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Who Will Win the 2020 FIFA Men’s Coach of the Year Award?
There are five managers on the shortlist for the 2020 FIFA Men’s Coach of the Year award, with the winner set to be announced on December 17.
Having guided Bayern Munich to domestic and European success in the 2019/20 season, Hansi Flick is the bookies’ favorite to clinch the prize. Liverpool’s Jurgen Klopp – who won the award last year – is also in the running.
Leeds United’s Marcelo Bielsa is the surprise inclusion on the shortlist, which also features Julen Lopetegui (Sevilla) and Zinedine Zidane (Real Madrid).
Let’s start by seeing what the top online betting sites make of the nominees.
As you can see, there are two clear frontrunners to win the award. Flick (1.33) is the favorite, although Klopp (2.70) isn’t too far behind.
The odds then jump dramatically, with Lopetegui (26.00) in third. Zidane (34.00) comes in as the bookmakers’ fourth favorite, while underdog Bielsa (51.00) completes the list.
It’s now time to take a closer look at the candidates.
Hansi Flick (1.33)
When Hansi Flick replaced Niko Kovac as Bayern Munich’s head coach at the end of 2019, the Bavarians were not in a good place. A 5-1 thrashing at the hands of Eintracht Frankfurt signaled the end of Kovac’s short reign, with Flick left to pick up the pieces.
However, Flick didn’t just pick up the pieces. He transformed Bayern into an unstoppable winning machine.
The 55-year-old oversaw a remarkable unbeaten streak in the second half of the 2019/20 campaign, helping Die Roten to win 19 of their final 20 Bundesliga matches. Unsurprisingly, his side finished 13 points clear at the top of the German top-flight, scoring 100 goals along the way.
After also winning the German Cup, Flick then secured a historic treble by leading Bayern to Champions League glory in August.
Few could have predicted the impact that Flick would make when he took the reins at FC Hollywood. The club was seemingly heading for disaster less than 12 months ago, yet Flick managed to turn things around in style.
There were question marks over his coaching ability when he was initially installed as interim manager, but I don’t think anyone can argue with his credentials now. Having signed a new contract until 2023 earlier the year, there is a sense that this is only the beginning for Flick.
Jurgen Klopp (2.70)
After guiding the Reds to a Champions League triumph in 2018/19, Jurgen Klopp further etched his name into Liverpool folklore by helping the Merseysiders clinch their first top-flight title in three decades.
Liverpool’s relentless charge towards EPL success was immense, with Klopp at the forefront of the operation. After going unbeaten in their opening 27 matches, the Reds eventually finished a whopping 18 points clear at the top of the Premier League table.
Klopp also led his side to Club World Cup glory last year. Of course, Liverpool supporters are far more concerned with winning domestic or European trophies. But Klopp’s eagerness to get his hands on as much silverware as possible is undeniable.
Let’s not forget that the Club World Cup is a FIFA-run tournament. This could give Klopp an edge over his rivals.
At the end of the day, Klopp is now viewed as one of the best managers in world soccer. The German was named Coach of the Year in 2019, and I wouldn’t be surprised if he scooped the prize again this time around.
Julen Lopetegui (26.00)
Julen Lopetegui has had a wild couple of years.
The former goalkeeper was relieved of his duties as Spain’s national team manager just days before the 2018 World Cup, before going on to endure a short – and calamitous – spell in charge of Real Madrid.
Many believed that Lopetegui’s managerial career was over. But he proved his doubters wrong.
The 54-year-old was appointed as Sevilla’s head coach in June 2019, and it’s fair to say that he could not have wished for a better maiden campaign.
Sevilla beat Roma, Wolves, Manchester United, and Inter Milan on their way to winning the Europa League back in August. Lopetegui helped Los Palanganas to secure their fourth European title in seven years, reinstating himself on the managerial scene in the process.
Better still, he steered Sevilla to a hugely respectable fourth-place finish in La Liga, ending up ten points clear of fifth-place Villarreal and level on 70 points with third-place Atletico Madrid.
UCL-winner Flick and EPL-winner Klopp are the rightful frontrunners to win the Coach of the Year award. But Lopetegui’s comeback story makes him a worthy contender.
Zinedine Zidane (34.00)
Make no mistake, Zinedine Zidane has achieved more in his short managerial career than most coaches achieve over two or three decades. After all, across two stints as Real Madrid boss, the Frenchman has won three Champions League trophies and two La Liga titles.
But does he really deserve to be on the shortlist for the Coach of the Year?
Sure, he was able to lead Los Blancos to domestic success in 2019/20. The capital club finished five points clear of rivals Barcelona in the Spanish top-flight, with Zidane credited for changing the team’s fortunes.
But Zidane failed to work his magic on the European stage last season. After cursing through the group stage, Real Madrid was swiftly knocked out of the Champions League in the Round of 16.
Winning La Liga is no mean feat, but Los Blancos’ triumph last term was nothing special. Real Madrid is expected to challenge for the title every season, so Zidane didn’t exactly achieve anything out of the ordinary.
That probably explains why he is priced at 34.00, right?
Marcelo Bielsa (51.00)
Marcelo Bielsa is widely regarded as one of the greatest coaches on the planet. Indeed, modern-day pioneers such as Pep Guardiola and Mauricio Pochettino have lauded the 65-year-old veteran for his impact on the game.
That said, it still came as a massive shock when the enigmatic Argentine was shortlisted for the Coach of the Year.
We all know that Bielsa guided Leeds United back to the Premier League last season. His side played some outstanding soccer on their way to clinching the Championship title, but it is important to remember that he was competing in England’s second-tier.
I mean, what about Thomas Tuchel? He won the Ligue 1 title with PSG while going all the way to the Champions League final, yet he didn’t make the shortlist.
Don’t get me wrong, Bielsa’s Leeds team is a joy to watch. The forward-thinking manager uses some of the craziest attacking tactics you will ever see. But I have to admit, I was stunned to see him nominated for the Coach of the Year.
It is no coincidence that the bookies view the 2020 Coach of the Year award as a two-horse race. Hansi Flick’s treble-winning achievements were nothing short of phenomenal, while Jurgen Klopp added the Club World Cup and the EPL trophy to Liverpool’s silverware cabinet.
Still, I believe Julen Lopetegui deserves huge credit for his efforts with Sevilla. The Spaniard scooped the Europa League at the first time of asking, with his team gaining a glowing reputation along the way.
Zinedine Zidane led Real Madrid to the La Liga title, while Bielsa caught the eye with his unorthodox approach. But I can’t see either of them challenging the two favorites.
Flick and Klopp would both be worthy winners of the award, yet I think the Bayer Munich coach has the edge. Not only did Flick do the domestic double with Die Roten last season, but he also secured the biggest prize in European soccer to seal the treble.
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