FIFA Coach of the Year: The Nominees
Posted by Matt Walters | Published on November 2, 2016
FIFA announced their 10-man shortlist for their coach of the year award. The winner of The Best FIFA Men’s Coach 2016 is decided by a combination between a public vote and representatives of each country. 50% of the decision will be based on the choices of all captains and head coaches of national teams around the globe. The other 50% will be split between the result of an online public ballot with football fans and submissions from a selected group of over 200 media representatives from the six continents.
The full list is as follows:
- Chris Coleman (Wales/Welsh national team)
- Didier Deschamps (France/French national team)
- Pep Guardiola (Spain/FC Bayern Munich/Manchester City)
- Jurgen Klopp (Germany/Liverpool)
- Luis Enrique (Spain/FC Barcelona)
- Mauricio Pochettino (Argentina/Tottenham Hotspur)
- Claudio Ranieri (Italy/Leicester City)
- Fernando Santos (Portugal/Portuguese national team)
- Diego Simeone (Argentina/Atletico Madrid)
- Zinedine Zidane (France/Real Madrid)
The Wales manager had already made a reputation for himself after leading his nation to their first major tournament in 58 years but this year saw Coleman really exceed expectations. Many didn’t expect much of Wales; most predicted at best a round of 16 exit, perhaps leaving the group stage as the best third place team but – in a group of England, Slovakia and Russia – Wales finished top and made it all the way to the semi-finals where they lost to Portugal.
Coleman’s tactics were unique; his favoured 5-3-2 formation was far from mainstream but it really brought the best out of Wales’ stars such as Gareth Bale, Aaron Ramsey and Joe Allen. The campaign featured stunning wins over Russia and the 3-1 win over Europe’s then highest rated team Belgium was dubbed “the best night in Welsh footballing history”. Cynics would claim he was carried by his players but Wales have never struggled for individual quality. It’s Coleman that finally made something with that quality.
The France manager had a lot of pressure in the build up to this year’s European Championships; France – as the host nation – came in as favourites. But as host nation; their qualification was assured so the team had no competitive international matches for 2 years. However, an injury to Raphael Varane and UEFA’s accusation of doping which left Mamadou Sakho suspended (despite later being found not guilty) left France with a lack of defenders.
Despite this, France had early success in the tournament; Dimitri Payet winning their first match late on. They were unbeaten throughout most of the tournament and were particularly impressive in their 2-0 win over Germany in which Antoine Griezmann scored twice and they were the better side against the world champions. They lost in the final in stoppage time courtesy of a long-range goal from Eder.
The only manager shortlisted to have managed two sides in 2016; the Spaniard announced his departure from Bayern at the start of the year but still lead them to a domestic double and the Champions League semi final. After his departure from Bavaria, Guardiola achieved an early domination of his Manchester City career; winning every match in all competitions until his side drew with Celtic in the Champions League. That draw was followed by a run of 6 games without a win; his worst run in his managerial career. They followed this with a 4-0 win over West Brom and a stunning 3-1 win over his former side Barcelona in which he beat them at their own game.
Klopp took over at Liverpool in the first half of the 2015/16 season and despite having no preseason and one transfer window, the German lead Liverpool to two cup finals – in both of which they were beaten – and brought the best out of players who previously looked like fringe players at best; namely Adam Lallana and Dejan Lovren. The following season, Klopp recruited wisely; the acquisitions of Sadio Mane and Giorgino Wijnaldum have significantly improved Liverpool’s consistency and they are currently unbeaten since their away defeat to Burnley and sit third on goal difference behind Arsenal and Manchester City.
The Barcelona manager had an amazing year in 2015, winning 5 trophies in a single calendar year. Compared to that, it’s been somewhat disappointing for him this year. He has had to make do with only the two this year. Enrique saw his side knocked out of the Champions League by Spanish rivals Atletico Madrid but beat the Rojiblancos to the Liga BBVA title and the Copa Del Rey. This season they are currently second in La Liga but have suffered to defeats in the league. Despite this, their 30 goals this season is the most out of all teams in La Liga.
Pochettino smashed early season expectations during 2015/16 and despite a lack of squad depth, his young and energetic Spurs side were the primary challengers during an unexpected Premier League title race. They finished the season as both the league’s top scorers and best defenders and achieved Champions League football for the first time since 2010/11. This season, Spurs are currently the only unbeaten team in the Premier League but sit 5th in the league after 5 wins and 5 draws. This is despite last season’s top scorer Harry Kane getting injured early in the season. Pochettino has definitely improved the team, and 2016 and has brought him deservedly into the spotlight.
Undoubtedly the favourite to win this award, Ranieri is the brain behind one of the most miraculous stories in sports history. The Italian came in midway through preseason ahead of the 2015/16 season and was favourite to get sacked first. Quite the contrast to how it turned out. A remarkable season saw Leicester win their first ever league title having been promoted only two seasons before. They beat every other competitor in the top 4 except Arsenal once in the season and their highlights included a 3-1 win over Manchester City at the Etihad, a 1-0 win over Tottenham Hotspur at White Hart Lane and their 2-1 home win over reigning champions Chelsea.
Not much was expected of Portugal ahead of Euro 16, their squad – despite containing the great Cristiano Ronaldo – was one that was showing its age and in a friendly before the tournament against England (a game in which Cristiano Ronaldo did not feature) they looked poor. They drew every group stage match but qualified with 3 points as the best third placed team. In fact, the only game they won in 90 minutes was their 2-0 win over Coleman’s Wales. They beat Croatia after extra time thanks to Ricardo Quaresma’s goal, Poland were beaten on penalties and it was Eder’s extra time goal which won the trophy for them. Winning the Euro’s is no small achievement and with a squad as unassuming as Portugal’s (barring Ronaldo), it is an outstanding achievement.
Diego Simeone impressed in 2014 in reaching the Champions League final only to miss out to cross-city rivals Real Madrid. In 2016, he did it again. His Atletico side – more mature and disciplined in Simeone’s style of play – put in defensive masterclasses throughout their campaign when necessary and had Griezmann not missed his penalty during open play in the Champions League final, we might be talking about them as reigning champions of Europe. Unfortunately for Simeone, he was taken to the lottery of the penalty shoot-out; a part of the game in which the managers can have no influence. Currently 2nd in La Liga, Simeone has added the firepower of Kevin Gameiro to his squad and it seems that Simeone may be open to attacking more when necessary this season.
The final name to be shortlisted; Real Madrid legend Zidane was only appointed manager at the beginning of this year. The Frenchman had already won the Champions League as a player and as an assistant manager but quality on the pitch doesn’t guarantee quality on the touchline. However, winning the Champions League 6 months into your first top-flight managerial job is hardly an achievement to understate. His side are leading the La Liga table and are unbeaten so far this season. He will be hoping his trophy cabinet will increase in its size as his career goes on.