Best coaches in the world

Who are the best three coaches in the world?


  • Total voters
    16
Status
Not open for further replies.

blueguitar322

Member
SoSH Member
Sep 20, 2005
983
The news about Klopp's resignation got me thinking about where I would rank him compared to other top coaches. This is always a tough thing for me to get my head wrapped around, and I honestly don't watch enough soccer outside the PL and CL to have an informed opinion.  How would you all rate the top coaches?  If every single coach in the world was a free agent this summer, who would you want to hire?
 
With my disclaimer about my own ignorance in mind, here's a stab at a rough hierarchy which I'm sure is terrible but hopefully will start discussion:
 
Top tier
  • Pep Guardiola | Bayern Munich (Barcelona) - He practically reinvented possession-style football.  Won everything there is to be won at Barca, in the process of doing it all with his second big team.  Almost as strong a resume as anyone else on this list despite only coaching for 7 years.  Best coach in the world imho.
  • Diego Simeone | Atletico Madrid - Continues to rebuild Atletico to challenge for everything despite losing some of their best players, and he does it despite facing the toughest environment possible w/r/t winning trophies (La Liga, non-oligarchy division)

  • Carlo Ancelotti | Real Madrid (PSG, Chelsea, Milan, Juventus) - He's won the CL three times and won each of the PL, Serie A, Ligue 1.  Hard to argue with that resume, but for some reason doesn't seem quite as exciting as the above two names and for whatever reason, some Real people want him out.


  • Jose Mourinho | Chelsea (Real Madrid, Inter, Chelsea, Porto) - Two CL titles with two different teams, two Serie A titles, two (soon to be three) PL titles.  Unbelievably hateable and utterly entertaining at the same time. Only real (haha) critique is that he under performed in Spain, though in his defense he was competing with maybe the best team in recent history.

Possibly top tier, but with a fatal flaw

  • Arsene Wenger | Arsenal - Started his career by shaping Arsenal into one of the strongest clubs in the world, has maintained CL participation for 17 years (soon to be 18).  Long trophy drought and inconsistency against top teams (particularly Mourinho teams) are his fatal flaws.

  • Jurgen Klopp | Borussia Dortmund - 2-time Bundesliga winner, almost beat rival Bayern Munich in the CL.  Helped shape modern tactics with his "heavy metal" style of gegenpressing. Fatal flaw is that he saw one team relegated (Mainz 05 in 2006-7, though he was responsible for their promotion in the first place) and was in danger of relegation for a long stretch of this year.
Need a larger sample size
  • Luis Enrique | Barcelona (Roma) - Doing really well at Barcelona (though in fairness most forum members could coach that team and still qualify for the CL) after a successful year with mid-table La Liga side Celta and three mediocre-ish years at Roma.
  • Brendan Rodgers | Liverpool (Swansea) - Guided Swansea to the PL and helped them maintain that position before joining Liverpool summer 2012. Nearly won the PL in his second year.  He's always impressed me with his tactical acumen.
  • Laurent Blanc | PSG (France, Bordeaux) - Two Ligue 1 championships sandwiching a short stint as France manager, where they were knocked out of Euro 2012 by eventual winners Spain.  Extremely small sample size, but I was very impressed with PSG's short-handed draw/advance against Chelsea.
Good coaches, but not top quality imho

  • Louis van Gaal | Manchester United (Netherlands, Bayern Munich, Barcelona, Ajax) - Bounces around a lot.  Very successful in the Eredivisie and two La Liga championships ('98, '99) but spotty resume otherwise.  His one WC success (Netherlands last summer) is balanced out by a pretty massive failure (DNQ in 2002, only time they've missed since 1986).  Was kicked out of Barca in 2003 after only 5 months with them only 3 points above relegation.  Led Bayern to a BL title only to under-perform the next two years.
  • Rafa Benetiz | Napoli (Chelsea, Inter, Liverpool) - Won the CL with Liverpool and several other trophies along the way, but not as strong as others on the list.
  • Manuel Pellegrini | Manchester City (Real Madrid, Villareal) - Won the PL last year, replaced by Mourinho after only one year at Madrid.  Not sure that he's as tactically astute as some of the others.
There's a whole slew of coaches in the Bundesliga and La Liga that seem to be doing pretty well, but I just don't see them enough to have any opinion.  Emery (Sevilla), Marcelino (Villareal), Hecking (Wolfsburg), Schmidt (Bayer), and Farve (Monchengladbach) are on that list.  Schnerres, what's your thoughts on the Bundesliga guys?
 
