They’ve tweaked, tinkered, engineered and evolved football for decades – often, with its shiniest prizes awaiting them at the end.
Now, it’s time to honour these trailblazers. Presenting FFT’s list of the finest football managers in history...
100. Roy Hodgson
Hodgson’s career reads like a crazed Football Manager save: eight countries, 20 outposts, and challenges ranging from the Swedish second division to European finals.
Five consecutive titles with Malmo launched him, and his innovations left a legacy across Scandinavia. Although Hodgson notably stumbled at Liverpool, he performed miracles with the likes of Switzerland and FC Copenhagen and even got Inter back on track.
But his greatest hour came at Fulham, who he miraculously saved from the drop before guiding them to the Europa League final following a shock seventh-place finish.
99. Fatih Terim
As a player, Terim was a wily defender, and as a manager his teams have been largely the same.
‘The Emperor’ has coached Turkey on three occasions – guiding them to the semi-finals of Euro 2008 – and Galatasaray on four, instilling a hard-running, hard-tackling style best on show in his Gala sides that won four consecutive league titles from 1997-2000, as well as the UEFA Cup final against Arsenal.
“He’s extraordinary,” former charge Gheorghe Hagi once gushed. “He could coach any side.”
98. Vaclav Jezek
Taking charge of Sparta Prague back in 1964, Jezek introduced an aesthetic style of play that swept all before it in Czechoslovakia, then took on the national team.
He moulded the Czechs into his image and watched as his country shocked the world champions, West Germany, at Euro 76.
Antonin Panenka’s iconic spot-kick won it, but the blend of brawn and grace, woven from the fabric of great Eastern European sides gone by, was all Jezek’s doing.
97. Roberto Mancini
As a youngster at Bologna, Mancini demanded to take every corner, free-kick and penalty. If coaches resisted, he’d walk off.
similarly uncompromising approach in management, ever since cutting short a 2001 loan spell at Leicester to take his first job with Fiorentina, has earned Mancini six domestic cups and four league titles, including Manchester City’s first in 44 years. He’s now overseeing the longest winning streak in Italian national team history.
96. Gerard Houllier
“When I go to Liverpool, I’m surprised people are so nice to me,” said Houllier in 2019.
Why the Frenchman thinks any Red would dishonour the man who delivered a cup treble in 2001 is a head-scratcher; although Houllier couldn’t land a league title on Merseyside, he restored silverware at Anfield after a six-year hiatus.
Before that, he had won PSG their first league crown in 1986, and while his 1992-93 tenure as France boss was disastrous, he was later a two-time Ligue 1 champion with Lyon.
95. Hassan Shehata
Shehata led Egpyt into the 2006 Africa Cup of Nations as a man under pressure. Knives were being sharpened when he took off furious star striker Mido with 12 minutes to go in their semi-final against Senegal, only for replacement Amr Zaki to notch the winner within two minutes.
Egypt went on to win it. They repeated the feat in 2008 and 2010, becoming the first country to win three consecutive AFCON titles and climbing up to ninth in the FIFA rankings.
94. Ferruccio Valcareggi
There’s no shame in losing a World Cup final, especially when it’s to a certain Brazil 1970 team; even so, Italians felt that Valcareggi’s negative tactics had cost them in Mexico City, and he needed a police escort upon touching down in Rome.
Yet Valcareggi (third right above) had reinvigorated the Azzurri after their disastrous group-stage exit at the 1966 World Cup – via defeat to North Korea – and turned them into European champions in 1968, making some hard decisions en route.
93. Antonio Conte
Conte is a contradiction of a manager. Icy cool in interviews, he’s turbo-charged on the touchline. His football is relentless, but intelligent.
And while his title triumphs in Italy and England were formed on wing-backs and high-octane attacking moves, securing him a force-of-nature reputation, he’s very astute.
“He’s the best coach I ever worked with,” said Andrea Pirlo. “He makes you give your best at all times – so when he loses, he’s a demon.”
92. Juan Lopez Fontana
Fontana was the first man ever to make Brazil question their footballing philosophy.
In 1950, his disciplined Uruguay side silenced the free-scoring Selecao in one of the World Cup’s great upsets, making a mockery of pre-match headlines proclaiming Brazil as champions and sending the hosts into a state of Maracanazo mourning by identifying weaknesses in their defensive setup.
Fontana later guided Uruguay to the 1954 semi-finals and also scooped two league titles at Penarol.
91. Raymond Goethals
With a trademark cigarette drooping from his lips, Goethals was a meticulous coach with the demeanour of a detective.
At Marseille the Belgian immediately reached the 1991 European Cup Final, losing on penalties, then triumphed two years later against Milan.
Subsequent Ligue 1 match-fixing revelations rocked l’OM – Goethals was not involved – but their manager’s work is too easily neglected: a zonal marking pioneer and maestro of the offside trap, he was a mind ahead of his time.
90. Claudio Ranieri
The Ranieri story is a reminder to never give up on your dreams. The Italian’s landmark achievement came aged 64, almost 30 years into his eclectic career.
He has led 17 clubs with mixed fortunes, impressing at Fiorentina, Valencia (the first time), Chelsea and Parma, but not so much with Juventus, Valencia (second time round), Inter Milan, Monaco or Greece.
But he’ll always have Leicester. The 2015/16 Premier League title triumph masterminded by Ranieri was nothing short of the most incredible underdog success in modern football history.
89. Jupp Derwall
The 23 consecutive victories delivered by the dashing Derwall is a German national team record which still stands to this day.
The former forward managed a brilliant Mannschaft to success at the 1980 European Championship, then reached the World Cup final two years later, where they lost to Italy after a thrilling semi-final comeback against France in Seville.
Derwall later took charge at Galatasaray and was credited with bringing modern coaching methods to Turkish football.
88. Stan Cullis
As a player, Cullis was once dropped by England after refusing to perform a Nazi salute before a 1938 international against Germany.
He was a deeply principled man, and vowed never to coach again after being sacked by his beloved Wolves in 1964 (although he did, at neighbouring Birmingham).
Cullis had proved a revelation in the dugout, winning Wolves the FA Cup in 1949 when he was 32, followed by three First Division titles and another FA Cup.
