Manager of the Month - February: The Nominees
Europe’s many leagues saw several teams impress fans the world over with their impressive performances, which were made possible through the racking up of consecutive wins.
These wins were possible in no small part to the roles the managers of these clubs played. Here are the eight nominees for Manager of the Month for February:
1.) Michael Laudrup, Swansea City: two wins, two losses
While that stat alone may not be impressive on its own, the performances that the Swans delivered beg to differ.
The former Denmark international’s team racked up two away losses, with West Ham sneaking past them at the Boleyn Ground and Liverpool putting five past them as Brendan Rodgers walloped his former side at Anfield, but Laudrup is not in the list for his solitary league win (4-1) against Queens Park Rangers at the Liberty Stadium.
He has received this commendation for doing something no Swansea manager has done before. Michael Laudrup oversaw the 5-0 League Cup triumph over League Two side Bradford City at the Wembley Stadium in London.
That, and his stellar efforts in orchestrating Swansea’s climb up the table, have prompted the top brass at the only Welsh club in the EPL to award the former Barcelona legend a new contract to keep him with the Swans until 2015.
2.) Jupp Heynckes, Bayern Munich: six wins, no losses
Bayern are top dogs – and have been for a long, long time – in the Bundesliga, and Jupp Heynckes and his Bavarian outfit have been breaking records past and setting new ones this season.
The German league leaders opened up a seventeen-point gap between themselves and second-placed Borussia Dortmund by defeating Mainz (3-0), Schalke (4-0), Wolfsburg (2-0) and Bremen (6-1), but more impressive are their performances in both domestic and European knockout competitions: they humiliated Arsenal 1-3 at the Emirates Stadium in the UEFA Champions League before sending Dortmund crashing out of the DFB Pokal with a 1-0 at the Allianz Arena.
3.) Andre Villas-Boas, Tottenham Hotspur: four wins, one draw
Under former Chelsea manager Villas-Boas, Tottenham have climbed leaps and bounds. That was only reflected in a brilliant February where the Lilywhites jumped up to third in the table behind the Manchester clubs.
Spurs began February with a 1-0 win away to West Bromwich Albion before overcoming Newcastle 2-1 at White Hart Lane. It was the same scoreline by which they established a first leg lead in the Europa League in North London before holding them to a 1-1 draw in France, with Moussa Dembele’s last-minute equaliser sending them through 3-2 on aggregate.
They ended February with a come from behind 3-2 win against West Ham United.
4.) Jose Mourinho, Real Madrid: four wins, one draw, one loss
The Portuguese tactician made his trip to Barcelona a special one by knocking the league leaders out of the Spanish Cup at the Camp Nou in convincing fashion. Cristiano Ronaldo’s double and a late header from Raphael Varane meant Jordi Alba’s late strike was a mere consolation.
Although he did lose his first game of the month (0-1 vs Granada), Mourinho’s team beat Sevilla (4-1), Rayo Vallecano (2-0) and Deportivo la Coruna (2-1).
In addition, Los Merengues also held Manchester United to a draw in the Spanish capital: a game whose second leg would have serious implications on the layout of the UEFA Champions League this season.
5.) Carlo Ancelotti, Paris Saint-Germain: four wins, one loss
Nouveau-riche French outfit PSG maintained their slim lead (two points) at the top of Ligue 1, but it could have been as much as five had les Parisiens not lost their game away at FC Sochaux Montbeliard (3-2).
But that blip aside, Carlo Ancelotti’s men had a memorable February. Back to back wins against Olympique de Marseille – both 2-0, one in the league, one in the French Cup – and simple wins against Bastia (3-1) and Toulouse (0-4) made for good domestic form.
But February 2013 will live long in PSG’s Champions League history: the last time they made it through to the quarter-finals of Europe’s premier club competition was 18 years ago. After winning 2-1 away to Valencia, the Parc des Princes outfit held their Spanish visitors to a 1-1 draw, despite playing poorly, to assure them participation in the last eight of the UEFA Champions League.
6.) Sir Alex Ferguson, Manchester United: four wins, one draw
Like many of the contenders on this list, Sir Alex Ferguson’s Manchester United went through a perfect domestic patch during the month of February.
But their one fillip was in Europe: a 1-1 draw away at Real Madrid laid the foundations for a highly controversial Round of 16 tie between the two European heavyweights in the UEFA Champions League.
On the home front, however, Fergie’s team maintained their twelve-point cushion atop the Barclays Premier League. Wins against Fulham (1-0), Everton (2-0), Reading (2-1), Queens Park Rangers (2-0) and Norwich City (4-0) mean the Red Devils are on course to being the first Premier League side to win twenty First Division titles.
7.) Jorge Jesus, Sport Lisboa e Benfica: five wins, one draw
While not in the same league as one of Europe’s top five, Benfica have always been one of Europe’s elite due to their performances both in and outside Portugal.
This season is no different as the Stadium of Light outfit have gone through the year’s shortest month unbeaten. The Eagles overcame Bayer Leverkusen 0-1 away before beating the German outfit 2-1 at the Estadio da Luz. They have since followed that up with a 1-0 win over Bordeaux in the Europa League.
But at home, Benfica beat Vitoria Setubal (3-0), Academica de Coimbra (1-0), Pacos de Ferreira (3-1) and Beira Mar (1-0). Their draw to Nacional de Madeira aside, February was a perfect month for the Portuguese side as they stay one point behind league leaders Porto.
8.) Massimiliano Allegri, AC Milan: three wins, two draws
The Rossoneri went through February unbeaten to keep the pressure on the top two – Juventus and Napoli – in the Italian Serie A to keep the difference between themselves and the Turin-based league leaders to eight points.
The Lombardy side beating Udinese 2-1 and Parma 2-0, but were held to draws against Cagliari and Internazionale Milano (both 1-1) in the Derby della Madonnina.
But their standout win in the second month of 2013 was their 2-0 win against Spanish giants Barcelona in the Round of 16 of the UEFA Champions League as goals from the African midfield duo of Kevin-Prince Boateng and Sulley Ali Muntari gave the seven-time European Cup winners a precious 2-0 lead to take to Catalonia for their return leg against the Blaugrana.