I thought about putting Roberto Martinez on this list but his second-year blues at Everton is stopping me.  Always has impressed me as a commentator, though.  Pochettino also might deserve to be on the list, but given that Southampton have not regressed without him and Tottenham have not progressed with him, the jury is still out.
 
 

soxfan121

JAG
Lifetime Member
SoSH Member
Dec 22, 2002
23,043

 
Here's my "other" vote. His run at Juventus was impressive and he's now the Italian National Team Coach...Antonio Conte.
 

Morgan's Magic Snowplow

Member
SoSH Member
Jul 2, 2006
17,695
Philadelphia
Ferguson will probably be the best until the day he dies.  But we're undoubtedly talking about the best active coaches so...
 
1. Mourinho - I hate his negative football and I think recent developments in the game might be challenging his style a bit, but his resume is just unbelievable in terms of success with a variety of clubs and success without always having the best players.
 
2. Guardiola - He has won everything all the time but he has never managed without the best group of talent in the world and he has never really constructed a team either.  He has been fantastically successful at taking an already amassed group of supremely talented players and making them play brilliant possession-based football.  But to me he needs to show more versatility - actually building a team up or winning while having less talent than his opponents - to be considered the best.  His record in the transfer market is actually fairly mediocre as well, although its hard to know whether his Barca transfers were his idea or were pushed by others at the club.
 
3. Ancelotti - Winning three UCL is amazing and he has shown the ability to outfox the best opponents (ie, Bayern last year) in that competition.  His domestic record is surprisingly mediocre given the talent of the teams that he has coached.
 
I don't see anybody else in that elite company.
 
In terms of other coaches worth mentioning in the discussion, IMO Marcelo Bielsa is one of the best managers on the planet, even if he has never managed a big club and perhaps never will.
 

Spacemans Bong

chapeau rose
SoSH Member
It's been 20 years now, but Van Gaal's stint at Ajax so drastically surpasses any other contender in terms of making a club of fairly modest means into champions that I think it's nuts to declare him not top tier while keeping an open mind about Brendan Rodgers, who has never won a trophy.
 
He took a team with a bunch of kids, Danny Blind, and Frank Rijkaard, and then went and won the Champions League with them. They beat Milan, the dominant team of the time, three times in the process and they also routed Bayern Munich. He took them to the final next year (beating Madrid and Dortmund twice apiece) even though Rijkaard retired and Seedorf had left on a Bosman, which combined with Ajax's declining financial state meant that legends like Sonny Silooy and Kiki Musampa started that game. He then took them to the semis the year after Davids and Reiziger left, at which point their luck finally ran out.
 
He won the Eredivisie title with AZ, not a big club, and deserves at least some credit for overhauling Barcelona's youth system and giving many of the Bayern Munich team their first games while manager. He also did a great job with the 2014 Dutch squad despite having a bunch of Eredivisie players none of us had ever heard of before the tournament begin.
 

SoxFanInCali

has the rich, deep voice of a god and the penis of
Lifetime Member
SoSH Member
Jun 3, 2005
12,286
California. Duh.
Morgan's Magic Snowplow said:
1. Mourinho - I hate his negative football and I think recent developments in the game might be challenging his style a bit, but his resume is just unbelievable in terms of success with a variety of clubs and success without always having the best players.
Aftert leaving Porto, he went to Chelsea when they were on the verge of huge success and had by far the biggest transfer budget in the world.  He then went to Inter when every other big Italian team was caught up in the corruption scandal and he had his pick of the best players in the league.  On to Madrid where he won 1 title in 3 years in a 2 team league.  He then returned to Chelsea at a time of upheaval for Man U and Man City on the verge of needing a rebuild, had a ton of money to spend, and blew a golden chance at a title by losing late in the season to Palace then to Sunderland at home.
 
Very, very good coach, incredibly smart man, but a lot of his brilliance is in picking the right time to take and leave jobs. That's why I think he's a bit overrated.
 

Spacemans Bong

chapeau rose
SoSH Member
This is an insane fact: Van Gaal's Ajax won the UEFA Cup in 1992.
 
ONE player, Danny Blind, was in the starting XI for the Champions League final in 1995. Only one other player in the 1992 squad was in the 1995 squad (van der Sar was on the bench in 1992). So he completely rebuilt a good team and then won the Champions League with it. I don't think I can fully communicate how staggering I find that achievement to be.
 

