Top 10 Best Football Managers Of All Time

Every film has a director. Every class has a professor. Every book has an author. You can't take away the leader from a team and expect it to perform. And if you ask me about the greatest leaders on the football pitch, it has to be the managers. In this particular sport more than any other, the managers have an immense role to play. Let us take a look into the ten greatest football managers of all time.

List of Top 10 Best Football Managers Of All Time

10. Zinedine Zidane


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Zinedine Zidane, popularly known as "Zizou", is a legend of France is the true sense of the word. Widely regarded as one of the greatest midfielders of all time; no one comes close to him in terms of vision, ball control, elegance, and technique. 

With having both played and now managing the Los Blancos, Zidane is one of the greatest legends of Real Madrid. He has a mind-boggling overall win percentage of nearly 70%. He has already won 1 LaLiga championship and 3 back to back UEFA Champions League titles in his full-time managerial career of a little over three years. 

The masterclass of Zizou especially in the UCL knockout games remains unmatched with his record streak of 3 UCL titles consecutively. Justifiably known for his black magic when it comes to the UCL.

He was appointed as a special adviser to Madrid's first team in response to an appeal made by then-coach Mourinho. In 2013, he was appointed assistant coach to Carlo Ancelotti at Madrid; the same year as La Decima, when Madrid went to win the UCL for the tenth time in their history. 

He then went on to become the coach for Real Madrid Castilla and was finally appointed as the head coach on the first team in 2016. Following the victory of Madrid against Liverpool to win the 13th UCL title and his 3rd consecutive title as the manager for the club, he resigned citing the need for change in the club. 

Following the poor results of the club since his departure, he returned as the head coach of Madrid in March 2019. 

Merci Zizou as they say.

9. Helenio Hererra

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The Argentine manager is one of the most influential and successful managers of all time. With having managed clubs like Athletico Madrid, FC Barcelona, and Inter Milan; and witness success overall, it would be a crime not to include him in this list. 

He was nicknamed the Wizard for his extraordinary managerial skills. He was controversial nonetheless especially for his ruthless managing. He invented the 'ritiro', which is used by teams even today where the entire squad isn't allowed to go home but check into a resort to train and bond together. He knew how to extract the drive from each one of his players which made him the legend that he is today.

He has won 16 trophies in his career as a manager. He won two league titles with Barcelona and Athletico each and also 2 European Cups(now the UCL) and a Spanish Cup with Barcelona.

However, his most successful spell came from Inter Milan where he won 3 league titles and 2 European Cups. He also won another Italian Cup with AS Roma later on. 

8. Pep Guardiola


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Arguably one of the greatest coaches in modern football, Pep has managed top tier clubs in Germany, Spain, and England. He has managed clubs like Bayern Munich and FC Barcelona and currently manages Manchester City.

He has won 3 LaLiga championships for Barcelona and 3 Bundesliga titles for Bayern. He has won 2 UEFA Champions League as a manager and 2 Premier League titles with Manchester City.

He is a man who takes risks more likely, but they sure do pay off well in the end. He employed Messi in the now-famous "false-nine" who went on to score 47 goals that season. He has given debuts to players like Sergio Busquets, Thiago Alcantara, and many more. 

Even with a managerial career of over 12 years, he holds an overall win percentage of nearly 72 which in itself is legendary. He has become the first manager since Sir Alex Ferguson to win back to back Premier League trophies. A chain reaction of legacy passed on from Michels to Cryuff to Guardiola led to “tiki-taka” in Barcelona. 

He has revolutionized football through his strategic brilliance and passion all over the globe. A tactical masterclass and a reader of the game. Pep Guardiola.

7. Carlo Ancelotti


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 The Italian started his managerial career way back in 1995 and continues to coach Everton in the present day. He has managed clubs from all from the globe including the likes of Juventus, AC Milan, Chelsea FC, Real Madrid, and Bayern Munich before coming here. 

He has an overall win percentage of nearly 60% with a career so long. He is undoubtedly one of the most celebrated managers in Europe. He has won 20 trophies during his career and is only one out of three to have won the UEFA Champions League thrice, twice with AC Milan and once with Real Madrid. He has won three Seria A titles. He helped Madrid end their UCL drought and claimed their 10th UCL title in 2013-2014 with Zidane as his assistant coach. 

