With the business end of the season now fast approaching, a fate of few of Europe’s leagues has already been more or less decided. For a majority of leagues though, the outcome of league champions still hangs in the balance. Here are the nominees for Managers of the Month for March 2013, undoubtedly a trying, testing month.
Philippe Montanier, Real Sociedad: two draws, two wins
While Real Madrid and Barcelona are expected to qualify for the Champions League, news of the less-heralded clubs in Spain are met with raised eyebrows when one reads that they are on course to making it to Europe’s elite.
Although the San Sebastian outfit won only two of their four games, what makes this stat impressive is that they sit in fourth position behind Barcelona and capital clubs Real and Atletico Madrid. There is little chance of them catching the top three, but they sit ahead of more illustrious teams such as Malaga and Valencia.
Their two draws took place against Espanyol (2-2) and Real Betis (3-3).
Unbeaten in March, Sociedad used their international break-interrupted fixtures to build on an unbeaten streak that has existed since the 13th of January. In addition, they snapped Atletico’s perfect winning street at the Vicente Calderon (1-0), and triumphed 3-1 at Athletic Bilbao and could well be among Europe’s best next season.
Jorge Jesus, Benfica: six wins
One of the few managers in the Liga Portuguesa to achieve a perfect March is Benfica manager Jorge Jesus, who appears in the list for the second time running, and with good reason. The Portuguese league leaders are atop the domestic league and are going strong in the Europa League.
In addition to beating Beira Mar (1-0), Gil Vicente (5-0), Vitoria Guimaraes (4-0) and Rio Ave (6-1), the Stadium of Light team also beat French side Girondins de Bordeaux 1-0 at home before completing the job in France, defeating Les Girondins 3-2 to progress to the Europa League quarter-finals.
David Moyes, Everton: three wins, one loss
Another less vaunted manager who finds his name on the list for the second time running, Scotsman Moyes has taken Everton to the brink of European football this season; and with a little more than a month left, he could still see his side playing at the continental level come next August.
Although his team lost at home to Wigan Athletic in the FA Cup as the Toffees were on a receiving end of a 3-0 blitz, Moyes’ men chalked up wins against Stoke (1-0), Reading (3-1) and, most memorably, beat Manchester City 2-0 at Goodison Park despite being reduced to ten men.
Antonio Conte, Juventus: four wins, one draw
Juventus are now within touching distance of a Serie A title after an excellent March where they were unbeaten in the Italian league. Wins against Catania (1-0), Bologna (2-0) and arch-rivals Internazionale (2-1), in addition to a draw against Napoli (1-1), have given them a nine-point cushion against the Naples side who are in second place.
On the continent, Juventus were able to comfortably see off Scottish side Celtic 2-0 to make it to the quarter finals of the competition on the back of a massive 5-0 aggregate win.
Massimiliano Allegri, AC Milan: four wins, one loss
Although AC Milan were on the receiving end of a 4-0 battering away at Barcelona, they managed to put that heavy defeat aside and continued to secure Champions League qualification for yet another season.
Now sitting in Italy’s third and final Champions League spot, the Rossoneri were domestically perfect in March with wins against Lazio (3-0), Genoa (2-0), Palermo (2-0) and Chievo Verona (1-0) to leave them four points behind second-placed Napoli with four clean sheets in as many games.
Elie Baup, Olympique de Marseilles: two wins, two draws
Another newcomer into this list, Baup’s Marseilles team ensured they took full advantage of slip-ups of those around them to settle themselves into France’s second Champions League spot behind league leaders Paris Saint-Germain.
Kicking off the month with a 2-1 win against Troyes, Les Phoceens collected two clean sheets in consecutive goalless draws against Lyon and Ajaccio before returning to winning ways with a 1-0 win away at Nice to see off an unbeaten month. The side from the French Riviera are only seven points behind the Parisian side with seven games remaining.
Carlo Ancelotti, Paris Saint-Germain: two wins, two draws
Another team maintaining the pace atop their domestic league, Paris-Saint Germain may have had a shaky March but they have not had to pay for it.
Although they were the weaker side against Valencia in the French Capital, they were able to hold on for a 1-1 draw against the Spanish side to seal progress to the quarter-finals of the Champions League on the back of their 2-1 win away.
On the domestic front, they picked up seven points from a possible nine thanks to wins against AS Nancy-Lorraine (2-1) and Montpellier (1-0), and a draw against AS Saint-Etienne (2-2).
Jupp Heynckes, Bayern Munich: four wins, one loss
While the Bavarian side did lose to Arsenal (2-0) in the UEFA Champions League, it was of little consequence as they did manage to seal qualification to the quarter-finals to keep the German team in sights of a unique treble.
Having now won the German Bundesliga, the Roten owe a lot of their victory to their successes in March. Kicking off with a 1-0 win against Hoffenheim, the Germans put together wins against Dusseldorf (3-2) and Leverkusen (2-1) after which they walloped a woebegone Hamburg side 9-2.
Frank de Boer, Ajax Amsterdam: four wins
One of only two managers with a perfect record during the month of March, de Boer still has his work cut out for the rest of the Eredivisie season. While both English and German leagues are done and dusted, and with the French and Spanish league drawing to a close, the Dutch Championship is far from decided.
Ajax Amsterdam hold only a three-point advantage over PSV Eindhoven and Vitesse Arnhem (both on 60) and owe that gap to their performances during the month of March.
The month began with a 2-0 win away at Twente Enschede and was followed up with a win against Zwolle. A thriller against AZ Alkmaar ended 3-2 in favour of the capital side before the Godenzonen ended March with a 4-1 win at the Amsterdam ArenA against NEC Nijmegen.Published 09 Apr 2013, 09:36 IST