Here at HITC Sport we have been conducting a poll on who is the best manager in the Championship in 2016. There was a vast list of candidates for this one and it has been no easy task to cut down. However, we have done so and the five candidates are as follows:
Rafael Benitez - Newcastle United
Newcastle United manager Rafa Benitez
The turnaround at Newcastle has been an incredible one and the mastermind behind it all is Rafael Benitez. The tactician has overseen a superb Championship season so far and the Magpies look as though they are going to walk to promotion this season. 15 wins in 21 games and 43 goals is an astonishing total and they only seem to be getting better. While the fans won't really care how Newcastle go up as long as they do, Benitez will be drumming into his team that they should be winning the title as well as promotion, such is the expectation of the manager.
Steve Bruce - Hull City/Aston Villa
Aston Villa Manager Steve Bruce
Steve Bruce was incredible for Hull last season as he led them back up to the Premier League in superb fashion. He was not able to continue his project at the Tigers as he left over the summer. However, he has returned to division with Aston Villa and has been doing a fantastic job of repairing Villa's crumbling season as they once again look like a force to be reckoned with in the league. They currently sit in 13th place with 28 points, on the cusp of the play-off places. In comparison to where they were a few months ago, it has been an incredible turnaround under Bruce.
Chris Hughton - Brighton & Hove Albion
Brighton manager Chris Hughton
Brighton's season is getting better and better as they continue to display just how strong a squad they have. It was not ever going to be an easy job as Brighton have been the nearly men over the last couple of seasons, with a number of near promotion misses. This term, they find themselves in second place after 21 games on 45 points, trailing Newcastle by just one point. It could prove to finally be Brighton's year and, if they do go up, then it will be testament to Hughton's budding managerial ability. With Brighton already eight points clear of Reading in third, it is beginning to look like it will be a battle between Hughton and Benitez for the number one spot.
Carlos Carvalhal - Sheffield Wednesday
Sheffield Wednesday manager Carlos Carvalhal
The appointment of Carvalhal last summer was one that was met with plenty of derision and confusion. He had been inactive for almost three years and was thrown into one of the most competitive leagues in the world with no prior experience in English football. It looked like a move that would see Sheffield Wednesday manager-less by Christmas. However, in his maiden season he led Wednesday to the play-off final, albeit, without promotion, while this term they find themselves in seventh place with 34 points, once again fighting for promotion. For a man with no prior Championship experience, his last season and a half in English football has been exceptional.
Gary Rowett - Previously Birmingham City
Birmingham manager Gary Rowett
Rowett had been leading his Birmingham side admirably this season as they continue to exceed expectation. They currently find themselves in eighth in the league with 34 points, just one point off a play-off place, while the team seems to be playing a style of football that is working for them as they chase a Premier League place. That is why the decision to sack him, a manager that was on the cusp of the play-offs, is so ludicrous. Irrespective of his departure, Rowett has done a fantastic job at Birmingham and he fully deserves all the praise has gotten for his work at St Andrew's, and his place on this list.
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