Committed players of Football Manager already know that guiding a team to victory isn’t easy. Most English managers in the Premier League only have a shelf life of a year and a half – unless of course you’re Sir Alex Ferguson or Arsène Wenger, but that’s a whole other story. Even if you’re taken an average mid-table team to Premier League champions, you’re guaranteed nothing. However there are a few managers who can navigate the transfer market, deliver inspiring half-time team talks, and deal with the egos of multi-millionaires on and off the pitch. Take a look at the greatest football managers of all time – see if your favorite makes the list.
Currently the Italian manager is trying to lead Chelsea to another victory – despite the difficulties the team has faced this season, their 5th place spot may not scream success but it does mean the Champions League is on the table for next season. Let’s not forget that Conte started out as a midfielder who went on to became one of the most decorated and influential players in Juventus history. By the time he started his managerial career in 2006, people were excited to see how well he’d succeed in this new role. While managing Juventus, he lead the team to three consecutive Serie A titles.
You’re looking at the man who took a bottom of the league team and transformed them into Premier League champions. We’re still baffled that Claudio Ranieri was let go the following season. The Italian manager started on this path in the late 80’s and is currently managing Nantes. His overall success record is a cool 45.24%.
El Cholo is a former midfielder who is now the manager for Atletico Madrid. The Argentine has coached Racing Club, Estudiantes de La Plata, River Plate, San Lorenzo and Catania. To date, he’s won the Argentine Primera División with Estudiantes and River Plate. Moreover he has five titles since joining Atletico Madrid, which includes the Liga title, the Copa del Rey and the UEFA Europa League. Simone also reached two UEFA Champions League finals with the club.
A controversial choice? Perhaps. The relegation king has been a manager since 1991. Allardyce is respected for his organizational and man-management skills, although he’s criticized for his “long ball” technique – something he denies. It looks like Everton might give him the boot but that’s all speculation at this point.
Portuguese football manager, André Villas-Boas, is among a rising number of top-level managers who have actually never played football professionally. He achieved an undefeated 2010–11 season in the Primeira Liga with Porto – they won four trophies and he became the youngest manager ever to win a European title. With 72 points during the 20012-13 season, Tottenham had the highest points to finish outside the top four. Lastly, with Zenit, he earned three trophies and achieved the fifth league title in the club’s history.
Welsh football manager Mark Hughes makes the cut. From 1999 to 2004, Hughes was Welsh national team manager – this was, in fact, his first managerial role. Since then, he has coached at Blackburn, Manchester City, Queens Park Rangers, Stoke City and Southampton. His winning percentage is 38.2%.
Retired Scottish footballer and manager Graeme Souness is well known as a sports pundit now. He began his managerial career with Rangers, where he snagged three Scottish titles and four league cups. Afterwards he managed Liverpool, Galatasaray, Southampton, Torino, Benfica, Blackburn Rovers and Newcastle United.
Roberto Di Matteo
The Italian Roberto Di Matteo kicked off his managerial career with Milton Keynes Dons and West Bromwich Albion. While caretaker manager of Chelsea, he led the club to double title success, as they won both the FA Cup and the club’s first UEFA Champions League title in 2012. Amazingly, he was let go later that year. He’s been with Schalke 04 and Aston Villa since.
Romanian football manager Mircea Lucescu has led a long career. He’s coached at Romania, Italy, Turkey, Ukraine and Russia. However it was his success with FC Shakhtar Donetsk that earns him a spot on this list. For 12 years, he earned the club eight Ukrainian Premier League titles, six Ukrainian Cups, seven Ukrainian Super Cups and also the 2008–09 UEFA Cup. Impressively in 2015, Lucescu would become just the fifth man to coach in 100 UEFA Champions League matches.
After spending much of his playing career at Bournemouth, Eddie Howe would then become the youngest manager in the Football League when he landed the Bournemouth manager job in January 2009. Howe would rescue Bournemouth from relegation in his first season in charge – the club began the season on −17 points, then he brought them to promotion the next. For a bit, Howe managed Burnley but returned Bournemouth. As a result, they were promoted twice – in fact, this was the first time the club played at the top flight. His great success with Bournemouth led him to earn the Football League Manager of the Decade Award back in 2015.
1999 is when Alan Pardew began his career as a football manager. He coached Reading, West Ham United, Charlton Athletic, Southampton, Newcastle United, Crystal Palace and West Bromwich Albion. He was LMA Manager of the Year in 2011–12, as well as the Premier League Manager of the Season.
