In the pantheon of football history, the best football managers of all time stand as visionary architects, shaping the beautiful game with their strategic brilliance and unwavering dedication. The manager, a thinker who is sometimes overlooked, is at the centre of every successful football adventure. The game’s success rests on a manager’s ability to combine football knowledge, diplomatic leadership, and flair. Imagine a manager giving precise instructions, inspiring motivation, and shaping discipline while collaborating with players side by side.
Their talent goes beyond foreseeing the team’s mental and physical requirements; they are also responsible for creating a successful symphony both on and off the field. The ability of a manager to properly arrange their team and make wise replacements and tactical adjustments throughout games is particularly crucial.
Introducing the Legends: 10 Best Managers in Football History
Millions of people all around the world love the game of football. The football managers are the ones who guide their teams to victory. They are at the centre of this sport and often shape the course of the game. This blog will talk about these accomplished and knowledgeable football managers and some of their defining moments.
1. Manuel Pellegrini
Full name: Ripamonti Manuel Lúis Pellegrini
Birthdate: September 16, 1953
In September 2013, the Manchester derby held significant weight for David Moyes, who had succeeded Sir Alex Ferguson as the manager of Manchester United, and Manuel Pellegrini, the newly appointed manager of Manchester City. Both teams were considered formidable contenders for the Premier League title at that juncture. Pellegrini was managing in England for the first time after achieving great success in La Liga with teams like Málaga, Real Madrid, and Villarreal.
Conversely, Moyes had a formidable challenge leading a team that had just triumphed in the title game under Ferguson. Playing aggressively, City easily defeated the defending champions in the derby encounter. Pellegrini discussed the astute strategies that resulted in the victory in an interview with The Coaches’ Voice. The team’s confidence was bolstered by the victory, which also helped Manchester City win the league that season.
2. Mircea Lucescu
Full name: Mircea Lucescu
Date of birth: July 29, 1945
Lucescu, widely regarded as one of the best football managers of all time, enjoyed immense success both as a player and a coach. A dominant force in the Romanian league, Lucescu claimed seven titles with Dinamo București, showcasing his exceptional skills on the field. He is an exceptionally skilled coach with a multitude of international experience. He has experience working in Turkey, Russia, Ukraine, Italy, and Romania. Over his twelve years with Shakhtar Donetsk, he won eight Ukrainian Premier League championships, six Ukrainian Cups, seven Ukrainian Super Cups, and the 2008–09 UEFA Cup, which was an incredible accomplishment.
In addition to these teams, Lucescu has won titles with Rapid București, Dynamo Kyiv, Dinamo București, Beşiktaş, and Galatasaray. He has won numerous accolades for his coaching abilities, including Coach of the Year in Romania and Ukraine. He was even named Romania’s Manager of the Decade in 2013. Among managers, Lucescu is the second most successful, just after Alex, having won 35 official games.
3. Luciano Spalletti
Full name: Luciano Spalletti
Date of birth: March 7, 1959
Italian manager Luciano Spalletti, a former football player, is now in charge of the Italian team Napoli. As the head coach of a faltering Empoli team, he began his managerial career in 1993. Spalletti gained a great deal of experience in his early managerial career, and it took over ten years for his efforts to be acknowledged domestically.
He championed the 4-2-3-1 formation, broke the league record for wins in a row (11), and was named the 2006 Serie A Coach of the Year. The following year, Roma finished second in Serie A and captured Spalletti’s first major championship, the Coppa Italia. However, the team’s record suffered as a result of the club’s financial issues, and Spalletti left in September 2009.
4. Louis Van Gaal
Full name: Aloysius Paulus Maria Van Gaal
Date of birth: August 8, 1951
Louis van Gaal, who is a Dutchman, was a football player as well as a coach. He is known for his tactical acumen, strong personality, and penchant for discipline. His playing career spanned from 1972 to 1987, during which he played for clubs such as Ajax and AZ Alkmaar, but it was his managerial career with Ajax, Barcelona, AZ Alkmaar, Bayern Munich, and Manchester United that gained him widespread recognition.
