There was a fair crop of managers taking on their first full season in the Premier League, with mixed results thus far. With the sacking season now under way, which managers have been performing the best in the league?
1. Steve Clarke
This is a bit of a no brainer. Despite West Brom's recent losses, Clarke has taken his team to battling for the Champions League places. They have good players, but Clarke has formed them into a formidable unit greater than the sum of its parts, which is surely the aim of any manager. The acquisition of Lukaku on loan looks great business, and the indications from the player that he wants to stay at West Brom all season demonstrate a happy camp. Of all the managers in the league, both new bosses and Premier League stalwarts alike, Clarke has been the outstanding performer so far.
2. Chris Hughton
Hughton is thought of in similar terms to Steve Clarke, with plenty of experience as a coach before taking on a managerial role. The Norwich boss has managed in the Premier League before though, and his experience looks to have stood him in good stead at his new club. After a tricky start, Hughton has drilled his side into a solid defensive unit, with Bassong in particular playing superbly in the heart of defence. Norwich are unbeaten in nine, during which time they have beaten Arsenal, Manchester United and Stoke, and picked up four solid away draws including at Everton, topped off by an excellent win over Swansea at the weekend. As a result Norwich sit 11th, and should continue to climb the table under Hughton's guidance.
3. Roberto Di Matteo
This may seem an odd choice, given that Di Matteo has already been sacked, but this is Chelsea, and a manager doesn’t need to be doing that badly to be shown the exit. In the league, Di Matteo had got his team playing exceptional attacking football, and had them at the head of the table for a long spell. He had entered a sticky patch, which, coupled with the poor European displays, saw him fired, but Di Matteo had certainly had one of the best starts of any manager, and he deserves inclusion on this list.
4. David Moyes
Everton have started well this season, and are unlucky not to be doing even better. Moyes' side have drawn seven of their last 10 matches, and there were not many of those games in which they weren't the team chasing (and often deserving) the win. Moyes has been in place at Goodison for a long time, and has crafted perhaps his best team yet. Everton have some tough fixtures this December, if Moyes can get them through that still in and around the European spots, they will look well set in the New Year.
5. Martin Jol
I could just say that Martin Jol was the man who signed Dimitar Berbatov for £4 million in the summer and that would be enough to get him on this list, but Jol has done much more than that. Fulham have had a rough patch recently, where red cards and injuries have deprived them of key players, but generally Jol has set up an exciting, attacking team, that looks far stronger than it did last season. Crucially, Jol has made Fulham more impressive on the road this year, and that could help propel them into Europe if they can keep everyone fit.
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