Are we cheating a bit by including the great Steven Gerrard on this list? Maybe. Then again, crazier things have happened. No one can deny that his career as a footballer is nothing short of extraordinary – he will forever be a Liverpool legend. Just in May 2018, news broke that Gerrard was taking over the Scottish Premiership club Rangers. He told Liverpoolfc.com, “It’s excitement in terms of the challenge that lies ahead, and the opportunity for me to progress as a manager – which is what I want to do for many, many years.” We can’t wait to see if his football skills translate into managerial skill.
Currently Leonardo Jardim is the manager of the French club AS Monaco FC. At just the age of 27, he began his career as a manager. He earned the AF Madeira Cup in 2003–04 with Camacha, the Segunda Liga in 2009–10 with Beira-Mar, the Superleague Greece and Greek Football Cup in 2012–13 with Olympiacos, and also the Ligue 1 in 2016–17 Monaco. That same year he earned the Ligue 1: Manager of the Year.
Many, and we mean many, individuals believe that Diego Maradona is THE greatest footballer of all time. “The Golden Boy” has so many accolades to his name that there’s never enough time to run through them all. Despite the “Hand of God” debacle, Maradona is well respected and admired by players, coaches, writers, and fans. In November 2008, he was in charge of Argentina. He went on to coach Al Wasl in Dubai in the UAE Pro-League inthe 2011–12 season. In 2017, Maradona then became the coach of Fujairah before he left at the end of the season.
After retiring from football in 2007, Roberto Martínez became the coach at Swansea City where he led the club to promotion from League One as champions. Then he joined Wigan Athletic in 2009, where the club would avoid relegation for three consecutive seasons. During his fourth season Wigan were actually relegated, but went on to win the FA Cup in 2013 for the first ever time in the club’s history. From there he coached at Everton and is now the Belgium’s head coach.
A brilliant player and a player coach, does it get any better? Roberto Mancini has 13 trophies as manager and is also considered a cup specialist. Mancini has always reached at least a semi-final of a major national cup competition in every single season he’s been a manager, from 2002 to 2013. From 2004 to 2008, he also holds the most consecutive Coppa Italia finals. Currently he manages Zenit Saint Petersburg.
1987 may not mean much to you but to Guus Hiddink, it’s when he started his career as a football manager. To date, he’s managed PSV Eindhoven, Fenerbahçe, Valencia, Netherlands, Real Madrid, Real Betis, South Korea, PSV Eindhoven, Australia, Russia, Turkey, Anzhi Makhachkala, Netherlands and Chelsea. Dang, that’s quite a list. As a result, his winning percentage is 56.81%.
67 year old Kenny Dalglish got his start coaching with Liverpool – and yes, he was the manager during the Hillsborough disaster. He also coached Blackburn Rovers, Newcastle United, Celtic, and Liverpool again. After retiring, he served as non-executive director for Liverpool and the Centenary Stand was renamed the Kenny Dalglish Stand.
Once retiring from playing, Slaven Bilić then became the manager of Hajduk Split. Between the 2004 and 2006 season, he managed the Croatian under-21 team before he took over the senior national side. As such, he led the team to the quarter-finals of the 2008 European championship. Bilic received a lot of praise for his long-standing service to the national team and is credited with having successfully overseen the introduction of young players to the senior side. He then coached Lokomotiv Moscow, Beşiktaş and West Ham.
Argentine football manager Marcelo Bielsa was quite the personality on and off the pitch. Apart from managing the national teams of Argentina and Chile, he also coached many football clubs. He popularized the 3–3–3–1 playing formation, in fact many coaches credit him with influencing their own playing style.
You’re looking at the only manager in history to have earned the UEFA Europa League, UEFA Super Cup, UEFA Champions League and the FIFA Club World Cup. Yup, Rafael Benítez is a force to be reckoned with. So far he has managed Valencia, Liverpool, Inter Milan, Chelsea, Napoli, Real Madrid, and Newcastle United. His tactical acumen, calm demeanour and tactical changes are what set him above others.
Currently the Spaniard is managing Paris Saint-Germain (where he won three trophies in his first season) but there is talk he’ll take over for Arsène Wenger’s Arsenal squad this year. After spending much of his playing career in Spain’s Segunda División, Unai Emery became a manager in 2005. His first gig was with Lorca and Almería before a four year stint with Valencia – he led the team to three third-place finishes in La Liga. For a bit he was at Spartak Moscow, Emery then moved to Sevilla in 2013 where he led the club to three consecutive Europa League victories.
