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Tony Pulis narrowly wins ProSoccerTalk’s Premier League Manager of the Year award

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There have been plenty of storylines on the touchline this season in England’s top flight.

From firings to headbutts to overspenditure, there has been an abundance of action in the duguot. However, we are here to recognize those who went above and beyond in their managerial duties.

With so much turmoil at the managerial spot for a number of clubs across the Premier League, it would seem an easy choice.  But we love controversy and debate here at ProSoccerTalk, and we don’t often agree.

We didn’t here, and it came down to a tiebreaker vote between two very deserving candidates.

Brendan Rodgers led Liverpool to a second-place finish in the Premier League, and although they let the title slip away in the dying moments of the season in painful fashion, he led the club to a finish far greater than expected at the beginning of the season.

Had Liverpool won the title, Rodgers would no doubt be the runaway choice for this award. However, because they slipped at the finish line, another candidate emerged.

Crystal Palace were dead in the water a few months ago, and needed a new manager to replace the recently sacked Ian Holloway.  The club was criticized at his time of hire for picking a manager who was known for his boring style of play, with detractors saying they needed someone to bring flair to the club.

Instead, Pulis engineered a masterful comeback, instilling a sense of solidity to the squad’s play. In storybook fashion, Pulis emerged as the club’s savior, leading them not only to safety but an 11th place finish, an insane prospect at Christmas.

It couldn’t have been written better, as Pulis was at the forefront of Liverpool’s title demise, engineering a comeback for the ages to draw 3-3 after trailing the Reds 3-0 in the penultimate game of the season.

The pair split the major managerial awards this season, with Rodgers winning the League Manager’s Association Manager of the Year award, and Pulis took home the Premier League’s version.

Fittingly, both men received an equal amount of votes in our ProSoccerTalk Manager of the Year voting, and both received the same amount of first-place votes, which was our first tiebreaker. Therefore, it was put up for a second vote to determine who would win, and the results are below:

Joe Prince-Wright:
1. Tony Pulis
2. Brendan Rodgers
3. Mauricio Pochettino
Tiebreaker – Pulis

Mike Prindiville:
1. Roberto Martinez
2. Tony Pulis
3. Brendan Rodgers
Tiebreaker – Pulis

Richard Farley:
1. Brendan Rodgers
2. Roberto Martinez
3. Tony Pulis
Tiebreaker – Rodgers

Kyle Bonn:
1. Brendan Rodgers
2. Tony Pulis
3. Mark Hughes
Tiebreaker – Rodgers

Nick Martinez:
1. Tony Pulis
2. Brendan Rodgers
3. Manuel Pellegrini
Tiebreaker – Pulis

ProSoccerTalk Premier League Manager of the Year: Tony Pulis

Crystal Palace’s guardian angel is our winner, as only one can take home the crown.  Both are deserving of our accolades, as are all the other men mentioned.

Everton’s Roberto Martinez came in third, as the Toffees finished fifth this year and have a view towards bigger and better things next season if they can sort out a few roster issues this summer.

Other men mentioned were Manuel Pellegrini of the champions Manchester City, who likely would have received more credit for winning the title had he not been gifted with such a quality squad; Mauricio Pochettino of Southampton who faded late but still had a strong season and have work to do to keep their top players and manager; and Mark Hughes, who guided Stoke City to a surprising 9th place finish, their highest ever in the Premier League.

Congratulations to all of the candidates for a fantastic season!

LIVE: UCL last 16 – Leicester face Sevilla; Juve head to Porto

LEICESTER, ENGLAND - FEBRUARY 05:  Jamie Vardy of Leicester City applauds the crowd in defeat after the Premier League match between Leicester City and Manchester United at The King Power Stadium on February 5, 2017 in Leicester, England.  (Photo by Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images)
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Two more UEFA Champions League Round of 16 first legs take place on Wednesday.

[ LIVE: Champions League scores

Leicester City of the Premier League head to Spain to face Sevilla in the UCL last 16 despite Claudio Ranieri‘s men battling for survival in the Premier League. The Foxes, as always, are the big underdogs in Spain as Sevilla have won the UEFA Europa League in each of the past three seasons and Jorge Sampaoli’s side are battling for the title in La Liga.

As for Leicester, they’re just two points off the bottom of the PL as they haven’t scored in their last six outings and have lost five on the spin as well as being dumped out of the FA Cup by third-tier Millwall at the weekend. So yeah, Sevilla head into this game as the heavy favorites and will hope to take a healthy lead to the King Power Stadium with them in two weeks time.

In the other UCL clash on Wednesday FC Porto host Juventus as the Portuguese and Italian giants collide at the Estadio do Dragao. Porto finished behind Leicester in the group stage, while Juv battled it out with Sevilla and clinched top spot. Massimiliano Allegri’s men remain top of Serie A and will look to Gonzalo Higuain to deliver the goals away from home. It promises to be an intriguing tactical battle in northern Portugal.

Click on the link above to follow live commentary on both games, while we will have reaction and analysis on all of the UCL knockout games here at Pro Soccer Talk.


