1. Alex Ferguson
Little contest, in all. Ferguson took a team with several gaping flaws (a poor midfield, out-of-form wingers, a less-than-robust defence, a keeper who wasn't quite ready at the start of the season) and had their most consistent season in years, without a real run of poor form all year, keeping up a level of performance from start to finish that never let anybody else in the title race. No surprise that he bows out on a high.
In a similar fashion to Ferguson, Wenger has gotten the most out of his squad this year in a way that very few other managers in the league have been capable of doing. Their run towards the end of the season, where they played badly but eked out wins over everyone by being defensively solid, with a team with no holding midfielder and the likes of Thomas Vermaelen, Per Mertesacker and Laurent Koscielny to choose from, deserves an awful lot of praise.
3. David Moyes
There's quite a gap between second and third here, but third place probably goes to David Moyes with a late but insufficient audition for the United job. It's still highly questionable whether he has what it takes to compete for trophies, but despite the setback of missing out on several targets (such as Leroy Fer in January), Moyes managed to seriously challenge for the top four for much of the season, in an age when he's seen his rivals outspend him hugely and more teams come into the fight for the Champions League. He goes out on one of his best seasons for some time.
4. Chris Hughton
Norwich had probably the second-worst squad in the league this year after Reading, a side that really reeked of 'decent Championship team' and looked at high risk of second-season syndrome, particularly with the rather underwhelming acquisitions made in summer. That's now changed -- hello, Ricky van Wolfswinkel -- but in a relegation battle that left the entire bottom half of the table in trouble, Norwich never looked like they were going down all season other than at the very start and with a brief scare towards the end. Hughton was sensible, focusing on defensive solidity when endangered, and by and large his team did what they needed to throughout. A hugely underrated performance.
West Ham's summer spending was an extremely mixed bag, but Allardyce did well to keep them all together in a cohesive unit and largely avoided getting into a real scrap for survival. Every drop of ability was squeezed out of some pretty mediocre players -- it's not an exceptional job, but it was a highly professional one.
6. Steve Clarke
West Brom finished eighth under Clarke, which is fantastic, and were higher placed for much of the season, but there are a few caveats. Firstly, Romelu Lukaku was hugely responsible for a big chunk of their goals, and it'll be a real test to find a replacement for him for next year. Secondly, the table was highly congested in the middle -- the Baggies finished closer to the relegation zone than they did to seventh place. They would have some very good foundations, but Lukaku's departure will cause huge problems -- he scored or assisted 40% of their goals this season. They'll need to do well just to stay still for next year.
7. Paolo Di Canio
Di Canio's reign has not been a long one so far, but it deserves praise. Sunderland were one of the only teams in the relegation scrap that weren't fighting very hard, and looked like their complacency could get them down, before Di Canio gave them the kick-start they needed. As a short-term piece of shock therapy, it worked brilliantly, and the thumping of Newcastle United will be long remembered. It should also be remembered that through injury and suspension, Di Canio was without many of his best players for that final stretch too. His decision to then go to war with his own dressing room had got the backing of many fans. There's no doubt Sunderland have underachieved, and his supposed findings appear to make sense. Whether he can eradicate the unprofessionalism from the club and truly start again where Steve Bruce and Martin O'Neill failed will be fascinating.
8. Mauricio Pochettino
Nigel Adkins can feel slightly hard done-by to be sacked, but not too much. Pochettino came into a side that was mourning their manager and playing quite badly, but the transformation was instant and impressive as Southampton immediately embarked on a more effective and attractive playing style, outplaying the likes of Manchester United as they pulled clear from the relegation battle. It'll be very interesting to see what he can do with the squad next season.
Tottenham Hotspur's season may go down as one of missed opportunity, but given the shambles of the transfer window and the failure to sign a striker in January, Villas-Boas has done a pretty good job. He had to make the most of what was available, and was unlucky to miss out on Champions League qualification, particularly since he was without two of his best players, Sandro and Younes Kaboul, for most of the season. Although the side could've played with a bit more cohesiveness towards the end -- the extent to which they ended up reliant on Gareth Bale was absurd at times -- that can be rectified in the summer. This team has a lot of room to grow.
10. Michael Laudrup
For all the plaudits being handed to Michael Laudrup this season, there are many issues. Firstly, despite the colossal addition of Michu to their side, they finished with fewer points than last season, and secondly, their cup victory was against Bradford City. That run largely centres around a fairly fortunate victory over a Chelsea side that were struggling at the time, and the perils of elevating managers on the basis of cup runs is long established. Laudrup certainly did well with Swansea, but nowhere near as well as some people would suggest.
