Continuing in our countdown of the best of everything of the 2010-2011 Premier League season, let's take a look at the most important man for each and every club: the manager.
Now, some of you may scoff at my saying the manager is the most important person for each club, and I even scoff at it a bit, but since they are the ones who take the majority of the blame and the fall, and not as much of the praise, I'll give them this one.
So here's how I've ranked the performances of each of the Premier League managers from 2010-2011. As always, let me know what you think!
The EPL has become a cut-throat business, and as per usual, we didn't finish this season with the same 20 men who started it.
Roberto Di Matteo was fired from West Brom in early February after 13 losses in their last 18 games. Blackburn's new owners no longer cared for Big Sam Allardyce's tough-tackling tactics and sent him packing in December, but Big Sam will be around next season as he will be taking charge of West Ham's fight for promotion.
Roy Hodgson epically failed at Liverpool, but he still found a way onto our list after replacing Di Matteo at West Brom.
The most mind-boggling firing was Chris Hughton from Newcastle in December. He led the team back into the Premier League after one season in the Championship and had them in the top half of the table when he was fired.
Avram Grant came to West Ham last summer after going along for the ride of Portsmouth's inevitable relegation last season. It's safe to say his coaching career has gone from bad to worse since he was a kick away from leading Chelsea to its first Champions League trophy in 2008.
He led West Ham to their worst ever top flight start, and the club's first point of the season didn't actually come until mid-September, when Grant was absent observing a religious holiday.
His Hammers were the first team to beat Manchester United in any competition in the League Cup in November, but his side was woeful in the league and pretty much rooted to the bottom all season long; the players he had at his disposal were better than that.
West Ham was relegated after the defeat to Wigan (the game which this picture came from) on the penultimate weekend of the season, and Grant was reportedly fired before they even left the stadium.
American audiences got to know Wigan's Roberto Martinez last summer as an ESPN analyst for the World Cup. When Wigan struggled pretty much all season long, many people thought he should've spent last summer focusing on his team.
Wigan lost their first two games by a combined 10 goals to zip.
Wigan hovered in and around the drop zone all season long and only stayed safe because of a late goal from Hugo Rodallega at Stoke on the last day of the season. Given their surprising performances in recent years, people were expecting a bit more.
Martin O'Neill left Aston Villa very suddenly right before the season began, and Gerard Houllier got thrown into the hot seat.
Villa finished the season at No. 9, which is no where near what they've been used to the past several years, but given where they were at midseason, they're pretty lucky.
Early on, Houllier had a whole slew of injuries to deal with, but he still had the likes of Ashley Young and Stewart Downing, so Villa really shouldn't have been in the relegation zone in January. He signed Darren Bent, who was a scoring revelation, from Sunderland in January, but he also managed the first Villa side to lose to local rivals Wolves in 31 years in March.
He was subjected to the fans' boos all season long, and I'd be surprised if he's back next season.
Just like Wigan and West Ham, Wolves spent the entire season in the drop zone, though at times Mick McCarthy's side showed they were capable of more.
They defeated Liverpool 1-0 at Anfield (though to be fair, Liverpool was not at all formidable in December), and they ended Manchester United's 29-game league unbeaten streak in February with a 2-1 win.
They lost on the last day 3-2 to Blackburn at home and mainly kept their Premier League status because Birmingham City didn't want to attack at Tottenham.
Steve Kean was appointed manager when his boss, Sam Allardyce, was fired in December; there were mixed reactions from the fans and on the pitch.
Under Big Sam, Blackburn had finished in the top half of the table four out of five seasons, but this season it didn't happen for Rovers. Steve Kean was mediocre in his first half-season in charge, and after his side's 1-1 draw with Manchester United, May 16 (which meant United won the title), Kean was charged with drunk driving.
Blackburn finished 15th, right around where they sat all season.
Steve Bruce's Sunderland got as high as sixth in the first half of the season, but Darren Bent was apparently very important to the side, as when he was sold to Aston Villa in January, the Black Cats couldn't buy a win.
From Feb. 1 (ranked sixth) to April 16, they collected one point in a goalless draw at Arsenal and fell all the way to 14th.
