Ol' Charlie came up short again.

This was his best job managing to date. He won the NL East with limited contributions from Jimmy Rollins and Chase Utley, the former the defensive linchpin, the latter the team's soul.

He made it to the NLCS with an offense less reliable than a mortgage financier, and it betrayed him about as often.

Yes, he was given a Cy Young Award horse in Roy Halladay, and, later, another top pitcher in Roy Oswalt, but Oswalt was better here than in Houston. Manuel kept Cole Hamels' head down when it might otherwise have exploded due to poor run support. He fired hitting coach Milt Thompson.

And still made it deep into the postseason.

If Manuel needs comfort - and he seldom does - he can regard Johnny Miller's three Masters runner-ups, and Marv Levy's four Super Bowl seconds.

Rest assured, Manuel will endure not with Miller's bitterness but with Levy's grace. *