The 10 best managers in Europe you've probably not heard of... yet
Domenico Tedesco (Schalke)
Schalke fans could hardly believe it when their club named an anonymous 32-year-old as their new coach last summer. Granted, Tedesco had managed to save Erzgebirge Aue from relegation to the third division in truly remarkable fashion, but did that make him ready for one of the most demanding jobs in German football? Apparently, it did.
Sporting director Christian Heidel regularly gives chances to unknown young coaches, having promoted both Jurgen Klopp and Thomas Tuchel while at Mainz. This was his boldest gamble yet, though, and it’s paid off handsomely – the Royal Blues are on the verge of qualifying for the Champions League and are currently second to Bayern Munich in the Bundesliga.
The Italy-born Tedesco, who never played professionally, has a BA in business engineering and previously worked for Mercedes - but his degree likely won't be needed again in this astonishing career of his.
Pablo Machin (Girona)
Simply, Machin is a local hero in Catalonia. Having saved Girona from relegation to the third division in 2014, he's made revolutionary changes at the modest club, helping his team to play organised and attractive football.
Heartbreakingly, they failed in the 2015 and 2016 play-offs, but were finally promoted to La Liga for the first time in their history last summer. Girona are now enjoying a superb debut season sitting proudly in the top half of the table. Machin is only 43, and the cooperation between Girona and Manchester City won't do his career any harm. Expect him to coach a top club eventually.
Florian Kohfeldt (Werder Bremen)
Werder seemed almost certain relegation candidates at the beginning of the season, and fans were pessimistic in the extreme when Kohfeldt replaced Alexander Nouri as manager in late October 2017. The team were winless and hopeless, but now their place in the Bundesliga is safe. In fact, Werder have been one of the best teams in Germany over the second half of the season, with six wins in their last nine matches.
Aged just 35, Kohfeldt has never played professional football, and coached various youth teams at Bremen for a decade before he got the top job. Now he has suddenly become Werder’s messiah, and his team is very good tactically – Kohfeldt prepares specific surprises for different opponents.
Erik ten Hag (Ajax)
It was only natural that Ten Hag was appointed Ajax coach in December 2017. Right now, the 48-year-old is the most original and unorthodox of all Dutch coaches; his ideas are a mixture of different philosophies.
Formerly a tough defender at Twente, Ten Hag served as assistant to Fred Rutten at PSV Eindhoven, then led modest Go Ahead Eagles to promotion and moved on to Bayern Munich's reserves. That's where he met Pep Guardiola, and also impressed the then-sporting director Matthias Sammer.
Upon returning to Holland in 2015, Ten Hag implemented some of Guardiola’s principles at Utrecht, leading them through two magnificent seasons that included a KNVB Cup final appearance in 2016. Humble yet charismatic, he has started his Ajax career positively. A lot is expected from him in the coming years.
Ivan Leko (Brugge)
Brugge fans were generally disappointed when 40-year-old Croat Leko was named as coach last summer. Granted, he used to play for the club, but his inexperience was definitely against him. How wrong they were to doubt him.
With Leko on the touchline, the blue and blacks suddenly flourished, playing the best football in Belgium by a distance and getting phenomenal results at the top of the table. He is tactically flexible and a great motivator, proving himself as an ambitious coach with boundless self-belief. Winning the league title in his debut season would be a great achievement; the sky's the limit for him thereafter.