Who are the best football managers?
Managing a football team requires a diverse array of talents and a substantial knowledge of the game. As well as being tactically astute, managers should be able to work individually with players to motivate and discipline them. Their instructions need to be communicated effectively, and they must anticipate the physical and psychological condition of their players. Of special importance is a manager’s ability to make intelligent substitutions and tactical changes during matches.
As a prerequisite, managers need to earn the respect of their players by leading them competently. Many talented tacticians fail because they don’t have the authority to lead. It takes a special kind of individual to be both an artist and a drill sergeant. The following list of managers epitomize this character, and have translated their ability into remarkable success in the football world.
10. Mircea Lucescu
This Romanian manager managed Shakhtar Donetsk from 2004 to 2016, guiding the Ukrainian team to every domestic trophy and the 2009 UEFA Cup. Shakhtar are now a formidable force in European football, reaching the quarter finals of the Champions League in 2011. Lucescu has won 12 league titles and 9 domestic cups during his time in Romania, Turkey and Ukraine. In 2016 he left to manage the Russian club, Zenit St. Petersburg.
See Mircea Lucescu Invade the Pitch
9. Jürgen Klopp
Liverpool manager, Jürgen Klopp, is a rising star in the football world. He transformed the fortunes of Borussia Dortmund, bringing them league titles in 2011 and 2012, and the German Cup in 2012. Klopp’s reign ended the undisputed dominance of Bayern Munich, and established Dortmund as a major force in European football. He assembled an excellent team in all positions and favored a quick style of counter-attacking football that was quite similar to Arsenal (in their better years). Dortmund went on a 28 match unbeaten streak in 2012, and Klopp’s side also reached the 2013 Champions League final. He recently took Liverpool to two cup finals, but was defeated in both.
8. Manuel Pellegrini
Chilean manager, Manuel Pellegrini, achieved notoriety when he was sacked by Real Madrid to make way for Jose Mourinho. He had amassed 96 points in the league that season. Pellegrini’s greatest achievements came at Villarreal and Malaga. He guided Villarreal to 3rd in La Liga in 2005 and took them to the Champions League semi finals the next year. He then led Villarreal to 2nd in La Liga in 2008, displacing Barcelona from the top two. In his first season with Malaga he guided them to 4th in the league and reached the quarter finals of the Champions League in 2013. He was appointed Manchester City manager in the summer of 2013 and won the Premier League in his first season. He left City in 2016 after adding two further domestic cups to his haul.
Pellegrini Thanks City Fans
7. Marcello Lippi
This Italian manager led an unfancied Italian side to victory in the 2006 World Cup. He was also responsible for the domination of Italian football by Juventus in the late 90’s. His management style focuses on team strength and unity rather than individual talent and ego. He won 5 league titles, 1 domestic cup, and the 1996 Champions League with Juventus.
Lippi’s World Cup winning team
6. Antonio Conte
Antonio Conte is a former Italian footballer who spent most of his career at Juventus and represented his country 20 times. His work-rate as a player mirrors the effort he now expects from the players he manages. Conte plays with wing-backs in a 5-3-2 formation and picks players who are versatile enough to suit his system. During the 2011-12 season, he led Juventus to the Serie A title without losing a single game. Conte stayed at Juventus for 3 years, winning Serie A in each season before managing Italy for their Euro 2016 campaign. His team knocked Spain out of the tournament but narrowly lost to Germany on penalties. He then joined Chelsea in 2016 and won the Premier League in his first season, claiming a record 30 league victories. Antonio Conte has a long career ahead of him, and is likely to become one of the greatest managers of all time.
Antonio Conte Celebrations
5. Diego Simeone
Diego Simeone is perhaps the most sought after rising star in the football management world. Before becoming notorious as manager of Atletico Madrid, he won two league titles in his native Argentina. On his arrival in Spain, he galvanized an underachieving Atletico side and took them to 5th in the league. He also guided them to victory in the 2012 Europa League. In his first full season as manager, his team thrashed Chelsea in the European Super Cup before winning the 2013 Spanish domestic cup. Next came Simeone’s greatest achievement as Atletico Madrid manager: winning the 2014 Spanish league title by finishing ahead of both Barcelona and Real Madrid. Simeone’s ongoing European success has only been limited by narrow defeats to Real Madrid in the 2014 and 2016 Champions League finals.
Diego Simeone’s Tactics
4. Arsene Wenger
Arsenal manager, Arsene Wenger, advocates an attacking and flowing style of football, making the club a favorite with neutral supporters. He has been criticized for his trust in youth, and his reluctance to bring big names to the club. Despite a lack of recent achievements, Wenger has kept Arsenal in the top group of English football for two decades, winning 3 league titles, 7 FA Cups, and reaching the Champions League final in 2006. One of his Arsenal teams went an entire season unbeaten in 2003/04. Wenger also won a league title and domestic cup with Monaco.
Funny Story About Wenger and Toure
3. Louis Van Gaal
Known for his direct style of football, Van Gaal is also a strict disciplinarian. Described as proud and arrogant, his fusion of artistry and authority have brought him astounding success as a manager. With Ajax he won the 1995 Champions League, the 1992 UEFA Cup, 3 league titles and 1 domestic cup. At Barcelona and Bayern Munich he added 3 more league titles and 1 domestic cup. Incredibly, he also led AZ to the Dutch league title in 2009. Van Gaal then guided a much belittled Dutch side to 3rd place in the 2014 World Cup before taking over as Manchester United manager. His disappointing spell at United nevertheless included an FA Cup win.
Louis Van Gaal’s mad celebration at Bayern
2. Jose Mourinho
Portuguese coach, Jose Mourinho, is known for his well organized defenses and the physical strength of his teams. He was a teacher of physical education before earning invaluable coaching experience under legends, Bobby Robson and Louis Van Gaal. He has won 8 league titles and 4 domestic cups with Porto, Chelsea, Inter, and Real Madrid. He also won the 2003 UEFA Cup and the 2004 Champions League with Porto, the 2010 Champions League with Inter, and the 2017 Europa League with Manchester United. After a mixed second spell at Chelsea, Mourinho became Manchester United manager at the start of the 2016-17 season and took them back into the Champions League.
Jose Mourinho’s funniest moments
1. Carlo Ancelotti
When Carlo Ancelotti won the 2014 Champions League with Real Madrid, he became the only currently active manager to have won the tournament three times. Previously, he had won it twice with Milan in 2003 and 2007. Ancelotti has also won league titles in Italy, England, and France, with Milan, Chelsea, and Paris Saint-Germain respectively. He’s claimed domestic cups with Milan and Chelsea, as well as with Real Madrid. With 18 trophies to his name, Ancelotti is one of the most decorated managers on this list. He was recently appointed Bayern Munich manager.
Carlo Ancelotti is surprised by his team
Other Great Managers
Football managers captivate audiences around the world with their touchline antics. They are an unpredictable and sometimes mysterious part of the beautiful game.
There are a number of talented managers who weren’t featured in this list. Honorable mentions go to Ralf Rangnick, Muricy Ramalho, Unai Emery, Oscar Tabarez, Walter Mazzarri, Claudio Ranieri, and Fabio Capello. While other football analysts pile praise on Pep Guardiola, it’s clear that Pep needs to test himself at lesser clubs before his ability can be properly judged. Not reaching a Champions League final during his 3 years at Bayern Munich suggests he may be overrated.
Football management requires a unique variety of skills and psychological traits. It is not simply a matter of defensive or attacking philosophy. The best football managers value team unity, hard work, organization, and harsh discipline. Thanks for reading; I hope you enjoyed this compilation!