He has won the Premier League, the League 1 championship once, and even the Bundesliga.

A proper manager in terms of consistency and knowing how to work his players no matter what the team. Don Carlo.

6. Johan Cruyff


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Johan Cruyff, a Dutch professional football player and coach. As a player, he won the Ballon d'Or three times in 1971,1973 and 1974. He was an exponent of the football philosophy called "Total Football" explored by Rinus Michels and is undoubtedly one of the greatest players in football history.

After retiring from playing, Cruyff followed the footsteps of his mentor Michels and coached Ajax to victory in European Cup Winners Cup in 1987. He then returned to Barcelona, in 1988-1989 season, this time as a coach. He brought in players like Pep Guardiola, Mari Bakero among others. Under Cruyff, Barca experienced a glorious era. In the space of five years (1989–1994), he led the club to four European finals (two European Cup Winners' Cup finals and two European Cup finals). Cruyff's track record includes one European Cup, four Liga championships, one Cup Winners' Cup, one Copa del Rey, and four Supercopa titles.

Under Cruyff, Barca's "Dream Team" won four Laliga titles in a row. His style of play and football philosophy has influenced managers and players including the likes of Eric Cantona, Sir Alex Ferguson, Pep Guardiola, Luis Enrique, and many more.

5. Jose Mourinho


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The Portuguese had previously had a semi-professional football career before making his coaching breakthrough in the backroom staff of Sir Bobby Robson at Sporting Lisbon, Porto and Barcelona. 

He started his Premier League career in London when he was named the manager of Chelsea in 2004, before leaving early in the 2007-2008 campaign. He returned to coaching the blues again in 2013. Mourinho also won back-to-back Portuguese league titles and two domestic cup competitions at Porto before Chelsea came calling.

In his first campaign at Stamford Bridge in 2004/05, Chelsea won their first top-flight title for 50 years with a record haul of 95 points.

He won the Premier League thrice in 2004-2005, 2005-2006, and 2014-2015 where he was also named as the manager of the season. He has also coached FC Porto, Inter Milan, Real Madrid, and Manchester United with an overall win percentage of nearly 65% in his entire managerial career for over 25 years. 

He has also won the Seria A championship two times, Primeira Liga championship two times, 1 LaLiga title, the UEFA Europa Cup twice, and the UEFA Champions League twice. Currently managing Tottenham Hotspur in the Premier League, he is one of the most decorated football managers in football. 

4. Sir Matt Busby



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They say that it takes a great manager to build a good team. Sir Matt Busby build three. A legend of Manchester United whose statue stands tall outside the Old Trafford even today. 

Busby won five league titles, five Charity Shields, two FA Cups, and a European Cup. He has witnessed one of the greatest tragedies in football and yet managed to rebuild the team to glory. "The Busby Babes" including players like Bobby Charlton and Duncan Edwards showed enormous potential before most of them were wiped out in the Munich Air Disaster of 1958. However, that didn't stop him and ten years later he build another great team, added the likes of George Best and Denis Law along with Bobby Charlton, and won the 1968 European Cup which he was persuing to win before the Munich incident. 

The fact that Manchester United won their much-celebrated Champions League title on the 26th of May, 1999 after a miraculous comeback came on what would have been Sir Matt’s 90th birthday can itself be perceived as their cosmic connection. More than just a coach for the club, his legend lives on forever.

3. Arsene Wenger



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Whenever we talk about Arsenal, the name of Arsene Wenger slips in the discussion someway or the other. One of the most composed yet shrewd managers of the game. Arsenal who were known particularly known for their boring football back in the day went from there to be the best club in the country under this man. 

In the 2003/2004 season, he lead the Arsenal side including players like Thierry Henry, Patrick Vieira and others to an unbeaten season and won the Premier League. This was a first of its kind in over a century and the record still holds. Wenger's Arsenal still are the only "Invincibles".

