400th Post: Who Is The Greatest Manager Ever?

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Just before I begin my previews to Euro 2016, an important milestone has been reached on It’s Football Not Soccer – this is my 400th post on this blog. I’ve always said that when I began writing on here in October 2013, I never expected it to carry on this long, but my love for football and the chance to share my passion with you has kept me going. So, what to do to celebrate?

In post 100, I named Pele as my greatest player of all time. In post 200, I named Ryan Giggs as my greatest Premier league player in history. In post 300, I named Bobby Charlton as my greatest English player ever. You can read how I decided upon them here, whilst for post 400 I’m moving away from the players, and choosing my greatest manager ever.

As usual, I’ve narrowed it down to a top five and here they are in alphabetical order…


Sir Alex Ferguson

CREDIT: REUTERS
CREDIT: REUTERS
  • Full name: Alexander Chapman Ferguson
  • Date of Birth: 31st December 1941
  • Nationality: Scottish
  • Teams managed: East Sterlingshire (1974), St Mirren (1974-78), Aberdeen (1978-86), Scotland (1985-86), Manchester United (1986-2013)

Golden Moment

The most successful season in both Fergie’s managerial career and the history of Manchester United, 1998-99 saw the Red Devils win the treble. I’ve chosen the golden moment as when the third of those trophies was won, the Champions League. Having won the Premier League by a point on the final day and the FA Cup by defeating Newcastle at Wembley, the Red Devils travelled to the Nou Camp for their chance to secure European glory against Bayern Munich. The German side took the lead after just six minutes and looked as though they would lift the trophy and ruin United’s dream before one the most dramatic few moments in the history of football. In the first minute of injury time, Ryan Giggs turned a David Beckham corner back into the box and Teddy Sheringham steered it home to secure an unlikely equaliser. Then, from the kick-off, United again stole possession forcing another corner, with Ole Gunnar Solskjaer striking Sheringham’s header first-time into the roof of the net to secure the most thrilling of victories.

Honours

St Mirren

  • Scottish First Division (1): 1976–77

Aberdeen

  • Scottish Premier Division (3): 1979–80, 1983–84, 1984–85
  • Scottish Cup (4): 1981–82, 1982–83, 1983–84, 1985–86
  • Scottish League Cup (1): 1985–86
  • Drybrough Cup (1): 1980
  • UEFA Cup Winners’ Cup (1): 1982–83
  • UEFA Super Cup (1): 1983

Manchester United

  • Premier League (13): 1992–93, 1993–94, 1995–96, 1996–97, 1998–99, 1999–2000, 2000–01, 2002–03, 2006–07, 2007–08, 2008–09, 2010–11, 2012–13
  • FA Cup (5): 1989–90, 1993–94, 1995–96, 1998–99, 2003–04
  • League Cup (4): 1991–92, 2005–06, 2008–09, 2009–10
  • FA Charity/Community Shield (10): 1990 (shared), 1993, 1994, 1996, 1997, 2003, 2007, 2008, 2010, 2011
  • UEFA Champions League (2): 1998–99, 2007–08
  • UEFA Cup Winners’ Cup (1): 1990–91
  • UEFA Super Cup (1): 1991
  • Intercontinental Cup (1): 1999
  • FIFA Club World Cup (1): 2008

