European Manager of the Year: contenders

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With seasons quickly drawing to a close across the continent, GiveMeFootball felt it was time to pick its managers of the year from across Europe.

Whilst form in the Champions League and Europa League should always be taken into account, the list is mainly made up of managers who have helped their club succeed domestically.

Roberto Di Matteo, who has helped turn Chelsea around, is excluded from the list due to the short nature of his tenure this term, whilst Champions League final opponent Jupp Heynckes also misses out after the Bavarian giants failed domestically.

Antonio Conte – Juventus

A player with the Bianconeri for 13 years, Conte returned to the Juventus Stadium last May and has instantly turned the club’s fortunes around following last season’s seventh-place finish in Serie ‘A’.

Undefeated thus far, Conte knows a win or draw against Atalanta on Sunday will see his side join an elite group of ‘invincible’ teams across Europe. His side has conceded just 19 goals all-season, keeping 21 clean sheets in the process.

Having beaten Italian giants AC Milan to the title, Conte has helped put Juventus back on the map with a fast-flowing style of play that involves a 4-3-3 or 4-2-4 formation. He deserves recognition for this season’s achievements.

Rene Girard – Montpellier

From nowhere, Girard has helped put MHSC on the cusp of the title with just two games left in the Ligue 1 season.

After guiding the club to a solid 14th place finish last season, expectations were minimal at the Stade de la Mosson when the campaign began in earnest. However, the former French international has created a side full of spirit and sprinkled with quality.

Victory over Lille on Saturday would almost make this French fairytale a reality, with a three-point advantage over PSG currently on their side and a final game against bottom-of-the-table Auxerre still to come. Even if they don’t win, securing a Champions League qualification place has been a massive achievement.

Jurgen Klopp – Borussia Dortmund

Why Klopp over Heynckes? Well, if Bayern win both the European & German Cup, then an argument could be made that the wrong choice has been made from Germany.

However, Dortmund have secured back-to-back titles in a quite breathtaking way this term, beating Munich to the title with a style-of-play that has seen them score 80 goals and also reach the Cup final – against Bayern on Saturday.

Their first stint in the Champions League didn’t go exactly to plan after Arsenal and Marseille got the better of BVB, but the experience will sit well for next season’s effort at the top level.

Roberto Mancini – Manchester City

It’s easy to dismiss the Citizens because of their financial power in England, but this is a major breakthrough for the blue half of Manchester as they stand on the verge of a first title in 44 years.

Mancini has managed a number of difficult situations this season, most notably the Carlos Tevez affair, and steered his side back on course domestically after a couple of notable wobbles in Europe.

Keeping such a vast cast of stars happy is a major achievement in itself, but Mancini has adapted his style of play from last season’s defensive attitude to get the better of Manchester United home and away.

Jose Mourinho – Real Madrid

The Special One was forced to live in the shadow of Barcelona last season, but has delivered the goods in his second year at the Santiago Bernabeu to make it four countries with a domestic title to his name.

Whilst penalty defeat to Bayern Munich provided heartbreak for ‘the special one’, his achievement in La Liga has been truly significant against a Barca machine that many felt could never be beaten in Spain under Pep Guardiola.

Write off Mourinho at your peril though, with a seven-point advantage over the Catalan giants and just one game left this term. With 117 goals at this stage of the season too, it’s easy to see why Los Blancos have won the title in such style.

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