TTU Awards 2013-14: Manager of the Season
The Ginger Mourinho? Not really – for a start, Sean Dyche comes across as a thoroughly decent human being and The Ginger Pellegrini’ would be a more apt label.
How could it be anyone else? For Dyche has perhaps bested even the likes of Danny Wilson, Paul Jewell and Brian McDermott in elevating an underpaid and unheralded squad to the heights of the Premier League. It should be remembered that Dyche spent a sum total of £400,000 on a single player and it truly restores one’s faith in the sport to see him succeed.
Elsewhere, a slightly more leftfield choice could be Uwe Rösler. The German helped Brentford to recover from last season’s disappointment and established them firmly in the League 1 automatic promotion race, before re-energising a previously listless Wigan side and leading them to a play-off place and heartbreakingly close to a second consecutive FA Cup final. In a game still heavily populated by blaggers, Rösler appears to have the personality, the ambition and the strategic nous of the very best.
Also highly commended are Russells Slade and Wilcox as well as Gary Rowett, whose Burton took a step forward on limited resources; Shaun Derry, whose task in attempting to save Notts County from League 2 looked hopeless when he took charge; Keith Hill, for having the humility to step down two levels after being sacked by Barnsley and being the exception to the rule that you should never go back; Kenny Jackett for sorting out a club that appeared to be a complete basket case in chronic decline and David Flitcroft whose Bury charges already look as though they will be a force in League 2 next season.
Chris Wilder also sticks out for the sheer audacity of Northampton Town’s final day escape. It seemed to make little sense when he left Oxford two points off the automatic promotion places for a Northampton team that was 23 points worse off and propping up the entire Football League. That Northampton survived on the final day after coming from behind to beat Oxford made it the perfect story, producing one of the most striking stats of the season when Bristol Rovers were condemned to relegation having spent only one day of 2013-14 in the bottom two. It shows great versatility to spend half a season competing at the top and the other half successfully fighting relegation.
Despite Nigel Clough’s excellent work at Sheffield United, he had failed to ever make any sort of promotion push during his time at Derby with the club seemingly treading water. Former TTU Flop of the Season Steve McClaren on the other hand has taken virtually the same players and got them playing a more expansive style to impressive effect. It’s a huge turnaround to amass an amount of points that in most other seasons would have seen them win automatic promotion.
But the Ginger Pellegrini it is.