FourFourTwo's 50 Best Football Managers in the World 2018

50 Best Football Managers in the World
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40. Gareth Southgate (England)

Wasn’t that great? To feel engaged with the England team again is a fine feeling and Southgate has been one of the key architects of that bond. A World Cup semi-final was also a fine return from a tournament where almost nothing was expected, and the FA have been quite correct with their swift offer of a new contract.

There are caveats, though. Southgate spent 2018 proving that he could manage a squad and foster an appropriate environment, but there were certainly lessons to take home from Russia.

Long term, he will be judged on whether he can apply that earned knowledge and develop true control of games. – Seb Stafford-Bloor

39. Luciano Spalletti (Inter)

Lauded for his cavalier attacking style at Roma, Spalletti moved to Inter in the summer of 2017 and promptly returned the Milanese giants to the Champions League after a six-year absence.

His team – much like his former charges in the Eternal City – continues to suffer surprising losses at unexpected intervals, but with a talent-laden squad at his disposal he is slowly rebuilding the Nerazzurri into a potent Serie A force. – Adam Digby

38. Stefano Pioli (Fiorentina)

Not only has Pioli moulded an entirely new Fiorentina side – the youngest in Europe on average age – into a vibrant, attacking outfit, but he demonstrates all the personal attributes that his team have so sorely needed.

This was never more evident following the shocking death of his captain Davide Astori last March, with the coach personally breaking the tragic news to each member of his team. Now the Viola go again for Europe under Pioli, united in their goals and with a renewed positive outlook. – Adam Digby

37. Abdullah Avci (Istanbul Basaksehir)

Fatih Terim is considered Turkey's greatest coach, but even compared to him Avci is respected as the country's greatest tactical mind. Working far from the spotlight at Istanbul Basaksehir, a club almost without fans, he has built a magnificent team that threatens the hegemony of big three Fenerbahce, Galatasaray and Besiktas.

Basaksehir finished second in 2017, third in 2018, and will fight for the Super Lig title this season as well, mostly thanks to the exceptional work of the long-term plan-loving coach. – Michael Yokhin

36. Adi Hutter (Eintracht Frankfurt)

Trophyless since 1987, Young Boys were Swiss football’s eternal losers, often falling apart when it mattered most. Then Hutter came along, bringing with him the self-belief to finally ended the Bern club’s curse and win the Super League ahead of Basel this summer.

The Austrian loves quick transitions, somewhat reminiscent of Jurgen Klopp, so it’s only natural that he moved to the Bundesliga for the new season, taking over at ambitious German Cup winners Eintracht Frankfurt. – Michael Yokhin

35. Marco Giampaolo (Sampdoria)

Not only Giampaolo did take over from departing legend Maurizio Sarri at Empoli in 2016, he actually improved the team and was quickly snapped up by Sampdoria.

There, he has found the perfect blend of young, hungry talent (Dennis Praet) and experienced veterans (captain Vasco Reginin and 35-year-old striker Fabio Quagliarella), moulding them into a formidable team capable of shocking Serie A’s top sides. Milan Skriniar and Lucas Torreira may have secured moves to bigger clubs, but the 51-year-old continues to deliver results for the Genovese outfit. – Adam Digby 

34. Rafael Benitez (Newcastle)

Rafael Benitez loves a fight. Whether his own fans (Valencia and Chelsea), the owners (Liverpool) or the players (Real Madrid), Benitez will never lose his unshakable belief that he is always right.

The Newcastle squad which finished 10th last season had no business being in the Premier League’s top half; the footballing equivalent of winning the derby on a gerbil. Now it’s up to Mike Ashley to back Benitez, or risk losing both him and the Magpies’ top-flight status.

The rumour mill suggests a temporary truce has been forged at a club dinner attended by manager, players and owner, the latter promising to spend in January. Ashley would do well to pay up because Benitez thrives in this sort of environment. – Andrew Murray

33. Sergio Conceição (Porto)

It’s little wonder that Marco Silva rejected the chance to coach Porto in the summer of 2017 – the brief was to make €100 million from player sales to satisfy FFP and win the Primeira Liga back from Benfica.

Conceição grasped the challenge with both hands and his positive attitude – reflected in his gutsy, tough and attacking team – transformed a club that had spent four trophyless years in the doldrums. His Dragons show real bravery in Europe, too, no matter the opposition. – Andy Brassell

32. Marcelo Gallardo (River Plate)

Argentines call him 'Napoleon' for a reason. In six continental tournaments with River Plate, Gallardo has managed to lead the Buenos Aires giants to five semi-finals, winning the Copa Libertadores, a Copa Sudamericana and two Recopas, among other trophies.

Another disciple from Marcelo Bielsa’s school, ‘El Muneco’ (The Doll) was the first coach in the country’s first division to hire a female assistant as a member of his staff and has recently renewed his contract until 2021. If the 45-cap former playmaker sees that deal out, Gallardo’s seven-year spell will be the longest in River history. – Marcus Alves

31. Unai Emery (Arsenal)

Emery’s spell at PSG was a damp squib – his card was marked after losing a one-horse title race in his first season, and watching the Parisians blow a 4-0 first-leg win against Barcelona in the Champions League. Ultimately, Emery didn’t make it beyond the last 16 and struggled with the internal politics of a notoriously demanding club, although he redeemed himself somewhat with a straightforward title in his final year.  

At Arsenal, the Spaniard has restored a feel-good factor long lost at the Emirates Stadium. It’s early days, but there’s much to be optimistic about for Gooners in their new era. – Joe Brewin

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