Wednesday’s UCL Round of 16, first legs

Sevilla vs. Leicester City – 2:45 p.m. ET
FC Porto vs. Juventus – 2:45 p.m. ET

Man United’s stroll at Saint-Etienne comes at a cost

SAINT-ETIENNE, FRANCE - FEBRUARY 22:  Jose Mourinho, manager of Manchester United looks on before the UEFA Europa League Round of 32 second leg match between AS Saint-Etienne and Manchester United at Stade Geoffroy-Guichard on February 22, 2017 in Saint-Etienne, France.  (Photo by Christopher Lee/Getty Images)
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Manchester United beat Saint-Etienne 1-0 in their UEFA Europa League Round of 32 second leg clash on Wednesday, but Jose Mourinho will be more concerned by injuries picked up ahead of the EFL Cup final on Sunday.

[ MORE: Mkhitaryan, Carrick injury updates ] 

The Red Devils advanced to the last 16 of Europe’s second-tier club competition after a resounding 4-0 win on aggregate against the Ligue 1 side but with goalscorer Henrikh Mkhitaryan hobbling off in the first half and Michael Carrick removed in the second half, Mourinho will have some injury problems to sort out ahead of this weekends final against Southampton at Wembley.

Eric Bailly was sent off for two quick yellow cards in the second half but that didn’t impact the outcome as United cruised into the Round of 16 which will be drawn on Friday.

United have now lost just one of their last 25 games in all competitions. They are well and truly on a roll.

[ MORE: Europa League scoreboard ] 

United controlled the early stages and went ahead after 15 minutes when Juan Mata picked the ball up on the left flank, drifted inside and picked out Mkhitaryan’s run as the Armenian playmaker flicked home. 1-0 to United on the night as the Red Devils led 4-0 on aggregate.

Mata again got free down the left in the first half and his cross hit two Saint-Etienne defenders and almost went in, while Mkhitaryan hobbled off soon after clutching his hamstring.

With Marcus Rashford coming on for Mkhitaryan, he almost made it 2-0 as Ashley Young‘s cross just evaded him. At the other end Saint-Etienne barely threatened as Loic Perrin sent a tame header in on goal which Sergio Romero saved easily.

In the second half United spurned good chances as Marouane Fellaini fired into the side-netting with teammates wide-open and then Paul Pogba went down in the box easily under a challenge. Zlatan Ibrahimovic then fired a shot just wide after another good break from Rashford as United dominated proceedings with link-up play between Pogba and Ibrahimovic imperious.

Carrick was then taken off with Bastian Schweinsteiger coming on in his place as it appeared that United’s veteran midfielder had a calf issue.

Bailly was then shown two quick yellow cards around the hour mark (he will miss their next European game) which saw United play out the game with 10-men and that buoyed the home side slightly.

However, United coasted through to the last 16 with Rashford and Ibrahimovic going close to doubling their lead late on in front of a raucous home crowd.

Vietnamese players banned for two years after penalty protest

INCHEON, SOUTH KOREA - SEPTEMBER 19:  Flag bearer, Hoang Quy Phuoc of Vietnam arrives during the Opening Ceremony ahead of the 2014 Asian Games at Incheon Asiad Main Stadium on September 19, 2014 in Incheon, South Korea.  (Photo by Brendon Thorne/Getty Images)
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The Vietnamese Football Federation has imposed two-year bans on two players and suspended a coach for three years after their team was involved in a bizarre penalty protest during a league match on the weekend.

[ MORE: China or MLS for Rooney? ]

Long An players were furious at a late penalty awarded by referee Nguyen Tr?ng Thu to Ho Chi Minh City when the score was locked 2-2 late Sunday.

After initially walking off the pitch, the players returned to the field but goalkeeper Nguyen Minh Nhut turned his back as the penalty was taken, conceding a goal.

The whole team then stood motionless and allowed Ho Chi Minh City to score two more goals as the margin blew out to 5-2.

[ LIVE: Stream every PL game live

In a statement, the VFF said that Mimh Nhut and captain Huynh Quang Thanh would banned for 24 months, “Due to disrupting the match, not respecting the decision of the referee and causing damage to the reputation and honor of the Vietnam Football Federation.”

Coach Ngo Quang Sang has been banned for three years, as has club chairman Vo Thanh Nhiem, who quit following the game.

Zaza scores stunning goal for Valencia vs. Real Madrid

TURIN, ITALY - SEPTEMBER 23:  Simone Zaza (C) of Juventus FC celebrates after scring the opening goal during the Serie A match between Juventus FC and Frosinone Calcio at Juventus Arena on September 23, 2015 in Turin, Italy.  (Photo by Valerio Pennicino/Getty Images)
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Simone Zaza scored a stunner for Valencia against Real Madrid in La Liga.

Yes, that Simone Zaza.

[ LIVE: Stream every PL game live

The Italian international striker, 25, spent the best part of six months on loan at West Ham United this season and just didn’t look interested as he failed to score in 11 appearances in all competitions. That prompted Slaven Bilic and the Hammers to cancel his loan deal from Juventus and the forward then joined Valencia in La Liga in January.

Fans of West Ham will be scratching their heads when watching the video below as Zaza swiveled and smashed home a perfect volley to put Valencia 1-0 up against Real at the Mestalla on Wednesday.

Simply sublime.