Who are the best young managers in the game today?

There will be four managers taking their first steps in the Premier League this season, but also some exciting young managers for whom the top flight may soon beckon.

Here we look at four young managers seeking to add to their growing reputations next season.

Aitor Karanka – Middlesbrough – Age: 41

The Spaniard came close to ending his first full season in charge of Middlesbrough with promotion to the Premier League, losing out only in the play-off final to Norwich City.

It would have capped a remarkable 18-month journey for the Riverside club since Karanka became the permanent replacement for Tony Mowbray in November 2013.

He inherited a team languishing in 16th spot in the Championship, closer to a relegation place than a play-off spot.

Karanka came to English football with no prior managerial experience but he had served on Jose Mourinho’s Real Madrid coaching staff for three years – a decent learning curve for any wannabe boss.

Karanka had previously played close to 100 games for Real from 1997-2002 while he spent a large chunk of his playing career at Athletic Club.

He turned Boro’s fortunes around over 18 months and for a large part of last season he looked likely to secure automatic promotion.

Like Mourinho, Karanka’s team is difficult to penetrate – they conceded just 37 goals in 46 Championship games last term, making them comfortably the division’s meanest defence.

They were also the lowest goalscorers among any of the sides chasing promotion and that, in the end, was what let Karanka down.

Karanka says he is remaining calm about solving his striking problems as the new season edges closer, with Middlesbrough linked to the likes of Espanyol’s Christian Stuani and Jordan Rhodes of Blackburn.

With their promising young manager having made great strides last season, Boro fans will be confident of going up if Karanka does attract a poacher to the Riverside this summer.

Alex Neil – Norwich City – Age: 34

The man that denied Karanka a place in the Premier League was Canaries boss Alex Neil.

The Scot took just five months after moving south from Hamilton Academicals to secure his place in the elite.

With Scotland having no managerial representative in the English top tier for the first time in a generation, Neil has quickly scored a blow for a nation with a glorious track record in the dug-out.

Neil is a highly motivated young manager, already proving adept at getting results.

He led Hamilton back into the Scottish top flight and had them in the upper echelons last season, recording a notable first win away at Celtic in 75 years before opting to leave for the Norwich post in January.

With Norwich 11 points off top-spot, Neil took over and steered them into third place, eventually coming home three points off automatic promotion before trumping Middlesbrough at Wembley.

Neil has been captaining club teams since the age of 23 and he is going to be an interesting study in the Premier League this season.

He has talked already of the added weight of expectation managing at Norwich compared with Hamilton, where there was very little in the way of demand for results.

If he secures survival for the Canaries this season, then Alex Neil is likely to ensure Scotland is not without a top-level manager in English football for some considerable time.

Eddie Howe – Bournemouth – Age: 37

It is not unusual to hear the term managerial merry-go-round in English football and the Premier League class of 2015/16 are not so far removed from their youth as to remember all the fun of the fair for themselves.

Uniquely, there will be three 30-something managers starting out the new season, with Howe and Neil coming to join Swansea’s Garry Monk.

With Roberto Martinez and Mauricio Pochettino only just eating into their 40’s, it is a young crop indeed.

Howe is the first man to take charge of Bournemouth in the top flight after the fairytale of winning the Championship last season.

A player at the Cherries for more than 10 years in two spells, Howe’s time in the dug-out has already mirrored his on-field career.

Having taken over in 2008, he left briefly to join Burnley in 2011 but returned in under two years.

Howe took more joy than most from Bournemouth’s promotion and he is surely the right man to lead the club on this journey into the unknown.

Howe has taken Bournemouth from the brink of dropping out of the Football League to the ‘Promised Land’ in six years via three promotions in two spells in charge.

He says he hopes to stick to his principles of attacking football but that he would be “stupid” to roll up at places like Stamford Bridge expecting a cavalier style to yield results.

When he does go to the home of the champions, Howe, dubbed ‘England’s Special One’ by some observers, will come face-to-face with Mourinho.

Can he continue the Bournemouth fairytale?

Ronny Deila -Celtic – Age: 39

Another 30-something, the Norwegian was a surprise choice to replace Neil Lennon last summer, with many Celtic supporters left asking ‘Ronny who?’

Deila’s key previous experience came in his native Norway at Stromsgodset where he performed a transformation over four years.

The club was fighting relegation during Deila’s infancy in charge but he turned it on its head, winning the Norwegian Cup and a first title in 43 years before quitting to take over in Glasgow.

His first season in Scotland got off to a ropey start with Celtic enduring a Champions League nightmare, being eliminated from the qualifiers not once, but twice.

Deila settled to his task and led the Bhoys to a Scottish league and league cup double -missing out on the fourth treble in Celtic’s history courtesy of an extra-time defeat to Inverness in the Scottish Cup semi final.

With Rangers absent, Deila has been quick to acknowledge his time in Glasgow will be judged on European gains and so getting back into the Champions League group stage is his number one priority right now.

If he gets there then Deila will get to lock horns with the cream of Europe and build his reputation further.

He, too, could join the ranks of the Premier League’s young guns in the next couple of seasons.