87. Mircea Lucescu
“Lucescu is a Shakhtar legend. He was our teacher not only in football, but in life.”
So said captain Darijo Srna of his departing coach in 2016, and he wasn’t exaggerating – Lucescu often encouraged his cosmopolitan squads to study, read, learn languages and take cooking lessons.
The Romanian boss also bagged 12 league titles around Europe, including eight – and a UEFA Cup – in the dozen years he spent making Shakhtar Donetsk top dogs in Ukraine.
86. Vic Buckingham
Before Total Football, the Netherlands’ rise can be traced to a Londoner called Vic. It was the trilby-topped Buckingham – an FA Cup winner with West Bromwich Albion and future Barcelona boss – who laid the foundations for Ajax’s identity.
He handed a 17-year-old Johan Cruyff his debut and, in Cruyff’s words, “gave us some professionalism”, but he also gave Ajax a possession-based approach and ultimately teed up Rinus Michels for a new Dutch dynasty.
85. Richard Moller Nielsen
The Danish FA initially overlooked Nielsen for the Denmark job, and only appointed him after one deal had collapsed and seven other candidates rejected the post.
Then the Laudrup brothers walked out in protest at his defensive football, and the Danes narrowly missed out on qualification for Euro 92 – until the outbreak of the Bosnian war saw them replace Yugoslavia.
With Brian – but not Michael – Laudrup back in the fold, Denmark stunned France to reach the semi-finals, where they beat the Netherlands before completing their remarkable triumph against favourites Germany.
84. Alberto Suppici
In 1930, a 31-year-old Suppici coached Uruguay to success at the inaugural World Cup – and almost a century later, no younger manager has won it.
‘El Profesor’ took charge of the Olympic champions and led them to third in the South American Championship of 1929, before lifting the World Cup a year later.
Uruguay trailed Argentina at half-time in the final but stormed back to win 4-2, one-armed forward Hector Castro sealing victory late on.
83. George Ramsay
Ramsay joined Aston Villa as a player by accident, invited to make up the numbers in an 1876 practice match. So impressive were his skills, he was recruited on the spot.
Injury curtailed his playing career but opened a new door in 1884, as the Scot became the first-ever manager in the history of world football.
His paid secretary position at Villa – a gig he held for four decades – was the first of its kind, and culminated in six league titles and six FA Cups.
82. Fulvio Bernardini
Legend has it that virtuoso midfielder Bernardini was dropped by Italy boss Vittorio Pozzo in 1931 for being too good. “Your team-mates don’t have the same grasp of the game,” Pozzo is claimed to have told him.
Bernardini spun similar gold as a manager. In a league forever dominated by Milan and Turin, he guided Fiorentina to a first Scudetto in 1956, then won Serie A again with Bologna in 1964. Sandwiched in between was Lazio’s maiden trophy, the 1958 Coppa Italia.
81. Silvia Neid
The most triumphant German national team manager since reunification isn’t Joachim Löw. In fact, Neid and Tina Theune (stop sniggering) share that record with four women’s titles apiece.
Theune won Germany’s first World Cup in 2003; Neid led them to their second four years on without even conceding.
Ruthless, expertly drilled and yet a delight to watch in possession, Neid’s side won European Championships in both 2009 and 2013, before she signed off with gold at the 2016 Olympics.
80. Sepp Herberger
Leading West Germany to 1954 World Cup glory over overwhelming favourites Hungary remains Herberger’s defining success, which came after he had identified that the Mighty Magyars weren’t so mighty out wide.
It was more than a trophy, however, for a post-war nation looking to reinvent itself. As an ex-Nazi party member himself, Herberger – in charge from 1936-64 – was among those desperate to forget his part in the propaganda machine.
79. Enzo Bearzot
Few managers have struck a balance between pragmatism and panache like Bearzot achieved during the 1970s and ’80s.
His Italy side popularised a daring, fluid 4-3-3 that bamboozled defences, yet their ability to stifle opponents was borne from a tight team ethic. As a result, he moved the Azzurri away from catenaccio and won the 1982 World Cup via Paolo Rossi’s boots.
“He was like a father to me,” Rossi said upon Bearzot’s death. “Without him, I would never have achieved what I did.”
78. Leo Beenhakker
Beenhakker was 23 in his first job at SV Epe – and suffered relegation in his debut season. But this brash young boss would go on to manage Real Madrid twice and win three consecutive La Liga titles, then lift the Eredivisie three times with two different clubs (Ajax and Feyenoord).
Later, the Dutchman – who took charge of 19 sides over 44 years – led Trinidad and Tobago to their only World Cup in 2006, before guiding Poland to their first Euros in 2008.
77. Marcelo Bielsa
Aged 25, Bielsa scouted 3,000 amateurs for his university squad of 20 – it would become the hallmark of El Loco’s career.
His scientific levels of analysis have astonished, inspired and often bemused players for three decades, leading to many of them – not least Pep Guardiola, Mauricio Pochettino and Diego Simeone – citing him as their biggest influence.
Bielsa’s attack-minded approach has excited, enthralled and probably changed football. His success should be measured beyond trophies.
76. Guy Roux
Roux makes Arsene Wenger and Alex Ferguson’s tenures at Arsenal and Manchester United look poxy. The Frenchman occupied the Auxerre hot seat for a mind-boggling 41 years, including an astonishing uninterrupted spell between 1964 and 2000.
In that time Roux took the small-town side from the fourth tier to the first, then established them as one of Ligue 1’s best sides.
He even won four Coupes de France at the Stade de l'Abbe-Deschamps, and led his beloved club into Europe on no fewer than 15 occasions.
75. Walter Smith
While friend Alex Ferguson turned Manchester red in the ’90s, Smith ensured that blue was the colour in Glasgow.
The Lanark man made Rangers the dominant force in Scotland mixing homegrown heroes with international idols, enticing the likes of Basile Boli, Gennaro Gattuso, Brian Laudrup and Paul Gascoigne in his first Ibrox spell.
Over two stints, Smith won 21 major trophies and is behind only stalwart Bill Struth as Rangers’ most successful coach.
74. Tina Theune
When it comes to the top female coaches in Europe, Theune was simply the best. The first woman in Germany to acquire the DFB’s elite coaching licence, she led her nation to three European Championship triumphs on the spin in 1997, 2001 and 2005.