They finished a respectable 10th, but they seemed to have so much more promise, especially after beating Chelsea 3-0 at Stamford Bridge in November.
Owen Coyle's Bolton side was pretty much exactly as advertised. They were in and around the middle of the table all season, but they made it to the semifinals of the FA Cup and were soundly beaten by Stoke.
In November, they had two great home wins, 4-2 over Tottenham and 5-1 over Newcastle, but they struggled to score much of the season.
They ended the season with five straight losses, preceded by a great win over Arsenal, and finished 14th.
No one saw Chris Hughton's sacking coming, and likewise, no one saw Alan Pardew as his successor.
He enjoyed some immediate success, but his side also lost to League 2 side Stevenage in the FA Cup third round. He came under flak for selling/pushing out Andy Carroll in January, but days later his side completed the biggest Premier League comeback ever as they came from four goals down to draw 4-4 with Arsenal.
At times in the second half of the season, Newcastle hovered around the drop zone and ended up at 12th, but given their start to the season, you'd have thought they were sure to finish in the top seven at least.
Alex McLeish may have won the Carling Cup with Birmingham City, but his team's league form was pretty awful. They were in the bottom half of the table all season long (except for the first four weeks) and only won two games after their Carling Cup triumph.
They lost five and drew one of their last six games, and worst of all, they looked like they weren't even trying to score at Tottenham on the last day, which is why they went down.
They do have Europa League football next season though, in addition to the Championship.
Once again, Everton started the season off horrendously, but climbed back to finish a respectable seventh in the table. David Moyes's brightest spot this season was his side's first league win over rivals Liverpool in over four years with a 2-0 victory in October.
Moyes is a great manager, but he's fallen into a bit of a rut with Everton. If he was given a decent amount of money in the summer, I think he could break Everton of its habit next season, but that's much easier said than done.
Hands down, Ian Holloway was the most entertaining manager in the Premier League this season. His press conferences, his willingness to say whatever was on his mind, his mocking FIFA—he was just great.
Everyone was cheering for Blackpool to stay up this season, especially as they sat in the middle of the table in the middle of the season.
Despite doing a famous double over Liverpool, his side was too dependent on Charlie Adam, and in the end, Holloway's demeanor began to detract from his team.
They went right back down and will lose some of their best players, but with Ollie at the helm they could be back in the Premier League very soon.
Stoke City continued to be exactly the team we have all known this season in the Premier League, but they could've been a bit more. It seemed that any questionable call went against Stoke City in the first half of the season, and Pulis' suggestion of relegating poor officials at the end of the season definitely turned a few heads.
He is the first manager to take Stoke to the FA Cup Final, and they will be playing Europa League football next year because if it.
Mark Hughes did pretty well in his first season at Fulham. They struggled early on, only winning twice before November, and for the middle part of the season they hovered in and around the drop zone.
They had too many draws and a few close losses, but eventually the wins became more frequent, and they pulled themselves up into eighth for the finish.
Their good behavior also means Fulham will be back in the Europa League next season, and we all know what that meant for them last season.
For as bad as Roy Hodgson was for Liverpool, he was that good for West Brom. West Brom fired Roberto Di Matteo in February with West Brom slated to be sent down, but Hodgson came in and had the Baggies unbeaten in his first six games.
He got a win over his old team, Liverpool, in April, and the Baggies only lost twice under him as they finished 11th on the season.
His tenure at Liverpool was just plain awful, and it wasn't entirely his fault though he didn't do much to help himself. I give credit to him for taking another job so soon and doing so well at it. But I think we can all agree that Hodgson just isn't a big club manager.
It's hard to be a Premier League manager, but it's especially hard when your owner is incredibly impatient, makes his own signings, and has your job hanging in the balance no matter what the result is.
Carlo Ancelotti won the double in his first season with Chelsea, but this year his Blues had a three-month slump that all but sealed his fate. His team took a huge hit when both Frank Lampard and Alex were sidelined with injuries and Didier Drogba was sick with malaria, but besides that, his players just weren't performing.
Whether or not he wanted Fernando Torres in January is besides the point; he never found a way to play him. Torres' incredibly poor run of form didn't help, but like I said earlier, the manager always takes the fall.
