Power Ranking EPL Coaches

Nick Akerman@NakermanFeatured ColumnistDecember 3, 2012

Power Ranking EPL Coaches

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    We're 15 games into the Premier League season.

    Recent weeks have seen the first managerial casualties of the campaign. Mark Hughes and Roberto Di Matteo waved goodbye, leaving plenty of work for the new men in charge.

    How is every manager performing right now?

    As ever, we've got some real surprises. Stalwarts have faltered, newcomers have thrived and the fight for Premier League points has increased its intensity.

    Let's take a look at who's hot, and who's Arsene Wenger.

20. Martin O'Neill: Sunderland

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    The Black Cats flirted with disaster last season, finishing just nine points ahead of Bolton Wanderers in the relegation zone.

    Although O'Neill spent wisely with the acquisition of Steven Fletcher, he's failed to switch his tactics around when things went wrong. Sunderland have netted just 13 goals in 14 games so far this season.

    Fletcher has been responsible for six of these, but when the former Wolves hitman fails to make an impact, O'Neill has been incapable of providing his team with a second strategy.

    The likes of Fraizer Campbell, Connor Wickham, Ji-Dong Won and Louis Saha have scored zero goals between them this season.

    It's no coincidence that Campbell is the only player from this group to have started a single game.

    O'Neill needs to start using his squad to full effect.

19. Brian McDermott: Reading

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    A first season in the Premier League was always going to be difficult for McDermott's Reading side.

    The likeable manager made an excellent decision to switch Hal Robson-Kanu and Jobi McAnuff's wing positions against Manchester United, but this technical adeptness hasn't been consistent.

    Jason Roberts' continued run in the side must be questioned.

    The veteran striker is yet to score in seven starts and three Premier League substitute appearances.

    His slow movement and general sloppiness often halts Reading's sense of urgency. Even the likes of Sean Morrison, Jimmy Kebe and Danny Guthrie are outscoring him with significantly less time on the pitch.

    More prominently, Pavel Pogrebynak and Noel Hunt are wasting away on the bench. Both players could form a decent partnership with Adam Le Fondre.

    Against Manchester United, McDermott waited too long to introduce the aerial threat of Big Pog, especially as Sir Alex Ferguson's men already outlined their defensive frailties.

18. Arsene Wenger: Arsenal

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    Arsenal's recent 2-0 loss to Swansea has been coming for a while.

    The Gunners have plummeted down the table after a decent start to the season—something the Emirates faithful continue to recognize with a chorus of boos.

    It's difficult to pinpoint exactly where the problem is for Wenger.

    The impact of summer signings Lukas Podolski and Santi Cazorla has lessened with each match, although Olivier Giroud is showing himself to be a real threat.

    Theo Walcott's inability to sign a new contract continues to roll on, as does an injury crisis that has seen Jack Wilshere, Abou Diaby, Tomas Rosicky and Laurent Koscielny miss early parts of the campaign.

    Wenger's team seem to be lacking a leader.

    The Frenchman is rumoured to be considering his future at the end of the season (via The Daily Mail).

    Are the signs ominous?

17. Alan Pardew: Newcastle United

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    Alan Pardew will be relieved.

    Newcastle's 3-0 victory over Wigan ended a run of four straight defeats. The demolition may have started with a fortunate penalty and red card, but Pardew isn't complaining.

    The Magpies have struggled endlessly with injuries to key individuals this campaign.

    Pardew hasn't been able to implement fringe players effectively thus far. The Magpies are missing the creative talents of Hatem Ben Arfa and Yohan Cabaye, especially when Papiss Cisse remains a passenger during his appearances.

    Pardew will be hoping to ride out the storm.

    Every club suffers from significant injuries at some point, although most would do so with a little more spirit.

16. Rafael Benitez: Chelsea

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    Benitez needed a flying start at Stamford Bridge.

    A useful draw against Manchester City was followed by a disappointing 0-0 with Fulham. In the new manager's third match, Chelsea were completely outdone by a resilient West Ham outfit.

    The Spaniard has accumulated two points from a possible nine so far. For comparison, Harry Redknapp has totalled two from six at winless QPR.

    A fair amount of Chelsea fans have made it clear: Benitez isn't welcome at the club.

    This anger must be overcome with results.

    The former Liverpool boss needs to stamp his authority on a side that is lacking direction—perhaps by bringing in another striker or snatching Romelu Lukaku back from his loan at West Brom.

    The European champions need a plan B that doesn't rely on a single goalscorer.

    Ultimately, Roman Abramovich must give Benitez time, just like he should have done with Andre Villas-Boas and Roberto Di Matteo.

    While it's dangerous to tempt fate, Benitez has already admitted he is wary of the sack (via FOX Sports).

