Top 5 Tactical Geniuses in the Premier League This Season
The English Premier League season is over, and after 38 games, we've deduced who the tactical geniuses of 2012-13 are.
There are those who do things by the book of basics—Sam Allardyce, for example—and as effective as they are, the five managers we've selected have really stood out.
Who joins Sir Alex Ferguson in the list of tactical geniuses?
Wigan Athletic manager Martinez has had some great tactical moments this season, but he can't be considered top-five on account of his side's relegation.
As creative as the Spaniard is on the tactics board, there's an argument to suggest pure defensive coaching was the required ingredient for safety this season.
Many questioned the sacking of Nigel Adkins, but football is no place for sentiment. Pochettino has guided Southampton to safety and has all the attributes to take this side up the league.
When West Bromwich Albion hired Steve Clarke at the start of the season, many (foolishly) wrote them off as certain relegation fodder with immediate effect.
But the Scot has done a great job of keeping "yo-yo" club WBA stable and has set the foundations for a long stay in England's top tier.
He doesn't do anything flashy, but that's OK. Taking in a game at the Hawthorns this season restores faith in the simplicity of the game.
Clarke plays tidy but direct football, moving the ball from box to box in four or five passes and generating a shooting chance. No tiki-taka, no trying to be better than you are—just effective football. Commendations.
Aston Villa struggled throughout the first half of the season as Paul Lambert's young squad gradually came to terms with the situation thrust upon them: Avoid relegation at all costs.
The Scot juggled his team and tactics willy-nilly to start with, desperately trying to find the best possible combination. He moved through 4-4-2, 4-5-1, 3-5-2 and a midfield diamond before finally settling on two key formations.
He added Yacouba Sylla in January to give his new favoured system—the 4-3-3—some muscle, while the 4-2-3-1 served as an excellent alternative.
His willingness to experiment allowed him to guide his young charges to six wins in the final 14 games, steering clear of relegation when many thought it impossible.
Brendan Rodgers' impressive campaign as Swansea City manager last season left some big shoes to fill, but the club's front office struck gold in Michael Laudrup.
The Dane carried limited experience into the job, but his refreshing approach complemented Rodgers' passing legacy, and Swansea ended up improving on last season's 11th-place finish.
Rather than rip out what had been instilled over time, Laudrup built on the impressive foundations and found a way to make history. The Swans may have checked out a little early, but ninth place and a cup win is a very good season.
Sir Alex Ferguson
Sir Alex Ferguson really pushed the boat out tactically in his final season as Manchester United manager, and in doing so, he won the English Premier League by some distance.
He blended Robin van Persie into his side with impressive ease, creating a free-flowing 4-4-2 formation that used both his and Wayne Rooney's strengths in full.
Bad seasons from Ashley Young, Antonio Valencia and Anderson mattered not as the Red Devils went all-out attack, flooding players forward and outscoring opponents with ease.
His midfield diamond away to Newcastle United raised some eyebrows, but United were 3-0 up before Alan Pardew had even figured out what was going on.
Andre Villas-Boas' ability to make the right change at the right time midgame to secure a result has set him apart this season.
He learnt his lessons after the failed Chelsea experiment, picking a formation that suits his players rather than forcing his players to adapt to a formation.
His manipulation of Gareth Bale's role in the face of double or even triple coverage has been fantastic, while his reaction to going down to 10 men is Jose Mourinho-esque.
Whichever way you look at Spurs' season, 72 points is a seriously impressive total.