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It’s that magical time of the year again! No, not Christmas time you silly goose! It’s that most wonderful time when the overlords at FIFA reveal the nominations for their awards season. We’ve already told you about the runners and riders for the FIFA Men’s Player of the Year, and now it’s the turn of the coaches!
The winner will be revealed at a glitzy (presumably virtual) ceremony on December 17 in Zurich and the voting for the gong is equally weighted between fans, journalists, national team coaches and national team captains. We actually thought they settled it with a spot of Greco-Roman wrestling in a pit lined with money, but we were sadly mistaken.
The five-man shortlist for this year’s ‘The Best FIFA Men’s Coach’ award (yes, that really is the name of it) was revealed on Wednesday and it featured some familiar faces, along with one hell of a big shock. On the list were Jurgen Klopp (Liverpool), Hans-Dieter Flick (Bayern Munich), Julen Lopetegui (Sevilla), Zinedine Zidane (Real Madrid) and much to Gabby Agbonlahor’s chagrin, Marcelo Bielsa of Leeds United.
But, who is going to take home the prize by accepting it from, well…, home? We’ve turned to our number crunchers to find out and the results may surprise you!
It turns out winning a treble of your domestic league and cup, along with taking the absolute p**s out of the Champions League is enough to make you favourite for an award like this! Who knew? So, you guessed right, Bayern Munich boss Hans-Dieter Flick is currently favourite for the prize. His side only went and became the first team ever win every game on their way to winning the Champions League after all, but has he ever done it on a wet night in Stoke?
Next in the list is Liverpool’s Jurgen Klopp and it only took winning the Premier League for the first time in 30 years to get him back into the running again. Klopp grabbed this honour last season thanks to his Reds side bringing the Champions League back to Merseyside for the sixth time in the club’s history. But, can he make it two wins in-a-row? The odds say, he’s got a fair shot at it.
He’s followed by Julen Lopetegui of Sevilla, and if you looked up the word ‘bouncebackability’ (yes, it is in there) there might just be a picture of the Spaniard next to it. Having been sacked by the Spanish National team on the eve of the 2018 World Cup and then shown the door by Real Madrid just five months later, you would be forgiven to writing off Lopetegui’s career to the dreaded managerial scrap heap. But, after being given a shot by Sevilla last year, Lopetegui helped them to their 10,000th Europa League title last term, defeating Inter Milan 3-2 in the final.
Elsewhere, Zinedine Zidane is an outside bet to collect a second title after first picking it up in 2017, he was also runner-up 2016 and 2018. The French football icon picked off his second La Liga championship as a coach last term after spotting his silhouette shining over the Bernabeu Stadium last March. That followed the sackings of Lopetefui and Santiago Solari who came in after his glittering first reign in charge. Thankfully for Madrid, he answered the bat phone to return. However, our odds makers don’t fancy him to swoop in to claim this one.
Finally, we come to the hipsters’ choice Marcelo Bielsa. The man who could lead Leeds players and fans to Old Trafford and ask them to wear red – and by Christ, they would do it without question (not that that the great man would do such a thing).
After taking over reigns of a Leeds outfit who were frankly lucky to finish 13th the season before he joined in June 2018, Bielsa ended a 16-year wait for The Whites to return to the Premier League inside two seasons and won the 2019/20 Championship by a whopping 10 points – they lost out in the Play-Offs to Derby in early 2019. Leeds fans may have a stellar history of flooding public votes to have them result in their team’s favour, but the odds say even they can’t pull this one off! But, apparently he’s not English and shouldn’t have been nominated for the award in the first place!
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