Ranking the 20 Premier League managers: Where does Arteta end up?
Naturally, there is constant conversation at every club as to the credentials of certain managers. Football has developed a system where the boards are largely immovable and it is difficult to change the fortunes of a team by changing every player. As such all of the attention inevitably falls to the managers. When it’s going well, they can be seen as geniuses. When it’s all going wrong, they will get the brunt of the critique. This begs the question, who is the best manager in the Premier League and where does Arteta rank based on his start to coaching so far?
Firstly, I want to just establish how I want to judge this. As much as I will try to look at the whole picture in terms of their entire careers, there will be a specific focus on what we’ve seen this season. This is only fair as a number of people on this list are quite new to coaching or at least Premier League coaching and deserve a bit of leniency in that regard. However, the overriding criteria is to look at how much are these managers getting out of their current squads? Are their results as good as they could be considering the squads at their disposals? Or are some of these managers’ sides dramatically under-performing?
20th – Scott Parker
Life back in the Premier League has been very tough so far for Fulham. I don’t want to be too scathing of Parker as I do feel that in time, and naturally with the right resources, he could become a very good coach. As a player, he always demonstrated the type of qualities that one might look for in a coach, but so far, he perhaps has shown a one dimensional management style. I respect the style of football that he seeks to play, but he needs to have a different way to play to grind out the results that will keep him in the league.
19th – Steve Bruce
Steve Bruce is a fairly reliable pair of hands, and perhaps is unlucky to be so far down on the list. I think I’m being fairly nostalgic and remembering the Newcastle of how. They are a massive club with actually a fairly talented group of players. They have made a steady start to this season, but if Newcastle want to get back to where they were, I don’t think Bruce is their man. Having said that, he has done a great job of steadying the ship and keeping them in the league.
18th – Slaven Bilic
The Croatian manager has a now fairly extensive managerial CV. I’ve always thought it would be interesting to see what he might do at a top club. Tactically he seems fairly switched on and a good motivator for his players as well. However, his clubs are often very hot and cold, and consistency is so key to be considered a good manager. He has struggled so far this season, but this is as much to do with the weakness of the West Brom squad.
17th – Ole Gunnar Solskjaer
At first, I thought that this ranking was harsh for the Norwegian. But the more I think about it, the more I realise that there is no team underperforming as much as Manchester United right now. OGS has never convinced me that tactically he is a manager to be feared. How often has a good run of form or a moment of magic from Rashford or Fernandes saved his job. When watching United, I don’t see any structure, identity or intensity in their play. For me, these United players look lost under their manager. Let’s not forget how much he has spent on this squad; arguably the 3rd best squad on paper in the league is sat in 15th place without a home win so far this season.
16th – Dean Smith
If you had asked me last season, Dean Smith would have been further down the list. Villa were generally quite poor last season, relying far too often on some magic from Grealish to keep them in the league. However, after an exceptional transfer window they have really done well so far this season. Dean Smith has built a very good side. My one worry for him is that with the amount of effort in attack, their sometimes laboured transition back to defending often leaves them quite susceptible to a counter-attack.
15th – Roy Hodgson
Perhaps Hodgson has finally found his level. There’s a voice inside my head crying out for me to mark him down for his failings with England. But right now he is doing exactly what Palace need him for. He has them playing well and truly to their strengths and realistically has little to no chance of getting relegated if you ask me. And that’s all Palace are really expecting from him right now.
14th – Chris Wilder
For a manager like Wilder, you better hope your plan A works. Sheffield set up to simply not concede. And to his credit, last season Wilder proved that he is one of the best in the league at fulfilling that aim. But once they do concede, you have to question whether they have the capability to chase the game. I think again, he is just quite a one dimensional manager, however I must say he is an expert at that one dimension
13th – David Moyes
West Ham have made an excellent start to the season so far, but that doesn’t convince me that Moyes is a top coach. I struggle to look past his shortcomings at previous clubs. I think the Scot has found his level, much like Hodgson. A club where he can get away with playing conservative, counter-attacking football whilst still having decent resources to develop an at times excellent forward line.
12th – Sean Dyche
His plan A is very similar to that of Wilder, however Dyche gets ahead of the Blades manager for me because he is slightly better with regards to a plan B. His side are just a bit better on the counter-attack and he has done it in the Premier League for a number of years now.
