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  • Writer's pictureLara Clarke

Most Successful Managers Ever!

Here’s our rundown of the most successful managers in football. These ex-professional footballers all went in to football management at various stages of their careers. They have all had success with their respective teams in top flight football leagues both domestically and internationally. Whilst it is almost impossible to rate these giants of football we have attempted to put them in to our Top 5 format based on career history, successes and trophies won in the various campaigns they have presided over, so here we go

5. Jose Mourinho

Mourinho launched his career in management when he got the chance to become a top-tier manager in September 2000 and moved up from his role as assistant manager at Benfica to replace manager Jupp Heynckes after the fourth week of the Primeira Liga.

Benfica and Uniao de Leiria 2000 - 2002

Porto 2002 - 2004

After brief but successful stints in charge at Benfica and Uniao de Leiria, he won the UEFA Champions League with Porto in 2004, only a year after lifting the UEFA Europa League trophy in his first full season as manager.

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.

Mourinho also won back-to-back Portuguese league titles and two domestic cup competitions at Porto before Chelsea came calling.

Chelsea 2004 - 2007

Mourinho started his Premier League career in London when he was named manager of Chelsea in June 2004, before leaving early in the 2007/08 campaign.

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.

They retained the Premier League crown a year later and won the FA Cup and the League Cup twice with Mourinho in charge.

Inter Milan 2008 - 2010

Mourinho left Chelsea in 2007 and his next managerial role came with Inter Milan, where he won the Serie A title and the Italian Super Cup in his first season.

Inter then retained the title while winning the Coppa Italia and the UEFA Champions League in a memorable 2009/10 campaign.

Real Madrid 2010 - 2013

Real Madrid appointed Mourinho as their coach in the summer of 2010, going on to win the Copa del Rey in 2011 and edge Barcelona to the 2011/12 La Liga title.

Chelsea 2013 – 2015

But after three years at the Bernabeu, Mourinho returned to England ahead of the 2013/14 Premier League season for a second spell with Chelsea.

He returned to the Blues on 3 June 2013, nine years and a day after getting his first taste of management in England’s top tier. In his first season back at Stamford Bridge, he guided the Blues to third place, four points away from title winners Manchester City.

In the 2014/15 campaign Mourinho earned a third League Cup triumph with Chelsea after a 2-0 win over Spurs at Wembley Stadium. A third Premier League title was then secured following a 1-0 victory against Crystal Palace on Sunday 3 May 2015. Chelsea's fortunes were to change in the following campaign and Mourinho left the club by mutual consent on 17 December 2015, departing for a second time with the Blues sat in 16th place and one point above the relegation zone.

Manchester united 2016 – 2018

In May 2016, Mourinho signed a three-year deal as manager of Manchester United. In his first season in charge the club won the Community Shield, the League Cup and the UEFA Europa League. The Red Devils finished second behind their city rivals in 2017/18 and lost the FA Cup final to Mourinho's former club, Chelsea. Mourinho left Manchester United in December 2018, with the club lying in sixth place after 17 matches.

Tottenham Hotspur 2019 – 2021

A return to management came in November 2019 when Mourinho was announced as Mauricio Pochettino’s successor at Spurs. He guided the north London side to a sixth-placed finish in the 2019/20 campaign, before parting company with the club in seventh position after playing 32 matches in 2020/21. Three-time Premier League champion Jose Mourinho was the head coach of Tottenham Hotspur up he was relieved of his duties on 19 April 2021.

Roma 2021 – Present

Since arriving at Roma, Mourinho has won 52% of his games and led the team to their first European trophy – The Europa 2022 Europa Conference League crown!

4. Pep Guardiola

After retiring as a player, Guardiola briefly coached Barcelona B, with whom he won a Tercera División title. He took charge of the first-team in 2008. In his first season, he led Barcelona to the treble of La Liga, UEFA Champions League, and the Copa del Rey, becoming the youngest manager to win the aforementioned European competition

Barcelona 2008 - 2011

2008 – 2009 was his first season with first team and historic treble!

2009–10: Six trophies in a calendar year

2010–11: Second Champions League title

In 2011, after leading the club to another La Liga and Champions League double, Guardiola was awarded the Catalan Parliament's Gold Medal, their highest honour. The same year, he was also named the FIFA World Coach of the Year. He ended his four-year Barcelona stint in 2012 with 14 honours, a club record.

Bayern Munich 2013 - 2016

After a sabbatical period, Bayern Munich announced Guardiola would join the club as manager in 2013. Guardiola won the Bundesliga in each of his three seasons as Bayern manager, including two domestic doubles.

Manchester City 2016 - Present

He left the Bavarians for Manchester City in 2016, and guided them to a Premier League title in his second campaign in charge, breaking numerous domestic records as the team became the first to attain 100 league points.