The pinnacle came in 2003, however, when her Nationalelf were crowned world champions by defeating hosts USA 3-0, then edging out Sweden with a golden goal in the final. Better than anyone.
73. Didier Deschamps
Eric Cantona once gave Deschamps the disparaging moniker of ‘water carrier’, which stuck even after he’d hoisted world and European trophies for France.
As a manager, he’s upheld that success. Following Coupe de la Ligue joy with Monaco, the Bayonne native led them to the 2004 Champions League Final; then, in 2010, directed Marseille’s most recent Ligue 1 triumph.
His crowning glory came last: in 2018, becoming only the third man to win the World Cup as both a player and manager.
72. Dettmar Cramer
A global ambassador of football, German Cramer coached in more than 90 nations around the world – notably in Japan, where he helped an inexperienced national team secure Olympic bronze in 1968.
“I never smiled, I had a foul temper – but they taught me patience,” he said of his spell, later honoured by Emperor Hirohito.
Nicknamed ‘The Professor’ by Franz Beckenbauer over his tactical fixation, Cramer returned home to win back-to-back European Cups with Bayern Munich in 1975 and 1976.
71. Howard Kendall
Mark Robins famously saved Alex Ferguson’s job by bagging the winner in an FA Cup tie against Nottingham Forest in 1990.
The fate of an under-fire Kendall could have been similarly sealed had Adrian Heath and Graeme Sharp not notched late on to defeat Coventry in the third round of the 1983/84 League Cup.
Kendall went on to become the most decorated manager in Everton’s history, winning two First Division titles, an FA Cup and the Cup Winners’ Cup at Goodison Park.
70. Carlos Bianchi
The most triumphant coach in South American club history, Bianchi is so much more than a Larry David lookalike.
After disappointing managerial spells at Reims and Nice, the Argentinian returned home with Velez Sarsfield and promptly won three league championships, the Copa Libertadores and the Intercontinental Cup.
He was even more successful at Boca Juniors, triumphing in the Libertadores in 2000, 2001 and 2003. He also masterminded victories over Real Madrid and Milan in the Intercontinental Cup, making Boca the best club team on the planet.
69. Hennes Weisweiler
So great were Weisweiler’s feats, two iconic institutions of the game are named after him: the German Sports Academy... and Hennes the Goat.
He created Borussia Monchengladbach’s fine team of the ’70s, taking them from the second tier to three Bundesliga titles and a UEFA Cup.
Time abroad (featuring a year at Barça) resulted in trophies at the New York Cosmos and Grasshoppers – and he won a fourth German crown with Köln. No wonder they named a goat after him.
68. Cesar Luis Menotti
“There’s right-wing football and there’s left-wing football.” Open-shirted, long-haired and with a constant curl of cigarette smoke emanating between his fingers, Menotti was rock ‘n’ roll personified.
He believed the game belonged to the people, and that his teams must entertain. Such zeal for an attacking, high-pressing strategy swept Argentina to World Cup glory at home in 1978, inspiring disciples like Marcelo Bielsa and Pep Guardiola – who still enjoy his counsel today.
67. Gavriil Kachalin
The Soviet Union stood firm for 69 years, and Kachalin (suited above) was its most successful football coach.
Back in 1956, the Muscovite guided them to maiden Olympic gold in the sport, defeating Yugoslavia in the Melbourne final. Four years on came victory in the inaugural European Championship of 1960 – again Yugoslavia were the victims, this time in Paris.
After returning to club level, Kachalin led Georgian side Dinamo Tbilisi to a first Soviet league title in 1964. Even more history made.
66. Joachim Löw
Most bosses would have been booted for overseeing a World Cup as poor as Germany’s in 2018. But most haven’t built up Löw’s level of credit since becoming manager in 2006.
His belief in the talented crop of kids coming through in 2009 paid dividends when, five years later, Thomas Muller, Manuel Neuer, Mesut Özil & co. stormed to success in Brazil.
Löw directed the most devastating victory in major tournament history when his charges embarrassed the hosts 7-1 in the semi-finals.
65. Carlos Bilardo
Bilardo replaced Cesar Luis Menotti as Argentina coach to disgruntlement in 1983, despite recent success with Estudiantes. But style was unimportant. “You have to think about being first,” he said. “Because second is no good.”
Fortunately for La Albiceleste, such a mantra liberated Diego Maradona to cause mayhem at Mexico 86, as Argentina became world champions for the second time in eight years.
Under Bilardo, they also reached Italia 90’s final showdown, but second was no good.
64. Fernando Santos
Santos may have played second fiddle to a wounded and wild Cristiano Ronaldo during the Euro 2016 Final, but Portugal’s unlikely conquerors were made in their coach’s image.
His side beat the Netherlands to 2019 Nations League glory too, led by their talismanic skipper whose strengths are expertly catered for.
Santos – a champion with Porto, three-time cup winner and Greek Superleague Manager of the Decade 2000-10 – is well-versed in getting a team over the line.
63. Emerich Jenei
In six previous seasons in the European Cup, Steaua Bucharest had never progressed past the first round. Under Jenei they went all the way, becoming the first Eastern European side to lift the trophy in 1986 after seeing off Barcelona.
Jenei enjoyed six spells as Steaua coach, winning five league titles either side of taking Romania to their first World Cup for 20 years in 1990 – then sending England packing at Euro 2000. A fan of Phil Neville, presumably.
62. Stefan Kovacs
Ajax’s glory years began under Rinus Michels – but history often forgets Kovacs (left above), the Romanian who succeeded him.
Kovacs offered remarkable levels of freedom to his team full of winners – especially Johan Cruyff and Piet Keizer – and reaped the rewards that followed with consecutive Eredivisie titles and European Cups in 1972 and 1973.
Kovacs is still the only foreign coach of the French national side, and helped to set up the Clairefontaine academy.
61. Nevio Scala
Parma were football’s cult club of the 1990s – and Scala was their creator. Having introduced an innovative wing-back system and signed wisely, the former Reggina boss took Parma into Europe in their first season back in Serie A.