2003 is when Massimiliano Allegri began his managerial career with multiple smaller Italian sides. Later he was essential in Sassuolo’s rise through the lower Italian divisions and subsequently he led Cagliari to their best Serie A finish in almost 15 years, when they won the Panchina d’Oro Award for best Serie A coach in 2009. As a result, he would up at Milan in 2010 where they earned their first Serie A title since the 2003–04 season. After landing at Juventus in 2014, he has won three consecutive domestic doubles in 2015, 2016 and 2017.
You’re looking at the head coach of the Germany national team. A team that Joachim Löw has led to victory during the 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil and also the 2017 FIFA Confederations Cup in Russia.
Louis van Gaal
Ajax, Barcelona, AZ, Bayern Munich, the Netherlands and Manchester United – these are all the teams that Louis van Gaal has managed to date. With over 20 honors in his managerial career, he is regarded as one of the greatest coaches of all time.
The 70 year old is considered one of the greatest and most successful managers in football history. In fact, in 2007 Marcello Lippi was included in The Times and their list of the top 50 managers of all time. As a manager, he has won one World Cup title, five Serie A titles, three Chinese Super League titles, one Chinese FA Cup, four Italian Supercups, one UEFA Champions League, one UEFA Supercup and one Intercontinental Cup. Of course that list could be much longer!
Thanks to his achievements as a Liverpool manager, Bob Paisley is considered as one of the most successful English football managers of all time. Moreover Paisley and Carlo Ancelotti are known as the only managers to have earned the European Cup three times. In his nine years with Liverpool, Paisley earned honors at a rate of 2.2 per season, a rate only since surpassed by Pep Guardiola. Sadly he passed away in 1996 at age 77.
Scotsman David Moyes has managed Preston North End, Everton, Manchester United, Real Sociedad, Sunderland and West Ham United (although it’s unclear if he’ll be kept on for another season). In 2003, 2005 and 2009 Moyes was the League Managers Association Manager of the Year.
Vicente del Bosque
In January 2017, Vicente del Bosque was included in the 10 greatest coaches since the UEFA was founded in 1954. When managing the Spainish national team, he enjoyed European success at UEFA Euro 2008. Del Bosque also led the national team to their first-ever FIFA World Cup win in 2010, and then he heroically retained their European Championship in 2012.
The Northern Irish football coach is currently managing Celtic. Although before Celtic, he managed Watford, Reading, Swansea City, and Liverpool. Steven Gerrard has described Rodgers’ one-on-one management style as the best he has seen – maybe Gerrard will consider this while managing Rangers.
The Argentine, naturalized French, is best remembered for his incredible success with the Inter Milan team, also known as Grande Inter, in the 60’s. With Inter, Herrera won three Serie A titles and four La Liga titles in Spain (with Atlético Madrid and Barcelona). Considered as one of the greatest football managers of all time, Herrera was named in the 10 greatest coaches since UEFA’s foundation in 1954.
Regarded as one of the greatest managers of all-time, Arrigo Sacchi and his Milan side (1987–1991) are widely recognized as one of the greatest club sides to ever play football. Some even say they’re the greatest of all time. January 2017 is when Sacchi was named in the ten greatest coaches since the 1954 foundation of UEFA.
Meet the 50 year old German manager and former player who currently manages Liverpool. Much of his 15 year playing career was spent with Mainz 05, then he went on to become their longest serving manager (2001 to 2008). Afterwards he joined Borussia Dortmund, where he led the team to back-to-back Bundesliga wins. In 2011 and 2011, Klopp won the German Football Manager of the Year award, before leaving Dortmund in 2015 – he was also their longest serving manager. Since becoming manager at Liverpool, Klopp has led them to the finals of the League Cup and UEFA Europa League. Currently they’re in the 2018 UEFA Champions League Final.
Up next is Jock Stein, the first manager of a British team to have won the European Cup, with Celtic in 1967. Plus Stein helped Celtic win nine successive Scottish League championships from 1966 and 1974. Stein would manage the Scottish national side from 1978 until he passed away in 1985.
The General has 18 major titles with Grasshopper Club Zürich, Borussia Dortmund and Bayern Munich. As a trained mathematician and sports teacher, Hitzfeld is considered to be one of the most successful coaches of German and international football. Furthermore Hitzfeld was elected “World Coach of the Year” twice. Oh, let’s not forget he’s just one of five managers to have won the European Cup/UEFA Champions League with two different clubs.
