Football is not just a game, it is a cult, and managing a football team requires a diverse array of talents and a substantial knowledge of the game. Some managers engrave their names into history because they change the game. The performance of the football team and their success is dependent more on the manager than the players themselves. The managers bring in certain style and character to the team and the best managers are the ones who get the best out of whole squad available.
As well as being tactically astute, managers should be able to work individually with players to motivate and discipline them. Of special importance is a manager’s ability to make intelligent substitutions and tactical changes during matches.
Today we take a look at some of the greatest and most successful managers of all times:
Sir Alex Ferguson
Sir Alexander Chapman Ferguson is a former Scottish football manager and player who managed Manchester United from 1986 to 2013. He is regarded by many players, managers and analysts to be the greatest and most successful manager of all time.
In total Sir Alex Ferguson won 38 trophies in his 27 years as Manchester United boss. He went on to guide United to 13 Premier League titles in 27 years as United overtook Liverpool as the most successful English club. Ferguson was the longest serving manager of Manchester United, having overtaken Sir Matt Busby’s record on 19 December 2010. He retired from management at the end of the 2012–13 season, having won the Premier League in his final season.
Rinus Michels was a Dutch association football player and coach. He played his entire career for the club AFC Ajax, which he later coached, and was a member of the Netherland’s national team, both as a player and as the manager.
Named as manager of the century by FIFA, Rinus Michels had a massive impact in European football, particularly his invention of “total football” in Holland. He lifted four league titles with Ajax and led them to the first of the three European Cups with which they started the 1970s, as well as saw them beaten in the final in 1969. He won La Liga with Barcelona too, and the Copa Del Rey a few years later. With Holland, he lifted the 1988 European Championships and also took them to the 1974 World Cup final, where they were beaten by their own sense of superiority as much as by West Germany.
Bob Paisley, played for Liverpool, he treated the players, he coached them, he managed them and then he became a director. Paisley won 19 trophies with Liverpool in his 9 years as manager and that elevated Liverpool to absolute glory in 1970s and early 80s. Dominating English football with 6 league titles is one thing, but to put Liverpool as elite European cup by winning 3 Champions League titles in 4 years was something which gave him a legendary status in English football. His record speaks for himself as the most successful manager in Liverpool’s glorious history.
Currently serving as the manager of Premier League club Manchester United, probably one of the most unique characters in the list. Jose Mourinho rose to fame with FC Porto, dominating Portuguese football winning three back to back titles plus two Euro title in successive seasons. Mourinho, as a football manager, is widely regarded as one of the best coaches in the game.
In the 15 years since taking over to Porto, his first major club, in January 2002, Jose Mourinho has won 23 trophies with five clubs in six jobs that took him from Portugal to England to Italy to Spain and back to the Premier League. Mourinho was named Portuguese Coach of the Century by the Portuguese Football Federation (FPF). In 2017, Mourinho was named among the 10 greatest coaches since the foundation of UEFA in 1954.
Vicente Del Bosque
Del Bosque is a huge figure in Spanish football who dominated football in Spain as a player winning 5 league titles with Real Madrid and became their full time manager in 1999 to 2003 where he guided the club to 2 League titles, 2 Champions Leagues. He took over as Spain’s national coach after 2008 European championship and continued Spain’s supremacy at world stage winning 2010 world cup and 2012 European Championship.
Brian Clough, widely regarded as the greatest manager England never had, stands in history as one of the most captivating men ever to grace the national game. He might not have won so many trophies like others in the list, but Brian Clough was a legendary figure in English football who took two teams from bottom to the English division 1 titles. He never worked for some high profile club but his back to back European titles with Nottingham Forest will always go down as unique success in English football.
Carlo Ancelotti made AC Milan the top European Club in his 6 years stint from 2001 to 2007 where he guided the team to two Champions League titles and one Series a title plus number of other trophies. Won the Premier League in his first season with Chelsea followed by his historic third Champions League title with Real Madrid. For him, it’s all about managing talent and giving the individuals freedom to express themselves. Cristiano Ronaldo flourished under Ancelotti, whose elite-club European tour has taken him to successful spells at Chelsea, PSG and Real Madrid, and this summer he lands at Bayern Munich.
Ancelotti is the only manager to have won the UEFA Champions League three times and reached four finals (three finals and two victories with Milan, and one victory with Real Madrid). He is also the first manager to have won the FIFA Club World Cup with two European clubs.
One of the greatest managers to have worked in Germany, Ottmar Hitzfeld rose to fame with his native clubs in Switzerland before joining Borussia Dortmund with whom he won 2 league titles, 2 German Cups and 1 Champions League in 1997 before joining Bayern Munich where 5 league titles, 3 Germany cups and Champions League trophy in 6 years.
He has accumulated a total of 18 major titles, mostly in his tenures with Grasshopper Club Zürich, Borussia Dortmund and Bayern Munich.
Guardiola started his managerial career with FC Barcelona and turned his tenure at the club as the most successful in the history of the team winning treble. He went on to guide Barcelona to 2 Champions League title and won 3 Spanish La Liga titles before leaving for Bayern Munich where in three years he has won 3 league titles and 2 German Cups.
Arsenal manager, Arsene Wenger, advocates an attacking and flowing style of football, making the club a favourite 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 19 years, winning 3 league titles, 6 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.
These above mentioned managers are the visionaries, the men whose legacy is written in more than silver and gold. They are the key contributing factor in giving football the kind of stature it has today.
They are the mavericks and the dreamers, the ones who see the sport in a different way, who force us to forget all we know about how 11 players should function on a pitch.