Top 50 Managers Of All Time

Choosing the 50 best footballers of all time? That is easy. You simply take your pick of Diego Maradona or Pele and work your way down the list. But the 50 greatest post-war managers from around the world? That has been a fearsomely difficult challenge. No doubt some of the selections that follow will be regarded as highly provocative.

Expert advice has been taken from foreign colleagues, as well as elders and betters, to try to ensure that it is neither too British-based or too modern. Some names that were unfamiliar to this correspondent proved very deserving of inclusion. Come on down Hennes Weisweiler!

But attempts to establish strict criteria proved almost as difficult as choosing between Clough, Ferguson and Zagallo. After all, you are not just comparing different eras but pitting club managers against some who have only worked in the international sphere.

Do you push for the great one-club men, like Busby or Paisley, or those who proved that they could succeed all around Europe, like Capello and Trapattoni? Do you give extra marks for the game's great stylists and how much should this list reflect the game's tactical innovators?

In the end, choosing the winner was about the only easy bit and subjective valuations came to the fore. If this exercise proved anything, it is that Britain used to produce some of the world's greatest managers. These days, we are forced to buy them in.

50. Hennes Weisweiler. Thank him for the fact that Borussia Monchengladbach are a name we all love to roll around the tongue. Weisweiler not only turned the club into a serious force but inspired a whole wave of German coaches including Berti Vogts and Gunther Netzer.

49. Jesse Carver. One league title with Juventus in 1950 might seem scant reason to include the Liverpudlian but Carver, whose peripatetic career saw him manage both Holland and Millwall, was a trailblazer. The distinguished football writer Brian Glanville credits Carver with being the man to show English football that training with the ball might be more productive than mindless running. We should have paid more attention to him.

48. Albert Batteux. There should be one French club manager in the top 50 and those in the know propose Batteux ahead of Guy Roux. Why? For winning nine league titles with Stade de Reims and St Etienne between 1953 and 1970. And he was twice a European Cup finalist with Reims.

47. Carlos Bianchi. Five-times South American coach of the year and Boca Juniors' most successful manager. Which makes it all the stranger that his talent never travelled well to Europe where there were unsuccessful stints in France, Spain and Italy.

46. Sven-Goran Eriksson. His place in the list would not be disputed in Sweden, Portugal or Italy given that he was a club champion in all three countries. But it is hard to see him climbing the charts now that he's at Manchester City.

45. Don Revie. Some England fans would not include him at all for walking out on the national side but there has to be recognition of the builder of the Leeds United team which dominated the early Seventies through good football and a dash of thuggery.

44. Carlo Ancelotti. Sir Alex Ferguson's Manchester United trampled over Ancelotti's Juventus en route to Champions League success in 1999 but it is the Italian who now has two European Cup medals from his time at AC Milan. But for the miracle of Istanbul, it would have been three.

43. Carlos Alberto Parreira. Probably lucky to be included given that he coached the least-loved of Brazilian world champions in 1994 and then screwed up their 2006 campaign. But it is hard to ignore a man who coached at five different World Cups with four different countries.

42. Otto Rehhagel. Greece's functional football at Euro 2004 shouldn't blind us to the fact that it was an extraordinary success by the 100-1 outsiders. Interestingly, his time at Werder Bremen is remembered for the flashy football. That's called adaptability.

41. George Raynor. Ever heard the one about the English manager who took Sweden to the 1958 World Cup final? Raynor also led Sweden to victory over England at Wembley. Imagine how sweet that must have felt for a man so overlooked in his own country that he was sacked by Doncaster Rovers.

40. Udo Lattek. Included for the hard-luck story as much as the trophies. The German was sacked by Bayern Munich only a year after winning the European Cup and a third successive Bundesliga. He was reappointed in 1983 and again won three German championships and reached the European Cup final. His reward? Have a guess.

39. Bill Nicholson. He won his first game as Spurs manager 10-4 against Everton but not many guessed that it would signal the greatest period in the club's history. A first English double of the 20th century followed and then the Cup Winners Cup, the first European trophy won by an English club. As Martin Jol knows all too well, the Spurs board are rather impatient for a return to the glory years.

38. Sepp Herberger. He took over the German national team when there was a swastika on the tracksuit, but Herberger is widely respected for rebuilding his country's football after the war by coaching the 1954 world champions in the so-called Miracle of Bern against the favoured Hungarians. "If you don't shoot, you won't score," was one of his many pithy phrases still in circulation.

37. Karl Rappan. The game's innovators need to be recognised and, as manager of Switzerland, he dreamed up the the sweeper system. It was originally known as the verrou because he withdrew one player, Verrouieleur, and it was then adapted by the Italians into catenaccio. So now you know.

36. Louis Van Gaal. Not even Clough had Van Gaal's belief in himself and his own methods. They brought him great success at Ajax, where young players followed his orders, but he managed to upset the whole of Catalonia while at Barcelona. How they will have laughed when he failed to reach the 2002 World Cup finals with Holland.

