There is a fine line between winning the Premier League and taking a parachute payment in May as you kiss the top-tier goodbye. The role of a manager cannot be disputed – they call the shots and it is their input and knowledge which can help to change the trajectory of a club.
Here’s a look at eight decisions taken by Premier League managers over the course of the season which were integral to how the campaign panned out.
8. Ronald Koeman Has Set Romelu Lukaku Free
Romelu Lukaku has always shown promise since making the switch to the Premier League. The stocky Belgian front-man strikes fear into the heart of his opponents with a combination of power, lethal ability with either foot and smart hold-up play.
Since moving to Everton on a permanent basis, he has demonstrated why the top clubs are all after him as Chelsea contemplate re-signing him.
His problem has been consistency, with the striker only showing glimpses of his true potential. But since the appointment of Ronald Koeman as manager, the Dutch coach has unleashed the beast to devastating effect as Lukaku finished second in the goalscoring charts with 25.
In the past there was an over-reliance on the prowess of the Belgian, but the tactical know-how of Koeman, and the introduction of young stars like Tom Davies has shackled the burden on Lukaku, allowing him to flourish in a free role.
7. Heavy Inclusion of Zlatan Ibrahimovic
With the statement signing of Paul Pogba last year, many overlooked the bargain free transfer Manchester United picked up with Zlatan Ibrahimovic.
At 35-years of age, many expected him to be a stop-gap before the Red Devils made a move at the end of this campaign for a younger striker, with his future ahead of him.
However, the tables turned as the Swedish star proved his weight in gold with 28 goals in a dominant display of determination and leadership.
Sadly his season was cut short with a devastating knee injury meaning that he missed the Europa League final win over Ajax, but the inclusion of Ibrahimovic in more games than expected this season created the opportunity where they could win three trophies and qualify for Champions League football next season.
6. Arsenal Start the Season With Alexis Sanchez Up Front
Chile superstar Alexis Sanchez has had another statistically strong season as he became the first player this season to score and assist more than ten goals.
The former Barcelona player has wowed the Premier League and kept Arsenal in the hunt for a top four place with a number of important goals as he sits 2nd in the top goalscorer charts with 23 goals, one behind leader Romelu Lukaku.
The decision by Gunners boss Arsène Wenger to start Sanchez as the sole striker at the beginning of the campaign proved a masterstroke, with many believing the French manager should have invested in a blockbuster striker last summer.
But Sanchez proved the doubters wrong, and has continued to carry Arsenal all season. The choice to move Sanchez to the wing to accommodate a target man in Olivier Giroud has back fired however as Arsenal look like missing out on the Champions League.
5. Crystal Palace Loan Mamadou Sakho
The Liverpool defender was a mainstay in the Crystal Palace back-four having made the move to London on loan in the January transfer window.
Under the guidance of Sam Allardyce, who steered his side clear of the relegation battle to maintain Premier League status, Mamadou Sakho was a rock at the heart of the Eagles defence, even if injury curtailed his spell towards the latter stages.
Putting his body on the line countless times, with crunching tackles and last-ditch headers, the French international has put his name in the transfer shop window with a number of man of the match displays.
The question remains whether he will return to Liverpool, or look elsewhere after being cast a side by the Reds in January.
4. Tottenham Build Side Around Deli Alli
There is no question that Tottenham had a fantastic season, running Chelsea close in the title race with an outstanding run of nine wins on the trot after February. Mauricio Pochettino’s men built their season on a strong defence, fast counter-attack football and the clinical finishing of Harry Kane.
But for many the standout star for Spurs was Dele Alli. The young English playmaker has turned in performances of the highest quality, bagging 18 Premier League goals and seven assists in a stellar campaign.
He has an aura about him, a nasty streak and the all-round skills to become the best player in the league some day, scoring a variety of goals with his, left foot, right foot or head. Pochettino has put his faith in Alli to lead the side and he has been a revelation all season.
3. Leciester Sack Claudio Ranieri
The news that shocked the football world. On the 23rd of February; players, managers and pundits shook their heads in disbelief when only nine months after the finest underdog story of all time, Leicester City sacked the manager who led them to the Champions League and Premier League ecstasy with their first ever title.
As the Foxes party continued through the summer, expectations were high for the first campaign in the Champions League the following season. But the sale of key figure
N’Golo Kanté, coupled with a poor start to the league led to a complete turn around as they dropped further and further down the table, lurking precariously above the relegation zone.
With a last sixteen 1st leg defeat to Sevilla in the Champions League knockout stages, the Leicester board did the unthinkable, but bold decision to remove the likable Italian. Football reached a new low that day, but Claudio Ranieri had lost the dressing room and a change was needed.
An unlikely hero was found in Craig Shakespeare, who stepped up from coach to save the side from relegation and embark on a fantastic Champions League turn around, bravely bowing out to Atlético Madrid in the quarter final.
2. Paul Clement Is Appointed Swansea Manager
What an amazing turnaround for the Welsh club. The appointment of Paul Clement, a third change of manager since the beginning of the season, seemed ludicrous as Swansea sought in desperation the help of an coach with experience mainly as assistant, at clubs such as Real Madrid, Paris Saint-Germain and Bayern Munich under Carlo Ancelotti.
Sitting at the bottom of the league, the Swans could do no worse so they took a chance with a former P.E teacher with limited managerial experience.
What came next was one of the greatest escapes and a major turning point in the Premier League as Swansea defied all the odds to avoid the drop.
1. Antonio Conte Switches to 3-4-3 Formation
It is well noted, but can’t be denied as the number one turning point in this remarkable Premier League season. The lovable Italian Antonio Conte was down on his luck and looking for answers after a heavy 3-0 defeat to Arsenal at the Emirates in October.
If he was going to win over the board, the fans and the players, he had to make bold moves to stamp his mark on the Chelsea squad.
Reverting back to the 3-4-3 formation he knew so well from his time as boss of Juventus and the Italian national side proved a masterstroke as they went on an astonishing 12 game winning streak, staking their claim as the dominant force in English football, and reclaiming the coveted Premier League title.