They didn’t stop there. Scala’s side, playing a daring form of football, won the Coppa Italia in 1992, then lifted the Cup Winners’ Cup the following year.
Their apex came in 1994/95, when Parma beat Athletic Bilbao, Bayer Leverkusen and Juventus en route to UEFA Cup glory.
60. Tomislav Ivic
Jose Mourinho and Carlo Ancelotti have both won the league in four different countries – and so has Ivic, who Mourinho once described as “the greatest coach of them all”.
His first successes came with hometown club Hajduk Split, who won three Yugoslav titles and three Yugoslav Cups under his guidance. In between his first two spells there, Ivic led Ajax to Eredivisie glory in 1977.
He repeated the trick in Belgium with Anderlecht and Portugal with Porto, while he also won cup competitions in Spain (Atletico Madrid) and Saudi Arabia (Al-Ittihad).
59. Vittorio Pozzo
The only gaffer to successfully defend a World Cup, Italy’s pioneering Pozzo – a prodigious 400m runner who later studied in England and became pals with Manchester United star Charlie Roberts – also led his nation to gold at the 1936 Olympics.
‘The Old Master’ wanted orderly defences, and his teams were notorious for their win-at-all-costs attitudes; one game against England became known as the ‘Battle of Highbury’. But win they did, with Jules Rimet trophies in both 1934 and 1938.
58. Luis Carniglia
Carniglia (right above) was Real Madrid’s first ego-settling coach: an Argentine who expected graft and collective spirit from his galacticos.
He pushed Ferenc Puskas into a renaissance period of his career and wasn’t afraid to drop the Hungarian for the 1959 European Cup Final – which cost him his job, despite Real’s 2-0 win over Reims.
Carniglia – a Ligue 1 champion at Nice in 1956 before lifting the Fairs Cup at Roma – had also guided los Blancos to European glory in 1958.
57. Frank Rijkaard
Rijkaard was a strange appointment for Barcelona in 2003 – his only past club gig ended with Sparta Rotterdam’s relegation from the Eredivisie. Barça had finished sixth, fourth and fourth in the three campaigns preceding his arrival and needed a reboot.
It didn’t take long: by 2005, Rijkaard had made them champions again. A year later, they went one better and won their first European Cup since 1992, built around the talents of Ronaldinho and Samuel Eto’o.
“He always said that he wanted to give joy through football,” Andres Iniesta told FFT.
56. Don Revie
Often painted as the villain in his long-running feud with Brian Clough, Revie was an innovative, intelligent and meticulous manager who made Leeds the best team in England.
Armed with their coach’s detailed dossiers, Revie’s Leeds won two league titles, an FA Cup and a League Cup – and were unfortunate not to lift the Cup Winners’ Cup after a controversial refereeing display worked against them in the 1973 final with Milan.
Revie failed to reach Euro 76 with England and left the job ignominiously after negotiating a deal to take charge of the United Arab Emirates, but he remains a legend in Leeds.
55. Carlos Alberto Parreira
Getting the management bug as a coach watching Brazil’s Pele-powered 1970 generation crowned world champions first-hand is a good place to start.
Since then, no boss has been to more World Cups than Parreira, who steered the Selecao to USA 94 glory via shootout success against Italy.
He has taken a joint-high five nations to the finals – including 2010 hosts South Africa and the rather less adoring Saudi Arabia, who sacked him, er, two matches into France 98.
54. Willie Maley
“This club has been my life – without it my existence would be empty,” Maley (left above) once said of Celtic, the team he managed for a ludicrous 43 years between 1897 and 1940.
An unorthodox boss, he didn’t watch training, sit in the dugout during matches nor even speak to his players on the day of games, allowing them to learn their positions from the newspaper.
He had an excellent eye for local talent, though, and his youthful Bhoys teams claimed 16 league titles and 14 Scottish Cups.
53. Franz Beckenbauer
The two-time Ballon d’Or winner guided West Germany to consecutive World Cup finals in 1986 and ’90; defeated in Mexico City by a mercurial Diego Maradona, only to avenge that loss with a 1-0 victory over Argentina in Rome.
He had a spell at Marseille in 1991, then took Bayern Munich to Bundesliga and UEFA Cup success by 1996.
“He used his personality,” ex-Germany captain Lothar Matthaus told FFT. “Football is not only about physicality – it’s about psychology, too.”
52. Sven-Goran Eriksson
Few coaches have told Alex Ferguson to ‘F**k off’ and lived to tell the tale. As England manager, however, the level-headed Swede frequently butted heads with the Scot.
While Eriksson couldn’t prevail as gaffer of the Three Lions’ golden gang, he’d fared far better in club management before – as five titles and a UEFA Cup across Italy, Portugal and Sweden attested.
His 1999/00 Serie A triumph at Lazio was particularly notable, as the Biancocelesti celebrated a first championship since 1974.
51. Jimmy Hogan
English coaches don’t have the best reputation across Europe today, but that wasn’t always the case. In fact, when Hungary famously demolished the Three Lions 6-3 in 1953, victorious coach Gusztav Sebes said his nation owed everything to Hogan.
An itinerant pioneer, Hogan worked with great success in Austria, Hungary, Switzerland and Germany, and also had spells in the Netherlands and France.
He won five league titles with MTK in Hungary, but the Lancastrian’s real success was his sizeable contribution to the development of the game across mainland Europe.
50. George Graham
Among the reasons why Graham got the Arsenal job in 1986 was because Alex Ferguson – the Gunners’ second choice after Terry Venables – wanted to coach Scotland at that year’s World Cup.
What the Scot eventually created at Arsenal transcended Highbury’s hallowed marble halls and made him a byword in football circles for no-nonsense, demanding management.
Prioritising a solid defence over a free-flowing attack, Graham won two league titles, two League Cups, an FA Cup and the Cup Winners’ Cup in north London. His back four of Lee Dixon, Tony Adams, Steve Bould and Nigel Winterburn is the most famous and fabled in English football history.
49. Aimé Jacquet
France had triumphed at Euro 84 and finished third in Mexico two years later, then qualified for only one of the following four major tournaments.
By 1998 hopes were fairly minimal, yet Jacquet’s rainbow warriors went all the way to unite a country divided by race, hammering favourites Brazil 3-0.