All that said, Chelsea was fantastic to watch in the first few months of the season and played well in the Champions League—until they came across Manchester United that is. Those are probably the games that cost him his job in the end.
Big kudos go to Ancelotti for pulling Chelsea back into the title race in March and April, but they still left a lot wanting in the big moments.
I can't say Arsene Wenger is a bad manager, but his consistency has become a bad thing for him.
On the good, Wenger had Arsenal competing on four fronts late in February despite battling injuries to his star players once again. His young guns are starting to really prove themselves, and they played some of the flashiest, most entertaining football in the Premier League.
But on the other side, he's always been reluctant to buy in the transfer window, and last summer and in January, when his team's needs were obvious, he still didn't act.
Arsenal's epic collapse after the Carling Cup final loss is well documented, and Wenger saying that a second-place finish is something most clubs would be very happy about did not endear him to fans. Neither did the fourth-place finish this season.
In the end, Arsenal had a lot of trouble finishing games and especially winning them after February, and Gunners fans want some new signings this summer. If Arsenal doesn't win a trophy next season, I think the Frenchman will be out, which is a pity because he's a fantastic manager.
Liverpool was lucky to be as high as 12th when Kenny Dalglish came along in January; he got them back in the mix and within a shout of Europa League qualification. Of the four managers who came in midway through the season, Kenny was the best.
On that note, I don't like to put him so high, given he was only in charge for half the season, but his impact on the team was that great.
His first two matches were losses (one FA Cup), but after that he made an immediate impact on his team.
He oversaw the sale of Fernando Torres and bought two new strikers in January to keep spirits up at Anfield. There were a couple of losses to the likes of West Ham and West Brom that were surprising and the tame exit from the Europa League that dampened Dalglish's return, but overall he showed he had not missed a beat in football.
Liverpool finished sixth, with no European competition for next season, but the atmosphere around Anfield is the highest it's been in years. He'll be one of the more talked about managers heading into next season.
Tottenham's season ended in disappointment as they'll have to settle for the Europa League next season, but with Harry Redknapp at the helm they are still a formidable team.
'Arry made the second best signing of the season when he swooped in and got Rafael van der Vaart just before the deadline last summer, and while their Premier League form was good but not great, they were one of the surprise teams of the Champions League (the bigger surprise being Schalke).
Their performances against the Milan teams were splendid, and under Redknapp, players like Gareth Bale and Luka Modric burst onto the scene. They went back and forth in the league and even let Liverpool overtake them for fifth place toward the end, but Redknapp had a way of getting his team to play their best in the big moments.
The trouble for Tottenham will come when Redknapp decides to leave for the England job.
Manchester City's players were handpicked and purchased for a very high sum to do one thing this season: qualify for the Champions League. They did that and then some, by beating Arsenal to third place in the end, so they qualify automatically while the Gunners will have to play a qualifying tie.
Roberto Mancini also won his club's first trophy in 35 years in the FA Cup, and without a few mental lapses in the league, they would've be challenging for the title as well. After the fourth week of the season, City was never lower than fourth in the table.
Mancini also had to deal with some attitude from his players Mario Balotelli and Carlos Tevez at times, and he did it very well, making sure he was the boss.
City will be expected to challenge for all the top honors next season, and with Mancini few would doubt them, especially if he's able to keep hold of Tevez.
Obviously. Sir Alex Ferguson's Manchester United was not always playing great football, but he managed all their defensive injuries and personnel problems and led the team to its historic 19th league title.
The Red Devils lost just four times in the league this season, and when his team wasn't playing great they were still finding ways to scratch out a draw or an improbable win. Chelsea and Arsenal couldn't do that.
After the first week, United was fourth. After that, they were top three the rest of the way. From Nov. 27 on, the Red Devils were in first place and were only shutout five times throughout the season.
Mancini handled Wayne Rooney's contract saga excellently, his signing of Javier Hernandez last summer turned out to be a steal and his team always managed to win when it mattered most.
The loss to Barcelona puts a slight damper on Fergie's season, but it will still go down as one of his best because of the 19th title.