Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers has been awarded the League Manager's Association Manager of the Year award in a season his side finished second.
Having guided the Reds from seventh last season to runners-up and a Champions League position this time around, he has had a hugely successful year. However, he must consider himself fortunate to have been given the accolade by his peers.
His side have not had to contend with the mid-week pressures of European football and were knocked out of both domestic cups at a relatively early stage.
Furthermore, a squad containing stars such as Luis Suarez, Daniel Sturridge, Phillippe Coutinho and Steven Gerrard should under no circumstances be finishing below the squads that Everton, Manchester United and Tottenham currently have at their disposal, as they did last season under Rodgers.
To a large extent, it can be said that Liverpool's success this season has been aided by the demise of two of their rivals; Spurs and United. This season, Tottenham have failed to settle their summer signings and have bemoaned the loss of talents such as Gareth Bale and Luka Modric. Likewise, the effect of Sir Alex Ferguson's retirement at United and David Moyes' failure to rejuvenate the squad has seen the Manchester side plummet.
Everton, much like their Merseyside rivals, have benefitted from these short-fallings too, however even their squad pales in comparison to Liverpool's. Is Steven Naismith comparable with Sturridge? Even Romelu Lukaku is far behind the shining light of Suarez.
If 'management' is explicitly being rewarded, can it be said that Rodgers has had the best season? Without the squad rotation necessary with Champions League football and a considerable transfer budget, Rodgers has not strictly demonstrated the qualities to make him this season's best manager.
Overlooked was Tony Pulis, who has rightly enjoyed much praise after ensuring Crystal Palace's survival this season. He has transformed a squad that looked certain to be relegated without his direction. In doing so, he has got the most out of a modest group of players and basic facilities.
Clearly Pulis did not have to rotate for mid-week football either, yet in his formations and tactics over the final weeks of the season, his management abilities have been proven beyond those of Rodgers.
When the two sides faced each other a week ago, Rodgers failed to make his Liverpool side close out a 3-0 lead. Understandably they were chasing goals to make up the difference on Manchester City, however once Palace scored their first Rodgers should have ensured that his side held out for victory. Pulis, in contrast, made positive substitutions, including bringing on Dwight Gayle, leading to a dramatic 3-3 draw.
Rodgers also fell short against Chelsea the week before, when faced with what he described as 'two buses.' Jose Mourinho's Blues may be well-versed in closing up shop, however Liverpool could find no way through. His post-match comments only served to highlight that he still is well-below the level of tactical acumen of his old mentor Mourinho. Pulis, however, 'managed' to shut-up shop against the same Chelsea and go on and win the game.
Liverpool have had a very successful season and their manager deserves substantial credit for his work. They play an attractive brand of football, free-flowing and attacking, which has rightly drawn many admirers.
Luis Suarez has impressed greatly, with this year all about his incredible performances on the pitch rather than his controversies. The improvement in players such as Jordan Henderson and Raheem Sterling - along with Rodgers' clever deployment of Gerrard in a deeper role - is a testament to his work, however if the LMA award is to celebrate 'management' strictly, then Rodgers can consider himself somewhat fortunate to be picked ahead of Pulis.
For the last four years, the award has gone to the manager of a side competing in the top half of the table. Twice that man was Sir Alex Ferguson, in a season in which his Manchester United side won the title.
On both of these occasions United were also contesting the Champions League. This season, Rodgers has not had to manage in this way, whilst Pulis has picked his players up from the relegation zone and secured them in mid-table. The level of actual 'management' that both individuals have done differs greatly.
When Liverpool are in the Champions League next season, which they thoroughly deserve, Rodgers' management skills will be truly delivered. How he balances mid-week football and picks up his players after running City so close this year will show the measure of the man. If he comes through that he would deserve all the awards going.
For this season, however, managing a side containing superstars who will light up this year's World Cup pales in comparison to picking up a side like Crystal Palace and giving their fans another year worth of Premier League football.
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