Ranked! The best managers who've failed to win the Premier League
12. Louis van Gaal
The Dutch trouser-dropper was a great manager – bigger, ballsier and better than some names below – having claimed seven league titles, a Champions League and a World Cup bronze medal during his distinguished career. The reason for his lowly place here is that the Dutchman didn’t really bring those credentials to the Premier League.
Van Gaal entertained with his touchline theatrics and husky singing voice, but his Manchester United side were tedious even as they sneaked fourth spot in his first season, and an FA Cup win in his second. He departed after a 66-point, fifth-place finish, meaning United was the only club he failed to win a league title with.
11. David Moyes
No chuckling at the back. The Scot’s stock may have plummeted since he took the poisoned chalice of the Manchester United job and downed it in one, but failure at Old Trafford can't eradicate the 11 full seasons he spent regularly overachieving with a fiscally under-powered Everton.
Moyes stuck the Toffees into the top six on five occasions (they even cracked the top four in 2004/05) despite the growing financial might of clubs around them. He never came close to winning the title but he’s one of only four managers to rack up 200+ Premier League wins. Renew that man’s United contract now.
10. Harry Redknapp
A media-charming charlatan or the best modern manager the England team never had? The truth is somewhere in the middle, yet East End wheele-... erm, respected coach took the majority of his clubs to unexpected highs: West Ham overachieved, Portsmouth won an FA Cup, while Tottenham qualified for the Champions League then cantered to the quarter-finals – unheard of feats in the pre-Pochettino era.
Fourth at Spurs is Redknapp’s best top-tier finish, but he’s racked up 236 Premier League wins (only Alex Ferguson and Arsene Wenger have more) without managing a club that was expected to challenge for the title. Wind down your car window and give him some credit.
9. Guus Hiddink
Like Van Gaal, an all-time great manager held back here by the brevity of his Premier League stint. Unlike King Louis, Golden Guus is fondly recalled by his one English club side. Twice stepping in to steady Chelsea’s ship mid-season, Hiddink’s first run in 2008/09 was particularly impressive. He lost only once in 22 games across all competitions; enough to win the FA Cup, if not enough to catch Manchester United in the league.
His second spell in 2015/16 began with a 12-game unbeaten league run. Impeccable numbers, although Frank Lampard wouldn’t welcome him unexpectedly turning up at Cobham any time soon...
8. Martin O’Neill
Like Moyes (but less than Moyes; because never go full Moyes), O’Neill is a manager whose reputation has suffered due to recent underwhelming stints. Yet it’s worth recalling that he’s won trophies and hero status at three very different clubs: Celtic, Wycombe and Leicester - establishing the latter in the Premier League while delivering two League Cups.
Aston Villa finished sixth three seasons in a row under his stewardship, which – judging by Villa’s travails since – is nothing to be sniffed at. Despite being linked to many top jobs, including the No.1 gig at Manchester United during Alex Ferguson's aborted retirement, O’Neill never quite got the truly top Premier League role his talents once deserved.
7. Brendan Rodgers
Put the Dulux teeth, envelopes and Brent speak to one side. Over the last decade, Rodgers has guided Swansea into the Premier League, taken Liverpool to second, been Celtic’s best manager since Jock Stein and even found time for a promising start to his Leicester career.
Outstanding, as the man himself would say. His place here, above European champions Van Gaal and Hiddink, is largely due to his so-very-near season with Liverpool. While many write it off as being a Luis Suarez-inspired run, it’s harsh to give Rodgers zero acknowledgement for overseeing such an exhilarating near-miss.
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