Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp has nominated Pep Guardiola as his manager of the year, but believes Rafael Benitez, Chris Hughton and David Wagner would all be worthy winners of the Premier League accolade.
Guardiola’s Manchester City have won the league title in swashbuckling style, drawing Klopp’s praise, yet the Reds manager also wants to acknowledge the work of three relegation-battling coaches.
Former Liverpool boss Benitez at Newcastle United, Brighton and Hove Albion’s Hughton and Huddersfield Town’s Wagner have all successfully kept their sides in the top flight this term, the first time a trio of promoted teams have secured their status since 2012.
“Pep Guardiola [at Manchester City], obviously, was impressive for the season, for the kind of football, but I’m pretty close,” Klopp told a news conference on Friday. “That’s always how it is.
“I really think David Wagner and Chris Hughton should be quite close to Pep. Sean Dyche [at Burnley has done a] fantastic job.
“A lot of managers have done a fantastic job in a very tough league – Rafa at Newcastle. But all three teams who came up from the Championship, staying in the league is a massive achievement that hasn’t happened a lot in the last few years.
“It’s obviously really big. I don’t know, one of these three [could win].”
Klopp also discussed the merits of Trent Alexander-Arnold as a potential England international, with the right-back yet to receive a senior call-up but widely tipped for a World Cup berth.
“I’m obviously a fan of Trent – that’s why he plays a lot,” he said. “He performs to a high level and has matured quickly over the last year. Mentally, he was always in a good place, and physically, he improved.
“I’m not Gareth Southgate but, if he wants a good player for right full-back and maybe another position as well, he’d be a good choice. It’s not up to me. Whatever I say doesn’t make it more or less likely.
“If Gareth thinks he needs him, I’m sure he will be ready.”