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Best football managers of all time

Saturday30 January 2021 | 13:24
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Thinking about football, we all agree that the football managers are the ones to make the sport this entertaining and mesmerizing.

There is no doubt that football owes a lot to the managers who do their best to bring the team members together.

Every time we get enchanted, watching a football match, we actually have to thank the football coaches, as they are the ones to do the magic behind the curtain.

The coaches are the ones to bring the teams together, using their substantial knowledge of the game. However, their football knowledge is not everything as they have to be aware of the physical and psychological condition of the players to have the best performance possible.

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In the following list of the

greatest football managers of all time

, we are going to talk about the best soccer managers ever. So join us to figure out who these top football managers of all time are.

Greatest football managers of all time

Here is the first on our list of the best football managers of all time

Jose Mourinho

  • Full name:

    José Mário dos Santos Mourinho Félix

  • Nationality:

    Portuguese

  • Date of birth:

    January 26, 1963

  • Teams coached:

    Benfica, União de Leiria, Porto, Chelsea, Inter Milan, Real Madrid, Chelsea, Manchester United, Tottenham Hotspur

Widely considered to be one of the most successful soccer managers of all time, the current

Tottenham

coach, started his coaching career back in 2000 with

Benfica

. However, it is interesting to know that the beginning of his job in the managerial field was as an interpreter for Sir Bobby Robson at Sporting CP and

Porto

. He later became Robson and Louis van Gaal's assistant at Barcelona.

In 2002 he joined Porto where he won the Primeira Liga twice, the UEFA Cup, the UCL cup, and a Taça de Portugal. His success was the reason for him to move to Chelsea in 2004. During his time with the Blues Mourinho managed to win two

Premier League

titles, a FA Cup, and two League Cups in his three seasons.

In 2008 Mourinho left Premier League to join the Serie A with

Napoli

. There he continued shining as before by winning the Serie A title in his first season. Inter Milan was his next destination where he led the team to a European treble of

Serie A

, Coppa Italia, and the UCL. Doing so not only he achieved these titles for Inter Milan as the first for an Italian club, but also he became one of five coaches to have won the European Cup with two clubs. He also earned his first FIFA World Coach of the Year award with the team.

In 2010 Mourinho signed his contract with

Real Madrid

. With Los Blancos, the coach won La Liga and became fifth of the coaches to have won league titles in four countries. But that was not enough for Mourinho and so he later added a Copa del Rey and a Supercopa de España to his resume.

Wow! He achieved so many titles in just 10 years! Well… That’s the reason he is one of the top 10

best football managers of all time

! After leaving Real in 2013, Mourinho went back to the Premier League where he continued his job for the next 10 years with Chelsea, Manchester United, and Tottenham.

His achievements during these years are another league title and League Cup with Chelsea, and the UEFA Europa League, League Cup, and FA Community Shield with Manchester United. Eventually, in 2019, he joined Tottenham Hotspur.

Ernst Happel

  • Full name:

    Ernst Franz Hermann Happel

  • Nationality:

    Austrian

  • Date of birth:

    29 November 1925

  • Teams coached:

    ADO Den Haag, San Francisco Gales (USA), Feyenoord, Sevilla, Club Brugge, Netherlands, Harelbeke, Standard Liège, Hamburger SV, Swarovski Tirol, Austria

Coaching so many teams, Ernst Happel is the second on our list of the best football managers of all time.

Happel started his coaching career with

ADO Den Haag

in 1962 and was eventually retired in 1992 by leaving the Austria national team.

One of the few to win both league and domestic cup titles in the Netherlands, Belgium, Germany, and Austria while he has also won the European Cup two times in 1970 and 1983.

During his time at

Club Brugge

, he helped the club to win the runners-up medal at the 1978 FIFA World Cup. However, that is not enough for him to be placed on the list of the

best football managers of all time

. So then let’s count some more of his achievements.

Ernst Happel was the first of the five managers to have won the European Cup with two clubs, while Carlo Ancelotti, Ottmar Hitzfeld, José Mourinho, and Jupp Heynckes are the next four.

Mourinho and Ancelotti are also besides Ernst Happel on the list of the six managers to have won domestic league championships in at least four countries, in addition to Giovanni Trapattoni, Tomislav Ivić, and Eric Gerets.

Bob Paisley

  • Full name:

    Robert Paisley

  • Nationality:

    English

  • Date of birth:

    23 January 1919

  • Teams coached:

    Liverpool

Almost 10 years with the Reds and he is definitely Liverpool’s legendary coach. Also a

Liverpool

player, the next on our list of the

top football managers of all time

started working as his former team coach assistant back in 1959. Alongside Shankly as the head coach and Joe Fagan and Reuben Bennett as the coaching team they turned the page for Liverpool and helped the team to go back to the First Division in the 1961–62 season.

Finally, after 14 years of honors and achievements, he was chosen as the team’s head coach replacing Shankly who announced his retirement out of nowhere after the club’s victory in the 1974 FA Cup Final.

