This season’s top flight bosses can be roughly divided into three categories – overachievers, underachievers and, meh

IF Antonio Conte can be shortlisted for Manager of the Month while resting up at home in Italy, imagine what he could achieve if he took the rest of the year off.

We’ve all had a chuckle at the possibility of the ailing Spurs boss receiving the February award despite the only match he attended resulting in a 4-1 thrashing by Leicester.

Tottenham boss Antonio Conte is not in line for manager of the yearPAManchester United boss Erik ten Hag has turned things around at Old TraffordReutersArsenal boss Mikel Arteta deserves recognition even if he doesn’t win the titleGetty

But Conte won’t be in the mood for laughter as he recuperates from the pain of his recent gallbladder operation.

And while the ailing Italian might not be in the running for the Premier League’s Manager of the Season award, there are plenty of other candidates quietly fancying their chances.

It was supposed to be a three-horse race between Pep Guardiola, Jurgen Klopp and Thomas Tuchel, but that’s not how things have worked out.

This season’s top flight bosses can be roughly divided into three categories – overachievers, underachievers and, meh, whatever.

Tuchel and Klopp are obviously among those who have failed to live up to expectations along with Graham Potter, David Moyes, Brendan Rodgers and the Southampton wrecking crew.

And though Manchester City remain in the hunt to win the Premier League, Champions League and FA Cup, it’s still hard to argue that Guardiola has been at the top of his game this season.

So by my reckoning that leaves us with six or seven candidates for the title of Britain’s top boss.

Even if Arsenal don’t go on to win the League this season, no-one can deny that Mikel Arteta has done one hell of a job at the Emirates.

He might not be everyone’s cup of tea with his manic touchline behaviour but how many people genuinely expected him to be leading the title race this season?

The same goes for Erik ten Hag, who has totally transformed Manchester United against all odds after so many years of Old Trafford mediocrity.

Marco Silva has been another managerial miracle worker. 

While everyone expected an immediate return to the Championship for newly-promoted Fulham, he has led the west London minnows to seventh place in the table and the FA Cup quarter-finals.


Chelsea boss Graham Potter has come under fire at Stamford BridgeRexNottingham Forest boss Steve Cooper has stood out in the Premier LeagueRex

Brentford’s Thomas Frank and Brighton’s Roberto De Zerbi have continued to defy football gravity as both their teams dream of a first European qualification.

Eddie Howe might have the Saudi billions bankrolling his Newcastle ambitons, but he has handled the weight of Geordie expectations magnificently in taking the team from the relegation zone to the brink of Champions League qualification.

And what about Steve Cooper at Nottingham Forest, who has had to deal with a volatile owner and an entire new squad of players, yet he is still keeping the club clear of the relegation zone?

Since the Premier League’s managerial award was inaugurated in 1994, 24 of the 29 recipients have been the title winner.

Klopp took the crown last year despite finishing a point behind City. But he did win the League and FA Cups and reach the Champions League final, so that was fair enough.

But prior to that, the last time the judges looked beyond the Champions was in 2014 when Tony Pulis finished 11th at Crystal Palace – they had obviously got fed up with giving it to Fergie.

The LMA award has not been quite so elitist, with Joe Kinnear, Frank Clark, Danny Wilson, David Jones, George Burley, Steve Coppell and Chris Wilder among previous winners.

And now we’re ready to add another unlikely name to the roll of honour. No, Antonio, not you.