“Days before the final, Jacquet emphasised corners,” said two-goal set-piece hero, Zinedine Zidane. “He said, ‘I guarantee if you go in with conviction, you can do something’.” Good pep talk, gaffer.
48. Luis Aragones
Detractors argue Aragones took on Spain at a perfect time, just as a golden generation was beginning to shine.
In truth, there was no one better to lead such a group; talented, but unpolished. With Aragones’ charisma, Spain added steel – committing more fouls than any team at Euro 2008 – yet their boss also united a fractured dressing room.
“He was the most influential person in my career,” revealed Xavi. “He gave me impossible levels of confidence.”
47. Otto Rehhagel
The underdog spirit hasn’t been lost on Rehhagel. He took lowly Kaiserslautern back up to the Bundesliga in 1996/97 before winning it a season later, and topped that achievement by coaching a plucky Greek side to Euro 2004 glory – twice beating hosts Portugal en route.
He had previously hoisted the DFB-Pokal with Fortuna Dusseldorf, and the Bundesliga trophy twice at Werder Bremen either side of victory in the 1992 European Cup Winners’ Cup Final.
46. Bobby Robson
Robson began his managerial career at Fulham, but it was in second job Ipswich that he made his mark. The former inside-forward established Ipswich as top-six regulars in the First Division, and masterminded triumphs in the FA Cup and UEFA Cup.
That earned him the England job, which ended on a high note with a semi-final appearance at Italia 90.
Robson won two Eredivisie titles with PSV thereafter, followed by two league championships at Porto and the Cup Winners’ Cup at Barcelona.
45. Bill Struth
Not even Alex Ferguson can match the tally of league titles won by Bill Struth – Rangers were crowned champions an astonishing 18 times during his era.
He achieved it all despite having no playing career of any sort. “He didn’t know a great deal about football, but he was a great manager,” said ex-winger Johnny Hubbard.
Struth largely left the tactics to his coaches, but was clever when it came to recruitment and his big focus was on fitness, diet and discipline. Ibrox’s main stand is named in his honour.
44. Tele Santana
“One of my biggest regrets is not winning a trophy for Tele. If anybody deserved one, it was him.”
So wailed Zico, reflecting on Brazil’s revered losers of 1982. Santana’s joga bonito had taken them to Spain 19 games unbeaten, but defeat by Italy meant they didn’t get past the second group.
He had another go in 1986, but Brazil were last-eight losers on penalties. Mercifully, he won consecutive Libertadores and Intercontinental Cups as Sao Paulo boss.
43. Diego Simeone
When Simeone returned to coach Atletico Madrid in December 2011, they were 10th in La Liga and had been knocked out of the Copa del Rey by third-tier Albacete.
By May, they’d qualified for Europe – and ever since, the relationship between club and manager has become so symbiotic that it’s impossible to imagine one without the other.
El Cholo’s brand of bastardy broke La Liga’s duopoly in 2014 – and his side are still ruffling feathers.
42. Albert Batteux
Batteux is Ligue 1’s most successful manager, who oversaw two golden eras. First, he won five titles with local side Reims, steering them to two European Cup finals; later, he led Saint-Etienne to a hat-trick of league triumphs – via his adored brand of ‘champagne football’.
“He was very funny,” revealed Just Fontaine, who scored a record-breaking 13 goals under Batteux as France finished third at the 1958 World Cup. “We listened to him with delight.”
41. Rafa Benitez
At some point during Benitez’s half-time speech in the 2005 Champions League Final, it was pointed out that he had put 12 players on his tactics board. Unperturbed, the Spaniard simply chalked one off and pressed ahead; the rest went down in history.
Benitez had already established himself as one of the game’s wiliest operators before that, guiding Valencia to two La Liga crowns and the 2004 UEFA Cup.
The title eluded him at Anfield, but ‘Rafa’ – who delivered the Reds’ last FA Cup of 2006 – will forever be on first-name terms.
40. Jill Ellis
Ellis wasn’t satisfied when she took over the US Women’s national team in 2014. They were Olympic champions, ranked first in the world and hot favourites to win the World Cup the following summer in Canada – but their new manager was unimpressed.
The hard work was just starting, she told her players – and if they bought into her ideas, the US would blow their competition away.
Ellis soon proved that she was a woman of her word. The USA bagged back-to-back world titles under her stewardship, winning at France 2019 for the most gruelling of them all.
39. Luiz Felipe Scolari
A couple of months before the 2006 World Cup, England targeted Scolari as Sven-Goran Eriksson’s post-tournament replacement.
He’d knocked the Three Lions out of the 2002 World Cup (with Brazil) and Euro 2004 (with Portugal), and would do the same again that summer.
But the FA didn’t get Big Phil, missing the mastermind of World Cup, Libertadores, league and cup titles at home. In 2018, there was even a comeback as his Palmeiras surged to the Brazilian title.
38. Udo Lattek
Lattek (right above) was the first boss to win all three continental titles – the European Cup, UEFA Cup and sadly discontinued Cup Winners’ Cup – and the only one to do it with three different clubs.
The German was remarkably successful almost everywhere, claiming six league titles and the European Cup at Bayern Munich in his first coaching job.
Lattek won two more league crowns and a UEFA Cup at Monchengladbach, before completing his hat-trick with Barcelona.
37. Guus Hiddink
In Hiddink’s first match as a manager in March 1987, his PSV beat Johan Cruyff’s Ajax 1-0. By May they were celebrating the second of four straight titles – but the best came in 1988, with shock European Cup success.
His finest work thereafter came at international level: taking Holland (1998) and South Korea (2002) to World Cup semi-finals; Australia to their first World Cup for 32 years in 2006; and then Russia to the semi-finals of Euro 2008.
36. Zinedine Zidane
Zidane initially made this management lark look as easy as a Champions League final volley.
After taking charge at the Bernabeu in January 2016, Zizou yawned through ending Barcelona’s record 39-game unbeaten league streak by April, then lifted the first of Madrid’s three consecutive Champions League trophies – as the first defending champions since Milan in 1990. But big egos require a big personality to lead them.
“Zidane made me feel special,” revealed Cristiano Ronaldo. ’Nuff said, really.