Not very successful in his first season, Paisley managed to win at least one major trophy during his nine years as the club’s manager. His achievements include six League Championships, three League Cups, six Charity Shields, three European Cups, one UEFA Super Cup, and one UEFA Cup. He really deserves to be named on our list of the best football managers of all time. Don’t you agree?

Pep Guardiola

  • Full name:

    Pep Guardiola

  • Nationality:

    Spanish

  • Date of birth:

    January 18, 1971

  • Teams coached:

    Barcelona B, Barcelona, Bayern Munich, Manchester City

Next on our list of the best football managers of all time, is one of the bests and most influential managers, Pep Guardiola. The current

Man City

manager, who is one of the bests in the Premier League history and in the world of football, started his work with the Barcelona B team, joining the Blaugrana’s first team as the manager later on. His next destination was

Bayern Munich

while eventually, he joined the Citizens in February 2016.

Guardiola has the record of the most consecutive league games won in La Liga,

Bundesliga

, and Premier League. He started coaching Barcelona's first team in 2008 and guided the team to win La Liga, Copa del Rey, and UEFA Champions League during his first season of management.

Having such a great start, he managed the team to achieve three La Liga titles, 2 Copa del Rey awards, 3 Supercopa de España awards, 2 UCL cups, 2 UEFA Super Cups, and 2 FIFA Club World Cups during his three seasons at the Camp Nou.

Joining Bayern Munich in 2013 he helped the team to win the Bundesliga every season in his presence, having a total of three titles, in addition to two domestic doubles.

Guardiola joined Manchester City in 2016, has so far added two Premier League titles, the 2018–19 FA Cup, three EFL Cups, and two FA Community Shields to his mesmerizing resume.

Jupp Heynckes

  • Full name:

    Josef "Jupp" Heynckes

  • Nationality:

    German

  • Date of birth:

    9 May 1945

  • Teams coached:

    Borussia Mönchengladbach, Bayern Munich, Athletic Bilbao, Eintracht Frankfurt, Tenerife, Real Madrid, Benfica, Schalke 04, Borussia Mönchengladbach, Bayern Munich (caretaker),Bayer Leverkusen

Next on our list of the best soccer managers of all time is Jupp Heynckes.

Heynckes started his coaching career with his beloved club

Borussia Mönchengladbach

, and then went on to coach many more clubs including Bayern Munich and Real Madrid. In Germany, he helped Bayern to win four Bundesliga titles and one

UEFA Champions League

, whereas with Real they won the 1997–98 UCL cup.

Generally, his achievements include four Bundesliga titles, the 2012–13 DFB-Pokal, three DFL-Supercup, and the 2012–13 UEFA Champions League with Bayern Munich, the 1997–98 UEFA Champions League and the 1997 Supercopa de España with Real Madrid, and two UEFA Intertoto Cup with Schalke 04.

Related Article: 

Best Defenders of All Time

Helenio Herrera

  • Full name:

     Helenio Herrera Gavilán

  • Nationality:

     Argentinian

  • Date of birth: 

    10 April 1910

  • Teams coached:

     Puteaux, Stade Français, Real Valladolid, Atlético Madrid, Málaga, Deportivo de La Coruña, Sevilla, Belenenses, Spain, Italy, Roma, Inter Milan, Rimini, Barcelona

Regarded as one of the 

best football managers of all time

, Herrera started his coaching career with Puteaux in 1944 and went on to coach many big clubs including

Atletico Madrid

, Sevilla,

Inter Milan

, and Barcelona.

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His achievements include four La Liga titles with Atlético Madrid and Barcelona and three Serie A titles with Inter. With the Nerazzurri, he also won two consecutive European Cups, in addition to two Intercontinental Cups. His other honors are:

Arrigo Sacchi

  • Full name: 

    Arrigo Sacchi

  • Nationality: 

    Italian

  • Date of birth:

     1 April 1946

  • Teams coached: 

    Fusignano, Alfonsine, Bellaria, Cesena (youth), Rimini, Fiorentina (youth), Rimini, Parma, Milan, Italy, Atlético Madrid

Believe it or not, Arrigo Sacchi is the best football manager of all time, while he never had the experience of playing football professionally himself!

In fact, he worked as a shoe salesman for many years! Unbelievable! Huh?!

Sacchi’s grew up observing successful clubs such as

Budapest Honvéd

, Real Madrid, Brazil, and the Netherlands and not being good enough to play with his local club, Baracca Lugo, interestingly gave him the chance to start his managing career.

His first chance to be a successful coach came up when he moved to

Fiorentina

as a youth coach and earned interest from Parma. During his first season with Parma, he helped the team to get promoted and

He led Parma to promotion in his first season.

The team’s performance in the Coppa Italia against Milan was the reason for the club to show interest in the young coach and he was eventually appointed as the manager.

During his managing era with the Rossoneri, he won the Serie A title in 1987–88, the Supercoppa Italiana in 1988, 2 back to back European Cups in 1988–89, and 1989–90. Interestingly 1989 and 1990 brought him other honors including two European Super Cups and two Intercontinental Cups. They also became Coppa Italia Runners-up in 1989–90.

In 1991 Sacchi left Milan to coach the Italian national team and led them to the 1994 FIFA World Cup Final. Unfortunately, they lost the final to Brazil in a penalty shoot-out.

