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More than Mourinho in LMA Manager of the Year market

Punters may be forgiven for thinking the LMA Manager of the Year award is already in Jose Mourinho’s back pocket.

He may be Coral’s 11/10 favourite to scoop the gong award to the best boss in English league football with ‘the Special One’ about to steer Chelsea to a delightful double, but would make for a conservative and somewhat lazy choice.

There are alternatives out there deserving of credit and recognition in very different circumstances. Because of that, our football experts have got their heads together and look at some other candidates.

Ronald Koeman (3/1)
Southampton boss Koeman inherited a side stripped of its best and brightest after Premier League raiders came to the south coast and snapped up Luke Shaw, Dejan Lovren, Rickie Lambert, Calum Chambers and Adam Lallana.

Not only has the Dutchman rebuilt Saints, but he has somehow made them better and is now on course to better predecessor Mauricio Pochettino’s eighth-place finish last term, and could take Southampton into Europe next season.

Toby Alderweireld, Ryan Bertrand, Graziano Pelle and Dusan Tadic have all proved to be astute signings, so this all adds up to Koeman being a worthy winner.

Alan Pardew (5/1)
Beginning the current campaign at Newcastle United, now Crystal Palace coach Pardew endured some real indignities towards the end of his reign on Tyneside. A fans campaign to get him sacked fell on deaf ears, but this so-called ‘Cockney villain’ has stuck it to the Toon Army by taking the Eagles above their team in the table.

Returning to Selhurst Park looks like a match made in heaven for former Palace playing favourite Pardew. His Eagles could yet finish in the top half and need just four more points to eclipse last term’s tally of 45.

Pardew has masterminded wins over Manchester City and Tottenham, while with the Magpies he knocked off Liverpool and Spurs previously. Coming through such adversity and posting excellent results such as these make him worthy of the award.

Eddie Howe (5/1)
Bournemouth boss Howe has essentially guided the Cherries from bottom-tier to top-flight across two spells in charge. While this gong is given to a manager based on what he has achieved this season and not in the long-term, getting this small south coast club into the Premier League for the first time in history is quite remarkable.

Sean Dyche (20/1)
When Burnley shocked everyone by earning promotion from the Championship on a shoestring budget last term, many pundits talked about the Clarets picking up a record low points total.

Although Dyche’s Turf Moor team prop up the Premier League, they have shown real spirit and their manager has kept largely loyal to the players that got him there. Holding Manchester United and stunning City are among the odd eye-catching results he’s posted, but the outside price is justified.

Garry Monk (33/1)
Swansea City have amassed their best-ever Premier League tally under managerial novice Monk. Many commentators, our editor included, thought the south Wales side would struggle this season and have been proved wrong.

Dealing with the sale of Ivory Coast striker Wilfried Bony has been tough for the Swans, so it’s nice to see them getting some recognition, though there are other coaches with more tangible achievements than Monk.