Individual

  • Knight Bachelor (1999)
  • LMA Manager of the Decade (1): 1990s
  • LMA Manager of the Year (4): 1998–99, 2007–08, 2010–11, 2012–13
  • LMA Special Merit Award (2): 2009, 2011
  • Premier League Manager of the Season (11): 1993–94, 1995–96, 1996–97, 1998–99, 1999–2000, 2002–03, 2006–07, 2007–08, 2008–09, 2010–11, 2012–13
  • Premier League Manager of the Month (27): August 1993, October 1994, February 1996, March 1996, February 1997, October 1997, January 1999, April 1999, August 1999, March 2000, April 2000, February 2001, April 2003, December 2003, February 2005, March 2006, August 2006, October 2006, February 2007, January 2008, March 2008, January 2009, April 2009, September 2009, January 2011, August 2011, October 2012
  • UEFA Manager of the Year (1): 1998–99
  • UEFA Team of the Year (2): 2007, 2008
  • Onze d’Or Coach of the Year (3): 1999, 2007, 2008
  • IFFHS World’s Best Club Coach (2): 1999, 2008
  • IFFHS World’s Best Coach of the 21st Century (1): 2012
  • World Soccer Magazine World Manager of the Year (4): 1993, 1999, 2007, 2008
  • World Soccer Magazine Greatest Manager of All Time: 2013
  • Laureus World Sports Award for Team of the Year (1): 2000
  • BBC Sports Personality of the Year Coach Award (1): 1999
  • BBC Sports Personality Team of the Year Award (1): 1999
  • BBC Sports Personality of the Year Lifetime Achievement Award (1): 2001
  • BBC Sports Personality Diamond Award (1): 2013
  • English Football Hall of Fame (Manager) : 2002
  • Scottish Football Hall of Fame: 2004
  • European Hall of Fame (Manager): 2008
  • FIFA Presidential Award: 2011
  • Premier League 10 Seasons Awards (1992–93 – 2001–02)
    • Manager of the Decade
    • Most Coaching Appearances (392 games)
  • Premier League 20 Seasons Awards (1992–93 – 2011–12)
    • Best Manager
  • FWA Tribute Award: 1996
  • PFA Merit Award: 2007
  • Premier League Merit Award: 2012–13
  • Mussabini Medal: 1999
  • Northwest Football Awards: 2013
    • Manager of the Year

Ottmar Hitzfeld

CREDIT: Alexander Hassenstein/Bongarts/Getty Images
CREDIT: Alexander Hassenstein/Bongarts/Getty Images
  • Full name: Ottmar Hitzfeld
  • Date of Birth: 12th January 1949
  • Nationality: German
  • Teams managed: Zug 94 (1983-84), Aarau (1984-88), Grasshoppers (1988-91), Borussia Dortmund (1991-97), Bayern Munich (1998-2004 & 2007-08), Switzerland (2008-14)

Golden Moment

Like Ferguson, I’ve picked Ottmar Hitzfeld’s golden moment as winning the Champions League. He won the competition twice as a manager, first of all with Borussia Dortmund in 1997 – two years prior to Manchester United’s treble completing victory in which Hitzfeld was in charge of beaten finalists Bayern Munich. 1997 was the first (and so far only) time in the German club’s history that they lifted Europe’s greatest trophy. Karl-Heinz Riedle put Dortmund 2-0 up by half-time before Alessandro Del Piero pulled one back for opponents Juventus. Then, in the 71st minute of the game, local lad Lars Ricken came on as substitute scored with his first touch of the game after just 16 seconds to secure a 3-1 win. It was an impressive victory for Hitzfeld and Dortmund who were underdogs against a Juventus side which featured Zinedine Zidane, Didier Deschamps, and Christian Vieri, amongst others.

Honours

Aarau

  • Swiss Cup: 1985

Grasshopper

  • Swiss Super League: 1989–90, 1990–91
  • Swiss Cup: 1989, 1990
  • Swiss Super Cup: 1989

Borussia Dortmund

  • Bundesliga: 1994–95, 1995–96
  • DFB-Supercup: 1995, 1996
  • UEFA Champions League: 1996–97

Bayern Munich

  • Bundesliga: 1998–99, 1999–00, 2000–01, 2002–03, 2007–08
  • DFB-Pokal: 1999–00, 2002–03, 2007–08
  • DFB Ligapokal: 1998, 1999, 2000, 2007
  • UEFA Champions League: 2000–01
  • Intercontinental Cup: 2001