In 1996 the great coach again joined Milan where he managed the team for one more year. His next destinations were Atlético Madrid and

Parma

. Sacchi was resigned from Parma in 2001, being replaced by Renzo Ulivieri.

Not having a happy ending, Sacchi is regarded as one of the

most successful soccer managers of all time

.

Johan Cruyff

  • Full name:

     Hendrik Johannes Cruijff

  • Nationality:

     Dutch

  • Date of birth: 

    25 April 1947

  • Teams coached:

     Ajax, Barcelona, Catalonia

Next on our list of the

best football managers ever

, is Johan Cruyff, the Best La Liga Manager of all time.

Known as also one of the best football players in the world, Cruyff kicked the ball for many big clubs including

Ajax

and

Barcelona

as a forward before starting his managing career. He dazzled the Camp Nuo in the 70s as a player and then almost a decade later returned as a coach.

However, the beginning of his coaching career was with Ajax. During his time with the team, he implemented his favorite team formation which included three defenders in addition to one more covering space, a defensive midfielder, two "controlling" midfielders, one-second striker, two wingers, and one center forward.

The new system was so good that Ajax won the Champions League in 1995, using it.

Achieving two KNVB Cups and the 1986-87 UEFA Cup Winners’ Cup, he left the team to join Barcelona in the 1988-89 season.

Barcelona experienced a glorious era with Cruyff. In a space of 8 years, Barca won 11 trophies with the help of Cruyff, which made him the most accomplished manager in Barcelona's history until Pep Guardiola broke the record almost twenty years later, with 14 titles in 4 seasons. His achievements include 4 La Liga titles in 1990–91, 1991–92, 1992–93, 1993–94, the 1989–90 Copa del Rey, 3 Supercopa de España cups in 1991, 1992, 1994, the 1991–92 European Cup/UEFA Champions League, the 1988–89 UEFA Cup Winners' Cup, and the 1992 UEFA Super Cup.

Alex Ferguson

  • Full name:

     Alexander Chapman Ferguson

  • Nationality:

     Scottish

  • Date of birth: 

    31 December 1941

  • Teams Coached:

     East Stirlingshire, St Mirren, Aberdeen, Scotland, Manchester United

Known as one of the

best ever football managers

, Alex Ferguson is the next coach on our list of the best football managers of all time. 

The Scottish former manager is the longest-serving manager of

Manchester United

coaching the Red Devils from 1986 to 2013. He is also the manager with the most trophies in the history of football.

It also has to be mentioned that he has won more trophies than any other manager in the history of football.

Being the Scottish league top goalscorer during the 1965–66 season, he started coaching East Stirlingshire before being retired as a player. His next destinations were St Mirren,

Aberdeen

, Scotland, and finally Manchester United. With Aberdeen he had a successful period, winning three Scottish league championships, four Scottish Cups, and the UEFA Cup Winners' Cup in 1983. Finally, before joining Manchester United he coached Scotland for a short time, after the death of Jock Stein. He was the one to take the team to the 1986 World Cup.

In November 1986 Ferguson replaced Ron Atkinson and during his days at Old Trafford, he lifted more than 30 trophies. These achievements include 13 Premier League titles, 5 FA Cups, 4 Football League Cups, 10 FA Charity/Community Shields, in which the 1990 one was shared, the 1998–99 and the 2007–08 UEFA Champions League, the 1990-91  European Cup Winners' Cup, the 1991 European Super Cup, the 1999 Intercontinental Cup, and the 2008 FIFA Club World Cup.

Finally the Manchester United best ever football manager announced his retirement at the end of the 2012–13 season, having won the Premier League in his final season.

Rinus Michels

  • Full name: 

    Marinus Jacobus Hendricus “Rinus” Michels

  • Nationality:

     Dutch

  • Date of birth:

     9 February 1928

  • Teams coached: 

    Asser Boys, JOS, A.F.C., Barcelona, Ajax, Barcelona, Los Angeles Aztecs, 1. FC Köln, Netherlands, Bayer Leverkusen, Netherlands

And finally, we have Rinus Michels on our list of the best football managers of all time, who is regarded as the best football manager ever by many.

Though he was committed to playing for only Ajax during his playing career, he later helped many teams including the Netherlands national team to gain achievements. Some of these famous clubs are Ajax, Barcelona, and the Netherlands national team. Michels started coaching Asser Boys in 1953 and was retired as a manager from the Netherlands national team in 1992. During these many years, he achieved 4 Eredivisie titles, 3 KNVB Cups, and the 1970-71 European Cup. With Barcelona later he won the 1973–74 Laliga and the 1977-78 Copa del Rey. 

In 1980 he joined

FC Köln

where he won the 1982-83 DFB Pokal. After that, he started coaching Netherlands national team and with them, he won the 1988 UEFA European Championship and became the 1974 FIFA World Cup Runner-up.

It also has to be mentioned that he is well remembered for his invention in the football playing style and tactics, which is known as "Total Football" in the 1970s.

That’s all on our article about the best football managers of all time. If you think there is any other manager to be added to our list, let us know in the comment section.

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