Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp and Sheffield United manager Chris Wilder are the front runners to win manager of the season as it stands.
Liverpool are the run away leaders in the league, ahead by 22 points and have only dropped two points in the whole season, winning 24 out of a possible 25 games.
Sheffield United sit in fifth place, two points off a Champions League spot in their first season back in the Premier League for twelve years and have surpassed everyone's expectations.
Why Klopp should win
By David Comerford
First of all, Chris Wilder deserves massive plaudits. We thought Nuno did an outstanding job at Wolves last season, but Wilder has gone one better, to the point where Championship to Champions League in less than 18 months is a real possibility. Sheffield United are exceptionally well-drilled and they’ve made those who wrote them off look ignorant.
Having said that, Klopp simply has to win Manager of the Year. Wilder would surely concur, even though he will marvel at his own squad’s achievements. This has been a campaign for the ages. An effective case could be made through statistics alone – Klopp has picked up five Manager of the Month awards already and has overseen the best start to a season in the history of the top-five leagues – but so many records have been sent tumbling that the excellence can be taken for granted.
So let me ask this, what defines a great coach? Above all, it’s their tactical awareness and ability to motivate their players. Klopp has reached near perfection in both respects. He has built a footballing unit so incredibly cohesive that it will be looked upon enviably throughout the game, and even beyond. Liverpool play with a relentless intensity that makes them close to unbeatable. Even if you are able to neutralise one avenue of attack, they will always find another way to hurt you. But what truly defines this team is its character.
They possess an unrivalled capacity to grind out results when they are far from their best, and, in the truest possible sense of the phrase, they never know when they’re beaten. Liverpool’s commanding lead has not been built at a canter – nearly fifty percent of their victories have been by one goal and if you were to take away from the points which have been earned from losing positions, the deficit would be virtually halved. Klopp has cultivated this culture of unwavering self-belief over a number of years.
It might be said that Wilder’s achievement with a fraction of the resources, both in terms of wealth and personnel, is just as impressive. But let’s not forget that Sheffield United outspent Liverpool by close to £40 million this summer, and that Klopp has built this team with a net spend which pales in comparison to that of his rivals.
He ought to win by a landslide.
Why Wilder should win
By Joel Roberts
Chris Wilder should win manager of the season because he has everyone's expectations this season. Many pundits tipped the Blades to return straight to the Championship but Wilder has got a team together that can give anyone in the league a run for their money. The Premier League is one of the most competitive leagues in the world and Sheffield United have brought a breath of fresh air to the league with what they have achieved. Wilder has now set the bar for newly promoted sides to show that staying up doesn't have to the bare minimum. Why not take the game to every opposition and try to challenge the elite clubs in the league?
Chris Wilder and Sheffield United have captivated the country, making people around the world take notice as well. The red and white half of Sheffield are in dreamland at the moment and it is all down to Chris Wilder.
It's not all about what they have done though, it's how they have done it as well. Sheffield United play a very complex, expansive brand of football that even includes overlapping centre-backs.
This system was mocked by Steve Nichol who said to ESPN at the start of the season, "If you're going to have your centre-halves turning up in the opposition area in the Premier League, you're going to get annihilated". Wilder and Sheffield United have consistently proved people wrong this season and when pundits have said they will lose momentum, Sheffield United will always bounce back and grind out another result.
Dean Henderson has been the best English goalkeeper in the league this season has kept the joint amount of clean sheets of any goalkeeper in the Premier League. In addition to this Sheffield United have conceded the second least amount of goals in the league this season, which for a newly promoted team is extraordinary.
Chris Wilder has kept the core of the team from when he first joined Sheffield United in 2016 and has built them up into Premier League players. He strengthened his squad accordingly in the summer and spent the money given him smartly, notable signings being Oli McBurnie, Sander Berge and Lys Mousset. Of course, Wilder has had to spend money unlike Klopp who had a side who had just come off the back of winning the Champions League. Making the jump to Championship to Premier League is never easy, you just need to look like at the standings of the other promoted teams, Norwich and Aston Villa to prove how smartly Wilder has used his money compared to other teams in his situation.
The Blades have only lost to two teams outside of the top three this season and have only lost two games away from home. The away form in particular has been incredible with Wilder setting up his team that is difficult to break down but also exciting and inventive going forward.
The Blades have done all this, but could easily be higher in the table. Sheffield United have the joint-worst net score in the Premier League when it comes to VAR decisions, something that has caused Wilder continuous frustration throughout the season.
It goes without saying what Klopp has done at Liverpool is nothing short of remarkable but realistically the expectation this season for them was to win the Premier League. Liverpool got 97 points last season and only lost one game. It is similar to how this season is going, it's just the fact that Manchester City are not replicating their form from last season that sees the huge gap in the table.
If Chris Wilder can secure a European spot for the Blades it would cap off an unbelievable season back in the top flight and would go down as a memorable underdog story. Chris Wilder is already a Sheffield United legend but taking the Blades abroad next season would be a different level of success.