Grading All 20 Premier League Managers on Their 2012-13 Performance
Now the door is locked on Premier League season 2012-13, it's time to grade all 20 managers on their performance.
The criteria is simple. Any manager who finished the season will be judged on their display (apart from Brian Kidd at Manchester City). This means Nigel Adkins' Reading tenure will be analysed rather than his previous time at Southampton.
Grades will scored out of 10. Six should be considered the average mark, with scores fluctuating from this point depending on the manager's actions. Ten indicates a faultless season, while four and below suggests major problems.
Harry Redknapp, Queens Park Rangers
One sunny day a few years from now, Harry Redknapp might leisurely realise he probably shouldn't have taken the QPR job.
The former Tottenham Manager, who was firm favourite for the England seat before Roy Hodgson took over, has suffered a terrible fall from grace across the 2012-13 season. Despite picking up a few draws and slightly improving QPR's average points haul, he was unable to mould Loftus Road's star names into a functional team.
Although bringing in Andros Townsend and Jermaine Jenas had an immediate impact on results, Redknapp's decision to sign Christopher Samba for £12.5 million is the stuff of nightmares. It's even worse when you realise Tony Fernandes is paying the bumbling defender £25 million across four-and-a-half years.
Needless to say, Samba has never been worth anything close to that sum. His acquisition pinpoints a manager who often seems out of touch when in charge of smaller clubs.
Nigel Adkins, Reading
Nigel Adkins took control of eight Premier League games after becoming Reading manager from March 26.
He won just one of these fixtures, beating Fulham 4-2 at Craven Cottage, and accumulated five points from a possible 24.
Adkins averages 0.63 points per Premier League game as Reading boss, compared to Brian McDermott's top flight average of 0.7. Although both records are rubbish, Adkins was brought in to steadily rebuild for next season's Championship campaign.
Little evidence suggests this is underway. The experienced manager was guilty of naive decisions when at Southampton: namely, removing the team's attacking force when leading games against both Manchester clubs. He made no impact whatsoever at Reading during the Premier League season and needs to quickly put his stamp on the squad.
Roberto Martinez, Wigan Athletic
A strange season saw Roberto Martinez capture the FA Cup and suffer Premier League relegation in the same week.
The Spaniard often set Wigan up to play attractive passing football, although his players couldn't always pull off the feat. He is a positive manager with smart ideas and is set to be rewarded for an impressive tenure at the DW Stadium with the leading position at Everton.
While winning the FA Cup is a massive achievement for Wigan, Martinez's inability to keep them in the Premier League averages out his success. A limp display against Swansea City was undoubtedly the low point, but Martinez can take heart from showing Wigan how to play beautiful football.
Paolo Di Canio, Sunderland
The whirlwind that is Paolo Di Canio rescued Sunderland from relegation with two standout performances.
Consecutive wins against Newcastle and Everton ensured the Black Cats would remain a Premier League outfit next season.
Although a dismal 6-1 thrashing against Aston Villa nearly saw the club implode, Di Canio's work ethic helped many players become fitter by the season's end. Vital draws against Swansea and Southampton did enough for his immediate impact to be considered a success.
Alan Pardew, Newcastle United
Alan Pardew had the impossible task of following up on Newcastle's brilliant fifth-place finish in the 2011/12 season.
He failed spectacularly, spent plenty of money and finished just five points above the relegation zone. Injuries to key players, including Hatem Ben Arfa and Yohan Cabaye, panicked Pardew into luring five Frenchmen to St.James' during the transfer window.
As we have seen with QPR, so many new faces arriving at once often takes time to settle.
Moral of the story? Never sign a manager to an eight-year contract, no matter how well he performs.
Paul Lambert, Aston Villa
I admire Paul Lambert for his efforts at Aston Villa.
His decision to put an emphasis on youth almost backfired, but the former Norwich City boss had faith in his starlets. Players such as Matthew Lowton, Ashley Westwood and Andreas Weimann have endeared themselves to Villa Park across the last year with a number of excellent displays.
Lambert was also responsible for bringing Christian Benteke to the Premier League. The Belgian scored 19 goals in 34 appearances throughout the campaign and has become one of world football's most wanted forwards. His presence often allowed Villa off the hook in tight matches and gave supporters something to sing about.
It's refreshing to see Lambert's philosophy for the future eventually save the club from relegation.
