Des Hasler's efforts to take Manly from wooden spoon contenders to NRL finalists has him as the front runner to claim his second Dally M coach of the year award.
While James Tedesco is the favourite for the main award, it is the coaching trophy which has garnered plenty of attention after an off-season of mass switches.
Hasler will lead a host of contenders for the category including Canberra grand final coach Ricky Stuart and Parramatta's Brad Arthur.
Sea Eagles mentor Hasler has hated the attention around him all year and at one stage when asked quickly suggested several other coaches should be ahead of him.
But after Manly won double the games they did last year to finish sixth and reached the second week of the finals, he is now the favourite.
"I reckon if he got it, he wouldn't even want to go up on the stage," Manly star Jake Trbojevic told AAP.
"But Dessie has got to be up there, he's a great coach and a good leader.
"It would be deserved if he was up there and got it.
"He would hate us saying this. But he has been great for the club.
"Everyone in the area loves having him back, after being so successful as a player and a coach at the club."
Hasler won the award in 2012 while at Canterbury, but never while in charge of his beloved Sea Eagles.
Of the six sides that had new coaches at the start of the season after a dramatic summer, Manly was the only club to improve its position from last year.
It was built largely on defence with a heavy focus on players individually studying opposition teams.
In return, they conceded 104 less points than they did in 2018.
Raiders players have also mounted a case for Stuart.
They missed the finals for the past two seasons but on Sunday will play in their first decider in 25 years, against premiers Sydney Roosters.
Stuart's roster management has been first class, as has been his move to make his pack more mobile and shift Jack Wighton to the halves.
He last won the award in 2016 when the Raiders made the preliminary final.
"I think he deserves it," prop Josh Papalii said.
"I think people (underrate him). They don't see what he does outside of footy.
"He is a big family man and he is very passionate about this club and played for this club and won three premierships for it.
"He invests more love and coaching tactics because he has been there and done it."
© AAP 2019