It’s a tough life being a football manager. You put your blood, sweat and tears into your job and in the end, some guy sitting behind a laptop will still make fun of how you did.
Well, we’re here to fill that void in the content space.
Here are the 20 managers who finished the 2021/22 Premier League season, ranked on how good a job they did.
Thank you to Xisco Munoz, Steve Bruce, Nuno Espirito Santo, Daniel Farke, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, Rafael Benitez, Claudio Ranieri, Marcelo Bielsa and Sean Dyche, all of whom did not survive the season. Your contributions to the Barclays shan’t be forgotten.
Final position: 19th
Highlight: Smiling throughout every thrashing Watford endured
Lowlight: Not clapping travelling Watford fans because they were ‘a bit far away’
Sorry, Roy, but you were the worst of Watford’s three managers this season and despite being one of the most loved men in the game, you found a way to make their fans despise you.
Final position: 20th
Highlight: Helping former club Aston Villa survive
Lowlight: Failing to help current club Norwich survive
By all accounts, this version of Norwich are hopeless at this level. They committed comical defensive errors every week regardless of who was in the dugout, but hey, someone had to take the fall.
Final position: 6th
Highlight: Finding new ways to dig the club and players out every week
Lowlight: His inability to be a football manager
Manchester United went into the 2021/22 campaign as potential title challengers and ended it with their lowest points tally in the Premier League era. It wasn’t all Ralf Rangnick’s fault of course, but he only made matters worse.
Final position: 18th
Highlight: The three weeks where he looked like the best manager in the world
Lowlight: The cold embrace of relegation
Had Burnley survived on the final day of the season then Mike Jackson would have been much, much higher. That’s outcome bias for ya.
Final position: 17th
Highlight: Getting a high pick in the EPL draft
Lowlight: Missed the playoffs, dag-nabbit
Shoutout to Bielsa, whose mission to make Leeds the worst defensive team in the league nearly saw them relegated on goal difference. Jesse Marsch wasn’t much better, but at least he kept them up and provided us with a week or so of Ted Lasso comparisons.
Final position: 16th
Highlight: Getting Everton out of relegation trouble
Lowlight: Getting Everton into relegation trouble
Everton fans may be enamoured by Frank Lampard’s sweet talk but it is worth noting he was the one who dragged them into a relegation battle before ultimately saving them.
Final position: 15th
Highlight: When Southampton played like 2012/13 Borussia Dortmund
Lowlight: When Southampton played like 2007/08 Derby
Southampton are the streakiest team in the league and it’s still hard to know just how much blame or credit Ralph Hasenhuttl should get. The Saints’ squad isn’t amazing, but they could also not go on huge losing streaks every other month.
Final position: 14th
Highlight: Well at least Aston Villa weren’t horrendous
Lowlight: Somehow managing to find a new way to cost Liverpool the title
Steven Gerrard began life at Aston Villa well, then they tailed off and he was called a fraud by all corners of the internet, before they ended the season in decent form. Hard to draw many conclusions from his reign so far.
Final position: 8th
Highlight: Finishing 8th despite a disappointing season
Lowlight: Being 2-1 up in the 95th minute against Tottenham and still finding a way to lose
Trust me, you’re not the only one who was surprised that Leicester somehow finished eighth. Considering the Foxes were playing in Europe throughout the whole season and still finished with 52 points, that’s not a terrible campaign for Brendan Rodgers and his men.
Final position: 10th
Highlight: Has a great chant
Lowlight: Offensive record will make your eyes bleed
Wolves had the fifth-best defensive record in the league. That’s good.
They also had the fourth-worst offensive record in the league. That’s bad.
Final position: 3rd
Highlight: Steering Chelsea through their sanctions
Lowlight: Barely got a tune out of nearly £200m worth of forward talent
It was a par-for-the-course season for Chelsea in the end, comfortably confirming that they’re the third-best team in England. Thomas Tuchel’s a top coach but this was hardly his finest achievement.
Final position: 5th
Highlight: Providing great content for Arsenal’s All or Nothing Amazon Prime documentary
Lowlight: Spectacularly blowing Champions League qualification
I’m sure a lot of Arsenal fans will complain that Mikel Arteta is too low here. Well done for finishing higher than eighth for the first time as Gunners boss, I guess.
Final position: 9th
Highlight: Leading Brighton to their highest-ever league finish
Lowlight: Their fans still hated him for long stretches
The 2021/22 season was the one where Brighton finally managed to convert expected goals into real goals. They were rewarded with a respectable top-half finish. Good job, xGraham.
Final position: 7th
Highlight: West Ham’s incredible European run
Lowlight: Standing up for convicted cat-abuser Kurt Zouma
Time Person of the Year frontrunner David Moyes let his mask slip with his staunch Kurt Zouma defence, but at least he kept up his appearances as a football manager.
Final position: 4th
Highlight: Steering Spurs to an improbable top-four finish
Lowlight: Threatening to quit every other week
Up until April, it looked as though Antonio Conte was going to walk out on Spurs in fiery fashion. But he managed to keep his hair on and guide them back into the Champions League.
Final position: 12th
Highlight: Defying expectations to make Crystal Palace an exciting team
Lowlight: Failing to get stuck in himself
Crystal Palace went into the year as a fair bet for the drop. Deciding to sack a stable manager and hometown hero in Hodgson was bold and they needed to completely refresh their squad. But Patrick Vieira – who wasn’t even their first or second choice for the role – has done a marvellous job at reinventing the Eagles.
Final position: 2nd
Highlight: Making Liverpool a luxury version of ‘Bayer Neverkusen’
Lowlight: Betraying his stance on not caring about cup competitions
Liverpool may have failed in their mission to lift the Premier League in front of a packed-out Anfield but at least they got their trophy parade. Every cloud and all that.
Final position: 13th
Highlight: Didn’t spend one single minute in the relegation zone, accumulated more points than the other promoted clubs combined
Lowlight: Spending most of the season working in Hounslow
The writer of this article had to be talked down from putting Thomas Frank in top spot despite accumulating more points than the two other promoted sides combined and never being in any real danger of relegation. Democracy doesn’t work.
Final position: 1st
Highlight: Winning the league again
Lowlight: Well done mate you’re the manager of Manchester City
Some people say that the defence of a title is as important as winning the initial title itself. Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City have now retained their Premier League title twice – an achievement only bettered by Sir Alex Ferguson’s Manchester United.
Final position: 11th
Highlight: Making Newcastle good defensively despite his Bournemouth teams conceding 100 goals a season
Lowlight: Dodging questions about Saudi Arabia
Newcastle looked a shoo-in to go down when Eddie Howe walked through the St James’ Park doors back in November, and the Magpies didn’t win a game until December. But to his credit, Howe quickly made them one of the most reliable teams in the entire league – only Manchester City, Liverpool and Tottenham earned more points after his appointment.
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