25 Best Managers in World Football Right Now
This list runs down the 25 best managers in world football right now.
In compiling this piece, I have considered past achievements, current status and overall reputation to collect a group of names that ranges from the tried and tested to the bright and promising figures on the managerial circuit.
I am only considering managers who are currently working, i.e. not those who are retired. Certain managers have been included despite being out of work, but there is no place for the likes of Sir Alex Ferguson or Jupp Heynckes.
Read on to discover the 25 top names in the business right now.
Few managers would escape so many years of such abject disappointment as Wenger has, but his stay of execution as Arsenal boss is testament to his previous achievements as manager.
Having won honours with Monaco, in Ligue 1 and Grampus 8 in Japan, Wenger’s arrival in the Premier League took English football by storm.
Complimenting the club’s famous back line with European flair and a modern approach to the sport, he built the modern Arsenal and endured great success between 1998 and 2005.
It’s all been a little quiet since then however, and Wenger continues to risk irreversibly damaging his tarnished reputation.
David Moyes was Sir Alex Ferguson’s hand-picked choice to succeed him as Manchester United boss following a decade of keeping Everton competitive in the top half of the Premier League.
He is yet to prove himself with big-name players, with expensive signings or in the rarefied tactical atmosphere of crucial fixtures. His start at Old Trafford has been disappointing, but Fergie’s recommendation will doubtless count for a great deal in the eyes of the fans.
Unproven in Europe as yet, Martino is a legend in South America following successes with Libertad, Cerro Porteno and Newell’s Old Boys. Barcelona, however, naturally represents a far greater challenge.
His relationship with Messi (and his father) should stand Martino in good stead and if his early, promising start to life in Catalonia continues, he can expect to creep up this list.
Martino is one of Marcelo Bielsa's many disciples and has immediately helped the club to “rediscover” the heavy pressing that has served them so well in recent years.
Benitez overcame animosity to make a successful go of things at Chelsea, earning the begrudging respect of the fans in the process.
His track record is certainly mixed; initial success at Liverpool ended with stagnation and over-spending, his sojourn at Internazionale was brief and unspectacular but his time at Valencia remains impressive.
Napoli should provide him with an appealing challenge and, after some time in the wilderness, it could prove to be Rafa’s defining job.
He may have been deposed by Galatasaray after a disappointing start to the current Super Lig season, but the current Turkey manager remains a hugely-respected coach.
The Emperor is the most successful manager in Turkish football history, having won six Turkish titles and the UEFA Cup in previous stints at Gala.
The current Brazil manager is in his second stint with the Selecao, having already won the World Cup with the South American giants in 2002.
His time with Portugal never managed to produce the inaugural title that was hoped for, but Scolari's legacy will almost certainly be defined by the outworking of developments next summer. A World Cup on home soil is an opportunity for immortality too good to miss out on.
He was also a Copa Libertadores winner with both Gremio and Palmeiras.
Like Wenger, Capello built success upon the excellent foundations of an existing team, and like the Alsatian manager, the Italian boss has also struggled to live up to the early successes of his career.
A four-time Serie A champion with Milan, Capello also achieved success with Juventus, Roma and Real Madrid—where he won two league titles, a decade apart.
It may have all fallen apart with England during the 2010 World Cup, but now managing Russia and leading Portugal in UEFA World Cup Qualifying Group F, Capello has the opportunity to rebuild his reputation.
Simeone has revitalised Atletico Madrid since arriving at the Vicente Calderon in 2011. The former captain had the support of the fans from the off and has sustained their affection with numerous memorable, impressive results.
Relishing a Champions League campaign this term, the Argentine will hope to build on last season’s Spanish Cup success and the preceding triumphs in the Europa League and the Super Cup.
Most importantly, he has imbued Atleti with a new mentality.
Villas-Boas missed out on Champions League qualification with Tottenham last season, but managed the transition across London with great success, not necessarily a given thing after replacing the dismissed Harry Redknapp.
He brought on Gareth Bale to such an extent that Real Madrid were willing to break the bank to acquire him, and the signings made both to compliment and replace Bale have, so far, been very encouraging.
The fact that Barcelona and Paris Saint-Germain were both sniffing around him this summer indicates the esteem with which he is held in the world game.
Under-rated Romanian boss Lucescu has transformed Shakhtar Donetsk. He enjoys complete control at the club, and they have thrived under his guidance.
A major aficionado of the Brazilian game, Lucescu often tries to cram as many Brazilians as he can into his team—creating an XI of sublime South American flair upon a solid bank of home-grown talent.