Morgan's Magic Snowplow

Member
SoSH Member
Jul 2, 2006
17,695
Philadelphia
SoxFanInCali said:
Aftert leaving Porto, he went to Chelsea when they were on the verge of huge success and had by far the biggest transfer budget in the world.  He then went to Inter when every other big Italian team was caught up in the corruption scandal and he had his pick of the best players in the league.  On to Madrid where he won 1 title in 3 years in a 2 team league.  He then returned to Chelsea at a time of upheaval for Man U and Man City on the verge of needing a rebuild, had a ton of money to spend, and blew a golden chance at a title by losing late in the season to Palace then to Sunderland at home.
 
Very, very good coach, incredibly smart man, but a lot of his brilliance is in picking the right time to take and leave jobs. That's why I think he's a bit overrated.
 
I agree completely that he has timed his moves well and always put himself into advantageous positions but I think you're being a bit ungenerous here.  He inherited some good pieces at Chelsea and had the advantage of tons of resources, but he built on that foundation with some brilliant buys that put them over the top (Carvalho, Drogba, Cech, Robben to a lesser extent) and won five trophies in three years despite heavy competition from Arsenal (at the beginning of that stretch) and ManU (at the end).  At Inter he went to a team that was already dominant and again had the advantage of money, but he managed to rebuild the team pretty thoroughly in advance of the 09-10 season (bringing in the likes of Eto'o, Schneider, Lucio, Thiago Motta, Pandev, Milto) and then won the treble while beating Chelsea, Barca, and Bayern in the CL knockouts.  You can't really do better than that, building your own team, winning everything in sight, and doing it in Europe against more talented clubs with even bigger budgets.  He might have only won La Liga once at Real, but he was up against arguably the best club side in history and he managed to build a team capable of taking back the league at least temporarily.  And as far as last year at Chelsea, his team played all year with no striker and nobody in midfield who could pass the ball in a dangerous way.  His isn't the first club that comes to mind when thinking about who "blew a golden chance" to win the league title...
 
I would love to see Mourinho fail.  But he's had five stops, constructed each one of those teams to a significant degree, and had success in each place.  So I give credit where it is due.
 

SoxFanInCali

has the rich, deep voice of a god and the penis of
Lifetime Member
SoSH Member
Jun 3, 2005
12,286
California. Duh.
Jose has a spectacular ability to shape the message in the press, which is why nobody remembers him losing to Palace and Sunderland, and why Liverpool "blew it" by going 12-1-1 in their last 14.

I am giving him credit, by the way. I think he is a very good coach who manages big teams and the press very well. I just don't think he's the best in the world.
 

Vinho Tinto

Member
SoSH Member
Dec 9, 2003
6,083
Auburn, MA
Yes, Mourinho doesn't turn chicken shit into chicken salad. Neither did Phil Jackson. He took over Porto when they were down and turned them into European champions in three years. He didn't inherit that team, but built a roster on a budget. Besides Van Gaal, there is no one on that list that can claim a similar achievement. 
 

Vinho Tinto

Member
SoSH Member
Dec 9, 2003
6,083
Auburn, MA
SoxFanInCali said:
Jose has a spectacular ability to shape the message in the press, which is why nobody remembers him losing to Palace and Sunderland, and why Liverpool "blew it" by going 12-1-1 in their last 14.
 
Basically, you're still bitter he and Jorge Mendes snubbed LFC to sign with CFC in 2004.  
 

SoxFanInCali

has the rich, deep voice of a god and the penis of
Lifetime Member
SoSH Member
Jun 3, 2005
12,286
California. Duh.
And I enjoyed listening to Jose's excuses the 3 years in a row that Liverpool knocked Chelsea out of a cup in the semi-finals, too.
 

Schnerres

Member
SoSH Member
Apr 28, 2009
1,522
Germany
Very good question. I think you should prove something at a club and you should also win against the toughest competition, being it in CL, or with Atletico against (Real+Barca) or in Premier League with Tottenham against the other big clubs. And you should prove that you can improve players (being a coach at Barca isn´t enough, bringing a 17yo Leo Messi to being the best player qualifies) over time.
It´s one thing to be an entertainer, be a loudmouth, be a tactician by speaking to the press (about opposition, the ref,..). It´s another thing to manage a squad full of superstars and let it be about the team. That´s why i voted for Ancelotti and Guardiola and "other". Why other? I don´t want to make an argument for some of those mentioned. If still active, i would have voted for Heynckes.
 