Individual

  • IFFHS World’s Best Club Coach: 1997, 2001
  • World Soccer Magazine World Manager of the Year: 1997
  • UEFA Coach of the Year 2001
  • German Football Manager of the Year 2008

Rinus Michels

CREDIT: By Nationaal Archief, Den Haag, Rijksfotoarchief: Fotocollectie Algemeen Nederlands Fotopersbureau (ANEFO)
CREDIT: Nationaal Archief, Den Haag, Rijksfotoarchief: Fotocollectie Algemeen Nederlands Fotopersbureau (ANEFO)
  • Full name: Marinus Jacobus Hendricus Michels
  • Date of Birth: 9 February 1928 (died 3 March 2005)
  • Nationality: Dutch
  • Teams managed: JOS (1964-68), AFC (1964-65), Ajax (1965-71 & 1975-76), Barcelona (1971-75 & 1976-78), Netherlands (1974, 1984-85, 1986-88 & 1990-92), Los Angeles Aztecs (1979-80), FC Koln (1980-83), Bayer Leverkusen (1988-89)

Golden Moment

A few days ago, I put together my Greatest European Championship XI Ever which included Dutch stars Ronald Koeman and Ruud Gullit which helped the Netherlands win Euro 1988. The manager of that impressive side was Michels, who earnt himself a place in his country’s folklore by lifting the trophy in Munich. After losing the first game of the tournament to the Soviet Union, the Netherlands went on to qualify for the semi-final by defeating England and the Republic of Ireland. In the last four they met hosts West Germany, who had defeated them in the World Cup final in 1974, when Michels was also in charge. The Dutch gained revenge through Marco van Basten’s goal, before winning the tournament by defeating the Soviet Union in the final. This was the national team’s first major tournament win (and only one to date) and it restored them to the forefront of international football after almost a decade in the wilderness.

Honours

Ajax

  • Eredivisie: 1965–66, 1966–67, 1967–68, 1969–70
  • KNVB Cup: 1966–67, 1969–70, 1970–71
  • European Cup: 1970–71
  • UEFA Intertoto Cup: 1968

Barcelona

  • La Liga: 1973–74
  • Copa del Rey: 1977–78
  • Inter-Cities Fairs Cup Trophy: 1971

FC Koln

  • DFB Pokal: 1982–83

Netherlands

  • UEFA European Championship: 1988

Individual

  • Named Knight in the Order of Orange-Nassau: 1974
  • Named Officer in the Order of Orange-Nassau: 1988
  • Named World Soccer Awards Manager of the Year: 1988
  • Named Dutch manager of the century: 1999
  • Named FIFA Coach of the Century: 1999
  • Named Knight of the KNVB: 2002
  • UEFA Lifetime Award: 2002
  • Best Manager in 50 years of professional football in the Netherlands: 2004

Jose Mourinho

CREDIT: GETTY IMAGES/IAN WALTON
CREDIT: GETTY IMAGES/IAN WALTON
  • Full name: Jose Mario dos Santos Mourinho Felix
  • Date of Birth: 26 January 1963
  • Nationality: Portuguese
  • Teams managed: Benfica (2000), Uniao de Leiria (2001-02), Porto (2002-04), Chelsea (2004-07 & 2013-15), Inter Milan (2008-10), Real Madrid (2010-13), Manchester United (2016-present)

Golden Moment

It is easy to forget Mourinho’s success at Inter Milan, but his time Italy was perhaps the best in his career. The golden moment came in the 2009-10 season, when he won the treble. Like with Ferguson, I’ve picked the Champions League to look back on after Inter won Serie A by two points and beat Roma in the final of the Coppa Italia. They would take on Bayern Munich in the final of Europe’s elite competition, and two goals from Diego Milito either side of half-time meant they were victorious and Mourinho wrote himself into the history books. After also winning the Champions League with Porto in 2004, he became only the third manager to win it with two clubs aged just 47. It was also his second treble after achieving the same feat with the Portuguese club, whilst he also ended Inter Milan’s 45 year wait to regain Europe’s top prize. In dong so, he earned a move to Real Madrid who paid  a world record breaking compensation package to take him to the Bernabeu.

