With Leeds United, West Bromwich Albion, Aston Villa and Derby County all vying for a spot in the Premier League next season, here’s a closer look at the tacticians leading each club’s promotion tilt.
Marcelo Bielsa – Leed United
Leeds United pulled off the signing of the off season when it snapped up veteran tactician Marcelo Bielsa.
The former Argentina boss was singled out as the best coach in the world by Manchester City counterpart Pep Guardiola, and is widely praised for his innovative approach and ability to develop players.
"My admiration for Marcelo Bielsa is huge because he makes the players much, much better,” Guardiola said.
"He helped me a lot with his advice. Whenever I speak with him I always feel like he wants to help me.”
“For me, he is the best coach in the world."
James Shan – West Bromwich Albion
James Shan first joined West Brom with the under-7’s coaching staff in 2006, and has slowly climbed the ranks ever since.
The 40 year-old is well versed in the club’s academy, having previously coached the under-18, under-21 and under-23 sides.
Shan landed the top job last month, taking over from Darren Moore in a caretaker capacity, and he now has a golden opportunity to stake his claim for a permanent gig if the Magpies can get promoted.
Dean Smith – Aston Villa
Dean Smith won praise for his time at Brentford, where he turned the club into the Championship’s entertainer on a shoestring budget.
With Aston Villa languishing in 14th place in October, the club turned to the attack-minded tactician to turn its fortunes around.
Smith delivered, as Villa broke a 109 year-old club record by winning 10 straight games on its way to a promotion play-off spot.
Frank Lampard – Derby County
Great players don’t always translate to great managers but Chelsea great Frank Lampard has hit the ground running in his first spell in the dugout at Derby County.
Lampard brought in loan duo Mason Mount and Harry Wilson from Chelsea and Liverpool respectively, while prospect Tom Lawrence has flourished under the legendary midfielder’s tutelage.
It’s been an incredible start to life in management for Frank Lampard, which would be capped off if he can pull off a fairytale run to promotion.