Mauricio Pochettino, Southampton
Mauricio Pochettino has certainly got Southampton playing slick football.
While his implementation hasn't been totally effective, the Argentinian's long-term project alongside Nicola Cortese is likely to ensure the club plays attractively from now on. Pochettino's side pretty much handed Manchester United the Premier League title with a 3-1 win over Manchester City, and were certainly difficult to beat under the new man.
One major blot on Pochettino's record was the 3-0 home loss to West Brom, although two red cards should put more blame on the players.
It will be exciting to see how Pochettino develops the team this summer and what style of football they settle on going into next season.
Tony Pulis, Stoke City
This was the year Stoke fans finally had enough of Tony Pulis' brand of burly football.
Strong, powerful men don't always mean success. Despite an excellent start to the season, Stoke's physical style was easily overcome after Christmas. Aside from Steven N'zonzi, Pulis' signings didn't significantly help a team that is crying out for a consistent goalscorer.
Pulis left the club at the season's end having stablised their Premier League future, although the 2012/13 season was amongst Stoke's worst top flight showings.
Martin Jol, Fulham
With the loss of Clint Dempsey and Mousa Dembele before the season began, Martin Jol had a lot to contend with at Craven Cottage.
The veteran Dutchman snapped up Dimitar Berbatov in a smart piece of business, but when the Bulgarian misfired, so did Fulham. Jol was unable to maintain a consistent selection that performed well, chopping and changing fringe players throughout the year.
Fulham survived, but Jol needs a clearer idea of how his team is going to progress.
Chris Hughton, Norwich City
The most memorable factor of Norwich's season is that Chris Hughton's side went from Dec. 22 to Apr. 13 with just one win in 16 games.
Only a decent start to the season and a late flurry of points pushed the Canaries away from relegation. Sure, a home win against Manchester United was a particular highlight, but this team remains undefined as an attacking threat.
Only QPR and Stoke scored less than the team's total of 41 goals, a number that coincides with Grant Holt and Luciano Becchio's inability to hit the net.
Sam Allardyce, West Ham United
Sam Allardyce's career is defined on producing decent results with little material.
His West Ham side is amongst the Premier League's more physical specimens, but Allardyce has ensured they're far more polished than the Stokes of this world. Only four teams escaped the Boleyn Ground with wins as the Hammers' battling nature echoed throughout the squad.
Often unspectacular, Allardyce easily assured West Ham would stay in the Premier League and made them a tough outfit to overcome.
Michael Laudrup, Swansea City
Michael Laudrup's season with Swansea will always be remembered for winning the Capital One Cup.
The Welsh outfit lost plenty of their spark once the trophy was delivered, but finishing inside the Premier League top 10 is something to admire. Laudrup had a tough job following Brendan Rodgers' stylish act, but he maintained Swansea's passing game and improved vital areas, including goalscoring and defence.
Laudrup's decision to sign Michu for £2 million was also the work of a genius. Despite slowing down considerably towards the season's conclusion, the Danish manager will be thoroughly pleased with his debut showing at the Liberty Stadium.
Steve Clarke, West Bromwich Albion
Could Steve Clarke's first step into permanent management have gone any better?
The West Brom boss ensured his side finished eighth, arguably winning the "best of the rest" mini-championship away from the seasoned big boys. His decision to sign Romelu Lukaku made a huge impression, while Clarke managed to get the best from players such as Ben Foster, Shane Long and Gareth McAuley on a regular basis.
Clarke's team play exciting football. They challenge across the pitch and are useful from set-piece situations. The real challenge starts now: can he maintain West Brom's form going into next season?
Brendan Rodgers, Liverpool
As detailed here, Brendan Rodgers' first season as Liverpool manager posted mixed results.
The former Swansea boss certainly shook things up. He allowed youth players such as Raheem Sterling, Suso and Andre Wisdom significant playing time, while also ensuring the Reds focused on free-flowing, attacking football.
Although Fabio Borini's injury-ravaged season was terrible, the signings of Philippe Coutinho and Daniel Sturridge have been majorly impressive. In fact, with Luis Suarez rumoured to be leaving Anfield, they could become Liverpool's most potent attacking threats next season.
David Moyes, Everton
David Moyes' 11-year stint with Everton earned him the Manchester United job.
His team were once again extremely difficult to beat throughout the 2012-13 campaign. Just one loss at Goodison Park is title-winning form until you look at Everton's number of draws across the year. Fifteen matches finished level, including dropped points against QPR, Wigan, Norwich and Southampton.
