Best Football Managers Of All Time – Top 15

A manager is the soul of a football team. A great manager can make a big difference in a team with his techniques, innovations, training methods, motivations and strategic changes. He can change the fortunes of a struggling team, or take an ordinary team to greater heights. There have been many great managers in football over the years. In this article, let us have a look at some of the best football managers of all time.

Here are the 15 best football managers of all time –

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15. Matt Busby

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Matt Busby joined Manchester United in 1945 and led his team to FA Cup and League title. The ageing stars were then replaced by the best young players in the country, a team the media dubbed “The Busby Babes.” The players, including Bobby Charlton and Duncan Edwards, showed great potential.

However, tragedy struck and most of the team members were killed in an air accident. Following the tragedy of the Munich air disaster, Busby rebuilt the side. Ten years later and Busby had built another great team, including Charlton again. He also added the flair and skill of George Best and Denis Law. This team won the ’68 European Cup, the trophy Busby had been chasing when the Munich disaster struck.

Across 25 years at Old Trafford, he won 13 trophies. ll in all, Busby won five league titles, five Charity Shields, two FA Cups, and a European Cup.

14. José Mourinho

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Jose Mourinho is one of the most reputed managers in the world. It was an unlikely Champions League victory with FC Porto when Mourinho first burst onto the stage .

In 19 seasons of club management, Mourinho has led his club to win its domestic league eight times, the UEFA Champions League twice and the UEFA Cup/Europa League twice. Between 2003 and 2012, Mourinho did not go a single calendar year without winning at least one trophy.

The 54-year-old has won a superb 25 trophies across spells with Porto, Chelsea, Inter Milan, Real Madrid and Manchester United.

13. Brian Clough

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Charismatic, outspoken and often controversial, Clough is considered one of the best football managers of all time. His achievements with Derby and Forest, two struggling provincial clubs with little prior history of success, are rated amongst the greatest in football history.

His teams were also noted for playing attractive football and for their good sportsmanship. Despite applying several times and being a popular choice for the job, he was never appointed England manager, and has been dubbed the “greatest manager England never had”.

12. Vicente del Bosque

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Vicente del Bosque is one of the best football managers of all time. This man is no stranger to silverware. The 66-year-old managed Real Madrid across three different spells and commanded their famous ‘Galacticos’ side to the Champions League title in both 2000 and 2002.

Del Bosque is regarded as one of the greatest and most successful managers of all time. he is to date the only football manager to have won the Champions League, the European Cup, and the World Cup, as well as the Intercontinental Cup. In January 2017, del Bosque was named among the 10 greatest coaches since the foundation of UEFA in 1954.

11. Carlo Ancelotti

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Carlo Ancelotti is regarded as one of the best football managers of all time as he is one of the only three managers to have won the UEFA Champions League three times (twice with A.C. Milan and once with Real Madrid). He is also one of the seven men to win the Champions League or the European League as a player and a manager.

Madrid were simply desperate to win their 10th Champions League title, a trophy they hadn’t won for 12 years. Ancelotti would deliver them that trophy in spectacular style, thumping Bayern Munich 5-0 on aggregate in the semi-finals and then overpowering their city rivals Atletico in extra time in the final.

10. Helenio Herrera

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Helenio Herrera is one of the best, most important, influential, and successful managers in football history. He pioneered the use of psychological motivating skills to ensure that all his players believed they were going to win.

It worked wonders for him and he picked up 16 major trophies in his time as a manager. With Atletico Madrid he won two league titles, adding another two to that tally with Barcelona later on. He also won two UEFA Cups with Barcelona and a Spanish Cup.

His most successful spell came with Inter Milan, where he won three league titles and two European Cups. He added an Italian Cup with AS Roma later on.

9. Bob Paisley

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Paisley is one of the only three managers to have won the European Cup three times. During his nine-year tenure as Liverpool manager, Paisley won honours at a rate of 2.2 per season, a rate surpassed only by Pep Guardiola.

After finishing his playing career, he stayed with Liverpool and took on two roles as reserve team coach and club physiotherapist. In December 1959, Bill Shankly was appointed Liverpool manager and he promoted Paisley to work alongside him as his assistant manager. Paisley filled an important role as tactician under Shankly’s leadership and the team won numerous honours during the next twelve seasons.

In 1974, Shankly retired as manager and, despite Paisley’s own initial reluctance, he was appointed as Shankly’s successor. He went on to lead Liverpool through a period of domestic and European dominance, winning twenty honours in nine seasons: six League Championships, three League Cups, six Charity Shields, three European Cups, one UEFA Cup and one UEFA Super Cup.

By the time he retired in 1983, Bob Paisley had been associated with Liverpool Football club for 44 years. He would continue to offer advice to his successor Kenny Dalglish for a couple of years before becoming a board member.