35. Sir Bobby Robson. A grand old man of the game who is as passionate now as during his 13 years at Ipswich. A couple of penalties away from leading England to the 1990 World Cup final, and not even the Germans would have begrudged him.

34. Helmut Schoen. Under his leadership, Germany were World Cup runners-up in 1966, finished third in 1970, European champions in 1972, World Cup winners in 1974 and European runners-up in 1976. Which is more than the England team has achieved in its entire history.

33. Rafael Benitez. The goatee beard does him no favours but, after impressing at Valencia, the Spaniard need only clinch a Premiership title with Liverpool to go shooting up the list. A bit more flair would be welcome to go with the trophies.

32. Valery Lobanovski. A towering figure in Soviet football for the dominance of his Dynamo Kiev team in the 1970s and 80s. An uncompromising leader, he also led the Soviet Union to the final of Euro 88.

31. Ottmar Hitzfeld. A genial man who has jousted many times with Sir Alex Ferguson. The German lost some of those battles, most notably at the Nou Camp in 1999, but, unlike the Scot, he does have two European Cup medals from his time with Borussia Dortmund and Bayern Munich.

30. Carlos Bilardo. Went by the nickname of El Narigon (old big nose) and he has always suffered in comparison to the other Argentine World Cup winning coach Cesar Menotti. Bilardo was blessed to have Diego Maradona in 1986 but his players vouch that he was a fine motivator who left nothing to chance in his preparations.

29. Guus Hiddink. Not great with his tax returns but, since establishing PSV Eindhoven as European champions back in 1988, his itinerant career has shown him to be one of the best coaches of his generation. Appears to enjoy the underdog role as shown with his work for Australia and South Korea.

28 Giovanni Trapattoni. He won seven Serie A championships, a Bundesliga title with Bayern Munich and more but has never quite made the top tier of Italian coaches. Known for some combustible moments including a dressing room punch up with Paolo Di Canio while manager of Juventus.

27. Aime Jacquet. Talk about having the last laugh. L'Equipe, the bible of French sport, attacked Jacquet incessantly before the 1998 World Cup finals and even called for him to stand down. His response was to guide Les Bleus to a famous victory in Paris.

26. Nereo Rocco. Twice a European Cup winner with AC Milan in the Sixties, he is perhaps best known for bringing the catenaccio system into Italian football. For which, I guess, we should not really be thanking him.

25. Tele Santana. Failure to win the 1982 World Cup with Brazil might, in some circumstances, have seen Santana vilified. But what a failure! Their joyous football is still remembered more fondly than Brazil's 1994 World Cup victory.

24. Sir Alf Ramsey. Destined to be England's only World Cup winning manager for some time to come, Ramsey brilliantly made the most of his resources in 1966 and had the courage to trust his own instincts and omit Jimmy Greaves. Embittered in his later years but no wonder given the shameful treatement at the hands of the FA.

23. Enzo Bearzot. Brazil should have won the 1982 World Cup but instead it was Bearzot's Italy. And they did so by casting off some of the defensive shackles that characterised football in his home country.

22. Cesar Luis Menotti. 'El Flaco', the skinny one, revelled in his reputation as a liberal free-thinker but what really made his name was winning the World Cup for Argentina on home soil in 1978. What followed was an anticlimax, particularly at Barcelona.

21. Fabio Capello. The sergeant-majorish Italian was sacked by Real Madrid in the summer for not winning the title with sufficient panache but style was never his priority. That was winning. His AC Milan side once went unbeaten for 58 Serie A matches which trumps Arsenal's Invincibles.

20. Franz Beckenbauer. Brief spells at Bayern Munich and Olympique Marseille are not much of a club career to go on but two World Cup finals with Germany - losing to Argentina in 1986 and gaining revenge in 1990 - would suggest that the Kaiser knew a thing or two about coaching.

19. Vicente Del Bosque. For years, he seemed destined for lowly coaching roles at Real Madrid but ended up taking charge for the most successful spell in the club's modern history. Quiet, unassuming, almost Paisley-like, he made a team out of the galacticos. Madrid showed their gratitude for two European Cups by sacking him.

18. Luiz Felipe Scolari. The Brazil side he inherited in 2001 was struggling to qualify for the World Cup finals. They ended up as winners. 'Big Phil' punches his weight as a club and international manager. No wonder Brian Barwick wanted him.

17. Marcello Lippi. "Such a good-looking bastard he makes most of us look like Bela Lugosi," Sir Alex Ferguson once said of the Italian. And it is his charisma as much as coaching intellect that has underpinned his triumphs with Juventus and, most memorably, in the 2006 World Cup finals with Italy.