In german football, the most interesting cases are probably the younger guys.
-Hecking (Wolfsburg)
-Lucien Favre (Gladbach)
-Gisdol (Hoffenheim)
-Schmidt (Leverkusen)
are the most interesting guys, but you have to wonder, where coaches like Hecking and Favre (50+yo) could go. Favre is from Switzerland, i believe, so he speaks french and i can see him in Austria, Switzerland, France. Hecking? He came into the perfect situation in Wolfsburg (Volkswagen improving their financial input) and proves that he can manage them, so far. Still have to wonder, what happens when Wolfsburg meets their first crisis next season (facing a possible CL groups stage knockout). Then they might look out for a big-name coach (or Tuchel, if he is still available).
 

Cellar-Door

Member
SoSH Member
Aug 1, 2006
16,808
Biesla.
The only concerns with him are that he burns guys out. If I owned any team other than Barca/Real/Man City/Chelsea,I'd give him the keys, and just slowly swap out a few players every year to prevent burnout.
 

blueguitar322

Member
SoSH Member
Sep 20, 2005
983
It seems like there's (at least) three distinct skillsets that coaches need:
  1. The ability to create a culture/style where everyone plays on the same page and knows what is expected of them (e.g. Guardiola and tiki-taka, Klopp and gegenpressing, Mourinho and defensive responsibility, etc)
  2. The tactical prowess to create the right combinations of players and tactics within that style for specific matchups
  3. The ability to find and develop talent either through academies and youth ranks or with the checkbook
Mourinho seems to have all three attributes in large quantity and maybe that's why he's one of the early frontrunners in the poll.  Guardiola - despite today's result - is perhaps the best in the world at #1 and no slouch at #2, but he's never had to build a team from the ground up as MMS pointed out above.  Wenger is strong at #1 and #3 but for years refused to adjust his tactics based on the opponent.
 

teddykgb

Member
SoSH Member
Jul 16, 2005
7,305
Chelmsford, MA
I wouldn't want him coaching my team but Van Gaal is getting underrated in the OP.  I don't think he's half as smart as he thinks he is but he's got a very long track record of success.  Overall, I think the list is of course very PL centric.  Every league has a Brendan Rodgers, as an example. I'd probably more quibble with the categorizations than anything else.
 
One name that is interesting to me is Jorge Jesus at Benfica.  He's had quite a run at Benfica recently and has set up some very different teams in very different styles given the turnover at Benfica.  It'd be hard to talk about him in context of Pep or Mourinho, but he probably belongs on a list like this at this point.
 

Spacemans Bong

chapeau rose
SoSH Member
Getting rid of the curse of Bela Guttman would do wonders for his reputation abroad; that's probably the main reason he doesn't get much attention outside Portugal.
 
And I think van Gaal would be perfect for City given where the club is at, but I don't know if the owners would commit to the youth-focused rebuild he would probably want. But there's nobody better at doing that. 
 

Vinho Tinto

Member
SoSH Member
Dec 9, 2003
6,083
Auburn, MA
JJ is older than your typical on the rise coach (60). Losing at Porto vs AVB's Porto 5-0, losing the 2013 title at the last second, and two narrow defeats in the final of the secondary European competition don't typically get you the next job. He's done great work at SLB. If they win the title this year, it would be the first back to back titles since the 80s. 8 trophies since he's arrived and he's in play for two more. He's the 10th highest paid coach in the world. It's going to take a serious offer to get him to move. I'd be disappointing if it comes from a Russian or Turkish club.
 

teddykgb

Member
SoSH Member
Jul 16, 2005
7,305
Chelmsford, MA
Vinho Tinto said:
JJ is older than your typical on the rise coach (60). Losing at Porto vs AVB's Porto 5-0, losing the 2013 title at the last second, and two narrow defeats in the final of the secondary European competition don't typically get you the next job. He's done great work at SLB. If they win the title this year, it would be the first back to back titles since the 80s. 8 trophies since he's arrived and he's in play for two more. He's the 10th highest paid coach in the world. It's going to take a serious offer to get him to move. I'd be disappointing if it comes from a Russian or Turkish club.
 
Wasn't suggesting he should move.  Just noting that he's done a hell of a job at Benfica and shown a lot of tactical acumen IMO.  
 
And I'd rather Bela Guttman's corpse coach City than Van Gaal.  But I can still acknowledge that he's done some incredible things in his career.
 
Status
Not open for further replies.