Awards season is around the corner and while the final destination of the Premier League trophy will likely steer the voting for Manager of the Season, we’re here to tell you that it shouldn’t matter.
While the heavyweights of the world battle it out the final stages of the title race for the Premier League, there’s a small city in the black country every bit as chuffed as both the congregations of the Etihad and Anfield.
Ladies and gentlemen, here’s a case for: Nuno Espirito Santo to win Premier League Manager of the Season.
His Transfer Business
The thing about Santo is he seemed exceptionally realistic. He knew his squad from last year wasn’t good enough, but he also maintained that if he had to plug some pieces in, that they needed to stay in the same system.
His purchases, like Joao Moutinho, had to complement the free-flowing football he maintained in the tier below.
Oh, and he didn’t sit there scratching his arse, thinking a load of ex-Premier League players who happen to be English would get the job done like so many before him.
Hats off, sir.
Their Home Approach
So often, a team come up from the Championship and avoid the drop solely because of their home form, where they’re ‘hard to beat’.
Santo didn’t once peddle this narrative because he had too much respect for his players to limit them to defensive shape.
They’ve conceded over a goal a game at home, more than the likes of Brighton and Palace, but they attack teams and don’t rely on 1-0 wins.
Wolves have scored just three home goals fewer than Spurs.
Their Away Approach
Their seventh-place standing isn’t a misnomer, padded by a sensational run of home results. Away from home, they’ve bagged 1.25 points per game, and conceded eight goals fewer than Arsenal, who’ve played two games less away from the Emirates.
This total includes away wins at Spurs and Everton, with points being shared at Stamford Bridge, The Emirates and Old Trafford.
Their statements aren’t just made further down the Match of the Day pecking order.
His Approach with Media
He sits back. He assesses his team. He doesn’t hide anything. He’s respectful. He’s informative. He doesn’t carry this notion that the press are out to get him.
What most managers fail to see is that the media, while clearly intrusive the odd time, are the direct link between manager and supporters.
It hasn’t just been Wolves fans who are taken with Santo either – as he’s gained a cult following around the league for his open demeanour.
So often, it’s easy for a manager to overhaul the squad with big players and take all the plaudits despite the ability already being there.
Ireland’s Matt Doherty has been at Wolves since he was 18, and has progressed through the ranks after loan spells at both Hibs and Bury.
For Santo to come in, coach him up, and see him seriously in contention for the right-back spot in the Premier League Team of the Season is a credit to his coaching ability, and not just how he manages players who’ve been there and done that before.
We don’t even need seven reasons. Since 2001, no newly-promoted club has finished higher than top eight in the Premier League.
And realistically, football’s modern landscape only began to be shaped when Chelsea were taken over in 2003.
To finish in the top seven would be unprecedented given the disparity in the wage bills around them.
Klopp and Guardiola
These two are as a big a reason for Santo to win it as anything else.
Pep Guardiola has done absolutely nothing differently this year. He’s not changed how Man City player, nor has he had to manage particularly tough spells. City are so well-coached from memory, much like his Barcelona team, that he can comfortably be considered the best manager of all-time, but to give him this gong every single year doesn’t make sense because it’s a reflection on a given season.
Jurgen Klopp doesn’t deserve it because of the stupid points they’ve dropped throughout the season, his brash takes when he’s under pressure and the fact that, for all the seemingly-good transfer business, he still relies on James Milner.