Soccer, arguably the world’s most popular sport, has had more than its fair share of excellent managers. There are managers who have guided their teams to glory time after time, winning titles, and earning a place in football history.
Here, we’ll take a look at some of the most successful soccer managers ever…
Probably the most famous managerial name in the history of the English Premier League is Sir Alex Ferguson. His name is synonymous with Manchester United, a team he managed from 1986 to 2013.
During his time with the team, he led them to lots of victories – Premier League titles, FA Cups and the UEFA Champions League – including their iconic treble in the 1998-1999 season. His ability to rebuild teams and maintain success over the long term makes him one of the most successful managers ever in soccer history.
Pep Guardiola has achieved incredible success – not just at one, but at several top clubs, including Barcelona, Bayern Munich and Manchester City. The Spaniard is known for his innovative tactics and his ability to have his team dominate possession – and his teams have not only consistently won titles but they simply play beautiful football. His impact on the modern game is still going on – and he shows no sign of slowing down.
José Mourinho, the self-dubbed Special One, has managed some of the biggest and best clubs in Europe, including Porto, Chelsea, Inter Milan, Real Madrid, Manchester United and more. The Portuguese, known for his tactical prowess, charisma, fiery temper and knack for winning domestic and international titles, has won league titles in Portugal, England, Italy and Spain.
Carlo Ancelotti is, unusually, an Italian known for his calm demeanour… and his trophy-laden managerial career. He has won league titles in Italy, France, England and Germany with top clubs including AC Milan, Paris Saint-Germain, Chelsea and Bayern Munich.
His ability to perfectly manage some of the best players in the world has been key to his success.
Going back a fair few decades is Bob Paisley, who managed Liverpool during the late 1970s and early 1980s – and left quite a mark on English football. Paisley led Liverpool to an unprecedented period of continued success, taking them to six First Division titles, three League Cups, and three UEFA European Cups. Indeed, his unmatched achievements have even earned him the title of ‘Britain’s Greatest Manager’ from the Football Writers’ Association.
Arrigo Sacchi is mainly remembered for his time spent at AC Milan during the late 1980s and early 1990s. He had innovative coaching methods and defensive organisation that led Milan to two consecutive European Cup titles in 1989 and again in 1990. His impact on Italian and European football is still remembered to this day.
Over the border, Jock Stein’s time at Celtic in the 1960s is no less than iconic in football history. He led his club to the European Cup in 1967 – and they became the first British team ever to win the competition. That, along with his domestic success and his achievements as the Scotland national team manager, have certainly earned him a place on the list of the most successful managers.
Bill Shankly is another Liverpool legend who played a massive role in establishing the club’s dominance. He single-handedly transformed Liverpool from a Second Division club into a football powerhouse – that went on to win numerous titles. He became famous for saying “Some people believe football is a matter of life and death, I am very disappointed with that attitude. I can assure you it is much, much more important than that,” which pretty much explains exactly why he has more than earned himself a spot in soccer management history.
Johan Cruyff has influenced the game on two levels – playing and managing, particularly during his time at Barcelona. It was Cruyff who first introduced the concept of ‘Total Football’ and he laid the foundation for the club’s dominance during the nineties.
Under Cruyff’s leadership, Barcelona won four consecutive La Liga titles as well as the club’s first-ever European Cup.
Last on our list is Arsène Wenger, whose reign at Arsenal brought a style of play and consistency that made the club one of the most formidable forces in English football in his heyday. It was Wenger who led the ‘Invincibles’ to a whole Premier League season unbeaten in 2003-2004.
These managers have not just led their teams to lots of title success, but they have all also shaped the game into what it is today.