2017–18: "Centurions" and first Premier League title

2018–20: Domestic treble and Champions League disappointment

To date, he has won four Premier League titles, four EFL Cups, and the FA Cup, including a domestic treble in the 2018–19 season. He also led the club to their maiden UEFA Champions League Final in 2021, where they lost to Chelsea.

On 22 May 2022, Manchester City won the 2021–22 Premier League with a 3–2 victory over Aston Villa. This was Guardiola's fourth title at the club, placing him second on the list of managers with the most Premier League title victories.

Prior to the 2022–23 Premier League season, Guardiola replaced the departing Raheem Sterling, Gabriel Jesus, Oleksandr Zinchenko, Fernandinho, and Zack Steffen on loan with the signings of Erling Haaland, Kalvin Phillips, Manuel Akanji, Sergio Gómez, and Stefan Ortega

3. Carlo Ancelotti

Carlo Ancelotti is an Italian professional football manager and former player who is the manager of La Liga club Real Madrid. Regarded as one of the greatest managers of all time, Ancelotti is the most decorated manager in UEFA Champions League history, having won the trophy a record four times as coach (twice with AC Milan and twice with Real Madrid). He is also the first and only one to have managed teams in five Champions League finals. As a player, he won the Champions League twice with AC Milan, making him one of eight people to have won the European Cup or Champions League as both a player and a manager.

Ancelotti is also the first and only manager ever to have won league titles in all of Europe's top five leagues. He has won the FIFA Club World Cup a joint-record three times, and is also the manager with the most UEFA Super Cup triumphs, having won the trophy on four occasions, managing Milan and Real Madrid.

Ancelotti has won 20 trophies during his career and is one of only three managers to win the European Cup or UEFA Champions League three times, doing so twice with AC Milan and once with Real Madrid.

A versatile, creative midfielder in his playing days, Ancelotti won three Serie A titles and the European Cup twice, enjoying most of his success with Milan.

He was a key figure in Italy’s 1988 UEFA European Championship campaign, reaching the semi-finals, and was a member of the squad at the two World Cups either side, playing in Italy’s 2-1 third-place play-off win over England in 1990.

Ancelotti’s coaching career began as assistant to Arrigo Sacchi with Italy’s 1994 FIFA World Cup finalists, before he moved into club management with Reggiana and Parma, later taking over at Juventus and then Milan.

He spent seven-and-a-half years at San Siro, winning the UEFA Champions League twice and the Serie A title once before moving to Chelsea in the summer of 2009.

In his first season in England, Ancelotti became the first Italian manager to win the Premier League, and he also secured Chelsea’s first ever double as the Blues beat Portsmouth in the FA Cup final.

He oversaw a second-placed finish the following term before leaving Stamford Bridge the following season.

At the end of 2011 Ancelotti joined Paris Saint-Germain, and won the Ligue 1 title in his first full season at the club.

He swiftly moved on to take charge of Real Madrid in June 2013, lifting the Champions League again, before heading off to Bayern Munich and claiming the Bundesliga crown.

After a spell in his homeland with Napoli, whom he guided to a runners-up spot in the league, he returned to the Premier League with Everton.

One of the most celebrated managers in European football, Carlo Ancelotti took charge of Everton, his 10th club across five countries, just before Christmas in 2019 when he was appointed manager at Goodison Park on 21 December and his Blues finished 12th at the end of the campaign.

Under Ancelotti Everton enjoyed their best Premier League start when they won their opening four matches to the 2020/21 season to go top of the table and they secured a first win at Anfield in 22 years that campaign!

But after finishing the season 10th, Ancelotti announced on 1 June 2021 that he was leaving to return to Real Madrid.

2. Arsene Wenger

Wenger's management skills at Strasbourg, where he played from 1978-1981, impressed many French coaches, he moved to Ligue 2 club Cannes in 1983, where he became Jean-Marc Guillou's assistant. Earning a steady wage of £300 per week, he was responsible for collecting information about opposition teams, and instilled discipline in the players through training sessions. Wenger's commitment to football was well documented; when asked what the young coach did during his spare time, general manager Richard Conte replied: "Videos, videos, videos. He was always watching videos of his opponents, of his own team. It didn't matter what time of night.

Nancy and Monaco 1984 - 1994

The Frenchman learned his managerial trade in France with spells at Strasbourg, Cannes and Nancy before earning a move to Ligue 1 side AS Monaco.

He won the French League Championship in 1988 before moving to Japan seven years later for an 18-month stint.

Nagoya Grampus Eight 1994 - 1996

In December 1994, Wenger agreed to become manager of Nagoya Grampus, on a two-year contract worth ¥75m annually.

Nagoya finished bottom of the J.League the season before Wenger's arrival, and continued their poor form into the following campaign, losing several matches in a row.