    This fear doesn't create profitable working conditions.

15. Martin Jol: Fulham

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    Fulham sit bottom of the current form guide. No win in seven games has seen an excellent start to the season undone.

    Jol's side were battered 3-0 by Spurs in their last outing, even though they competed well for the most part.

    On a positive note, draws against Everton, Arsenal and Chelsea will have fans thoroughly encouraged.

    That said, Fulham have been too accommodating to sides lower down the table. Draws at Southampton and Reading, plus a loss to Sunderland indicates the team need to improve their consistency.

14. Harry Redknapp: Queens Park Rangers

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    QPR are the only side in England to be awaiting their first league win.

    Harry Redknapp's installation in place of Mark Hughes has seen two inconclusive draws against fellow strugglers Sunderland and Aston Villa.

    The rubber-faced veteran is used to a dogfight.

    He has been given control of football's Frankenstein squad—although the nuts and bolts are there, the result isn't particularly pretty.

    Despite starting a more industrious side, Redknapp isn't doing any worse than his predecessor, but that elusive first win needs to arrive soon.

13. Paul Lambert: Aston Villa

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    Paul Lambert has made some interesting decisions this season.

    Christian Benteke's signing was a stroke of genius. The 22-year-old has quickly grown into the Villains most lethal player, spearheading the front line with real confidence and hard work.

    Indeed, Benteke's form has kept Darren Bent out of the side, as Villa deny the Englishman's exile is a financial decision (via The Daily Mail).

    Lambert's decision to rely on youth is an admirable one. Even so, the former Norwich boss needs to secure a handful of experienced players in the January transfer window.

    Form has improved since Manchester City handed out a 5-0 thrashing, but Villa need a few intelligently selected signings to launch an assault up the table.

12. Nigel Adkins: Southampton

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    Nigel Adkins continues to learn.

    Initially extremely naive with his decisions in the Premier League, the Southampton boss is now taking great care over his tactical handling.

    Instead of fearing the worst with every result, Adkins is setting his side out to win.

    Jason Puncheon and Gaston Ramirez are playing confidently alongside Rickie Lambert and Adam Lallana—something that was missing in the pair's early season appearances.

    The players are working hard for a manager that has done well to quash rumours of his uncertain future.

    Adkins needs to ensure his side start to win on the road. Three away points from a possible 15 isn't enough to survive.

11. Roberto Martinez: Wigan Athletic

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    Roberto Martinez will be ready for anything at Wigan this season. Hovering two points above the relegation zone, the intelligent Spaniard is under no illusions.

    Wigan have played some exceptional football so far.

    Goal droughts for Franco Di Santo and Jordi Gomez have come to an end, Arouna Kone has provided a vital spark and wingers such as Jean Beausejour are contributing across the pitch.

    The recent 3-0 loss to Newcastle was a harsh result. Martinez did well to minimalise pressure by bringing on James McArthur and Adrian Lopez heading into the second half.

    His instant reactions could save the Latics this season, as Martinez has been quick to change shape if the game isn't progressing to his demands.

10. Roberto Mancini: Manchester City

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    Manchester City haven't played particularly well this season. The Premier League champions have been happy to amble through most games, taking care of the result with an excess of firepower.

    Mancini's decisions have come under the spotlight with any sign of a poor result (especially in Europe).

    The Italian's insistence on tinkering between three or four defenders leaves him open to criticism.

    As they say, results speak for themselves. City remain unbeaten in the Premier League, and will be confident of whooping their United rivals in the next round of fixtures.

    Edin Dzeko will start on the bench, right?

9. Andre Villas-Boas: Tottenham Hotspur

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    Tottenham fans will be pleased with the sides' speedy progress under AVB.

    The team have snuck into fourth place and currently occupy a Champions League qualifying spot.

    This Spurs squad is full of exquisite talent. Villas-Boas is slowly coming to terms with the strength at his disposal—highlighted with wins against Manchester United and Liverpool.

    Although Spurs were destroyed against local rival Arsenal, the result was largely dependent on Emmanuel Adebayor's decision to get himself sent off.

    The club is moving in the right direction for sure. Upcoming matches against Everton, Swansea and Stoke will see just how serious Spurs are about getting back into the Champions League.

8. Brendan Rodgers: Liverpool

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    You have to give Brendan Rodgers credit. He appears to have steadied a rocky ship.

    It's unlikely Liverpool will be challenging for a Champions League place this season, but the famous Reds are pushing up the table at a decent pace.

    Rodgers' decision to enforce Raheem Sterling, Suso and Joe Allen as major players at Anfield should be commended.

    Switching Jose Enrique to an increasingly attacking role also looks to have aided a side that lacks offensive threat without Luis Suarez.