11. Brian McDermott
Taking a step back from the wreckage of Reading's Premier League campaign, it's obvious that they were the classic decent Championship side that sort of got promoted by accident and had little hope of staying up. Under McDermott, however, the Royals rarely embarrassed themselves or looked totally out of their depth. By and large, he did the best he could've been expected to do, and it was an insane decision to sack him. And bonus points for this.
12. Brendan Rodgers
A big sack of 'meh' for the Liverpool boss, who only briefly looked like threatening the Champions League spots and put together a side that was inconsistent in the extreme. A lack of squad depth hindered him, for sure, but Liverpool could have been better. They could, however, have also been much worse. Distinctly mid-table.
13. Roberto Martinez
An FA Cup win is not to be taken lightly, and if it serves as the jewel in the crown of Martinez's reign at Wigan Athletic, it's a very nice one. Of course, relegation is a pretty big dampener. The most galling thing of all is that Wigan probably had their best squad for some years -- injuries took their toll over the course of the season in a big way, and the cup run probably sabotaged their survival hopes too, but you get the feeling that teams that played far worse than Wigan finished above them this season.
14. Nigel Adkins
Slightly unlucky to be sacked, although did nothing exceptional at Southampton and got far less out of Reading than Brian McDermott managed. It'll be a surprise if Adkins reappears in the Premier League any time in the immediate future.
15. Paul Lambert
A strange season for Paul Lambert -- given the players he started with, Villa shouldn't have gone down. Yet they looked doomed for almost half a season, and in the end Lambert's youngsters managed to put together some fine, effective and attractive performances that give more than a suggestion that the Scot has what it takes to build something exciting at Villa Park. In isolation, it wasn't a great season at all, but it could easily be part of a bigger plan.
16. Martin Jol
Fulham largely underachieved all season and, despite some fine talent at the sharp end of their team, didn't really look like the fun and exciting side they could and probably should have been. They did tend to line up in a Four cloggers-Four cloggers-Two geniuses formation, which is largely down to personnel, but they surely had the potential to do more than this, which feels like a wasted season.
17. Tony Pulis
The lowest points total they've had in the Premier League, some dressing-room fights, and not so much flirting with relegation as asking if it wanted to share a taxi, Stoke were pretty awful in the league this year and it was a season of decline for them. Peter Coates has reacted by ditching the long-serving Pulis, and it'll be interesting to see what happens at the club this summer.
18. Martin O'Neill
Failed to get anything out of a Sunderland squad that had a lot of average players and several good ones, and thus should never have seriously been in a relegation battle. Yet there they were, and Paolo Di Canio's suggestion that indiscipline is rife at the Stadium of Light appears to be correct. If a veteran like O'Neill is incapable or unwilling to either identify or solve such a huge problem, then he cannot complain that he paid for his underachievement with his job.
19. Rafael Benitez
The manager of the season, as some would have it. Benitez's sole trophy win was one which Celtic were too good to be allowed to play in, his side finished miles off the pace compared to where they were when he took over, and ended up in a serious scrap for Champions League qualification, which is well below the quality of players they have at the squad. Continually odd team selections and choking on big occasions in cups add up to a pretty godawful performance from the man who, in a certain British newspaper, was voted as having a superior season to Alex Ferguson by a 2:1 ratio of writers. The mind boggles.
20. Roberto Mancini
Took a title-winning team to distinct mediocrity in the league, never challenging for the title, crashed out of Europe entirely at the group stage, and won neither cup, also managing to blow a final against a team that finished 18th. An utter disaster of a season, and with no sign of progress being made at the club, it's easy to see why Mancini ended up out of a job.
21. Harry Redknapp
On Sunday the 12th of May, 2013, Harry Redknapp's Queens Park Rangers side lost, 2-1, against Newcastle United, having already been relegated. This meant that their record, under Harry Redknapp, read "two points in the last eight games." There is a god, and he is a poet.
22. Mark Hughes
A Queens Park Rangers side that had a mix of eager cloggers and talent could've stayed up quite easily and maybe done something more exciting, but Mark Hughes never got them playing at a level above Reading. The finger can be pointed at the players, but the idea of players being paid lots to join a small club is hardly a radical and new one in 2013. It's been done plenty of times before, and rarely as incompetently as this.
23. Alan Pardew
The worst manager this season, taking a side that finished fifth last year to very, very nearly getting relegated. Demba Ba was the only significant departure, and while there were injuries, they boosted their squad (which was, rather than their first eleven, their real weakness last year) hugely in January and did not improve at all. This Newcastle team is much better than the one that finished fifth, and there is no doubt that Pardew failed to even skim the surface of their potential. Dire, and deserves to lose his job this summer more than anyone.