EPL Power Rankings: Ranking Each of the 20 Managers in England's Top Flight

Nick Akerman@NakermanFeatured ColumnistSeptember 3, 2012

EPL Power Rankings: Ranking Each of the 20 Managers in England's Top Flight

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    Premier League season 2012-13 is heading into the first international break of the year.

    Each manager now has two weeks to think over the opening three games and make adjustments accordingly. Some will be ruing a poor start. Others will be hoping to build on an impressive haul of points.

    We've already witnessed plenty of drama in this year's championship. Although early in the season, there's lots for each manager to mull over.

    Here, I consider how the helmsman of each club has performed so far. Do you agree with my decisions? Let me know in the comments thread below.

20. Brendan Rodgers, Liverpool

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    I feel tremendously sorry for Brendan Rodgers.

    So far, his time at Liverpool can be defined by blunders. After suffering an opening-day 3-0 thrashing at West Brom, his side were much improved against Premier League champions Manchester City.

    Mistakes from Pepe Reina and Martin Skrtel gifted Roberto Mancini's men a point when the Anfield hosts deserved all three. Still, a performance to build on.

    Arsenal travelled up to Merseyside without having scored a goal this season. The Gunners ran out 2-0 winners in a convincing performance. Liverpool lacked urgency, often misplacing passes and failing to pressure Arsenal when they were in possession.

    Steven Gerrard's poor pass led to the first goal, leaving many supporters wondering what's happened to their stalwart and captain.

    Liverpool allowed Andy Carroll to join West Ham United on loan until the end of the year. Rodgers and the club's owners failed to land a replacement before the transfer deadline loomed, leaving the side short of options going forward.

    Fenway Sports Group's John Henry issued an open letter to Liverpool fans on the back of this poor decision (via The Telegraph). While its sentiment will be appreciated, this doesn't mask the fact letting the England international leave without bringing in someone new is a catastrophic error.

    Rodgers continues to install a passing game at the club. I'm sure he's looking forward to ending the tough run of fixtures his team currently face. As it stands, Liverpool have posted their worst opening to a league season in 50 years.

19. Andre Villas-Boas, Tottenham Hotspur

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    Villas-Boas hasn't made the expected impact in English football so far.

    His poor tenure at Chelsea has followed him across London and up to White Hart Lane. Spurs are still searching for their first win of the season. Worryingly, it doesn't seem like three points are going to arrive soon.

    While Villas-Boas has made some excellent signings in the form of Mousa Dembele, Jan Vertonghen and Clint Dempsey, his willingness to eliminate Spurs' old guard is alarming.

    Players such as Michael Dawson and Tom Huddlestone were nearly allowed to leave during the summer transfer window. Spurs have more important talents, but Villas-Boas will quickly undo Harry Redknapp's fine work if he starts to axe such individuals.

    These are the types of players needed for the star signings to perform. One way or another, the Portuguese manager needs to overcome the boos by getting points on the board.

18. Nigel Adkins, Southampton

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    Despite two excellent performances against the Manchester clubs, Nigel Adkins has shown signs of naivety in his club's first three Premier League outings.

    Talented forward such as Rickie Lambert and Adam Lallana have terrorised the two best defences in the Premier League last year. In both games, Southampton took a 2-1 lead into the latter stages.

    In a bid to keep the advantage, Adkins sacrificed his forwards for a more defensive setup. It didn't work at the Etihad in the opening fixture, and it failed once more against Manchester United at St Mary's.

    His team have played well, but the fact is, Southampton are the only side yet to register a point so far this season.

17. Paul Lambert, Aston Villa

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    Paul Lambert's reign as Villa boss is likely to be a tough one.

    The Villains finished two points above the relegation zone last year, indicating Lambert's decision to leave Norwich was a brave one. Two Premier League defeats later, his side traveled to Newcastle needing a massive improvement.

    And improve they did. If it wasn't for a fantastic Hatem Ben Arfa goal, Lambert's men would have deservedly taken the win. Play like that for the rest of the season and relegation shouldn't be a threat.

16. Mark Hughes, Queens Park Rangers

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    Mark Hughes has put it all on the line this season.

    QPR's impressive haul of experienced players during the transfer window leaves him with no option to fail. It may take a little time for the influence of Esteban Granero, Jose Boswinga and Julio Cesar to come through, but QPR's results must improve quickly.

    Just one point from three games is enough to insert a hint of doubt. Hughes set his team up negatively against Manchester City and eventually got punished for it. He must have more faith in his players if they are to remain in the Premier League.

    As more signings are introduced, QPR are becoming a fascinating team to watch.

15. Chris Hughton, Norwich City

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    A second successive year in the Premier League is massive for Norwich.

    The loss of Paul Lambert was a huge blow, but Chris Hughton is more than capable of building on his predecessor's success. An opening-day walloping from Fulham has slowly been improved on with two hard-fought draws.

    In particular, the point gained at White Hart Lane is a reason for the Canaries to be happy. Hughton has the team playing honest football that is sure to trouble future opposition. A good job so far by the new man, but there's plenty of work to be done.