Honours

Porto

  • Primeira Liga: 2002–03, 2003–04
  • Taça de Portugal: 2002–03
  • Supertaça Cândido de Oliveira: 2003
  • UEFA Champions League: 2003–04
  • UEFA Cup: 2002–03

Chelsea

  • Premier League: 2004–05, 2005–06, 2014–15
  • FA Cup: 2006–07
  • Football League Cup: 2004–05, 2006–07, 2014–15
  • FA Community Shield: 2005

Inter Milan

  • Serie A: 2008–09, 2009–10
  • Coppa Italia: 2009–10
  • Supercoppa Italiana: 2008
  • UEFA Champions League: 2009–10

Real Madrid

  • La Liga: 2011–12
  • Copa del Rey: 2010–11
  • Supercopa de España: 2012

Individual

  • Onze d’Or Coach of the Year: 2005
  • FIFA World Coach of the Year: 2010
  • IFFHS World’s Best Club Coach: 2004, 2005, 2010, 2012
  • Premier League Manager of the Year: 2004–05, 2005–06, 2014–15
  • Premier League Manager of the Month: November 2004, January 2005, March 2007
  • Serie A Manager of the Year: 2008–09, 2009–10
  • Albo Panchina d’Oro: 2009–10
  • Miguel Muñoz Trophy: 2010–11, 2011–12
  • UEFA Manager of the Year: 2002–03, 2003–04
  • UEFA Team of the Year: 2003, 2004, 2005, 2010
  • World Soccer Magazine World Manager of the Year: 2004, 2005, 2010
  • BBC Sports Personality of the Year Coach Award: 2005
  • La Gazzetta dello Sport Man of the Year: 2010
  • International Sports Press Association Best Manager in the World: 2010
  • Prémio Prestígio Fernando Soromenho: 2012
  • Football Extravaganza’s League of Legends (2011)
  • Globe Soccer Awards Best Coach of the Year: 2012
  • Globe Soccer Awards Best Media Attraction in Football: 2012
  • Portuguese Coach of the Century: 2015

Giovanni Trapattoni

CREDIT: PA
CREDIT: PA
  • Full name: Giovanni Trapattoni
  • Date of Birth: 17th March 1939
  • Nationality: Italian
  • Teams managed: AC Milan (1974 & 1975-76), Juventus (1976-86 & 1991-94), Inter Milan (1986-91), Bayern Munich (1994-95 & 1996-98), Cagliari (1995-96), Fiorentina (1998-2000), Italy (2000-04), Benfica (2004-05), Stuttgart (2005-06), Red Bull Salzburg (2006-08), Repubic of Ireland (2008-13)

Golden Moment

Yep, you’ve guessed it, it comes in the Champions League. Although for Trapattoni’s golden moment back in 1985, it was called the European Cup. His Juventus side, who he had coached for nine years, came up against reigning champions Liverpool and defeated the Reds 1-0 thanks to Michel Platini’s second half penalty. The match may have been overshadowed by the Heysel disaster, but it meant that Juventus won their first ever European Cup and became the first club to win all three seasonal UEFA competitions (European Cup, UEFA Cup, UEFA Cup Winners’ Cup). Trapattoni himself is the only manager, along with Udo Lattek, to achieve this feat and helped him establish himself as one of the world’s greatest managers and become respected among fans and journalists throughout Europe.

