FourFourTwo’s 50 Best Football Managers in the World 2017: 45-41

Antonio Conte’s protege, a game-changer in English football and the man working miracles at Barcelona (no, not that one)

45. Guillermo Almada

Guillermo Almada

Being called the Uruguayan Pep Guardiola, as newspaper Marca labelled Guillermo Almada, brings an extra pressure. But it’s safe to say that the 47-year-old has coped well with it, since he guided the Ecuadorian Barcelona to one of their best campaigns ever, winning the league title while breaking records for the most points in a season, longest unbeaten run and most goals scored.

At the same time, he prevented local rivals Emelec from securing their fourth local title in a row. It’s no surprise that he’s been earmarked as the man to succeed Oscar Tabarez as the next coach of the Uruguay national team.

“He had the chance to coach [Uruguayan] River Plate and accomplished a lot with very few resources – it was a pleasure to watch his training sessions and the way he worked tactically with the players,” former River president Alvaro Silva said. “Tabarez has still got some time ahead of him, but I’m sure that when the day comes Guille will be a very good alternative.”

Words: Marcus Alves

44. Massimo Carrera

Massimo Carrera

For 16 years, Spartak Moscow – Russia’s best supported and most decorated club – lurked in the shadows, unable to reclaim the crown and the glory that comes with it. They went from one failure to another, and things went from bad to worse early this season when they were eliminated from Europe and the domestic cup by September.

But then Massimo Carrera stepped out of the shadows himself and dragged the side with him. He wasn’t even supposed to be there. He was Antonio Conte’s right-hand man, both in Juventus and in Italy, but couldn’t move to London last summer with his boss, as Chelsea apparently insisted on keeping Steve Holland as their assistant manager.

So Carrera took up the assistant post at Spartak and, when manager Dmitri Alenichev resigned, was appointed as a temporary solution. But the players loved him, he gradually transformed the squad’s losing mentality, and ended up winning the Russian league title comfortably. The Champions League awaits for the first time since 2012 – and possibly, a reunion with Conte. 

Words: Alex Holiga

43. Mark Sampson

Mark Sampson

England's women embody the power of belief, and manager Sampson is central to that identity. That said, to say he is the sole reason for England’s climb alongside the world elite would be a disservice to the talent that the Three Lionesses possess.

However, Sampson has transformed England since taking over in 2013, guiding the team to a surprise third-place finish at the 2015 World Cup. There, in the semi-final, is where we truly got the glimpse of why any player would want to play for the 34-year-old Welshman. Laura Bassett’s bizarre own goal in stoppage proved the brutal game-winner for Japan, denying England a trip to the final. Afterwards, Sampson gave one of the most impassioned pleas to a nation to support his player and his team.

Earlier this year, Sampson guided England past the United States in the U.S., and he has England among the favourites for this year’s European Championship. His guidance could help England break Germany’s six-tournament run at the top.

Words: Jeff Kassouf

42. Marco Silva

Marco Silva

When Mike Phelan left Hull, the club likely weren’t inundated with applications. The running battles between the supporters and the Allam family made it one of the more toxic working environments in the Premier League, and the apparent lack of transfer ambition would have dulled the appeal even further.

Silva’s impact could be more conveniently described if relegation had been avoided, but even with that ugly ending, he performed far beyond expectation. Hull didn’t just become obdurate and difficult to beat under his guidance, they started to play some of the better football in the country.

He may not have saved them, but Silva imparted a group of unfamiliar players with style and discipline in double-quick time. Impressive - especially for someone who ‘didn’t know the league’. Perhaps the trophies he won while managing in Portugal and Greece counted for something after all?

Watford were evidently paying close attention, and when Walter Mazzarri was dismissed at the end of the season, the Hornets wasted little time in announcing Silva as his successor. That will prove very interesting: the Hertfordshire side are one of English football’s most fluid clubs, but with their superior level of talent and Silva’s proven knack for hastily creating productivity, both look well placed to grow their status within the game.

Words: Seb Stafford-Bloor

41. Phillip Cocu

Phillip Cocu

It was April when Cocu publicly admitted that it was very difficult for PSV to participate in the title race, given there was a five-point gap to Feyenoord with only six games left to play and the leaders showing no sign of relenting.

For what it's worth, PSV actually only lost twice in the league all season - both times to Feyenoord. They even beat high-flying Ajax to dent their title chances in a late act of schadenfreude, but ultimately it felt like that the season seemed to very much pass them by.

It’s curious that the dull tactics which led to Frank de Boer’s downfall at Ajax in 2014/15 – at the hands of Cocu’s PSV nonetheless – found a home for themselves in Eindhoven in 2016/17. Even in the face of striker Luuk de Jong’s descent to Stormtrooper-like shooting accuracy, Cocu’s side continued crossing excessively and could not pick a way through. They ultimately struggled to find the goals to turn draws into wins.

Cocu showed his managerial authority late on in the season, finally losing patience and benching club captain De Jong. It’s encouraging that he's willing to recognise things that are not going right.

After back-to-back Eredivisie wins in 2015 and 2016, the former Barcelona man has enough credit in the bank to stay at PSV next season. But it will be a crucial one for him to refresh his tactics and approach.

Words: Priya Ramesh

The list

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See also...

FourFourTwo's 50 Best Football Managers in the World 2017