Manuel to return as Mets manager

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The Mets have decided to bring back Jerry Manuel as manager despite the disappointing end to their season, has learned.

Manuel is expected to be approached to hammer out a new contract in the next day or two. The Mets again failed to make the playoffs after losing 4-2 to the Marlins on the final day of the season. But Manuel's bosses believe he did an excellent job under trying circumstances, including late-season injuries to closer Billy Wagner and starter John Maine and an overall bullpen breakdown. The Mets were 55-38 under Manuel after starting 34-35 under Willie Randolph.

"I told Jerry we're going to have a decision sooner rather than later,'' general manager Omar Minaya said. 'He's done a very good job, and we're going to sit down and talk about it.''

The Mets lost 12 of their final 17 games last year to blow a seven-game lead with Randolph as manager. This year they were 7-10 over their final 17 games.

Mets owner Jeff Wilpon said, "I feel totally different than last year. I think last year we underachieved. This year we overachieved.''

The parties have not begun negotiations yet. But Manuel made clear he wants to return, saying, "Obviously, you'd have to have a great deal of interest in job like this. This is probably one of the best places to be if you want to do some things.''