Honours

Juventus

  • Serie A (6): 1976–77, 1977–78, 1980–81, 1981–82, 1983–84, 1985–86
  • Coppa Italia: 1978–79, 1982–83
  • European Cup: 1984–85
  • UEFA Cup Winners’ Cup: 1984
  • UEFA Cup: 1976–77, 1992–93
  • European Super Cup: 1984
  • Intercontinental Cup: 1985

Inter Milan

  • Serie A: 1988–89
  • Supercoppa Italiana: 1989
  • UEFA Cup: 1990–91

Bayern Munich

  • Bundesliga: 1996–97
  • DFB-Pokal: 1997–98
  • DFB-Ligapokal: 1997

Benfica

  • Primeira Liga: 2004–05

Red Bull Salzburg

  • Austrian Bundesliga: 2006–07

Republic of Ireland

  • Nations Cup: 2011

Individual

  • A.C. Milan Hall of Fame
  • Seminatore d’Oro: 1976–77, 1985
  • Premio l’Allenatore dei Sogni: 1992
  • Panchina d’Oro: 1997
  • Champions of Europe plaque: 2006
  • Philips Manager of the Year Award: 2012
  • Italian Football Hall of Fame: 2012

SoWho is the Greatest Manager Ever?

At number five, I’ve gone for Rinus Michels because I don’t think he is as well known as the other managers and put simply hasn’t won as many trophies. Of the trophies he did win, the majority came in the Netherlands at a time when his Ajax side faced little competition. However, he is the only one to win silverware on the international stage and is credited with the creation of ‘Total Football’. Furthermore, he was named as the coach of the century in 1999 by FIFA. Since the turn of the century though, I think other bosses have done enough to overtake him.

The next three spots were incredibly hard to decide, and it’s no criticism of Ottmar Hitzfeld that I’ve gone for him in fourth. The German had a fantastic managerial career, and is one of only five managers to win the Champions League with two different clubs. Perhaps his only downfall is that he only achieved success in Switzerland (a relatively easy league to win) and Germany. But as I said Hitzfeld is definitely worthy of place higher up the list but my personal opinion puts him fourth.

In third place is Jose Mourinho, perhaps because I’ve actually seen more of his teams play than Hitzfeld’s. But take nothing away from the Portuguese bosses’ credentials – he’s one of just five managers to win the league in four different countries. Add to that two Champions League winners medals, whilst one treble is impressive, but two is incredible. The end to his recent spell at Chelsea has dampened it a little bit, whilst some people have criticised Mourinho for being a ‘short term manager’. But having been recently appointed as Manchester United manager and still with at least 15 years ahead of him in coaching, he has the potential to go further up this list.

Taking second spot on my list is Giovanni Trapattoni. Like Mourinho, he is one of just five managers to win the league in four different countries and was consistently impressive on the touchline right up until his retirement three years ago. Even on the international stage he achieved relative success, taking the Republic of Ireland to their first European Championships in 24 years. Much more likeable than Mourinho, the Italian as aforementioned is one of only two men to win all three major European club titles, whilst he’s the only one to lift the Club World Cup too.

But at number 1, of course it has to be…

SIR ALEX FERGUSON!

Is there much need for debate? Although I criticised Ottmar Hitzfeld for only doing well in two countries and Sir Alex did the same, the German didn’t achieve near the amount of success Fergie did in his 27 years at Manchester United. He turned the Red Devils into a side that dominated the Premier League and attracted the world’s greatest players. He won pretty much every trophy going, whilst you’d be forgiven for forgetting the impressive success he achieved at Aberdeen as well. No other manager has more trophies than Ferguson’s tally of 50, and you only have to look at his monumentally long list of personal accolades to understand what an incredible coach he was. Sir Alex Ferguson is hands down my greatest manager of all time.

My Top Five Managers Ever

5. Rinus Michels

4. Ottmar Hitzfeld

3. Jose Mourinho

2. Giovanni Trapattoni

1. Sir Alex Ferguson

Thank you for all your incredible support, whether you’ve read all 399 previous posts or this is your first one, it’s hugely appreciated. I can’t believe I’m about to press publish for the 400th time!

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