Ranked! The 100 best football managers of all time

40. Jill Ellis

Jill Ellis

(Image credit: Getty)

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

Luiz Felipe Scolari

(Image credit: PA)

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

Udo Lattek

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Lattek 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

Guus Hiddink

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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

Adidas Predator Mania

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In his first ever job, Zidane 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. 

Big egos require a big personality to lead them, and Zizou was the perfect boss for that star-studded Madrid dressing room. “Zidane made me feel special,” said Cristiano Ronaldo. ’Nuff said, really.

35. Bill Nicholson

Bill Nicholson

(Image credit: PA)

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

Viktor Maslov

(Image credit: PA)

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

Kenny Dalglish

(Image credit: PA)

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

Jupp Heynckes

(Image credit: PA)

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 then-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

Helmut Schon

(Image credit: Getty)

Germany’s consistency at international tournaments can be traced all the way back to Schon. 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.

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