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There are going to be some new names in the hat for the Manager of the Year award this season.
Jose Mourinho isn’t around to defend his title, while Manuel Pellegrini, Arsene Wenger and Louis van Gaal have arguably underperformed given the resources at their disposal.
Instead Claudio Ranieri is the big favourite and rightly so given the astonishing job he has done at Leicester.
The Italian was expected to struggle on his return to the Premier League and was among the favourites to be sacked but Leicester lead the table by five points after 25 games thanks to his expert management and excellent signings.
The success of Ranieri has overshadowed other candidates for the award but they deserve their share of respect and adulation too.
Newly promoted Watford and Bournemouth have thrived under Quique Sanchez Flores and Eddie Howe respectively.
Flores’ work is all the more remarkable considering he took over the club in the summer and was tasked with bedding in a high volume of new signings but he has the Hornets competitive in mid-table and their Premier League status is virtually assured with plenty of games to spare.
Bournemouth are not quite so certain of safety, but their position of 15th in the table, five points above the relegation zone, is a credit to the work done by Howe. The Cherries were favourites for relegation but have beaten Manchester United and Chelsea in an excellent debut campaign in the Premier League.
Slaven Bilic has West Ham competing for a place in Europe next season – not bad for a manager with no experience in the Premier League.
The Croatian has taken to life in England with ease and transformed the Hammers fortunes by building on the foundations put in place by Sam Allardyce and they look well equipped to move into the Olympic Stadium.
Finally, the sterling work done by Tottenham manager Mauricio Pochettino must be acknowledged. Not only are Spurs in line to qualify for the Champions League but they are in contention for the league title too. And all this with an exciting young side playing attractive football. The future is bright for Tottenham if they can keep hold of their manager.
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