FourFourTwo’s 50 Best Football Managers in the World 2017: 35 to 31

An an ice-cold tactician who warms the hearts of fans and a certain French manager who sharply divides opinion 

35. Senol Gunes

Senol Gunes

Arguably the best goalkeeper in Turkish history, Gunes is one of its very best coaches as well. The man from Trabzon has always been seen as an outsider in Istanbul, and wasn't given the credit he deserved even after guiding the national team to the unprecedented third place at the 2002 World Cup.

Lately, though, he’s finally got his due respect after winning two championship titles in a row with Besiktas. He might have spent his playing career between the posts, but Gunes is a very attack-minded coach who’s especially good at helping strikers to fulfil their potential.

Having enhanced the confidence of Shota Arveladze, Fatih Tekke and Burak Yilmaz over the years, he worked wonders with the on-loan Mario Gomez in 2015/16. Besiktas were very close to qualifying for the last 16 in the Champions League last season – and should make a lot of headlines in Europe again next season.

Words: Michael Yokhin

34. Thomas Tuchel

Thomas Tuchel

If it seems strange to include Tuchel – who lost his job at Borussia Dortmund only a few weeks ago – on a list of the world’s 50 best managers, consider his successful and enjoyable spells at Mainz (from 2009 to 2014) and Dortmund. Simply, he deserves his place amongst the world’s managing elite.

Calling Tuchel’s managing style innovative is fair: training sessions can include extra objects for players to carry during technical exercises, diamond-shaped or extremely narrowed playing fields, and rigorous self-evaluation following data analysis.

He’s the idol of football hipsters around the world; a top-flight manager who is genuinely intrigued and influenced by analytical phenomena such as ‘Expected Goals’ or ‘Packing’. Tuchel expects his players to be capable of functioning in a variety of formations and systems, and to always maintain an extremely attacking playing style with a team-oriented press.

When he succeeds in implementing his principles, his teams are a joy to watch.

Words: Sam Planting

33. Rafa Benitez

Rafa Benitez

For someone who’s largely been painted as a cold-hearted, technocratic tactics robot, Benitez doesn’t half know how to win the unrequited adoration of a fanbase. At Liverpool, he remains one of the Anfield faithful’s most treasured managers. Their fondness stems not only from the 2005 Istanbul triumph and the majestic, oh-so-nearly side of 2008/09, but the way Benitez embraced the club and the city (not to mention going to war on behalf of LFC against a parasitic ownership regime and losing his job as a result).

In Newcastle, a similar story has played out: a club in Britain’s old industrial heartlands, left behind by the finances and money of the Premier League era, has been reinvigorated by a tubby touchline tactician. Apathy has become enthusiasm. Given how he’s been kicked about by the game – his treatment at Inter, Chelsea and boyhood club Real Madrid were especially brutal – it’s pleasing to note how the twinkly eyed romantic within Benitez has not just survived in recent years, but grown more conspicuous.

None of this is to mention that he's a fine and high-pedigree coach, too. Last season’s promotion at the first time of asking was what you would expect from a manager with eight major trophies in three countries. Provided there are no table/lamp shade disputes anytime soon (always a latent danger with Mike Ashley), expect Newcastle to make eyes at the Premier League’s top half.

Words: Alex Hess

32. Eduardo Berizzo

Eduardo Berizzo

Part of a Newell Old Boy’s team, of which six players would become coaches in the future, it was wired into Eduardo Berizzo that managing was next. It wasn’t coincidence, given Marcelo ‘Loco’ Bielsa was both his superior and inspiration.

Berizzo guided Chilean club O’Higgins to their first ever league title in 2013, before moving to Celta Vigo as coach, where he previously spent four years as a player. He bettered Luis Enrique’s achievements, finishing eighth immediately, before qualifying for the Europa League in sixth place in 2016.

The Argentine made club history last season, guiding Celta to the last four of European competition for the first time. A narrow loss to Manchester United, plus a Copa del Rey semi-final defeat, was a bittersweet end to his final chapter at Balaidos. ‘Thank you Berizzo’ read a farewell banner in the stands, but soon he will return as Sevilla boss.

Words: Simon Harrison

31. Arsene Wenger

Arsene Wenger

A coaching wizard who has assembled Arsenal’s most treasured teams and delivered their greatest triumphs, or a specialist in failure forever trying to dress up stagnation as progress?

A professorial pioneer who revolutionised an entire country’s approach to football, or a luddite who is stuck in the past and wilfully blind to his team’s faults?

A masterful economist who delivers stability and responsibility in the age of blank cheque books and parasite owners, or a blinkered idealist whose warped view of spending has left him destined to fail?

Part of the fascination with the Wenger soap opera is that you feel you have to pick a side. The truth, though, falls somewhere in the middle. The alternatives listed above are all false dichotomies. The real Wenger contains elements of them all – it’s what makes him such a singular and endlessly absorbing case study. Wenger may not be the most successful manager out there today but – as well as being charming, urbane, erudite and hugely likable – he is easily the most interesting.

Words: Alex Hess

The list

50 to 4645 to 41 • 40 to 36 • 35 to 31 • 30 to 26 • 25 to 21 • 20 • 19 • 18 • 17 • 16 • 15 • 14 • 13 • 12 • 11 • 10 • 98 • 7 • 6 • 5 • 4 • 3 • 21

See also...

FourFourTwo's 50 Best Football Managers in the World 2017