Before he was a coach, Van Gaal was a midfield player for AZ Alkmaar, Telstar, Sparta Rotterdam, and Royal Antwerp. In 1990, after managing Ajax, he led the team to three Eredivisie titles and the UEFA Cup. However, he experienced the pinnacle of success in the 1994-1995 season when he led the club to triumph in the UEFA Champions League, after winning the domestic league and the KNVB Cup. Post this success, he also went on to manage several other top European clubs, including Barcelona, Bayern Munich, and Manchester United. He accomplished much as a coach, taking home 20 major honours, and is now among the football industry’s most successful managers.
5. Antonio Conte
Full name: Antonio Conte
Date of birth: July 31, 1969
Antonio Conte is among the best managers in football history. He started his playing career with Lecce and later played for Juventus and Inter Milan. He is mainly known for his aggressiveness and loyalty towards the sport, and he personified the essence of Italian football during his playing career.
Following his playing retirement, Conte supported Luigi De Canio as Siena’s assistant manager for the 2005–06 campaign. He was named coach of Arezzo, a team in Serie B, in July of 2006. On October 31, 2006, he was fired following a string of underwhelming outcomes. After taking over as Italy’s head coach in 2014, he led the team to victory in the UEFA Euro 2016 competition. After taking over as manager of Chelsea in April 2016, he won the Premier League in his first season in charge. The following season, he also won the FA Cup.
In 2019, Conte returned to Italy to manage Inter Milan and in the 2019-2020 season, he led the team to the Serie A title. He is one of the best football managers of all time, known for his tactical versatility, emphasis on defensive solidity, and strong work ethic.
6. José Mourinho
Full name: José Mário dos Santos Mourinho Félix
Date of birth: January 26, 1963
At the beginning of his soccer career, José Mourinho assisted other coaches at teams like Barcelona, FC Porto, and Sporting CP. Then, he started his major coaching career with SL Benfica in 2000. Between 2002 and 2004, José accomplished an incredible feat. He won a UEFA Cup, two Portuguese Leagues, one Portuguese Cup, and even the Champions League. In 2004, he joined Chelsea FC and quickly turned the team around, winning two Premier Leagues and a League Cup.
His accomplishments were so great that in 2009, the University of Lisbon awarded him a doctorate as a special honour. Mourinho then took over at Real Madrid and led the team to the La Liga title in the 2011-2012 season, breaking Barcelona’s dominance. He then returned for a second stint at Chelsea in 2013 and guided them to another Premier League title. He then managed Manchester United from 2016 to 2018, winning the UEFA Europa League and the EFL Cup in the 2016-2017 season. He then took charge of Tottenham Hotspur but left the club in April 2021. José is now inspiring others who aspire to be excellent trainers by sharing his knowledge and imparting coaching techniques for football.
7. Michels Rinus
Full name: Marinus Jacobus Hendricus Michels
Date of birth: Feb 9, 1928
Rinus Michels is said to be one of the most influential figures in football history, particularly for his impact on coaching. The Dutchman had a modest career as a forward and played for clubs, including Ajax, SC Zwolle and the Dutch national team. In the 1970s, he inspired Ajax and the Netherlands national team to new heights of success with his astute ideas and inspiring leadership. Fans were enthralled by this man’s active tactics and lively gaming, which was both effective and enjoyable.
Ajax won the coveted European Cup and four consecutive league victories while Michels was their manager. Then, in 1974, he won La Liga with Barcelona before moving to the Netherlands. The Netherlands squad developed into one of the strongest on the international scene, placing second in the 1974 World Cup and taking home the European Championship in 1988.
8. Diego Simeone
Full name: Diego Pablo Simeone González
Date of birth: April 28, 1970
Diego Simeone, often hailed as one of the best football managers of all time, boasts a storied career both as a player and now as the esteemed manager of Atletico Madrid. Before becoming a manager, he played for teams including Velez Sarsfield, Pisa, Sevilla, Inter Milan, Lazio, Racing Club, and the Argentina national team. He even achieved over a century of caps for Argentina. Simeone joined Atletico Madrid as manager in December 2011. Gregorio Manzano, who was fired after just six months, was replaced by him. Simeone was forty-one years old at that point. They were in 10th place in La Liga; therefore, it was his responsibility to raise the team’s level of play.