35. Bill Nicholson
When Nicholson – who began at Tottenham on the ground staff in 1936 – eventually took charge at White Hart Lane in 1958, the north Londoners lay 16th in the First Division.
When he left them 16 years later, they had won two European trophies, a league and cup double, two more FA Cups and a pair of League Cups.
“He had a steely way about him,” Spurs legend Steve Perryman told FFT. “We hear a lot of new terminology today, but none of it has taught me anything that Bill didn’t.”
34. Viktor Maslov
Maslov is the least-known pioneer in football history. Who invented pressing? Guilty.
In the late-50s, almost every major football team on the planet played a 4-2-4 formation – but the Russian spied an opportunity. He became the first coach to use 4-4-2, handing his Dynamo Kiev side a numerical advantage.
It earned Maslov four Soviet league winners’ medals and six cups with three teams – and ultimately, his everlasting imprint on football.
33. Kenny Dalglish
As a Celtic and Liverpool player, Dalglish won 10 of 15 league titles from 1972-86; latterly, when he was also managing the Reds.
As player-gaffer, King Kenny couldn’t kick his winning habit: he nabbed another two titles at Anfield before his shock exit in February 1991, only to join ambitious Blackburn in October – then mid-table in the second tier.
Four years on, Kenny’s rampant Rovers were top-flight champions for the first time in eight decades.
32. Jupp Heynckes
Such are his mysterious healing powers, Heynckes’ name is still suggested every time Bayern Munich hit a rocky patch.
He broke his retirement in October 2017 to help deliver the Bundesliga after Bayern’s shaky start, having remained revered as the mastermind behind their unprecedented league, cup and European treble in 2013.
Heynckes is a bona fide legend in Bavaria – but also sealed Real Madrid’s first European Cup triumph for 32 years in 1998.
31. Helmut Schon
Germany’s consistency at international tournaments can be traced all the way back to Schon (middle above). The former forward led West Germany between 1964 and 1978; a sparkling spell stretching six major events.
Schon’s sides won two of them – the 1972 Euros and 1974 World Cup – finished runners-up in two more, and came third at Mexico 70.
“He only saw the good in players and people in general,” hailed the right-back from their 1974 triumph, Berti Vogts, who’d go on to become a Euros-winning boss himself with Germany in 1996. Obviously.
30. Jock Stein
Celtic had been formed 78 years earlier, but Stein became only the fourth boss in their history when he took the reins in 1965.
The Bhoys were mid-table and hadn’t won the league for 11 years – but Stein needed just a month to bag their first Scottish Cup since 1955, then lifted the title and reached the Cup Winners’ Cup semis in his first full season.
Stein won another nine league championships and seven Scottish Cups, but his crowning glory came in 1967 when he led a Celtic team comprised almost entirely of players born within 10 miles of Parkhead to European Cup glory.
29. Jurgen Klopp
Klopp’s charismatic front doesn’t do justice to the tactical mind behind that trademark grin. The German boss has proved his prowess as a master motivator balancing chaos with control, having progressed both Dortmund and Liverpool beyond recognition.
Consecutive titles with the former established him as one of football’s brightest minds, while steady but spectacular upgrades have taken the Reds to two Champions League finals and – surely – a first league crown since 1989/90.
28. Jose Villalonga
Few have succeeded in crossing a city’s divide and winning on both sides. Villalonga did, though, capturing two La Liga titles, two Copas Latina and the first two European Cups with Real Madrid – his first, aged just 36 years.
Later he lifted two domestic cups and a Cup Winners’ Cup with Atletico, and to cap it all led Spain to Euros glory in 1964 – their first trophy. Not too shabby for someone who never played professionally and only managed for 11 years.
27. Mario Zagallo
Twice a world champion as a player, Zagallo also coached the greatest team of all time as Brazil won their third World Cup in 1970.
But doing so wasn’t easy; the Selecao had been kicked off the park during the 1966 World Cup and “the scars were still there”, as Pele revealed.
Zagallo also managed to fit in the likes of Jairzinho, Rivelino, Tostao and Gerson, leading to Peru, Uruguay and Italy all being torn apart as Brazil scored 19 times en route to victory at Estadio Azteca. “It was all down to Zagallo’s work,” said Carlos Alberto.
26. Alf Ramsey
In just six seasons between 1956 and 1962, Ramsey transformed Ipswich from third-tier nobodies to First Division champions on a shoestring budget, finishing four points above Bill Nicholson’s legendary Spurs Double winners of 1961 to scoop the title in their first top-flight campaign.
Ramsey then took charge of England in 1963 and led them to their only World Cup success three years later, with his wingless wonders system beating West Germany 4-2 in a thrilling final.
He remained England boss until 1974, after which followed spells at Birmingham as manager and Panathinaikos (who else?) as a technical director.
25. Herbert Chapman
Chapman transformed football in England. He was the first manager to pick his own line-ups, decide transfers and deploy a third back in defence, responding to 1925’s offside law overhaul.
In 1919, he had been banned from football after reportedly making illegal payments as Leeds City boss – but it was reversed, and Chapman won consecutive titles at Huddersfield.
He did it at Arsenal as well, and would have had three but for his death from pneumonia in 1934.
24. Fabio Capello
Capello may not have had much luck with England or Russia, but his club record holds up among the best.
A seven-time league champion across spells with Milan, Real Madrid and Roma, Don Fabio also pocketed a European Cup medal when his Milan mauled Barcelona 4-0 in 1994.
But his style didn’t suit everyone. In a second stint at Madrid, Capello won a second title – yet still got sacked. “For me, he was very important,” commented the legendary Raul about Capello’s original term.
23. Arsene Wenger
History will recall Wenger’s 22 years as Arsenal boss by two Doubles, seven FA Cups, one Invincibles season and a record 49 games unbeaten.
But it should also remember how he inspired everyone around him. Le Prof was among the last great idealists; a coach who improved his players by giving them freedom and the belief to soon become world-beaters.
Wenger didn’t just remodel English football in the 1990s – he ignited it with imagination.
22. Bob Paisley
Liverpool’s most decorated gaffer didn’t even want the job. After all, how could the Reds’ long-time assistant follow Bill Shankly’s feats? As it turned out: pretty well.