Wenger's new management style and methods had the desired effect – Nagoya won 17 of their following 27 games to finish runners-up in 1995. He shortly received the J. League Manager of the Year award for 1995, while Stojković claimed the player's honour. In January 1996, Wenger guided the club to their first piece of silverware as Nagoya defeated Sanfrecce Hiroshima to win the Emperor's Cup. Two months later they triumphed in the Super Cup, beating Yokohama Marinos 2–0. The success bolstered Nagoya's status in Japanese football, as well as Wenger's reputation; he was somewhat startled by the praise and idolisation that came his way. Midway through the 1996 league season, Wenger's former club Strasbourg enquired about the possibility of him returning to manage them. He turned down the offer as he was earlier approached by Arsenal.

Arsenal 1996 - 2018

In August 1996, Arsenal dismissed Bruce Rioch as club manager. Rioch's position had become untenable after a dispute with the board over transfers, and his working relationship with Dein worsened during the course of his tenure.] Arsenal appointed Stewart Houston and later Pat Rice in temporary charge of the first team, while they searched for a full-time successor. Although Barcelona player and manager Johan Cruyff was favourite to take over,[the board looked elsewhere, eventually backing Dein's proposal to hire Wenger. The appointment was delayed for several weeks as Wenger was under contract at Nagoya Grampus and the club wanted time to make a final decision. In the meantime the Arsenal board refused to confirm the identity of their next manager, but speculation grew that it would be Wenger once the club signed French midfielders Patrick Vieira and Rémi Garde. On 22 September 1996, Wenger was unveiled as Arsenal manager.

After joining Arsenal, Wenger did not take long to adapt to life in English football and guided the team to their first Premier League title in the 1997/98 season.

He repeated the feat again in 2001/02 before making history in 2003/04, as "The Invincibles" went unbeaten throughout the entire league campaign on their way to sealing a third Premier League crown.

Arsene Wenger holds the record for the most Premier League matches managed after a 22-year spell with Arsenal between 1996 and 2018.

The Frenchman has also claimed seven FA Cups - the most of any manager - and was voted Manager of the Year in 1998, 2002 and 2004.

Wenger became the Premier League’s longest serving manager when Sir Alex Ferguson retired at the end of the 2012/13 season and surpassed his record of matches managed in the Premier League during the 2017/18 campaign.

On 20 April 2018, he announced that he would stand down as manager of Arsenal at the end of the season.

1. Sir Alex Ferguson

Having spent all of his playing career in Scotland, Ferguson first went into management with East Stirlingshire in 1974 before joining St Mirren in the same year.

In June 1974, Ferguson was appointed manager of East Stirlingshire, at the comparatively young age of 32. It was a part-time job that paid £40 per week, and the club did not have a single goalkeeper at the time. He gained a reputation as a disciplinarian, with club forward Bobby McCulley later saying he had "never been afraid of anyone before but Ferguson was a frightening bastard from the start

At St Mirren, Ferguson transformed a Second Division team into the 1977 First Division champions.

Ferguson further enhanced his reputation at Aberdeen, where he guided the club to three top-flight titles, four Scottish Cups, and triumphs in the UEFA Cup Winners' Cup and UEFA Super Cup.

Sir Alex Ferguson is the most successful manager in British football history, winning 13 Premier League titles with Manchester United.

He replaced Ron Atkinson at Old Trafford in 1986, winning his first FA Cup in 1990. He also added another UEFA Cup Winners' Cup and UEFA Super Cup to his collection.

Ferguson ended Man Utd’s 26-year wait for a top-flight title in the inaugural Premier League season of 1992/93. He went on to enjoy unprecedented success over the next two decades until his retirement at the end of the 2012/13 campaign.

The basis of the Red Devils' success was the "Class of 92", with Ryan Giggs, David Beckham, Gary Neville, Phil Neville, Paul Scholes and Nicky Butt among the "Fergie’s fledglings" coming to prominence in the early to mid-1990s.

During his reign at Old Trafford, Ferguson also won the FA Cup five times and the League Cup on four occasions. United also claimed two UEFA Champions League trophies under his management, including the 1999 win in Barcelona with two stoppage-time goals in a 2-1 victory over Bayern Munich.

United’s 13th Premier League title and 20th top-flight triumph overall came with four matches to spare in 2012/13 as Ferguson exceeded 800 Premier League matches managed and 1,400 matches in all competitions.

In total, he lifted more than 30 trophies in his time in charge at Old Trafford.

He won Premier League Manager of the Season on 11 occasions, as well as picking up the monthly accolade 27 times and numerous other individual awards, such as LMA Manager of the Year and LMA Manager of the Decade.

His all-time Premier League record stands at 528 wins from 810 matches!

Sorry, we couldn’t leave it there… We found it so difficult to narrow it down to just our top 5 as it meant leaving out so many more great managers so we extended our list to include these legends to make it a top 10:

6. Roberto Mancini 7. Louis Van Gaal 8. Rafael Benetiz 9. Zinedine Zidane 10. Bobby Robson

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