Having already written an article on ‘Manchester City’s most successful managers ever, based on win percentage, here is our next article on City’s managers. In this article we will have a look at 10 greatest Manchester City managers ever, based on overall performances.
Here are the 10 greatest Manchester City managers ever –
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10. Tom Maley
Tom Maley was the first truly great Manchester manager. He arrived at Hyde Road following City’s relegation in 1902 and quickly demonstrated a passion for stylish football. His footballing upbringing had come mainly in Scotland where he played for several clubs including Partick Thistle, Third Lanark, Hibernian, Celtic, and then he had a spell with Preston North End in 1891.
An amateur during his playing days, he worked as a school teacher and later governor. He left this role in 1902 to become manager of Manchester City, helping them to their first major honor, the 1903-04 FA Cup. After leaving City in 1906 he became manager of Bradford Park Avenue then later assisted Southport.
9. Les McDowall
India born Les McDowall was a Scottish football player and manager. He managed Manchester City between 1950 and 1963, and then Oldham athletic. A wing half or centre half, Manchester City paid £7,000 for his services in 1937 and between then and 1948 he played 129 times for the team scoring 8 goals.
He was also captain of the time for a short while. The mid 1950s were the high points of McDowall’s career as manager of Man City. McDowall was the longest-serving manager in Manchester City’s history, his tenure spanning 13 years.
8. Tony Book
After the resignation of Manchester City manager Johnny Hart due to ill-health, Book took temporary responsibility for first-team affairs, and was named assistant manager when Ron Saunders became the next permanent manager. At this point Book retired from playing to concentrate on management. Saunders was sacked after less than six months, and Book again took on the caretaker role, and was appointed permanent manager one game later. The first notable victory of Book’s management was a 1–0 Manchester Derby win, best known for the back-heel scored by Denis Law.
In 1976, Book’s City side won the League final, making him the first person to win the competition as both player and manager. City continued their run of form into the following season, enjoying an impressive league campaign where they finished in second place, only a point behind winners Liverpool.
Book remained manager until 1979, when he was replaced by his former mentor Malcolm Allison. He is widely regarded as one of the greatest Manchester City managers ever.
7. Wilf Wild
In Wild’s first season in charge Manchester City reached the 1933 FA Cup, but lost 3–0 to a Everton. The following season Wild again led City to the final, this time emerging as 2–1 winners against Portsmouth. The FA Cup success was accompanied by a fifth place League finish, and the two subsequent seasons also resulted in top half finishes.
The consistency of the preceding seasons was built upon in 1936-37 though the season had an indifferent start in which the team won two of their opening ten matches. By the Christmas results had improved, and in the second half of the season Wild’s side embarked on a remarkable unbeaten run, going without defeat in the 22 matches between 26 December and the end of the season. On 10 April City faced Arsenal, the dominant team of the 1930s, and won 2–0 to confirm their position as contenders for the championship. A fortnight later City claimed a seventh consecutive win, beating Sheffield Wednesday 4–1, and became champions of England for the first time.
After fourteen difficult but mainly successful years Wild asked the Board to bring in a new man. Former Captain Sam Cowan was recruited in December 1946 and Wild was allowed back to perform the role of secretary. He may not be the first name most think of when they talk about great City managers, but Wild was the most successful of all Blue managers until the arrival of Joe Mercer in 1965.
6. Ernest Mangnall
Mangnall moved to Manchester City directly from United. His last game in charge of the Reds was the Manchester derby of September 1912 , at that time it was already known he would become City manager. The Blues won 1–0 at Old Trafford and the media focused on Mangnall’s delight. He went on to become one of the greatest Manchester City managers ever.
He managed City from 1912 until 1924, the interruption of World War I would mean his spell there only covered eight Football League seasons.
His best season with the club was 1920-21, when City would finish runners-up in the First Division the top-level of English football at the time. Mangnall’s place in Mancunian football is significant as many believe he was the instigator behind United’s move to Old Trafford and City’s move to Maine Road.
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5. Kevin Keegan
On 24 May 2001, Keegan became the manager of Manchester City, who had just been relegated from the Premier League. Keegan signed experienced international players such as Stuart Pearce, Eyal and Ali Benarbia. That season, City were promoted as Division One champions after scoring 108 league goals. Keegan was the first manager in the Premier League era to win the Division One title with two different clubs.
In preparation for his second season as manager in 2002-03, he signed Nicolas Anelka, Peter Schmiechel and Vivian Foe. That season saw Manchester City win against Liverpool at Anfield and take four points from Manchester United, securing their Premier League status comfortably by finishing ninth.
Keegan also guided City into the UEFA Cup, qualifying via the Uefa Fair Play Ranking. Kevin Keegan left Manchester City at the end of 2004-05 season, after expressing his desire to retire.
4. Roberto Mancini
Mancini was appointed Manchester City manager in December 2009. Under his stewardship, he instilled a winning culture at the club taking Manchester City from a mid-table club to the pinnacle of English football, combining defensive solidity with attacking flair.
In 2010-11, his first full season at Manchester City, Mancini guided the club to Champions League football and the FA Cup. In the 2011-12, Mancini guided Manchester City to the club’s first league title in 44 years in an enthralling last day of the season. City won 3–2, with two goals in the injury time in what was called “the best match of the best last day of the season in English football history.”
Under Mancini, Manchester City progressed to the 2013 FA Cup Final. However, he was sacked after failing to beat Wigan in that final. He will always be remembered as one of the greatest Manchester City managers ever.
3. Manuel Pellegrini
Pellegrini was appointed as manager of Manchester City in June 2013. He won the Football League Cup and Premier League in his first season as manager. In that process he became the first manager from outside Europe to manage a team to the English Premier League title.
The title-winning season was also noted for goal scoring prowess with Manchester City scoring 151 goals in all competitions – an English football record. Pellegrini had won the Premier League manager of the month for December 2013.
He roundly praised for his attacking managerial style, calm demeanour and man management. Such was Manchester City’s ruthlessness in front of goal from all angles – intricate passing moves, crosses, solo-runs and set pieces – The Daily Telegraph likened City’s style to “death by beautiful geometry“.
He guided Manchester City to League Cup once more in 2015-16. On 1 February 2016, Manchester City confirmed Pellegrini was leaving in June 2016 following expiry of contract with Pep Guardiola taking over from the 2016–17 season.
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2. Joe Mercer
Mercer enjoyed great success as a manager with Manchester City between 1965 and 1971. In his first season at Maine Road, the club won the 1966 Second Division title to regain top-flight status. Two seasons later Mercer led Manchester City to the 1967-68 First Division championship. He then went on to win the 1969 FA Cup, the 1970 League cup, and the 1970 European Cup winner’s cup.
In 1970–71, Mercer had a dispute with his assistant Malcolm Allison, after the two men became embroiled in Manchester City’s takeover battle. Mercer supported the existing board, led by the respected Albert Alexander, while Allison supported the rival group led by Peter Swales after being promised that he would be manager in his own right. The takeover succeeded, and Mercer was replaced by Malcolm Allison.
1. Pep Guardiola
Okay, it’s a bit controversial to put Guardiola at number one already. But that is his stature in world football, arguably the best manager in the world right now and the most successful manager to take over the club. As a manager, Guardiola has won six trophies with Manchester City so far, including two Premier League titles.
Guardiola is considered by a number of players, managers and commentators to be one of the best footballing minds in the world. Under him, Manchester City became the first team to rack up 100 points in a Premier League season in 2017-18. Their free flowing style attracted praise from all around the world. The next mission for City and Guardiola is to win the UCL.