16. Jose Mourinho. A truly exceptional tactician and motivator and, boy, he knows it. There will be complaints that this big trophy hunter with FC Porto and Chelsea is ranked too low. To climb the charts, all he has to do is to prove that he loves the beautiful game half as much as he enjoys advancing his own career.

15. Johan Cruyff. The longest-serving and most successful of Barcelona managers fitted double heart bypass surgery in between winning four league titles and the Catalan club's first European Cup in 1992. A shame he gave up management but still a huge influence in Barcelona club politics.

14. Mario Zagallo. Brought in shortly before the 1970 World Cup finals, Zagallo's job was to find enough room in the team for Pelé, Gérson, Tostão, Jairzinho and Rivelino. It is probably not as easy as it sounds, but he fine-tuned what is widely regarded as one of the world's greatest teams. Just a shame he did not use his experience to see that Ronaldo was in no state to play in the 1998 World Cup final.

13. Helenio Herrera. With an ego the size of the San Siro, the French-Argentine cast a big shadow over European football in the 1960s. A great motivator and disciplinarian who imposed rigid catenaccio on his teams, he enjoyed his greatest success at Inter Milan where he twice won the European Cup. He might have been higher up the list but for the subsequent allegations of corruption against that regime.

12. Jock Stein. "Jock, you're immortal," Shankly told his great friend in the dressing room after the 1967 European Cup triumph which marked a first for a British team. What's more, he did it with a bunch of Glaswegians. Would he have succeeded outside Scotland? Probably, but it is hard to tell from his 45 days at Leeds.

11. Arrigo Sacchi. A one-time shoe salesman who built one of the greatest club sides at AC Milan and did so with innovative tactics. With Baresi closing the back door and Van Basten knocking in the goals, Sacchi used the athleticism of Rijkaard and Gullit in a powerful pressing system.

10. Arsene Wenger. Ranked above managers who have won more and with very good reason. A champion of style and sporting beauty and, most remarkably, a football man you can take at his word. There is not a single club that has not coveted him in the last ten years.

9. Miguel Munoz. He inherited the great Real Madrid side and probably did not have to do much from the sidelines as Puskas, Di Stefano and the rest stuffed Eintracht Frankfurt 7-3 to win the European Cup in his first season. But he also went on to win nine titles and build the European club champions of 1966.

8. Bela Guttman. Jose Mourinho calls himself a special one but this brilliant and brash Hungarian is credited with establishing the cult of the manager. One of the pioneers of the attacking 4-2-4 formation, he enjoyed his greatest success at Benfica where, having recruited Eusebio, he secured successive European Cup victories in the early Sixties. "The third season is fatal," he said, although he rarely stayed long enough to find out.

7. Brian Clough. No doubt he would put himself top of the pile and his feats were truly extraordinary. He turned Derby County into league champions and Nottingham Forest into the best team in Europe. What a shame he was never given the opportunity to prove his talents with England but then he might have rubbed everyone up the wrong way like he did at Leeds.

6. Bob Paisley. Still the only coach to have three European Cup medals - although, unfairly, no knighthood - the unassuming son of a County Durham miner would have been too modest to trot out his great signings like Dalglish, Hansen, Souness and Rush. "Mind you, I wasn't only here for the good years," he once said. "One year, we came second."

5. Bill Shankly. The builder of another of football's great institutions, Shankly would surely have shared in Liverpool's later success in Europe had he not retired far too prematurely. It is hard to believe that Bob Paisley and Joe Fagan would have gone on to those later triumphs without his colossal influence.

4. Sir Alex Ferguson. After knocking over the Old Firm in Scotland, he has built a modern-day monster out of Manchester United and has done so with teams of flair and adventure. A giant of football and yet his CV will always have an unmissable hole without that second European Cup. Clinch that and perhaps we can elevate him into the top three.

3. Ernst Happel. A man of few words but many trophies, the Austrian was league champion in four different countries (Holland, Belgium, Germany and Austria). He also led Holland to the 1978 World Cup final. But what most impresses is that unfashionable Feyenoord and Hamburg have won the European Cup once each; Happel was the common denominator. Even Clough might be impressed at that CV.

2. Sir Matt Busby. If club-building scores high, then it is hard to look past the man who took over the reins at Manchester United in 1946 when Old Trafford was literally a bomb site. He then faced the most difficult of all rebuilding jobs when he lost a brilliant team, and almost his own life, in the great tragedy of Munich. Fergie has won more trophies but was there ever a more deserved triumph than United's 1968 European Cup victory?

1. Rinus Michels. The Dutchman, who died in 2005, was named coach of the century by FIFA in 1999. For once, that organisation knew what it was doing. The originator of Total Football, Michels won the European Cup with Ajax, the Spanish league with Barcelona and Euro 88 with Holland. He should also have won the 1974 World Cup. What's more, you would have paid Wembley prices to watch his teams.

Courtesy of Matt Dickinson, Chief Sports Correspondent (Times)

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