11th – Graham Potter
I didn’t know much about Potter when he first got the Brighton job, but he has shown me that he is actually a top manager. I look at managers like Daniel Farke who got Norwich relegated, and Parker who may well lead Fulham to a similar fate. They both aim to play an attacking, free-flowing football. Perhaps at times they do so naively. Whilst Potter does this, and does this brilliantly even against the top sides, he also has coached that Brighton side into being very disciplined and defensively sound. With some serious investment, I wouldn’t be surprised if he led Brighton to much bigger and better things than mere survival in the next few years.
10th – Ralph Hasenhuttl
I really like this guy. He really reminds me of Jurgen Klopp; passionate and animated, in love with his players and fans and above all else, a great tactician. Southampton looked like relegation fodder before he joined, but the attacking football they are playing now makes them a worrying prospect for any team. I think they’re real contenders for a Europa League spot, as long as Ings can stay fit for most of the season.
9th – Frank Lampard
I think that Lampard clearly understands the game and clearly is an excellent motivator for those players. To have someone who is one of the best players in the history of the league getting stuck in with training sessions has led to a real buzz around Chelsea. He did well last season against all odds and with the players he’s brought in this season, is perhaps the best team to watch in the final third so far this season. My one critique is to compare him with Arteta; both sides have issues defensively, but Arteta focused on that first before trying to improve his attack. I would have to argue that right now, Arsenal are a more defensively solid team compared to Chelsea.
8th – Nuno Espirito Santo
There isn’t much to say about this guy. We all know just how good he is. Fair enough he has the benefit of some heavy-funding, but his Wolves side have been one of the toughest opponents in the league for the last couple of years. The only thing I would say is that his side get found out when the other team sits deep and does not let Wolves play their usual game. Most recently in their heavy defeat to West Ham.
7th – Marcelo Bielsa
He is one of the most charismatic coaches in world football, and that really translates to his charismatic Leeds outfit. Some people were thinking Leeds would get relegated, others thought they might challenge for Europe. I believe they will be somewhere in between, which would I think be massively out-performing where they should be with what is in reality, nothing more than a decent squad. Don’t be surprised if we see some giant-killings and a cup run along the way.
6th – Mikel Arteta
Perhaps I’m being slightly biased with putting him this high, because this time last year he was still an assistant coach. However, what a first year in management it’s been! He steadied the ship after the low points of Emery, secured long term deals for Aubameyang and Saka, has clearly made some excellent signings in Partey and Gabriel and even won an FA cup. But perhaps most impressively of all, he has turned this often error-prone Arsenal side into one with the best defence in the league so far! Give him the money that OGS and Lampard have, and no doubt he would get us back to our golden days.
5th – Brendan Rodgers
Rodgers right now is squeezing everything possible out of that Leicester squad. He has shown that tactically he is right up there with the best of them, and he also is a fabulous man manager and developer of youth players.
4th – Carlo Ancelotti
A man who has proven himself at top clubs time and time again. My real question mark was, what about a team where it’s not already made for you? He was linked with replacing Wenger and I wasn’t convinced he could do a rebuild job. Well, the early signs are that he has proven me wrong. Sure, he has had a lot of money to spend, but he and the board have spent it excellently. James Rodriguez in particular looks like brilliant business, a move only possible because of the mammoth reputation of the gaffer. I think Everton’s starting 11 is top quality now, the real test is how he is going to manage his rotation so that his side can challenge for the full 38 games and maybe end up back in Europe.
3rd – Jose Mourinho
I hate to admit it, but Mourinho has done far better at Spurs than I was expecting. The style of football he has been guilty of playing in the past led me to believe he would take Spurs nowhere. Ironically, they are actually one of the best attacking outfits in the league, with their defence at times letting them down. In terms of an overall career, he is perhaps deserving of 1st or 2nd place, but like I said I’m focusing on the here and now.
2nd – Pep Guardiola
Anybody who says that Pep is a poor manager because he needs to spend money has lost their marbles. Just look at the other side in Manchester for an example of how throwing money at your problems won’t always reap rewards. His side still play the best brand of football in the league. His 2nd place here is less to do with his shortcomings and more to do with the exceptional recent form shown by the guy at the top of the list
1st – Jurgen Klopp
Yeah, I don’t think anybody was expecting anything else. They have had a clear identity every since he joined the club and has spend very smartly to get the right players to fit this ideal. Do we think that Henderson is all of a sudden, a world class midfielder? Or does he just look like one because of how well he does his job for Liverpool? He ticks every box for a manager. Passionate, tactically exceptional, brilliant to watch, a great understanding of which players to buy and perhaps an unrivalled bargain-finding ability. He has turned countless unfancied prospects and turned them into world-class talents. He is the best manager in the league, and for me the best manager in the world right now.