14. Brian McDermott, Reading

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    Reading's start to life in the Premier League has been disjointed.

    Two games within the opening week showed the Royals are ready to challenge England's best. A waterlogged pitch postponed the match at Sunderland, meaning Brian McDermott's side has three weeks between league fixtures.

    Adam Le Fondre's penalty gave Reading a last minute draw against Stoke. This was followed by a confident display against Chelsea where the European Champions eventually clinched a 4-2 win.

    Even so, there's been plenty of decent play from the newly-promoted side. Pavel Pogrebnyak remains one of the summer's biggest coups. He showcased his physical ability against Chelsea and is sure to be at the centre of any Reading success this season.

13. Martin O'Neill, Sunderland

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    Like Reading, Martin O'Neill's Sunderland have only played two Premier League games thus far.

    An encouraging 0-0 draw against Arsenal was built on with a 2-2 away at Swansea. O'Neill has strengthened his side considerably, bringing in the likes of Adam Johnson and Steven Fletcher to ensure the Black Cats aren't lagging behind the firepower of other teams.

    These smart signings sum up everything O'Neill has been about since joining Sunderland. His side are the only team yet to play a home game, so the Northern Irishman will be happy to remain unbeaten as we approach the first international break.

12. Alan Pardew, Newcastle United

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    Memories of last season are fading fast at the Sports Direct Arena.

    An opening-day victory over Tottenham stated Alan Pardew's men mean business. Unfortunately, a loss to Chelsea and draw against Aston Villa will have many doubting whether the Magpies can repeat last year's fifth placed finish.

    The Midas touch of Papiss Cisse has worn off. Demba Ba's stunning goal against Spurs masks a player who looks out of sorts. Hatem Ben Arfa's two goals have accumulated four points already, as the rest of the team struggle to play at his pace.

    It hasn't been a terrible start for Alan Pardew. I just feel his reliance on the two strikers is beginning to hinder the team's success. It would have been a decent idea to bring in another world-class finisher in the last transfer window.

11. Tony Pulis, Stoke City

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    Stoke are often belittled for playing too physically.

    A fixture against Tony Pulis' side is never one to take lightly. After three games, the Potters are in the strange position of remaining unbeaten without a win.

    Draws against Reading and Wigan may have been improved on, but Pulis will be pleased with his side. Holding Arsenal 0-0 at the Britannia Stadium pinpoints Stoke's key ingredient: They are difficult to beat.

    Pulis will be looking for an improvement. His side are likely to flutter around the relegation zone, and he'll want to snatch wins off other candidates for the drop. That said, to be unbeaten after three games is a healthy beginning.

10. Martin Jol, Fulham

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    Fulham's opening-day 5-0 thumping of Norwich had the Londoners excited. Since then, plenty has changed at the club.

    Clint Dempsey has finally moved on. The American's exit can only be regarded as a positive after he refused to play (via ESPN). I believe Mousa Dembele's departure is just as detrimental to Martin Jol's side, especially after the recent display against West Ham.

    Just a week before, Dembele controlled the midfield against Manchester United. With him gone, Fulham looked legless in the centre of the pitch. West Ham easily dispatched them, 3-0, in a season that has gone from excellent to average very quickly.

    Jol managed to bring in Mladen Petric and Dimitar Berbatov to provide the Cottagers with options up front. Right now, everything behind these two will have fans worried.

9. Roberto Mancini, Manchester City

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    Roberto Mancini has an air of confidence about himself this season.

    The champions haven't played particularly well. Defensively, the Citizens have been lapse at the back. Mancini publicly showed disappointment in his forwards' inability to finish easy chances (via The Daily Mail).

    Even so, an unbeaten record remains.

    The Italian finally got his way in the transfer window, landing talented players such as Jack Rodwell, Javi Garcia and Scott Sinclair. City's strength in depth continues to grow at a formidable rate. The team manage to gain points when playing slightly off the pace, almost teasing the club's nearest rivals with an act of unbreakable efficiency.

8. Roberto Martinez, Wigan Athletic

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    Four points from three games is a great start for Wigan, especially when the DW Stadium has already entertained Chelsea.

    Since the 2-0 opening day defeat, Martinez's side have performed with the guile that kept them up last season. A tricky trip to Southampton ended up with an emphatic 2-0 win, followed by a 2-2 draw at home to Stoke.

    Martinez must ensure his team compete with those of similar ability. Last year, Wigan remained in the Premier League by beating the best. This can't afford to happen again. Four points have been taken off two rivals, leaving the Latics in the top half of the table.

7. Sir Alex Ferguson, Manchester United

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    Sir Alex Ferguson has made some mistakes already this season.

    Against Everton, his side wasn't set up to deal with the aerial ability of Marouane Fellaini. Danny Welbeck started out of position, a decision that was taken again in the recent match against Southampton.