Paisley inherited excellence in 1974 but hit new heights – after finishing second in his debut season, Liverpool claimed six of the next eight First Division titles and three European Cups in five years.
“People talked about ‘Uncle Bob’,” said former Red Phil Thompson. “He was as ruthless as they come.”
21. Bela Guttmann
Guttmann lived on the idea that “the third season is fatal”, drifting in a nomadic management career of 40 years, but never spending longer than two seasons at any one team.
A Hungarian Jew, Guttmann won his first title with Ujpest in 1939, then triumphed again in a second spell with the club in 1947.
After successful spells with Sao Paulo (one State Championship) and Porto (one Portuguesa Liga), Guttmann guide Benfica to back-to-back European Cups – then cursed the club in continental competition for 100 years after they refused him a pay rise.
20. Louis van Gaal
“Congratulations on signing the best coach in the world,” Van Gaal declared after being appointed Ajax boss in 1991. That was quite the statement considering his managerial career up to that point consisted of, well, nothing.
But Van Gaal soon lived up to his self-proclaimed status. The unconventional Dutchman – who once dropped his trousers in front of startled Bayern Munich players to make a point – won three Eredivisie titles, a UEFA Cup and the Champions League at the Amsterdam Arena.
He then lifted two La Liga trophies at Barcelona, another Eredivisie with AZ and the Bundesliga with Bayern, before leading the Netherlands to third place at the 2014 World Cup.
19. Nereo Rocco
Rocco won two European Cups with Milan in the ’60s, but he’s often forgotten among Italy’s coaching greats. His love of catenaccio is often maligned, but Rocco’s teams scored freely.
The Italian was a ferocious winner who shaped attitudes of countless countrymen to follow, and also conquered some of the most celebrated sides of all time; namely, Eusebio’s Benfica in 1963, Johan Cruyff’s Ajax in 1969, and Argentina’s infamous Estudiantes outfit.
18. Carlo Ancelotti
Ancelotti is one of just five managers to have won the Champions League at two different clubs – first at Milan in 2003, before ending Real Madrid’s quest for La Decima in 2014.
He began his managerial adventure with three years alongside Italy boss Arrigo Sacchi in the early-90s, then instantly took Reggiana up from Serie B.
Later, he breathed some life into former club Milan and turned a struggling side into continental kings, while titles at PSG, Chelsea and Bayern Munich add to his haul.
17. Ottmar Hitzfeld
Hitzfeld has felt the highs and lows of Champions League finals more than anyone. In 1997, his gutsy Dortmund beat Juventus to lift their only such trophy to date.
Two years on, he watched in horror as Ole Gunnar Solskjaer toe-poked Manchester United’s late winner against his stunned Bayern Munich.
‘Gottmar’ soon made amends in 2001, taking his major trophy tally to 18 over spells in Germany and Switzerland – including seven Bundesliga titles.
16. Miguel Munoz
Munoz is Real Madrid’s most successful manager. He’s also the man who once told icon Alfredo Di Stefano to ‘f**k off’.
The city native is Real’s longest-serving gaffer, having spent more than 14 years at the Bernabeu and won 14 honours including two European Cups and nine La Liga titles.
In that time Munoz became immune to egos, as shown in his team’s 1964 European Cup Final defeat to Inter when he gave a critical Di Stefano short shrift. The Blond Arrow never put a los Blancos shirt on again.
15. Vicente del Bosque
“A leader is admired – a boss is feared.” In Del Bosque’s case, he chose the path that didn’t require burning everything in sight.
Del Bosque’s mindset was to seek balance in his team, even among egos. That worked to great effect at Real Madrid, where he won claimed two La Liga crowns and two Champions Leagues in the space of four seasons.
He later took charge of his country, inheriting Luis Aragones’s European champions and guiding them to glory at the 2010 World Cup. Del Bosque’s Spain side, who regarded the ball as their own private property wherever they went, also triumphed at Euro 2012.
14. Giovanni Trapattoni
Seven men have won the European Cup as a player and manager. Miguel Munoz was first, followed in 1985 by Serie A’s most successful coach in history.
Trapattoni’s seven titles with Juventus and Inter are unrivalled, and he delivered European success to both. With Juve he also lifted the Cup Winners’ Cup and two UEFA trinkets, while his Inter charges won the latter in 1991.
Ultimately, a 39-year legacy – including titles in Germany, Portugal and Austria – will be judged on all that glitters.
13. Marcello Lippi
After Fabio Grosso netted the winning penalty for Italy against France in the 2006 World Cup Final, Lippi didn’t jump for joy.
“I turned to the bench, took off my glasses, picked up the pouch, undid the zip, put the glasses in... and then started celebrating,” he said.
He’d learned a lesson: in 1996, the Tuscan was a Champions League winner with Juventus – but his specs suffered. Lippi also landed five league titles in Turin, and another three at Guangzhou Evergrande.
12. Jose Mourinho
Love him or loathe him, Jose’s impact on football has been outstanding since he burst onto the scene as Porto boss in 2003.
His pair of Champions League successes were achieved with the Portuguese dark horses and Inter; both absolute masterclasses in coaching and man-management. He revamped Chelsea in his image, turning the Blues into a dominant force that won the title leaking only 15 goals in 2004-05.
Charismatic, petulant, demanding and ambitious, Mourinho has sealed 20 major titles in as many years as a manager. Winner.
11. Brian Clough
“Well, I ask him which way he thinks it should be done, we get down to it, we talk about it for 20 minutes and then we decide I was right.” So said Clough when asked how he reacts when a player questions his methods.
But Ol’ Big ‘Ead was a master of the carrot as well as the stick. Flanked by recruitment specialist Peter Taylor, Clough enjoyed extraordinary success at Derby (one First Division title) and Nottingham Forest (one title and back-to-back European Cups) – two provincial clubs without a league championship between them before he took charge.
Clough was never quite the same after Taylor left his side in 1982, but by then his legacy was already assured.
10. Valeriy Lobanovskyi
In the unlikely event that you’ve ever won an argument with Big Dave down the pub by reeling off an Opta stat, or explained the relative merits of ‘expected goals’ to your dad, then there’s only one man to thank.