He transformed the club into a major force in Spanish and European football. Under his management, Atlético Madrid won La Liga in the 2013-2014 season, breaking the duopoly of Barcelona and Real Madrid. Simeone also guided the team to two UEFA Europa League titles (2011-2012 and 2017-2018) and reached the UEFA Champions League final three times (2013-2014, 2015-2016, and 2019-2020), winning the competition in the 2021-2022 season. The team did great under their coach, Diego Simeone, and ended up on top of the La Liga standings by 2021. After seven years, they won their 11th La Liga title, mostly thanks to Simeone. They finished with 86 points, just a bit more than Real Madrid, who came in second place.
9. Carlo Ancelotti
Full name: Carlo Ancelotti
Date of birth: June 10, 1959
Italian football manager Carlo Ancelotti was formerly a soccer player. At the moment, he is in command of Real Madrid. He was a successful player who won major championships such as the Scudetto and Coppa Italia while playing for teams like Roma and AC Milan.
Ancelotti began his managerial career with Reggiana in 1995-96. He achieved some wonderful victories as a coach with Milan, particularly in the Champions League. The team won two UEFA Champions League titles (2002-2003 and 2006-2007), a Serie A title, and other domestic and international honours during his tenure. Later on, he managed Paris Saint-Germain and Chelsea, two more elite teams, and they both won championships under his leadership. He went back to Real Madrid in 2013. He is a special person and a successful manager known for his tactical flexibility, ability to manage star-studded squads, and a track record of success. He holds an extremely unrealistic and noteworthy career in the soccer world.
10. Pep Guardiola
Full name: Josep Guardiola Sala
Date of birth: January 18, 1971
Several noteworthy accomplishments have marked Pep Guardiola’s coaching career. Notably, in the 2018–19 season, he guided Manchester City to a domestic treble, taking home the League Cup, FA Cup, and Premier League titles. In the 2020–21 campaign, City made it to their first-ever UEFA Champions League final under his direction.
Guardiola accomplished a historic first in the 2022–2023 season when he won the Champions League for the first time with Manchester City, completing another continental treble. He is the manager with the most FIFA Club World Cup victories, having won the title four times with Manchester City, Barcelona, and Bayern Munich, so his success goes beyond just England. Also credited to Guardiola is the success of Manchester City in becoming the first English team to win five trophies in one season calendar year, showcasing his exceptional coaching prowess and ability to shape teams into winners.
With this, we conclude our list of 10 greatest football managers of all time. They didn’t just play the game; they masterfully led their teams to victory. Each one of them has a unique journey and achievements, from Manuel Pellegrini’s tactical brilliance to Pep Guardiola’s historic successes with Manchester City. These maestros have left an indelible mark on the game of football, earning their spots among the best in history. The excitement and strategies they bring to the field inspire millions of fans worldwide. The journey of these managers showcases the essence and magic of football, making them legends in their own right.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs):
Who is the best football manager in history?
José Mourinho is the best football manager in history. A renowned Portuguese tactician, he is known for his strategic prowess. With a storied career, he’s claimed multiple league titles and Champions League triumphs, leaving an indelible mark on football management.
Who has the most trophies won by a manager in football history?
Alex Furguson holds the record for the most trophies won by a manager in football history. Ferguson’s best spell came at Man United, leading them to 38 trophies across 27 years. Guardiola may eventually eclipse his trophy haul, but it’ll be a while until that happens.
Who is the most influential manager in football?
Pep Guardiola has trumped Sir Alex Ferguson and Jurgen Klopp in being crowned the most influential football manager of the last 25 years.
Who is Real Madrid’s best coach ever?
Carlo Ancelotti is the 12th manager in Real Madrid history to coach the club twice. The current manager is also the club’s winningest coach, with a 74.8% win rate, followed by Jose Mourinho’s 71.9%. The Italian is already the manager with the most Champions League wins (102) in history.