    Fergie would be far lower down the list if his changes at St Mary's didn't have such an instant impact. By bringing Paul Scholes, Nani and Javier Hernandez on, the 2-1 deficit was quickly overcome. Robin van Persie has grabbed the headlines, but Ferguson's three substitutes made his hat-trick possible.

    Manchester United have shown resilience since the loss to the Toffees. Ferguson's ability to bring on game-changing substitutions is vital to United's season, but one has to ask if these mistakes should be happening in the first place.

6. Arsene Wenger, Arsenal

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    Arsene Wenger continues to receive criticism for the decision to let Robin van Persie and Alex Song leave.

    Two 0-0 draws had the Gunners in a lowly league position. Arsenal fans had their worries eased when Lukas Podolski and Santi Cazorla netted against Liverpool. The new boys performed admirably in a uncharacteristically resilient performance

    Arsenal haven't conceded a single goal so far this season, even with youngsters such as Carl Jenkinson and Kieran Gibbs playing in all three games. Abou Diaby's return to fitness has also added power to an otherwise brittle midfield.

    As the new signings continue to adjust, Wenger will be upbeat about his team's chances this year.

5. Sam Allardyce, West Ham United

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    We've seen two sides to West Ham already this season.

    At Upton Park, Sam Allardyce's team offer a gritty, physical and organised opponent. Away from home, they fall to bits.

    Big Sam is a veteran of the Premier League. He understands what is needed to keep the Hammers in England's top division. The acquisition of Andy Carroll on a season-long loan adds a distinct threat to his starting 11.

    In his 68-minute debut, the England international worked hard for his team. This attitude transcended to the rest of the squad who looked nothing like the outfit that lost 3-0 a week earlier. Gaps were closed quickly, possession was kept and finishing was deadly.

    Six points from three games is all Allardyce can ask for. If West Ham remain dominant at the Boleyn Ground, his side will easily avoid relegation.

4. David Moyes, Everton

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    It's often difficult to shake off a label. Everton have been notoriously slow to get off the mark in the Premier League in previous years.

    David Moyes finally managed to turn that around this season.

    Manchester United came away from Goodison Park with nothing. Moyes' side easily outclassed the Red Devils who could have lost by far more than one goal. An away trip to Aston Villa offered little threat before Everton fell 2-0 to West Brom at the Hawthorns.

    This shouldn't worry fans of the club. Everton have played some stunning football already. At times, the pace and power in the side would trouble anyone in the world. West Brom result aside, this has been a brilliant opening for the Merseyside club.

    Newcastle are next up for the Toffees, who must utilise home advantage to grab the win.

3. Roberto Di Matteo, Chelsea

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    How will Chelsea replace Didier Drogba?

    It's a question that has been on everyone's lips. Much of the onus has fallen on Fernando Torres to perform. The Spaniard has performed well alongside marquee signing Eden Hazard, whose displays have justified the £35 million fee so far.

    The European Champions are the only side to have a 100 percent record in the league this season. A relative scare against Reading was overcome, justifying Di Matteo's decision to start Torres as a lone striker.

    So far, so good at Stamford Bridge. The 4-1 UEFA Super Cup demolition at the hands of Atletico Madrid needs to be quickly forgotten if the Londoners are to challenge for the title. Torres and Hazard's partnership is key to success here, so both must remain fit.

    Di Matteo has stuck by his previously misfiring striker, even with many urging him to buy a partner.

2. Michael Laudrup, Swansea City

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    Many expected Swansea to struggle this season.

    Without the influence of Brendan Rodgers, the passing game seemed likely to dissipate. Michael Laudrup is having none of that.

    Two fantastic wins and a draw from three matches don't do Swansea's start justice.

    The team have played some of the best football in the league. Laudrup used his experience to land signings such as Miguel Michu, Jonathan De Guzman and Pablo Hernandez, all of which will have a huge say in where the Swans end up this season.

    Michu has instantly become one of the Premier League's hottest properties. His four goals in three games has helped the side sit just below Chelsea at the top of the table. Wayne Routledge and Nathan Dyer have also added a spark to a team that excites with every performance.

    Laudrup will be pleased with his start to life in England. If Swansea are to remain in the top half when May arrives, this ruthlessness must be sustained.

1. Steve Clarke, West Bromwich Albion

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    Away from extortionate transfer fees and lofted expectations, Steve Clarke has been methodically getting on with his new job at West Brom.

    The 3-0 opening-day victory over Liverpool has set the standard for a superb start. The Baggies nabbed a point against Spurs and then sent high-flying Everton home with their first defeat.

    With three of the Premier League's toughest opponents played, Clarke's side have seven impressive points.

    A summer of careful planning and hard graft has provided West Brom with the means to make an impression this season. Extra options have been added to the squad with Markus Rosenberg and Romelu Lukaku coming in.

    Shane Long is playing with greater intensity, and now his starting place is under threat. The rest of the side has also responded. For the first time in years, West Brom have an edge about them.

    He may not be the flashiest, most controversial or well-known manager in the Premier League, but so far, Steve Clarke has outperformed his peers.


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