Even so, a lack of striking options saw Moyes utilise Marouane Fellaini further up the pitch. This worked well, as the energetic selection of players around him bounced between the midfield and forward lines to great effect.
Another admirable season, although this one feels like something of a missed opportunity.
Andre Villas-Boas, Tottenham Hotspur
Andre Villas-Boas has done well at Spurs, although he will be disappointed not to topple Arsenal in his first season at White Hart Lane.
The Portuguese manager signed a number of excellent players, including the aforementioned Dempsey and Dembele. He was unable to land a much-needed striker during the January transfer window; an oversight that may have cost Spurs a place in the Champions League.
Villas-Boas' best feature is his ability to slowly change games. He meticulously observes the opposition and pries out their weaknesses, as witnessed in the 3-1 comeback win over Manchester City. Daniel Levy should be pleased with his leading man and a bright future for the North London club.
Arsene Wenger, Arsenal
It's easy to forget Arsene Wenger was under immense pressure after Arsenal's 2-1 loss to Spurs at the beginning of March.
Wanting to prove the doubters wrong with results on the pitch, the Gunners then went on an unbeaten run that extended across 10 games and until the end of the season. In fact, Arsenal only dropped points against Everton and Manchester United from this moment.
Wenger's team have done well to install an air of grit to their game, as Arsenal are no longer easily brushed aside in physical battles. Santi Cazorla's first season was a resounding success, while Olivier Giroud and Lukas Podolski have plenty of work to do if they are to remain at the Emirates.
One of Wenger's best decisions was keeping Laurent Koscielny and Per Mertesacker alongside each other, dropping Thomas Vermaelen after the Spurs game. Arsenal conceded just five goals in the final 10 games, maintaining that final Champions League spot for another season.
Rafa Benitez, Chelsea
Rafa Benitez won 15 of his 26 Premier League games as interim Chelsea boss, losing five and drawing six. Although his win percentage of 57.7 isn't particularly impressive, the Spaniard had plenty to contend with at Stamford Bridge.
He wasn't wanted by supporters and would be defined on his ability to follow up Roberto Di Matteo's Champions League winning campaign. Benitez had to address the misfiring Fernando Torres situation by landing Demba Ba in the January transfer window and made the call to give Frank Lampard greater game time. He also allowed David Luiz to roam in midfield, a position that looks to be the Brazilian's future.
Not only did Benitez manage to capture third, he triumphed with a Europa League victory over Benfica. His tactical prowess often shone through the criticism, as games against Manchester United in both the FA Cup and Premier League were won with clever switches at the right time.
Benitez deserves a huge thank you from the Chelsea fans who questioned his appointment. He acted with class and got on with the job Roman Abramovich assigned, picking up major silverware in the process.
Roberto Mancini, Manchester City
Roberto Mancini was a popular figure at Eastlands, but unfortunately, his inability to fulfill any of Manchester City's goals saw him sacked before the season was over.
Although the FA Cup final defeat to Wigan may have acted as a catalyst, Mancini struggled to nail down a winning formula throughout the season. His indecision between playing four or three defenders often dragged City down in competitive matches and he gave playing time to individuals who simply didn't perform.
Mancini's summer signings made very little impact on a team that lost to Manchester United and Norwich at home, as well as a catastrophic defeat away at Southampton. He never spouted the same confidence as City's 2011/12 title-winning year, nor did his players.
Even so, it's a shame to see Mancini move on.
Sir Alex Ferguson, Manchester United
Putting Sir Alex Ferguson's retirement to one side, it's important to judge his performance as manager and not be influenced by feelings of nostalgia.
The Scot's insistence on signing Robin van Persie was a major step for Manchester United. RVP's goals helped lead the team to yet another Premier League title, but Ferguson had to change plenty in order to fit him in.
Wayne Rooney was dragged back into midfield and away from his best form with the signing's presence. Javier Hernandez deserved more time in a season where he scored plenty of important goals, but other than that, Ferguson did well to improve the status of players, including Jonny Evans, Phil Jones and David De Gea.
This may not be the greatest United team ever, but the former Aberdeen boss has left David Moyes plenty to work with.
How do you grade each of the Premier League managers' performances across the 2012/13 season? Let me know in the comments section and be sure to follow me on Twitter right here: