Rafa Benitez is flying high when it comes to his position amongst the world’s top coaches.

The ELO system is used to try and rank all kinds of sports, both teams and individuals.

Back in March 2016, Chris Holt introduced readers of The Mag to the ELO way to rank managers/coaches in football.

Named after Arpad Elo, the system was first used in Chess to assess rankings based on results, and now it is widely accepted as means of measuring success in other sporting arenas.

The website Clubelo.com maintains an exhaustive record of these statistics for every football club and every coach in Europe going back decades, up to date rankings automatically updated with each result.

When it comes to coaches/managers around the world, Rafa Benitez is flying high, thanks in part to his record so far at Newcastle United.

The latest top 20 ELO ranked football coaches in the world is reproduced below and the United boss is in 17th spot.

However, five of those above Rafa Benitez are not currently working, meaning of active coaches in the world at this moment in time, Rafa is ranked 12th.

Of those above him, there are four from the Premier League, and this is testament now to how the English top tier is attracting some of the best managers operating in world football.

The four highest positions (of those currently working), sees Premier League managers in first (Guardiola), second (Mourinho), and fourth (Conte) spots.

If Rafa Benitez rises further up this list whilst still working at Newcastle United, we are set for good times ahead.

The Clubelo.com latest rankings:

rafa benitez

Chris Holt writing in The Mag – 27 March 2016:

‘Arpad Elo was born in Hungary in 1903.  Aged 10 he moved to the United States with his parents and later became a professor of physics at Marquette University in Milwaukee. He was also a prodigious Chess talent, the strongest in Milwaukee, he won the Wisconsin State Championship eight times.

Elo, is famous for combining his two loves. As a brilliant physicist, in 1960 he applied his mathematical skills to create the Elo rating system. It allowed Chess players to be rated more effectively than any previous system. By 1970 the World Chess Federation had adopted his method as their official ranking system.

Simplistically, how it works is that each competitor is assigned a rating based on their previous games. Points are added and removed from the Elo rating of a player depending on the outcome of games.  If a player with a low rating beats a player with a high rating, they gain a high number of points but if a player with a high rating beats a player with a low rating they get a lower number of points, because that’s the expected result.  Thrashings earn more points than close wins too.  And draws enhance the rating of the lower ranked player more.

Of course this elegant system didn’t apply only in chess, it could be used in any 2 player game.  Or any 2 team game. The formulas can be adjusted to suit games with different scoring systems and there are now elo rankings available online for most major sports.

FIFA’s thinking on Elo seems mixed up.  In the women’s game it is used as the official ranking system, however in the men’s game it is not.  That’s despite a 2009 study of 8 ranking methods showing that elo had the highest predictive capability for football matches, while the men’s FIFA ranking method performed poorly.  We’ve all seen minnows in the top 10 FIFA rankings and wondered what that was all about.

The Elo measure can be applied to managers as well as teams.  They can be graded on how they performed at single clubs or throughout their careers, and it provides an excellent insight into just how well a coach performed.  It accounts for the level the club/country found themselves when a manager arrived and where he left them when he departed.  It’s a far more detailed portrayal of a manager’s success than the basic count of games won, drawn or lost we’re used to seeing whenever a manager is sacked.’



  • Peaky Magpie

    ELO ratings ? Didn’t know Jeff Lynne was such a leading figure in world football?

    • Rich Lawson

      ”It’s a kinda magic”

      • Peaky Magpie

        He must have discussed these down the “Telephone Line” to avoid “Confusion” because at the end of the day he’s a “Living Thing”

        • Rich Lawson

          ”Roll over Mike Ashley,tell Stavely the news”

      • Albert Stubbins

        Isn’t that queen?

        • Rich Lawson

          Your right Albert,should be Strange kinda magic

  • Johan

    Where does Zinedine Zidane feature? Isn’t he among the top 20 coaches in the world?

    • Clarko

      To be considered the coach/manager must have 100 games on record, Zidane has only just eclipsed that number (102), I imagine that is the reason for his absence.

      • Steve McClaren

        The oracle has spoken.

  • Steve Smith

    Wouldn’t a year in the championship against lower rated managers have gimped his rating?

    • Clarko

      Why would it lower his Elo Rating?

      • Steve Smith

        Does the scoring take into account the elo rating of the opponents you win/lose against? In effect winning 10 matches against Barcelona would increase your rating more than winning 10 against Burton. To compound it, losing one against Burton would lower your rating significant more than losing one against Barcelona.

        That was my understanding anyway.

        • Clarko

          But we didn’t lose (many) games in the Championship, 10 losses isn’t going to have a significant effect on the Elo rating of a manager with 922 games (Clubelo).

          On a side note, here is the competition for Benitez (the active managers rankings):

          12th Benitez
          13th Pochettino
          14th Favre
          15th Valverde
          16th Berdiyev
          17th Pulis
          18th Jardim
          19th Le Guen
          20th Semin

          • Steve Smith

            What are the elo rankings of the championship teams?

            You’ve missed the point.

            You gain very few points for beating an inferior opponent but lose a large amount for losing to them. You can even lose opponents for drawing with an inferior opponent I believe.

          • Steve McClaren

            You won’t gain many points for beating this numbskull in an argument then.

          • Clarko

            No I haven’t “missed the point”, you asked why his rating has not been damaged, I provided a reason.

            Currently (10/2017) the Elo of Newcastle is 1662 and the likes of Fulham have an Elo of 1561, Hull have an Elo of 1554, Middlesborough have an Elo of 1549 and so on, there isn’t a significant difference between us and the Championship teams (for reference Manchester City have an Elo of 1947).

            Since Benitez took charge Newcastle’s lowest Elo rating was 1564 (Apr 2016 Southampton), that’s in the Premier League, Newcastle had a higher Elo rating during the whole of the Championship campaign, why? Because we won games.

            Being in the Championship would not and did not have a significant effect on the Elo rating of Benitez.

          • Steve Smith

            I actually used the word “gimped” and you just proved my point.

            He won the league and it “did not have a significant effect” on his elo rating. If he had done what the pink seats are doing his rating would have plummeted.

          • Clarko

            What is the definition of “gimped” in your world? A source would be lovely.

            “If he had done what the pink seats are doing his rating would have plummeted”. He didn’t.

            You asked for a reason, I provided a reason, I did not miss the point, you missed the reason.

          • Steve Smith

            Hobbled – restricted movement. It’s literally the first result if you Google.

            I questioned whether/inferred a year in the championship would have gimped (hobbled) his rating due to facing opponents of low rating.

            You confirmed the inference by stating that his rating barely changed.

            You tried to throw up straw man arguments “his rating didn’t get damaged” “he didn’t do what the pink seats have done” these were all irrelevant.

            This actually displays the fallacy of using an elo system in football. The majority of teams played are a significantly lower rating so there are limited times where higher rated teams will be facing each other and therefore be unable to score higher points to increase rating.

          • Clarko

            “I questioned whether/inferred a year in the championship would have gimped (hobbled) his rating due to facing opponents of low rating.” Yes, and the answer was no, because we didn’t lose. I don’t know why you brought up the word “gimped” after the question had already be answered.

            I didn’t use straw man arguments, his “rating” is the topic under discussion and you are the one who mentioned Sunderland stating “If he had done what the pink seats are doing his rating would have plummeted”, you are fundamentally wrong.

            The following is an example of a straw man:

            “This actually displays the fallacy of using an elo system in football. The majority of teams played are a significantly lower rating so there are limited times where higher rated teams will be facing each other and therefore be unable to score higher points to increase rating.”

            You are wrongly accusing me of using straw man arguments, while trying to debate the answer I gave to your question, a topic which you knew very little about, again, this was not a debate, I was answering your question.

  • Steve McClaren

    I asked ELO to remove my name from this list because I wanted to give a chance to the younger coaches.

  • Wor Lass

    Wow – really interesting news!

  • steve pearce

    Eh – what’s a prog rock band who uses an orchestra got to do with rating managers?

    Do they think Rafa is Mister Blue Sky……

  • Leazes Ender

    Ashley we’ll turn from stone when you are gone.

  • Biggs

    How isn’t Wenger in that list?