Who are the top soccer coaches of all time?
These players provide the bangs and the sparks that make soccer such an entertaining sport, but we often forget the men behind the magic; the soccer coaches creating the tactics, systems and plays that allow the players to do what they do. However, every so often a manager will emerge that can bolster a team so much more than any player – the likes of the emerging ‘Special One’ Jose Mourinho at Porto back in 2004, or veteran boss Claudio Ranieri at Leicester City in 2016.
There have been plenty of great soccer trainers throughout the history of the beautiful game, but some have achieved things so unbelievable that they will forever be remembered among an elite group of managers to have graced the game.
Here are five managers considered to be among the best soccer coaches of all time:
5. Jock Stein – Celtic
The man who not only transformed Celtic Football Club into the best side in Scotland, but also one of the best sides in Europe during the 1960s and 70s.
Despite their achievements in the 1950s, Celtic had started to struggle prior to Stein’s arrival in 1965. However, by 1966 he had secured his first Scottish Football League title – an achievement that he would repeat another nine times before departing the club in 1978.
Although, his biggest feat came in the 1967 European Cup, when he led The Hoops past Inter Milan to claim a shock victory with a group of players that had all been born and raised locally. Plenty of managers can achieve amazing results backed by big funds, but Stein did it with very little monetary investment.
4. Ernst Happel – Feyenoord, Club Brugge, Hamburger SV, FC Swarovski Tirol
17 trophies, four domestic titles in four different countries and two UEFA Cup winner medals – Happel’s trophy haul speaks for itself.
The fact that Happel was able to achieve at almost every club he went to proved just how big of an influence he was to his side. His constant attacking style of play almost always proved too much for his opponents, which saw him to become the first ever soccer manager to win the European cup with two different clubs, an achievement that has been repeated by just four others since.
3. Pep Guardiola – Barcelona
While his spell at Bayern Munich was somewhat lacklustre compared to what he had already achieved, Guardiola’s four year spell at the Barcelona helm will see him go down in the soccer coaching history books.
The Spaniard guided the club to an unbelievable haul of 14 trophies in just four seasons, including three La Liga titles and two Champions League trophies, the first of which saw him become the youngest manager in history to win Europe’s biggest prize. Likewise, Guardiola also led the club to six out of six trophies throughout the 2009 calendar year, making Barcelona one of few clubs to have achieved the sextuple.
Aged just 45, the Spaniard still has plenty of time to add to his unbelievable tally, and could well find his name at the top of this list by the time he retires.
Rinus Michels – Ajax, Barcelona, Netherlands
Named by FIFA as the best coach of the 20th century, Michels achieved plenty of success throughout his 30 years as a one of the best soccer coaches, winning league titles with Ajax and Barcelona, as well as the 1988 European Championship with the Netherlands.
However, Michels is best known for his part in the creation and refinement of the ‘Total Football’ system that saw Ajax become one of the best clubs in European football. His influence on the game still spreads far and wide through many of the top managers and footballers that came after him, from Dutch legend Johan Cruyff to the likes of former-Barcelona pairing Andres Iniesta and Xavi.
1. Sir Alex Ferguson – Manchester United
Despite some tough years early on in his Manchester United days, Ferguson went on to build some of the best squads in Premier League history throughout his 27 year stay at the club, featuring the likes of Ryan Giggs, Bryan Robson, David Beckham, Eric Cantona, Cristiano Ronaldo and Paul Scholes.
Picking up a massive 38 trophies throughout his spell at Old Trafford, including 13 Premier League titles, Ferguson saw the club become the most successful club in English soccer history, topping Liverpool’s previous record of 18 league victories – a title that is likely to remain with the club for some time.
The decline of United since his retirement in 2013 speaks for itself. Ferguson could get he best out of his players in a way that no other manager can, as proved by the failures of David Moyes and Louis van Gaal since, which singles Sir Alex Ferguson out as the greatest soccer coach of all time
Who are your picks?