BIG BEARD: Wolves manager Nuno Santo will surely be a wanted man next season. AFP Photo
BY PAUL KENNEDY
There is little doubt in any right thinking football fans’ mind that the Premier League manager of the season has to be Pep Guardiola.
The Manchester City boss has been outstanding, leading his team to an historic domestic treble, emphatically clinching the third trophy of the season on Saturday with a 6-0 demolition of Watford in the FA Cup final.
He may personally be a little disappointed that City fell short in the Champions League, but what Pep has achieved this season qualifies unreservedly for the prize of Manager of the Year.
But an honorary mention must go to one Nuno Herlander Simões Espírito Santo, the manager of Wolverhampton Wanderers.
The former Portuguese goalkeeper took charge of the Black Country club in May 2017 and earned promotion winning the Championship with two games to spare in his first season at the helm.
With financial support from the club’s Chinese owners, Wolves invested what can only be described as small change compared to Manchester City’s budget, but Santo spent wisely.
He then took the club, a favourite for the drop this season, to a record breaking seventh place in the Premier League.
And with City lifting the FA Cup that meant another spot in the Europa League opened up which Wolves will fill.
So in his first season in the Premier League, Santo took Wolves to seventh place, one spot behind Manchester United, the semi-final of the FA Cup, a competition they had already knocked out Liverpool, United and Newcastle in, and secured a place in Europe next season.
I’m not for one minute suggesting he should replace Pep as the season’s best boss, but he is certainly a close second.
To achieve what he has managed this season is amazing. Wolves fans should be over the moon, jumping with joy, and any of the other footballing cliché they can think off, but at the same time, they must be a little concerned.
In the dog eat dog world that is professional football, you wonder will Santos stay at the Molineux Stadium next season?
Football really is a fickle business, and if a so called bigger and better club comes along with a rich owner dangling a cheque book in front of him, will Santos be tempted to leave?
I for one really hope he stays and builds something special in the West Midlands. Loyalty is a rare quality few in the game possess.
Speaking of loyalty, one player who has it in abundance is Vincent Kompany who left Manchester City this week after 11 trophy laden seasons.
He has won four Premier League titles, two FA Cups, four Football League cups and two Community Shields.
Kompany has been a rock for City, and a major contributing factor in their success story. And I love that, even though he could go and earn a bucket full of money playing in China or the US, he has swerved the cash, and instead ‘gone home’ to be player manager of Anderlecht, the team in Belgium where he first started his amazing career.
But a little known fact about Vincent is his interest in politics. His father, Pierre, is a Congolese immigrant who also acts as his son’s agent.
Last year, he was elected Mayor of Ganshoren, one of the 19 municipalities in Belgium’s capital city of Brussels. He’s Belgium first ever black Mayor.
Meanwhile, Kompany during his time at City, spent several years studying at Manchester Business School and graduated with a MBA, Master of Business Administration.
Other footballers are often happy spending their spare time playing golf, playing video games or getting tattoos and stupid haircuts, but not Vincent.
Sure, he’s never going to be short of money, but he is clearly planning for a better and more productive life outside football. VNS