Thursday 19 April 2012
It is tough at the top - and it takes a charismatic and unique character to manage a team in the Premier League.
The very best can bring glory to their respective clubs and even write themselves into the history books.
But it is not easy. All Premier League managers find themselves under the spotlight, with their every decision scrutinised by fans and pundits.
All of which makes the achievements of the five names on the shortlist for Best Manager in the Premier League's 20 Seasons Awards even more impressive.
Sam Allardyce knows a thing or two about the pressures of top-level management, having taken charge 285 times in the Premier League as boss of Bolton Wanderers, Newcastle United and Blackburn Rovers.
And Aston Villa boss Alex McLeish also understands what it takes - the former Scotland and Rangers boss helped return Birmingham City to the top-flight during his three-and-a-half seasons in charge there.
Both managers spoke to premierleague.com to run the rule over the five managers on the shortlist.
"In one word, Sir Alex is a genius. As a manager it is difficult enough to sustain success with one team that you’ve built, but when you’ve built six and it’s still successful and it’s still winning trophies and Premier Leagues it's incredible.
"It is just quite an incredible show of leadership and imagination and creativity"
- McLeish on Ferguson
"Recently they have faced stern tests from Manchester City and Chelsea, but they have still managed to overcome those teams in the end.
"I think that just tells you everything about the man that's in charge.
"As the years go by and the younger players and foreign players come in, Sir Alex will sit with them and talk about what it means to play for Manchester United and what you've got to do.
"You’ve got to live under the pressure that you’re not allowed to lose a game. I think that breeds a strong mentality."
"Well, what can you say? The success he’s had over a period of time, I don’t think anybody could have predicted that.
"We knew he was a winner at Aberdeen, but to do it so consistently since he came to England - after a couple of hard years - is just quite an incredible show of leadership and imagination and creativity in all the teams he’s built.
"The amount of titles he has won individually, it’ll be hard to beat, especially in the modern day when managers don’t stay long at clubs like Sir Alex has at Man Utd and Arsene Wenger has at Arsenal.
"It’s very hard to see anyone getting close to it in the next 20 years."
"I think José Mourinho was exciting. He came in, stood up and said a few things that we all, as managers, maybe cringed a little bit about.
"He turned Chelsea into a very formidable force very, very quickly"
- Allardyce on Mourinho
"We all probably wouldn’t be brave enough to say that [Mourinho's 'Special One' comment].
"And if he didn’t stand up to that, he was going to get shot down heavily, but he didn’t. He saw the quality of the side, he used his management skills and he turned Chelsea into a very formidable force very, very quickly.
"And because he set off from the very beginning to win the Premier League I think that caught the likes of Sir Alex out at the time where by the turn of the year, nobody could catch them."
"He wasn’t here for very long, but didn’t he just make an impact? A tremendous one, too.
"I used to like watching José on TV doing his interviews, and still do to be honest. He's very entertaining, but he's also showed himself to be one of the best managers in the world.
"He told us he was 'Special' before a ball had even been kicked, and I think he proved he was.
"I can see him coming back to England one day. He talks about it, he’s got property in London, and I think it’s a matter of when José will decide to come back."
"David Moyes hasn’t got as many trophies as the others, but what an outstanding job he's done at Everton.
"He's quite a legend up in Scotland for what he's achieved at Everton"
- McLeish on Moyes
"David’s a really good friend of mine, we go way back to the Preston days, I know how hard he works.
"He's grown as the years have gone on and he works within the budget at Everton and manages to find exceptionally good players at good prices. There's a lot to be said for that."
"One word springs to mind: longevity. It’s quite amazing to see a manager stay at one club for so long – Sir Alex for 25 years. Arsène for 16, and David now for 10 at Everton.
"I can tell you he’s quite a legend up in Scotland for what he’s achieved and what he’s done at Everton.
"It's been a wonderful, wonderful job there, they’ve had great stability for so long, and what he has done at Goodison Park – where I’m sure he’s also a legend – I’d love to emulate."
“No doubt I’m a fan of Harry's. He had to wait a while to get to take over a club the size of Tottenham. And to get there at his young and tender age is obviously a great pleasure for him!
"The side has got better and better and he’s taken it on further"
- Allardyce on Redknapp
"The side has gone on and got better and better and he’s taken it on that little stage further."
"Harry's done a great job everywhere he’s been. He likes to see his teams play in a certain style and he's notorious in the past few years for having teams that are easy on the eye.
"That’s why people like to watch Harry’s teams play - and have done so over the past five to 10 years and more.
"He's got a massive job at Tottenham and I’m sure they will be doing everything they can to hang on to him. I’m sure most guys would like to work for their country at some stage, but that’s a 'watch this space' I think."
"I have to say that Arsène has had one of the best teams of the past 20 years, the team that went undefeated for the entire season in 2003/04.
"A guy like Arsène Wenger is a leader"
- McLeish on Wenger
"I don’t think that will ever happen again, that, and the fact that he went head to head with Sir Alex and clinched a few Premier League titles is testament to what he is.
"There has been many a good manager who has come and gone but the longevity of Arsène shows what an outstanding job he has done."
"Arsène has been a fantastic addition to English football. He’s built teams of beautiful footballers, though he will probably be desperate to win some silverware now, it probably rankles with him a little bit that it’s been so long.
"But at the same time, the success they have had in getting into the UEFA Champions League season after season is a measure of Arsène's greatness as a manager.
"A guy like Arsène Wenger is a leader – when he gets knocked down, he gets straight back up again."