He has won two French league titles, a French Cup, a Japanese league title, three Premier League titles, four FA Cups, and four Charity Shields. He was also voted World Manager of the Year in 1998.The legend of Wenger remains loyal to Arsenal and he hasn’t managed any other club after retiring as a manager from Arsenal. A Gunner in the true sense of the word and the passion. 

2. Sir Alex Ferguson


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Sir Alex Ferguson not just surpassed Matt Busby as Manchester United's greatest ever manager, he has surpassed everybody as the greatest ever manager arguably.
Not only did he produce an entire team of legends but harvested in youths like Cristiano Ronaldo who later went on to become one of the greatest in the game. He understood his lads more than anyone else and they played for him and the club. The elegance and atmosphere that he created at Manchester United is a dream for any football club out there.

Before he went to United, he made a name for himself by breaking the Old Firm duopoly in Scotland, leading Aberdeen to three league titles. He added four Scottish Cups and a Scottish League Cup, as well as making history by leading Aberdeen to success in Europe, beating Real Madrid in the final of the UEFA Cup Winners' Cup. Then came Manchester United. 

After joining Manchester United, he proclaimed that he wanted to "knock Liverpool off their fucking perch". 23 years later, he can safely say that he succeeded. He has won ten Premier League titles, five FA Cups, three League Cups, eight Charity Shields, a Cup Winners' Cup, and two European Cups.

He has been named English Manager of the Year eight times and has picked up the World Manager of the Year award a remarkable four times.

The greatest football manager that I have witnessed in my lifetime. Nothing less than a role model for me and millions out there. Sir Alex Ferguson.

1. Rinus Michels


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The greatest football manager of all time in terms of quality of football played and his contribution towards the game. 

He is the maan who gave us “Total Football”. Even though he was lucky enough to have players like Cryuff to support his philosophy and implement his style on the pitch; he deserves as much credit for bringing in that to the game. The legacy passed on from him to Cryuff when he started his managerial career too with Ajax and later Barcelona, where he debuted Pep Guardiola. Pep returned to Barcelona as a coach later on and introduced “tiki taka” with the likes of legends like Messi, Iniesta and Xavi implementing it on the pitch. No one knows when this chain reaction will stop but every football fan out there hopes that it never does. 

He won four Dutch league titles, a Dutch Cup, a Spanish league title, a Spanish Cup, and a European Cup in his club managerial career, and continued that success at international level. He employed his Total Football for Holland as well, leading them to the 1974 World Cup final, and fourteen years later he brought it back to guide Holland to success in Euro 1988.

He was declared as the manager of the century by FIFA in 1999. Perhaps many of us haven’t witnessed his football directly on screen but we have surely seen his impact in the modern game. The legacy lives on. The beauty lives on. 

Honorary Mentions

  1. Jürgen Klopp - 1* UEFA Champions League Winner , 1* UEFA Super Cup Winner, 2* German Champion Winner, 2* German Cup Winner, 2* German Super Cup winner, 1* World’s Best Club Coach.
  2. Louis van Gaal - 1* Champions League Winner, 1* English FA Cup Winner, 2* Spanish Champion, 1* Spanish Cup Winner, 1* German Champion, 4* Dutch Champion, 1* Intercontinental Cup Winner, 1* UEFA Cup Winner.
  3. Massimiliano Allegri - 6* Italian Champion, 4* Italian Cup Winner, 3* Italian Super Cup Winner, 1* Italienischer Drittligameister 
  4. Marcello Lippi - 1* Champions League Winner, 5* Italian Champion, 1* Italian Cup Winner, 4* Italian Super Cup Winner, 3* Chinese Champion, 1* Chinese Cup Winner, 1* World Cup Winner, 2* World’s Best Club Coach.  
  5. Fabio Capello - 1* Champions League Winner, 2* Spanish Cup, 5* Italian Champion, 4* Italian Super Cup Winner, 1* UEFA Super Cup Winner.

This is our list of the top 10 best football Managers of All Time.

10. Zinedine Zidane

9. Helenio Hererra

8. Pep Guardiola

7. Carlo Ancelotti

6. Johan Cruyff

5. Jose Mourinho

4. Sir Matt Busby

3. Arsene Wenger

2. Sir Alex Ferguson

1. Rinus Michels


- By Syed Tawsif Ahmed

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