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The 50 greatest managers of all time – Rafa above Sir Bobby…Where’s Kevin Keegan?

3 years ago

Who are the greatest managers of all time?

Who is THE greatest manager of all time?

Is it who wins the most trophies?

Or indeed do you have to win any trophies at all?

Apologies for getting to this greatest managers of all time debate so late but I have been on holiday.

It is fascinating stuff though and always great for debate.

Especially because there is no definitive answer, beauty is in the eye of the beholder.

It is France Football who have come up with this new list and predictably some people are kicking off about it.

I think the first rule about anything like this is not to take it too seriously.

It is a bit like when you see a list of the 50 most beautiful women in the world, it is not some scientific study, instead it is two blokes in an office picking them. Their own inbuilt longstanding preferences/biases heavily influencing the selection.

Top of their/this list is Rinus Michaels, who the European Cup (and numerous Dutch league titles) with Ajax, won La Liga with Barcelona, then was runner up in the 1974 World Cup with the Dutch national side as well as winning the 1988 European Championships.

It is hilarious to see all the Manchester United fans whining because Ferguson isn’t top.

However, the simple fact is that most of them on this list are managers who were at powerful/rich clubs.

Yes he dominated domestic league titles at Man Utd but surely he had to do far more in Europe to have earned that top spot. In the time he was at Old Trafford, Alex Ferguson won two Champions League titles, Porto won the same number in that time. AC Milan won five whilst Barcelona won four.

With all the money and other advantages they have over most clubs, it was surely a below par showing in Europe for the Mancs?

Looking at it as a (relative) neutral, I don’t see how you can look past Brian Clough as both the very best the English top division has ever seen, as well as indeed being top of this entire list.

He went to unfashionable Derby who were in the second tier and turned them into champions of England, the very first time they had done so.

Remarkably he then did the same at Forest, he took the equally unfashionable club out of the second tier and indeed the very next season won the top tier title.

Not only that, the next two seasons he won the European Cup.

That was spectacular and whilst he could be a pain in the backside, he was undoubtedly, for me, the greatest manager ever.

More locally, my greatest ever Newcastle manager (in my lifetime) is Kevin Keegan.

I honestly think nobody else could have done what he did, saving Newcastle from the third tier and in the next four seasons produce a team that finished 3rd, 6th, 2nd and 2nd in the Premier League.

Like Brian Clough he achieved most of this spending very little, until those last two seasons when Newcastle started to compete in the transfer market, thanks mainly to all the extra cash KK was generating for the club.

I was only a toddler when Joe Harvey led Newcastle to Fairs Cup glory, so my personal pecking order sees Sir Bobby after Keegan, then Rafa Benitez in third place, Arthur Cox and Chris Hughton fighting out the next spot.

Nice to see both Rafa Benitez and Sir Bobby Robson in this list, a travesty though that there is no Kevin Keegan…

France Football’s 50 greatest managers of all time:

1. Rinus Michels
2. Sir Alex Ferguson
3. Arrigo Sacchi
4. Johan Cruyff
5. Pep Guardiola
6. Valeriy Lobanovski
7. Helenio Herrera
8. Carlo Ancelotti
9. Ernst Happel
10. Bill Shankly
11. Matt Busby
12. Giovanni Trapattoni
13. Jose Mourinho
14. Miguel Munnoz
15. Brian Clough
16. Marcelo Lippi
17. Nereo Rocco
18. Louis van Gaal
19. Ottmar Hitzfeld
20. Bela Guttmann
21. Fabio Capello
22. Zinedine Zidane
23. Viktor Maslov
24. Herbert Chapman
25. Jupp Heynckes
26. Bob Paisley
27. Jurgen Klopp
28. Albert Batteux
29. Guus Hiddink
30. Udo Lattek
31. Diego Simeone
32. Arsene Wenger
33. Vicente del Bosque
34. Jock Stein
35. Tele Santana
36. Vic Buckingham
37. Rafa Benitez
38. Hennes Weisweiler
39. Sir Bobby Robson
40. Dettmar Cramer
41. Mircea Lucescu
42. Tomislav Ivic
43. Stefan Kovacs
44. Luis Aragones
45. Frank Rijkaard
46. Otto Rehhagel
47. Raymond Goethals
48. Marcelo Bielsa
49. Antonio Conte
50. Jean-Claude Suaudeau


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