In 1972 Lobanovskyi teamed up with Professor Anatoliy Zelentsov and began poring over endless statistical streams. “All life,” said Lobanovskyi, “is a number.”
Demanding ‘universality’ from his players – Oleg Blokhin, Igor Belanov and Andriy Shevchenko among them – the Ukrainian won 13 league titles (eight Soviet, five Ukrainian) and two Cup Winners’ Cups with Dynamo Kyiv. His 30 career honours make him the 20th century’s most decorated manager.
9. Ernst Happel
Happel was one of Rinus Michels’ big inspirations. A number of the latter’s hallmarks – a fluid 4-3-3 system, teamwork, the midfield domination – were borrowed from the Austrian, who made his name with Ajax’s arch-rivals Feyenoord.
You would struggle to find a more dominant victory than in Feyenoord’s defeat of Celtic in the 1970 European Cup Final, after which Bhoys boss Jock Stein commented, “Celtic haven’t lost to Feyenoord. I’ve lost to Happel.”
The Austrian’s second great dynasty came at Hamburg (1981-87): successive Bundesliga crowns and the 1983 European Cup.
8. Helenio Herrera
Herrera’s ultra-defensive sweeper system which inspired Italian football’s decades-long mistrust of fun will be forever synonymous with the Grande Inter side he built from 1960 to 1968; winners of three Serie A titles and the European Cup in 1964 and 1965.
The Argentine saw how psychology and diet could help a team, and broke scoring records in bagging consecutive La Liga titles with both Atletico Madrid and Barça in the ’50s – hardly the stats of a militant pragmatist.
“I’ve been accused of being tyrannical and completely ruthless,” he wrote. “But I merely implemented things that were later copied by every single club: hard work, perfectionism, training, diets. The problem is that most of the ones who copied me, copied me wrongly.”
7. Matt Busby
Busby’s career can be split into two eras: before and after 6 February 1958, the date of the Munich air disaster. Upon taking charge in 1945, Busby overhauled the squad and lifted the FA Cup in 1948 and league title in 1952.
United were at the end of their cycle by the latter, however. Busby was expected to sign big, but instead promoted a clutch of youth players whose story is well known by now: the ‘Busby Babes’ would celebrate two First Division titles between 1955 and 1957, with an average age of just 22.
They would have won so much more, had eight members of the squad not been killed on that fateful night in Munich. Bruised and broken-hearted, the Scot went on to win another two titles and the European Cup.
6. Arrigo Sacchi
For football fans, Sacchi is possibly the most important figure in history. Not because he won trophies and influenced the likes of Pep Guardiola and Jurgen Klopp – but because he was just a shoe salesman obsessed with the game.
Sacchi set about creating his masterpiece upon taking charge of Milan in 1987. Leaning heavily on the ideas that swept Ajax to success in the 1970s, he demanded his team press from the front, hold a high defensive line, employ zonal marking and play with a flat back four – a revolution that appalled Italian traditionalists.
Sacchi had the last laugh, winning one Scudetto and back-to-back European Cups. What’s more, he made Italian football beautiful in a way that no one had ever done or has since. That’s his biggest legacy.
5. Pep Guardiola
After one game of the 2008/09 season, Guardiola was feeling the pressure. Barcelona’s new coach had lost 1-0 to lowly Numancia in the La Liga opener, five days after losing 1-0 to Wisla Krakow in a dead-rubber Champions League qualifier.
By the end of that campaign, Barcelona were celebrating a treble achieved with some of the finest football ever played. In four years under their former player, Guardiola’s side won nine major trophies.
The Catalan then proceeded to take Bayern Munich to new domestic heights, before winning successive Premier League titles at Manchester City with 198 points across two seasons.
4. Bill Shankly
Shankly did more than build Liverpool; he formed a dynasty every bit as lasting as the city’s other great team from that era – John, Paul, George and Ringo.
The Scot transformed a dying, listing, decrepit Second Division outfit. “Liverpool is not only a club, it’s an institution,” said Shankly. “My aim is to bring the people close to the club and the team, and for them to be part of it.”
He did exactly that, and also won three First Division crowns, two FA Cups and the UEFA Cup for good measure. “He made the people happy,” reads the base of the statue of Shankly at Anfield. That was all he ever wanted.
3. Johan Cruyff
Whatever way you look at it, Jesus was a big deal. So large a debt do Barcelona owe to Hendrik Johannes Cruyff, they should adopt a similar calendar: BC, AC. Before Cruyff, After Cruyff.
When the Dutchman returned to the Camp Nou as coach in 1988, Barcelona had won 36 trophies in 89 years and were yet to lift the European Cup. In just 32 years since, los Cules have hoisted silverware 52 times, including five Champions League titles.
Each of those successes can be traced back to Cruyff, who promoted technique over physicality, overhauled La Masia, and introduced a style of play that remains sacred to this day – all while winning four La Liga titles and the club’s maiden Champions League.
2. Rinus Michels
Michels won the European Cup and European Championship during his distinguished career, yet arguably his greatest legacy came from a team that won absolutely nothing at all.
Yes, the Netherlands were beaten by hosts West Germany in the 1974 World Cup Final – but they played some of the most magical football in history, influencing coaching forever. Without Michels, there would have been no Cruyff, Van Gaal nor Guardiola.
Michels was no stranger to silverware, though, having guided Ajax to four Eredivisie titles and a European Cup before taking the country’s top job.
1. Alex Ferguson
When St Mirren sacked Ferguson in 1978, an industrial tribunal ruled that he had “neither by experience nor talent, any managerial ability at all.” Few judgements in history have been proven so emphatically wrong.
Ferguson brushed off his exit from Love Street and, alongside Jim McLean at Dundee United, went on to break the Old Firm duopoly with Aberdeen, who won three league titles and the Cup Winners’ Cup (beating Bayern Munich and Real Madrid in the semis and final) under his stewardship.
The Scot moved south of the border in 1986, joining Manchester United. His first seven years brought only an FA Cup and Cup Winners’ Cup, but then came an astonishing haul of 13 Premier League titles, four FA Cups and two Champions Leagues between 1993 and 2013.
“He was a genius. It was a privilege to play for him and I consider him a friend,” said former Aberdeen striker Frank McDougall. “He’s the greatest manager of all time and probably always will be.”
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