Premier League Betting: Why Carlo Ancelotti can feel pretty hard-done by
Premier League / Ralph Ellis / 17 May 2010 / 3
Ripped off - Carlo Ancelotti should have been crowned LMA Manager Of The Year
"But managing Chelsea is no cushy number. There’s an obsessive billionaire to deal with, and in the modern age managing the top multi-millionaire players is a skill in itself. In a dressing room like the one at Stamford Bridge there are big personalities, big egos, and big issues."
This year's LMA Manager Of The Year award went to Roy Hodgson a couple of weeks ago for his oustanding achievements in the Europa League but there are plenty of reasons why a certain Carlo Ancelotti should have bagged it, says Ralph Ellis.
Here's a simple question. Name the best manager of the Premier League era. Easy, right? The sort of thing that gets you your first hundred quid on Who Wants To Be a Millionaire, with no need to ask the audience or go 50-50. Sir Alex Ferguson, with 11 titles, a European Cup, plus all the other bits and pieces of silverware cluttering up the Old Trafford trophy room.
So here's another question: Who has won the most Manager of the Year awards, as voted for by the League Managers Association? Be wary now, especially if your Phone A Friend happens to be a Premier League boss. They'll probably all tell you it must be Fergie again because to a man they all name him as the greatest.
But this is where Chris Tarrant says "oh, I'm so sorry" and sends you home with nothing. Because the answer is actually Everton's David Moyes, voted the best in the business by his peers three times. And guess what, in each of those seasons his individual prize was the only thing he did win. Fifth in 2009 and lost an FA Cup final, fourth in 2005 when neighbours Liverpool were crowned European Champions, and incredibly seventh in 2003 in a year when Everton also lost to mighty Shrewsbury in the FA Cup's third round and were stuffed 4-1 at Chelsea in the League Cup.
So winning the big trophies clearly isn't a criteria for choosing the Manager of the Year, which might be some consolation for Carlo Ancelotti. Chelsea's manager joined the elite group of those who have won English football's traditional and elusive double of League and FA Cup on Saturday, yet never got even half a mention when the shortlist for best boss was being drawn up.
That seems to me an astonishing omission. Easy to say, of course, that he had the best resources at his disposal. Easy to nominate Roy Hodgson for the incredible feat of turning Fulham from certain relegation to Europa League finalists in the space of two seasons; or Harry Redknapp for breaking up the Big Four monopoly; maybe Alex McLeish for putting Birmingham in the top half of the table in his first season after promotion with a net spend of just £11million; even Avram Grant for guiding Portsmouth's players to a Cup final despite the club collapsing all around them.
But managing Chelsea is no cushy number. There's an obsessive billionaire to deal with, and in the modern age managing the top multi-millionaire players is a skill in itself. In a dressing room like the one at Stamford Bridge there are big personalities, big egos, and big issues. Another manager might have told John Terry to sod off and join Manchester City last summer; could have left out sulky Didier Drogba to play last year's golden boot winner Nicolas Anelka in his favourite position as the sole striker; could have lost the dressing room amid the owner's recriminations after going out of the Champions League; might even have decided Frank Lampard should be dropped when he'd scored only one goal from open play by the start of January.
We're always being told that football is about winning. First is first and second is nowhere. Yet in only four of the 17 seasons that the LMA have dished out their prize has it gone to the manager of the Premier League champions. (Fergie for his 1998 treble and 2008 double, and Arsene Wenger twice in 2002 and 2004).
Chelsea might have stuttered to their double at Wembley, and who knows what the outcome could have been if Kevin Prince-Boateng hadn't fluffed his big moment from the penalty spot? And you couldn't say they hadn't needed a bit of fortune to land the big domestic prize a week or so before, because Drogba's crucial goal that earned a win at Old Trafford should have been scrubbed out for offside.
But big prizes are always won on fine margins, and the best teams find a way to land the right side of the dividing line. They do it because they have tenacity and spirit as well as quality and flair, and those are products of good management.
Ancelotti's achievement was all the more remarkable because it came in his first season in English football, because he learned to speak a new language in six weeks, and because he added flair, excitement and 103 goals to a team that had been used to just grinding it's results. In short, he was our game's best boss of the season, and somebody at the LMA should have recognised the fact.
Mike | 17 May 2010
Agree with you massively Ralph. The LMA seem disillusioned when it comes to handing out awards.
I've had my rant on Roy Hodgson eslewhere on this site so won't go off on one again, but I will say this. Fulham finished 7th last year - this year they have finished 12th. This proves that the LMA gave Hodgson the award for his European exploits (he certainly didn't get if for his regression in the league), which then makes it a bit of a mystery as to why a certain other English manager didn't even get a mention when he achieved exactly the same a few years back (now manager of a successful Dutch club) :-)
James Pacheco | 17 May 2010
Mike | 18 May 2010
Glad McClaren has landed a good job, he deserves it for his achievement with FC Twente.