Football as we see can sometimes be too straight forward to look at. But the real beauty of the game lies in the intricate tactics involved in it. Management in football is arguably more prominent and deciding than in any other sport. Managers govern nearly everything to run a team, not to mention the high risk of getting sacked if no results follow.
The world has witnessed some notable managers in the likes of Johan Cruyff, Sir Alex Ferguson, and Bill Shankly amongst many others, with some having revolutionized the game as we know today. Today we try to compile a list of the best football managers in the world right now.
Honorable mentions –
Gian Piero Gasperini (Atalanta)
Maurizio Sarri (Juventus)
Brendan Rodgers (Leicester City)
Julian Nagelsmann (RB Leipzig)
Carlo Ancelloti (Everton)
Here are the 10 best football managers in the world right now.
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10. Nuno Santo (Wolverhampton Wanderers)
After retirement from playing, Nuno rejoined former Porto manager Jesualdo Ferreira at Malaga CF as their goalkeeping coach. The pair then worked together at Panathinaikos FC before Nuno was given the manager’s position at Rio Ave in 2012. He led them to the UEFA Europa League for the first time in the club’s history.
In 2014, he joined Valencia replacing Juan Antonio Pizzi. After signing a contract extension, his side finished in the top 4 the next season which included an impressive 2-1 win over Real Madrid and an away draw at Bernabéu. He spent a year at Porto before joining Championship sides Wolverhampton Wanderers and led them to promotion with four games to spare in the first season. Nuno generally deploys a 3-4-3 formation giving his sides a balanced attacking edge, accompanied by a constant press making him one of the best football managers in the world. Under him, Wolves also secured the place for European football.
9. Antonio Conte (Inter Milan)
Antonio Conte served as the assistant coach under Luigi De Canio at Siena in the 2005-06 season before being appointed as the manager of Serie B side Arezzo. He joined Bari in 2007 to replace Giuseppe Materazzi and led them to promotion. Before the 2009-10 season, he was appointed as the head coach Atalanta but things took a downfall and Conte left mid-season. Siena appointed Conte as their manager and eventually secured promotion to Serie A for the 2011-12 season.
The following year, Conte was announced as the new head coach of Juventus. He had a successful stay at the club, winning three successive league titles in as many years and two Supercoppa Cups. Conte joined Chelsea in 2016 after managing the Italian national team from 2014-16. He led the Blues to the Premier League title in his first year in charge but was dismissed in 2018 before jointed Inter. He is known for popularizing the 3-5-2 formation where wingbacks replace both wingers and fullbacks.
8. Marcelo Bielsa (Leeds United)
Nicknamed “El Loco” or the madman, Bielsa has revolutionized the game given his unique tactics and efficient man-management. He has been regarded as an influence for many notable managers, namely Pep Guardiola and Mauricio Pochettino. Although he has only won three Argentine league titles, a Championship and Olympic gold in a career spanning over three decades; Bielsa’s approach and philosophy make him one of the most influential figures in the world of football.
Bielsa started as the head coach of Newell’s Old Boys youth team in 1980 before managing the senior team in 1990. He spent numerous spells in different leagues across the globe including Mexico, Chile, Spain and France and presently, England.
Bielsa also served as the head coach of Argentina and Chile before coming into notice with Atletico Bilbao in 2011 where he led them to the Copa del Rey and Europa League finals. He is undoubtedly one of the best football managers in the world.
7. Joachim Low (Germany NT)
Having started his initial managerial days at FC Frauenfeld where he also served as a player, Joachim Low managed a host of clubs in Germany, Austria, Turkey, and Astana. He worked as the assistant manager of the German national football team from 2004 before he was appointed as the head coach in 2006 following Jürgen Klinsmann’s dismissal.
Along with his assistant Hans-Dieter Flick, Low helped Germany reach new heights with an offensive style of play. Although he failed to win the 2010 FIFA World Cup given Spain’s untouchable form, Germany did manage to finish third. Löw‘s perseverance paid dividends as they finally got their hands on the trophy the next time in Brazil in 2014. Löw’s men defeated the hosts 7-1 in the semifinals which resulted in Brazil’s heaviest defeat in FIFA World Cup history.
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6. Zinedine Zidane (Real Madrid)
The Galacticos boss started at the helm of Castilla before being appointed as the head coach of Real Madrid in 2016. He went on to win the UEFA Champions League three times in a row becoming the first manager to do so. Along with the European cups which also included two UEFA Super Cups and FIFA Club World Cups, he won the Spanish Super Cup and La Liga twice each.
