Manuel Pellegrini Many doubted whether the placid Chilean could keep the Manchester City squad in check and fulfil the huge expectations placed on his shoulders in his first season – but he comfortably passed the test. The Citizens showed character to respond from a 3-2 loss at Anfield in April to put together a title-winning five-game winning run at a vital point of the season. Pellegrini has managed to coax the best form out of enigmas Edin Dzeko and Samir Nasri, showcasing his man management skills. City have played a more attractive brand of football under Pellegrini, too, unlike their labouring style under Roberto Mancini. There was no off-field controversies which dogged the Citizens under Pellegrini’s predecessor. The 60-year-old will be very satisfied with a return of the Premier League and League Cup – as well as a club-record run in the Champions League, losing to Barcelona in the last 16. Expect Pellegrini to build on his first season and challenge again next term.
Liverpool Their results against Chelsea and Crystal Palace will leave a sour taste in the mouth for Brendan Rodgers and his squad, but the Reds should reflect on a positive season. At the start of the campaign, Rodgers’s side looked hard-pressed to achieve their primary goal of sealing a return to the Champions League with Arsenal and Tottenham Hotspur strengthening, Chelsea and City appointing managers of top pedigree, and not forgetting defending champions Manchester United. But Liverpool’s attacking style won plenty of admirers as Daniel Sturridge and Luis Suarez formed a devastating partnership and Steven Gerrard impressed in a deep-lying midfield role. The Reds can also take heart from Jordan Henderson’s improvement and the emergence of Jon Flanagan and Raheem Sterling. Rodgers may have missed out on the title but he scooped the LMA manager of the year award on Monday night after securing a return to the Champions League. Despite letting the title slip, Liverpool are one of the big winners this season.
Tony Pulis As Rodgers won the LMA gong, the Crystal Palace boss was named Premier League manager of the season. The Eagles appeared to be heading straight back to the Championship when Pulis replaced Ian Holloway in November. Palace had just four points but the south-east London side finished the campaign with 42. If the season had started when Pulis filled the Selhurst Park hot-seat, Palace would have finished eighth, highlighting the manager’s impact. The 56-year-old may have his critics in terms of the way his sides play, particularly during his tenure at Stoke City, but Pulis is undoubtedly one of the best coaches at installing a work ethic and defensive organisation to struggling sides.
Chelsea Their third-place finish and Champions League semi-final appearance may amount to a successful season for most, but if anyone bottled the title, it was the Blues. Jose Mourinho’s men did the double against City and Liverpool this season but still managed to finish behind their title rivals in the standings. How? By failing to dispatch the Premier League’s smaller sides. Admittedly, the Blues were always going to struggle without an in-form striker such as Edin Dzeko or Luis Suarez but boasting the best record against the top four means Chelsea let this title slip away.
David Moyes It had all started so well. The Scot made a promising start to the season as Manchester United were 4-1 winners against Swansea City on the opening day of the campaign. But that was as good as it got for Sir Alex Ferguson’s successor. Moyes succumbed to 11 Premier League losses during his turbulent reign which resulted in the manager losing the faith of senior members in the United dressing room. The 51-year-old’s failure to land a marquee signing in the summer ensured that the season started in a whimper, too, whilst United’s Old Trafford form proved to be their major Achilles’ heel after boasting the fourth best away record in the Premier League. It was a season filled with regrets for Moyes and United.
The managerial merry-go-round
Norwich City, Cardiff City and Fulham will all be plying their trade in the Championship next season. What do the trio of clubs have in common? They all changed their managers this season. Remarkably, the Cottagers changed their coaching staff on three occasions, with Martin Jol, René Meulensteen and Felix Magath all taking charge of the west London side. Of all the relegated clubs, Fulham’s frequent changes were the most costly. Cardiff and Norwich dispensed with the services of two hard-working managers that deserved time for their previous work. In particular, Malky Mackay was the victim of behind-the-scenes power wrangling when the Scot had earned the chance to keep the Bluebirds in the top flight after such good work at the club. The promoted clubs would do well to learn from the mistakes of Cardiff, Fulham and Norwich.
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