As we eagerly await next weekend’s game already — Chelsea going for a ninth win in a row after our stunning comeback win against Manchester City on Saturday — there is the small matter of the Manager of the Month. Conte, as expected, is among the four managers nominated for the November award and he will be competing against Moyes, Klopp and Guardiola.
#CFC Vote for your Barclays Manager of the Month for November.#Conte #PremierLeague https://t.co/3CsBiVUf3q pic.twitter.com/Aa9Dln5jZG— Chelsea FC Global (@Chelsea_Global) December 1, 2016
Before I zero in on which manager deserves to win the award let me discuss the merit of the nominations using the ratings method outlined in last week’s posts.
The one thing that stands out is the high return on wins for Moyes compared to other managers. As I have stated in my previous articles the factors that are considered are net transfer spent, wage cap and expectation based on performance last season. Thus, any win for Moyes is a much more unexpected event than any win for Conte, Klopp, or Guardiola.
Also, Sunderland were by far the worst team in the league entering the month with no wins and just two points from the ten games up to that point, which is why their consecutive wins looked like the end of the world was nearing. Their two victories over Bournemouth and Hull City both gave Moyes significant returns — Bournemouth were 10th when Sunderland visited the Vitality Stadium and won, while Hull City were a direct relegation rival.
Liverpool, who are arguably playing the most attacking football in the Premier League, thrashed Watford 6-1 before dropping points at Southampton and finishing the month off with a routing 2-0 victory against bottom placed Sunderland. These fixtures may look deceivingly easy, but Watford were 7th and above Manchester United when they were taken apart, Southampton were still considered a tough test, especially at home, while Sunderland were on a two-match winning streak.
Conte is the only manager to have a 100% record in the month of November, albeit with two home games in addition to a semi-tricky away trip to Middlesbrough, who were able to resist both Manchester City and Arsenal earlier in the season.
Three wins are still three wins of course, especially when contrasted with Guardiola’s easier schedule but dropped points. In fact, given the ease of Manchester City’s schedule, does Guardiola even deserve to be in the nomination shortlist?
According to my model, the top four managers for the month of November should actually include Tony Pulis instead of Guardiola
Tony Pulis, seriously??
One of the most underrated managers in the Premier League, Mr. Track Suit Baseball Cap himself strikes again. All hail Pulisball! Despite his accomplishments and West Brom’s recent form, they seemed to have received little to no media coverage. Pulis, like Guardiola and Klopp, got seven points out of a possible nine, but did it on a mid-table, rather than top four wage budget.
Let’s compare the results of WBA and Manchester City in the month of November.
West Brom’s higher quality wins on a relative shoestring budget and much lower squad skill level (reigning champions Leicester City away, blowing out Burnley at home) should have resulted in Pulis getting the nomination instead of Guardiola, who barely squeaked by Burnley and Crystal Palace.
Feel free to speculate why it was Guardiola who got the nomination rather than Pulis...
So, who should win the award??
As shown in the table at the top, I am convinced that Klopp and Guardiola don’t deserve to win the award. It must be between Conte and Moyes. Since the award is based 90% on "expert" opinion and 10% on the fan
bias vote, it is difficult to statistically predict the winner as a number of subjective parameters will be considered.
Conte has been in a similar position before. In the month of August, Conte managed three wins out of three but it wasn’t enough for him to grab Manager of the month. The award went to interim Hull City boss Mike Phelan who, like Moyes, won two of his three matches including one over champions Leicester. The two other managers who Phelan beat to the award were Mourinho and Guardiola, who also had a 100% record.
Despite achieving three far more impressive wins in November than in August, Conte actually collected more ratings points in August. The major difference was of course that we entered November on the back of four straight wins, while the first three games of the season were directly following on from the most disastrous season at Stamford Bridge in two decades. It’s all about expectations!
Another factor going against Conte for November is that only three times in the last ten years has a manager won two consecutive Manager of the Month awards (Ancelotti in Mar-Apr 2011, Pellegrini in Dec-Jan 2013-14, and Ranieri at the end of last season). Add in the fact that like Conte in October, Moyes has engineered a drastic turnaround in November, and it’s easy to see how he could end up winning the award in the real world, just like the ratings model would predict it the theoretical one.