He left Madrid in 2018 but returned a year later in March after failed performances under Julen Lopetegui and Santiago Solari. His tactical philosophy including fluid formations and attacking football, along with leadership skills uniting the dressing room has been vital for Real Madrid’s domination at the highest level. He is widely regarded as one of the best football managers in the world. Marcello Lippi and Carlo Ancelotti remain two of Zidane’s main influencers.
5. Diego Simeone (Atletico Madrid)
Having started his coaching career just after he retired in 2006 playing for Racing Club in his homeland Argentina, Simeone spent a few years in South America leading Estudiantes and River Plate to league titles before joining the Italian club Catania in 2011. He was then appointed the head coach of Spanish giants Atletico Madrid in December 2011 succeeding Gregorio Manzano at the club.
Simeone’s style of play includes compact defenses and quick counter-attacks which is evident by the fact he has been one of the most successful defensive-minded managers. He led Atletico to two UEFA Europa and UEFA Super Cups each including two Champions League final appearances in 2014 and 2016. Atletico Madrid won La Liga in 2014 with Simeone also leading them to a Copa del Rey. Some of Simeone’s coaching idols include the likes of Marcelo Bielsa, Sven-Göran Eriksson and Alfio Basile.
4. Didier Deschamps (France NT)
Didier Deschamps became only the third person to win the FIFA World Cup both as a player and a coach alongside the greats Mario Zagallo and Franz Beckenbauer when France lifted the trophy in 2018. He also became the second to do so as a captain after Beckenbauer.
He began his coaching career at Monaco in 2001 and led them to the 2004 UEFA Champions League final. Deschamps was appointed as the manager of Juventus following their relegation for their involvement in the 2006 Calciopoli Scandal. He won the Serie B that season and brought Juventus back to the top division. He left coaching after that season and returned two years later with one of his former teams, Marseille and led them to the Ligue 1 title in his first year in charge.
In July 2012, he was named the head coach of the France national team and only reached the quarters in the 2014 World Cup before eventually winning it in 2018.
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3. Jose Mourinho (Tottenham Hotspur)
Starting his management career at Sporting CP and Porto, the “Special One” worked as a translator for Sir Bobby Robson in his initial years before shining under Louis van Gaal at Barcelona. He was then appointed as the head coach of Porto in 2002 where he led them to the UEFA Champions League along with two consecutive Primeira Liga titles.
Mourinho was brought in by Chelsea in 2004 where he won two Premier Leagues and three other domestic cups. He moved to Inter Milan in 2008 and won the Champions League again, making Inter the first Italian team to do so. In 2013, he joined Real Madrid and won the league with record points tally making him the fifth manager to win the league in four different countries. He re-joined Chelsea in 2013 and had a brief stint at Manchester United before Tottenham announced Mourinho as their manager in 2019.
2. Josep Guardiola (Manchester City)
One of the most influential and best football managers in the world, Pep Guardiola spent his youth days at La Masia before making his debut for Barcelona in 1990. He left them in 2001 before having short stints at Brescia and Roma in Italy, Al-Ahli in Qatar and Dorados in Mexico which played a huge part in his growth as a coach. Influenced by the great Cruyff, Pep’s idea of possession-based total football is evident by the fact that Barcelona lifted all 6 cups in the 2008-09 season, his first season as a top-flight manager.
He left Barcelona in 2012 before taking a sabbatical in New York. He then joined Bayern Munich as their head coach in 2013 and led them to three consecutive Bundesliga titles. In 2016, Pep Guardiola took charge of Manchester City and won back-to-back league titles including a domestic treble in the 2018-19 season.
1. Jurgen Klopp (Liverpool)
Arguably the best manager in the world right now, Klopp has lifted 4 cups in the past 18 months helping Liverpool to its first Premier League title along with the Champions League in 2019. Born in Stuttgart, Klopp spent the majority of his playing days at Mainz 05, having made over 300 appearances.
He started his managerial career in 2001 at Mainz and then moved to Dortmund in 2008. Klopp led them to two German titles before leaving for Liverpool in 2015. Famously known for his ‘Gegenpressing’ where a team attempts to win back the ball immediately after the loss of possession, his playing style was hugely influenced by former Italian coach Arrigo Sacchi and his coach at Mainz, Wolfgang Frank. He was named the LMA Manager of the year in 2020.