaps most importantly – he has beaten the sides which his side was expected to be entangled with in the relegation battle.
4. Roberto Mancini
Mancini won City's first title since the 1960's and just look at the empire that Mancini has built up in the past season at the Etihad stadium. His record in Manchester stands superior – the 6-1 humbling of their Manchester rivals looked to have set the tone for the rest of the season and has still been unanswered. Their 100% record at home had only been breached recently against Sunderland but the fact Mancini isn’t higher on this list is thanks to the lack of harmony at the club – the antics from Tevez and Balotelli which has dragged the team’s morale and harmony down.
3. Steve Kean
You might be thinking, why is Steve Kean – the man who got his Blackburn side relegated at the end of the season in the top 3 managers this season? I shall tell you for why. Kean has had the fuming Ewood Park faithful on his back and in the most tumultuous of the fans, he was a brave man to continue his tenure in the north-west and with four points at Anfield and Old Trafford gained around Christmas and New Year was the fuel added to the fire in the belly of Kean. The strike force of Hoilett and Yakubu have netted 20 times and wins over the likes of Arsenal at Ewood and crucial wins against other teams in and around the drop remains to be the reason Kean is in the top three.
2. Brendan Rodgers
Total football is the game and apparently as of 2012, Rodgers and Swansea is the name. Once famed for bringing Holland and Barcelona glory – the likes of Leon Britton and Joe Allen have become the Xavi and Iniesta of South Wales and the whole of England football. The football that Rodgers has stamped into some of these players which were playing League One football a couple of seasons ago has finally graced England’s top table. I believe that Rodgers’ side can play any team off the park in English football, they have proved that with a certain win over Arsenal at the Liberty stadium earlier in the season. Leon Britton possesses the top spot for the most accurate pass rate in Europe’s top leagues – surpassing Barca’s best and on Friday their contest against Newcastle for the most part had them retain up to 82% of possession – against a top five club.
1. Alan Pardew
When Pardew was appointed as the Newcastle manager, he had such a low approval rating that Mike Ashley was giving him a run-in for the least popular man in Newcastle football. Newcastle wanted someone who could bring them European football and Premier League football week in week out. Apparently, the ex-Charlton and West Ham boss was the key to unlocking the 6-year absence in Europe for Newcastle. The bargain buy of Demba Ba and re-structuring of Newcastle has taken half the time expected with Ba’s Senegalese compatriot, Papiss Cisse netting nine times in eight league games, bettering Les Ferdinand’s opening record for the club. Four successive wins in recent weeks along with top results over the likes of United, Liverpool and four points over Sunderland has upped Pardew’s approval rating to almost 100% with a European spot sealed.