5 Unheralded Managers on the Rise in World Football
There are some managers out there who just don't get enough credit.
We regularly hear about the wonderful work Juergen Klopp has done in rebuilding Borussia Dortmund, the sensational season Philippe Montanier has enjoyed with Real Sociedad and the impressive moves Michael Laudrup has made at Swansea City.
But what about the other guys? Well, we honour you here, "other guys"—it's your time to shine! B/R takes a look at five managers working wonders whilst flying under the mainstream radar.
Sami Hyypia, Bayer Leverkusen
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At 39 years of age, Sami Hyypia is fast becoming one of the finest young managers in football.
Bayer Leverkusen achieved an incredible third-place finish in the Bundlesliga last season, ending up just a single point off Borussia Dortmund and securing UEFA Champions League football once again.
Many put it down to the players, and while it's not incorrect to suggest Lars Bender, Stefan Kiessling, Dani Carvajal, Andre Schuerrle and others performed superbly, Hyypia has glued it all together.
Expect big things from the Werkself project next season.
Paul Lambert, Aston Villa
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Much has been made of Mauricio Pochettino's rising stars and Steve Clarke's budget performers, but Aston Villa are still seen as the club who "survived by the skin of their teeth."
Not a lot of praise has been thrown Paul Lambert's way so far, but consider the following for a moment.
Using 2013 fixtures only, Villa would be eighth in the English Premier League table, while the club's post-Christmas form would ordinarily be good enough to secure European football. His six early signings this summer indicate he knows what he needs to take the club to the next level.
Villa look odds-on to keep Christian Benteke, and his young team have a full season of experience under their belt. The Midlands club are set to challenge for a top-half finish next season, and don't be surprised if they manage it.
Paco Jemez, Rayo Vallecano
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Rayo Vallecano are hardly the sort of side you think of when considering Spanish powerhouses, but Paco Jemez has turned them into a real contender over the past 12 months.
Initial predictions centred around Rayo avoiding or succumbing to relegation from La Liga, but Jemez led them to their highest ever points tally (53) and only narrowly missed out on landing UEFA Europa League football.
High possession statistics, high pressing and plenty of chances created—these were the hallmarks of an exciting season from the Vallecanos.
Chang Woe-Ryong, Qingdao Jonoon
Chang Woe-Ryong (张外龙) has done a remarkable on-and-off job with Qingdao Jonoon over the past two years.
He kept the club up against all the odds in 2012, then after a short cameo with Dalian Aerbin, he came back to rescue them once again.
Now, Qingdao are coasting midway through the season in sixth place despite facing some financially monstrous sides on an incredibly modest budget.
Claude Puel, Nice
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Nice have just finished third in Ligue 1 thanks to the fantastic management skills of Claude Puel.
The money is hardly flowing in French football, and les Aiglons have stuck to a very tight budget. Puel has unearthed an absolute gem in striker Dario Cvitanich while getting the best out of midfielder Valentin Eysseric and hot prospect Timothee Kolodziejczak.
Many have gushed over Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang's Saint-Etienne this season, but Puel's Nice finished one point above them in the league after accruing an impressive 18 wins.