As we continue to hand out our end-of-season awards following the conclusion of the Premier League campaign, we reveal the winner of our Coach of the Season.
Their football was mesmerising and unstoppable, as they romped to the title. A run of 18 straight wins between August and December, in which time City beat Liverpool, Chelsea, Manchester United, Tottenham and Arsenal, may never be repeated.
They moved to the top of the table after a 6-0 away win at Watford in September and never looked like being caught.
While others will argue the Manchester United team of 1999, or the Arsenal side of 2004, are the greatest in Premier League history, with the records City have broken and the football they’ve played, they may well stand alone at the top – and that is all down to Guardiola.
What a job from the Burnley boss. Dyche guided the Clarets to a seventh-placed finish in the Premier League, meaning they will be playing Europa League football next season. After moving into seventh in September, Burnley never dropped lower than ninth, picking up some excellent wins along the way, including a 3-2 success at Stamford Bridge. While their style of play may not have been the most exciting, Burnley showed a real togetherness and work ethic to finish just behind Arsenal.
Taking over after a shocking start to the season, in which Crystal Palace failed to score in their opening seven games, losing them all, Hodgson deserves a lot of credit for the job he did with the Eagles. Palace lost just nine more league games after that difficult start, winning 11 and scoring 45 goals in the process, as they ended the campaign in 11th. After his disastrous ending with England, Hodgson has restored his reputation at Selhurst Park.
The former Liverpool and Chelsea boss did an excellent job with what is a limited Newcastle squad. After not receiving the funds to strengthen as he would have liked, and despite goals being hard to come by, Benitez guided Newcastle to a top-ten finish, improving the levels of a number of the players. Wins at home to Manchester United, Arsenal and Chelsea in the second half of the season were superb results that helped secure safety.
With the Premier League campaign over, we’re handing out our end-of-season awards. The latest trophy isn’t one any player would want to get their hands on however, as we announce our Flop of the Season.
When Antonio Conte decided that Diego Costa wasn’t in his plans for the 2017/18 season, despite him playing such an influential part in Chelsea’s success last term, it was imperative that whoever replaced the controversial striker hit the ground running.
Having missed out on Romelu Lukaku, Conte and Chelsea paid Real Madrid nearly €70 million for Alvaro Morata. The Spaniard made a positive start to life at Stamford Bridge, netting in four of his first six games, including a hat-trick against Stoke City, but the goals only told half the story.
Morata lacked the dominating presence of Costa that had been so crucial to Chelsea last season, and he struggled to find the net if it wasn’t with his head. It was no surprise when Conte signed Olivier Giroud in January.
The Frenchman started the FA Cup semi-final and the crunch match with Liverpool, showing how far out-of-favour Morata had fallen.
Serie A side Juventus are linked with a move for the striker this summer, and Chelsea would be better off cutting their losses now.
It’s fair to say it couldn’t have gone much worse for youngster Sanches, who joined Swansea City for a season on loan from German giants Bayern Munich. The 20-year-old, who had helped Portugal win the European Championships in 2016, was expected to make a big impact for the Swans, but failed to impress. In total, he made just 15 appearances as Swansea suffered relegation.
Another transfer that failed to work out for Conte and Chelsea. While he has made 43 appearances in all competitions, the move hasn’t worked out as expected, with the former Monaco man not able to match up to former midfielder Nemanja Matic alongside N’Golo Kante. Errors, a lack of positional understanding, and poor passing mean Bakayoko has a long way to go to prove why Chelsea paid €40 million for his services.
The Dutchman’s move from Ajax to Everton has been a disaster. The attacking midfielder perhaps knew life wouldn’t be easy when both Wayne Rooney and Glyfi Sigurdsson signed in the same summer, but he wouldn’t have envisaged it going so badly. He made 16 appearances in all competitions, with just seven of those coming in the Premier League, while he failed to score a single goal.
Wenger took charge of his last game at Huddersfield on Sunday as the curtain came down on a 22-year spell at the helm.
Press Association Sport understands the Gunners hierarchy have also acted to move on some of the coaching staff that worked alongside the 68-year-old.
While the managerial vacancy remains – with two former club captains in Mikel Arteta and Patrick Vieira still among the favourites for the role – the club has wasted no time in clearing the decks for the new regime.
Boro Primorac, a long-term coach and friend of Wenger, was always likely to leave and, as the outgoing manager prepares to clear his office later this week, a number of other backroom staff have also been relieved of their duties.
Colin Lewin, head of the club’s medical department, has been at the club a year longer than Wenger but will also be departing – as well as coaches Neil Banfield, Gerry Peyton and Tony Colbert, with Paul Johnson leaving his post as equipment manager.
As things stand it appears Wenger’s assistant Steve Bould and Jens Lehmann, recruited to the coaching staff just last summer, will remain under the new manager.
The hunt for Wenger’s successor continues, with Arteta now the bookmakers’ favourite to return to the club he served as a player between 2011 and 2016.
He retired two years ago to join Pep Guardiola’s coaching team at Manchester City and helped deliver the Premier League title to the Etihad Stadium this season.
While the 36-year-old has no managerial experience, Guardiola, speaking after his side reached the 100-point mark with a final-day victory at Southampton on Sunday, praised Arteta’s role in the success and said he would not stand in his way if Arsenal came calling.
“What we have done this season, Mikel his contribution was outstanding, amazing, we work together so good,” he said.
“If he stays I will be the happiest guy in the world and if he decides to move because he has this offer, this option, I will not say you do not have to go. I want the best for my friends and he is a friend of mine.”
Although Arteta has emerged as the front-runner and is reportedly the preferred choice of chief executive Ivan Gazidis, the likes of former Chelsea boss Carlo Ancelotti, New York City head coach Vieira and Massimiliano Allegri of Juventus continue to be linked with the job.
Allegri, who secured a fourth successive Serie A and Coppa Italia double over the weekend, appears the least likely to take the reins after both he and Juve said they want him to remain in charge of the Italian giants heading into next season.
It also remains unclear what Wenger’s next move will be.
He revealed last week he has some work to do in France early this week before returning to Arsenal’s London Colney training centre to clear his desk.
He said he has already received plenty of offers for work but suggested following the 1-0 win at Huddersfield that he would be tempted to move abroad so as not to come up against Arsenal in the future.