The Wonderful World of Football: The Manager of the Year

Last October, I wrote a piece showering Ian Holloway and his Blackpool side with praise following their outstanding victory away at Liverpool.

It was completely justified, and despite the season then being just seven games old, the result sparked early claims of Holloway being crowned the Manager of the Year. Should he keep the seaside club in the Premier League, he will be a dead cert for the award. Even if he fails to do so, he’ll probably still be in contention, such is the (over)achievement of his side this season.

However, it’s the other man that was managing at Anfield that day, Roy Hodgson, who's become an unlikely contender for the prestigious end-of-season gong.

Reviving West Brom’s Premier League survival bid so emphatically is a terrific achievement in itself, having successfully extracted ballsy performances from players that truthfully, Roberto Di Matteo looked incapable of doing towards the end of his tenure.

But Hodgson’s success is made even more significant considering his disastrous six-month spell at Liverpool.

All of his good work at Fulham had been forgotten at Anfield. He was at his lowest ebb, a broken man. At 63, and under no pressure to work, Hodgson could’ve understandably spurned the Baggies’ advances and enjoyed his sizeable pay-off, perhaps returning to the continent after a spell of rest and recuperation.

It’s a measure of his character that he instead chose to put his arguably tarnished reputation on the line by making a swift return to top-flight management. Seven games in, his decision has already been vindicated.

His ill-fated spell at Liverpool will still hurt him, no doubt. But having steered his new club from the depths of the drop-zone to the top half of the table, despite previously suffering probably the worst six months of his managerial career, he could well retain the award he won by a record margin just a year ago.

Does Roy Hodgson deserve the manager of the year title despite being in charge for only a handful of games? Have your say at Baggies Banter here.

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