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8. Jock Stein

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Jock Stein was part of a group of four great Scottish managers, consisting of Matt Busby, Bill Shankly, himself, and Alex Ferguson.

His achievements, for a long time, outshone them all. He took Celtic to ten league titles, including a record nine successive successes between 1966-1974. He also won eight Scottish Cups and six Scottish League Cups.

Jock Stein came to worldwide acclaim when he lead his “Lisbon Lions” to a historic victory over a very strong Inter Milan team to become the first British side to win the European Cup in 1967.

7. Johan Cruyff

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Johan Cruyff is considered to be one of the most influential figures in football history. His style of play and his football philosophy has influenced managers and players, including the likes of Sacchi, Sir Alex Ferguson, Wenger, Pep, Rijkaard, Laudrup, etc.

Ajax and Barcelona are among the clubs that have developed youth academies based on Cruyff’s coaching methods. His coaching philosophy helped lay the foundations for the revival of Ajax’s international successes in the 1990s.

Spanish football’s successes at both club and international level during the years 2008 to 2012 have been cited by many as evidence of Cruyff’s impact on contemporary football. In 2017, Cruyff was named among the 10 greatest coaches since the foundation of UEFA in 1954.

6. Valeriy Lobanovskyi

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Lobanovskyi is most famous for his spells managing FC Dynamo Kyiv, the Ukraine National Football team, and earlier the USSR national football team. In 1975 his Dynamo Kyiv team became the first side from the Soviet Union to win a major European trophy when they beat Hungarian side Ferencvaros in the final of the Cup Winner’s Cup.

Lobanovskyi is highly esteemed for his achievements as a coach, but also notorious for his both highly scientific and excessively disciplinarian approach to management. In January 2017, Lobanovskyi was named among the ten greatest coaches since the foundation of UEFA in 1954.

5. Ernst Happel

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Ernst Happel is one of few managers who have achieved great success at both international and club level. He won league and domestic cup titles in the Belgium, Netherlands, Austria and Germany.

He won three Belgian championships, a Belgian Cup, a Dutch championship, a Dutch Cup, two German championships, a German Cup, and two Austrian championships in his managerial career.

Happel also guided the underdogs Feyenoord to the European Cup, and took Hamburg to the same title 13 years later, becoming the first manager to win the trophy with two different clubs. He was in charge of the Dutch team who reached the World Cup final in 1978, only to go down to hosts Argentina.

4. Pep Guardiola

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As a manager, Guardiola has won 27 trophies since the start of his managing career. That makes him one of the most successful managers in world football. He is also considered by a number of players, other managers and commentators to be amongst the best footballing mind in the world.

Started with Barcelona, then he took reigns over Bayern and now is showing his magic at Manchester City. Under him, Manchester City became the first ever team to score 100 points in a Premier League season in 2017-18. His free-flowing style of football has attracted praise from all around the world.


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3. Bill Shankly

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Shankly took charge of Liverpool when they were in the Second Division and rebuilt the team into a major force in English and European football.

He led Liverpool to the Second Division Championship to gain promotion to the top-flight First Division in 1962, before going on to win three First Division Championships, two FA Cups, four Charity Shields and one UEFA Cup.

Shankly announced his surprise retirement from football a few weeks after Liverpool had won the 1974 FA Cup Final, having managed the club for 15 years, and was succeeded by his long-time assistant Bob Paisley. He led the Liverpool team out for the last time at Wembley for the 1974 FA Charity Shield.

2. Rinus Michels

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Michels is regarded as the inventor of ‘total football’. He became most notable for his coaching achievements, having won the European Cup with Ajax and the Spanish cup with Barcelona. He also had four tenures as coach of the Netherlands national team, which he led to reach the final match of the 1974 FIFA World Cup and to win the 1988 UEFA European Champions Cup.

Michels was named Coach of the Century by FIFA in 1999 and in 2007 the greatest post-war football coach by The Times. In January 2017, Michels was named among the ten greatest coaches since the foundation of UEFA in 1954.

1. Alex Ferguson

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Sir Alex Ferguson is undoubtedly the greatest Premier League manager of all time. He managed St.Mirren, Aberdeen and the Scotland national team before being appointed as the manager of Manchester United in November 1986.

During his 26 years with Manchester United he won 38 trophies, including 13 Premier League titles, five FA Cups and two UEFA Champions League titles. He was knighted in the 1999 Queen’s birthday honour list, for his services to the game. Ferguson holds the record for longest-serving manager of Manchester United, having overtaken Sir Matt Busby’s record on 19 December 2010. He retired from management at the end of the 2012–13 season, having won the Premier League in his final season.

Checkout : Greatest Footballers Of The 20th Century


Subhayan Chakraborty

Post Graduation student of Journalism and Mass Communication, aiming to be a top sports journalist and change the scenario of sports journalism in India and educate people about sports in India.

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