    Liverpool fans will appreciate small steps of progression.

    While four wins from 15 games isn't impressive, a quartet of defeats isn't disastrous either.

    A spot of striker shopping in January will provide an important boost.

7. Sir Alex Ferguson: Manchester United

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    Like Manchester City, Sir Alex Ferguson's Red Devils have hardly exited first gear this season. Well, they certainly haven't before conceding the first goal.

    Ferguson's ability to correct his own mistakes has gotten United out of trouble on more than one occasion.

    He hasn't always set the team up in an effective manner and has relied on the likes of Robin van Persie, Javier Hernandez and Wayne Rooney to rescue points.

    United remain top of the league.

    Although I'd wager they will be down to second by the time next weekend's local derby has finished, Ferguson's awareness and fearlessness to change things up has helped the red side of Manchester secure points.

6. David Moyes: Everton

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    Everton have won one game from the last nine.

    Draws against Liverpool, Arsenal and Manchester City underlines a resilience that should come patented and packaged with a bag of Toffees.

    Unfortunately, draws with Wigan, QPR and Norwich—plus a disappointing loss to Reading—has seen Moyes' side fall away from the top four.

    The notorious slow starters seem to be doing things in reverse this season.

    Although Moyes will be extremely happy with the club's current position, the stern Scot also knows his team could be so much higher.

    They have dropped vital points in winnable games.

    Sitting just three points from third place, the Goodison Park faithful will—quite amazingly—feel a sense of frustration.

5. Sam Allardyce: West Ham United

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    Big Sam is the man at West Ham. The behemoth has moulded his Hammers side into a replication of his old Bolton team.

    While a physical grit isn't pretty to watch, the combination of strength and determination makes West Ham difficult to overcome.

    The newly-promoted side are on a run of tough fixtures. By the end of the year, most of England's top teams will have come up against the men in claret and blue.

    Allardyce is often said to be a one dimensional manager.

    In the recent 3-1 win over Chelsea, the immovable boss made positive substitutions to collect a brilliant victory.

    Such result will have the London-based side fancying a win against Liverpool in their next fixture.

4. Tony Pulis: Stoke City

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    Stoke's decent Premier League position has come out of nowhere.

    Tony Pulis is often criticised for setting his team up as a rugby side—how can anyone argue with recent results?

    The Potters currently sit second in the Premier League form guide. Unbeaten in five, Pulis' men boast the second best defence in the division behind Manchester City.

    Ryan Shawcross and Robert Huth's partnership has proven pivotal at the back. This reliable defence is a vital part of Stokes' success—especially when you consider the lack of goals scored.

    Right now, Pulis is stretching a restricted squad to its full potential.

3. Steve Clarke: West Bromwich Albion

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    The Hawthorns has become something of a fortress this year. Liverpool, Everton, and Chelsea have all left the stadium without snatching any points.

    Steve Clarke will be pleased with how his first managerial role is progressing—but he isn't the type of individual to pat himself on the back. Two losses in two games will bother the perfectionist.

    The Baggies are playing with a cutting edge that is uncharacteristic of a team that many would have outlined for a relegation battle this year.

    Clarke continues to rotate Peter Odemwingie, Shane Long and Romelu Lukaku to devastating effect, although he'll be working hard to improve a defence that has a tendency to concede goals at important moments.

2. Chris Hughton: Norwich City

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    Chris Hughton may be the most unspoken name in the Premier League. He's a quiet individual who works meticulously.

    Norwich are hovering near the top half after an unsure start.

    Victories against Arsenal and Manchester United have ignited Carrow Road, pushing the club into an unbeaten run of eight games.

    Hughton has taken time to adjust in his new job, but the club should be delighted with his progress.

    John Ruddy's injury casts a shadow of doubt over the Canaries' defence. Will Norwich remain as sturdy without the influential shot stopper?

1. Michael Laudrup: Swansea City

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    Everybody is quick to applaud David Moyes when he steers Everton to an excellent position. We must do the same for Michael Laudrup.

    Swansea currently sit level with Everton on 23 points.

    New signings Miguel Michu and Pablo Hernandez are playing masterfully. The loss of Scott Sinclair has barely proven noticeable, as the Swans continue to engage in free-flowing football.

    Right now, Swansea have lost one Premier League game in the last nine. This was a 1-0 away defeat to champions Manchester City.

    The unbeaten run includes draws with Chelsea and Liverpool, plus wins against Newcastle, West Brom and Arsenal.

    The fact Laudrup's side are competing with the very best on a consistent basis outlines him as the hottest Premier League manager right now.

    He has overcome the pressure of building on Brenden Rodgers' fantastic legacy with a shrewdness that deserves success.


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    All statistics in this article are courtesy of Whoscored.