Zizou is a retired French professional footballer who currently manages Real Madrid. Do we need to remind you that Zinedine Zidane is believed to be one of the greatest football players of all time? Didn’t think so. That’s why we’re not surprised his career as a manager is just as impressive. After retiring, Zidane became the assistant coach at Real Madrid under Carlo Ancelotti. Afterwards, he became head coach of Real Madrid’s B team, Real Madrid Castilla. Currently as the manager of Real Madrid, he has gone on to win the UEFA Champions League title (twice), a La Liga title, a Supercopa de España title, the UEFA Super Cup twice and FIFA Club World Cup twice. Thanks to his success, he was named Best FIFA Men’s Coach in 2017.
Whether you consider him “the special one” or not, there is no denying that Jose Mourinho is forever in the history books. I mean, the Portuguese football manager is known by players, coaches, and commentators alike as one of the greatest and most successful managers in the world. The 55 year old is known for his sharp tactical knowledge, charismatic yet highly controversial personality, both on and off the pitch.
Scottish manager Walter Smith began his career with Rangers in 1991 when he succeeded Souness. In seven years, he won 13 major trophies, including a succession of seven league titles. In 1998, he was appointed manager of Everton where he remained for four seasons. He did have a brief spell at Manchester United after Sir Alex Ferguson retired. He returned to manage the Rangers where he won eight more trophies before officially retiring in 2011. Smith is known as the second-most successful manager in Ranger history, just behind Bill Struth.
For nearly 22 years, the French manager has been at Arsenal where he’s racked up a beautiful record. In fact, Wenger became the club’s longest serving manager and also their most successful in when it comes to major titles won. “The Teacher” enjoyed a great deal of support and respect from the board of directors when he changed the team’s football style. The 2017–18 season is Wenger’s last with Arsenal although his legacy will long live on.
Next up is the Soviet-Ukrainian football manager Valeriy Lobanovskyi – he enjoyed great success with FC Dynamo Kyiv, the Ukraine national team, and the USSR national team. Lobanovskyi is highly admired for his achievements as a manger, but also for his scientific and excessively disciplinarian approach in terms of management. Just in January 2017, he was named in the ten greatest coaches since UEFA was founded in 1954.
In a 15 year playing career, Fabio Capello won countless trophies while playing for SPAL 1907, Roma, Milan and Juventus. During his first five seasons as a manager, Capello would win four Serie A titles with Milan, including the memorable 1993–94 UEFA Champions League when they defeated Barcelona 4–0. Afterwards he enjoyed heavy success with Real Madrid, Roma, and Juventus. Overall, Capello has won seven (nine if you count the two revoked titles from Juventus) major league championships. Many consider him to be one of the greatest managers of all time.
Italian manger Carlo Ancelotti last managed the German club Bayern Munich. Previously he was with Reggiana, Parma, Juventus, Milan, Chelsea, Paris Saint-Germain, and Real Madrid. The 58 year old is also the only manager to win the UEFA Champions League three times and to reach four finals. Moreover he won the FIFA Club World Cup twice. Don’t be surprised to learn that Ancelotti is considered one of the best and most successful managers of all time.
The German Udo Lattek is known as one of the most successful coaches in football history. He has, after all, won 15 major titles, most famously all are with Bayern Munich. Plus he’s also won major trophies with Borussia Mönchengladbach and FC Barcelona. Additionally, he managed Borussia Dortmund, Schalke 04 and 1. FC Köln before retiring. Alongside Italian manager Giovanni Trapattoni, Lattek is the only one to win all three major European club titles, AND he’s the only one to have done so with three different teams. Thanks to his many contributions to European football, Lattek was named in the 10 greatest coaches since UEFA was founded in 1954.
Spanish football manager Pep Guardiola easily makes the list. To date, Guardiola has earned 23 trophies since starting his managing career, which makes him one of THE most successful managers in world football. Moreover when it comes to the La Liga, Bundesliga and the Premier League, he holds the record for the most consecutive league wins in each. Countless players, coaches, and commentators consider Guardiola as one of the best managers in the world.
Sir Alex Ferguson
Was there ever any doubt that Sir Alex Ferguson would land in the number one slot on this list? As you should already know, from 1986 to 2013, the Scotsman managed Manchester United. Ask most players, managers, and analysts and they’ll all tell you that Ferguson is one of the greatest and most successful managers of all time. Actually, that’s an understatement Fergie has accomplished more than words can express in his career. His 26 years with United earned the club 38 trophies, which includes 13 Premier League titles, five FA Cups, and also two UEFA Champions League titles. Recently he suffered a brain hemorrhage but doctors are hopeful of his recovery following surgery.