He has managed the near-constant stream of departures from the club excellently, earning seven Ukrainian League titles and the UEFA Cup in 2009.
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Pellegrini was dealt an unfortunate hand while Real Madrid manager, but the Chilean boss replicated some of his Villarreal success at Malaga and now has the chance to make it at the elite end of European football once again with Manchester City.
He has a wonderful European record, having guided Villarreal to the Champions League semifinal and under-siege Malaga to the quarterfinals last term.
The Engineer will be expected to bring similar success to Eastlands.
The mastermind behind Juventus’ rise back to the pinnacle of Italian football, Conte will be looking for progression in Europe this term.
He retains his touch for cherry-picking talent to add to his already impressive assembly of players at Juve and will hope that the additions of Carlos Tevez and Fernando Llorente can preserve his side’s spot at the top of the Italian classement.
The former midfield star combines a competitive, hungry edge with tactical and technical flair; the Old Lady shows no signs of getting rickety with Conte at the helm.
The current Fluminense boss is the most successful coach in the history of Brazil’s top flight. In a managerial career that stretches back to 1983, he has won the Serie A title five times—honours to go alongside a huge swathe of other achievements.
Despite winning the Copa America as Brazil boss in 1999, Luxemburgo’s truly big jobs have ended in disappointment.
He was axed as Real Madrid boss following a 3-0 defeat at the hands of Barcelona and endured a horrific outing at the 2000 Olympic Games with Brazil.
Bielsa was named by IFFHS as the world’s finest coach in 2001, and his trophy haul includes an Olympic gold medal and three Argentine top division titles.
His greatest achievement is perhaps not in titles won, but in his work with the Chilean national side and the influence he has had on a whole host of inspired former pupils. This list runs from Mauricio Pochettino and Gerardo Martino to Jorge Sampaoli and Guardiola himself.
He may have embarrassed himself during the first round of fixtures with some petulant antics on the touchline, but Klopp remains a manager of genuine class who has moulded a superb young side at the Westfalenstadion, and his know-how should help his team back to the business end of the tournament.
Klopp continues to reinvent this exciting Dortmund side, and the acquisitions of Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Henrikh Mkhitaryan and the retention of Robert Lewandowski have eased the blow of Mario Gotze’s departure.
His time at Anzhi may have ended prematurely, but Guus Hiddink remains a manager of exceptional class.
In an extensive managerial career that has seen him take in stops at PSV, Valencia, Fenerbahce, Holland, Real Madrid, Australia, South Korea, Russia and Chelsea, among others, Hiddink has touched numerous fanbases and won the admiration of huge swathes of football observers.
Key achievements include a treble and a maiden European Cup triumph with PSV, semifinal runs for the Netherlands and, remarkably, South Korea in the World Cup, Russia at Euro 2008 and an FA Cup triumph with a besieged Chelsea side.
Currently on the market, Hiddink remains a top manager who would be a valuable asset to whichever side he joins.
The current Boca Juniors man remains the only coach to win four Copa Libertadores, a truly exceptional achievement.
During previous stints at Boca, and with Velez Sarsfield across Buenos Aires, Bianchi achieved major success, winning numerous Primera Division titles and several Intercontinental Cups.
IFFHS named him the World’s Best Club Coach in both 2000 and 2003. It remains to be seen whether he will one day take the reins of the Argentina team or try his hand, once again, in Europe.
Louis Van Gaal
In a storied coaching career that stretches back to 1986, van Gaal has spent time as boss of Barcelona, Ajax, Bayern Munich, as well as the Dutch national side.
First of all, he a relentless winner, having picked up league titles, the UEFA Cup and the Champions League with Ajax, two La Liga titles with Barcelona and the Bundesliga title with Bayern Munich. He has also played an important role in the development of the Total Football strand of footballing philosophy that ties Barca’s current triumphs to the glorious Dutch and Ajax sides of the early '70s.
Now back in the Holland hotseat, he has the chance to right the major wrong on his CV, failure to qualify for the 2002 World Cup with Oranje.
It may have all gone a little pear-shaped for Trap with Ireland, but his reputation remains excellent and his is one of the most cherished names in the sport.
He won his first Serie A title with Juventus in 1977 before embarking upon an incredible decade of dominance with the Old Lady. The run included a European Cup triumph in 1985 as well as two UEFA Cup honours.
Trapattoni also achieved great success with Internazionale, Bayern Munich, Benfica and Red Bull Salzburg.
It remains to be seen whether he will return to club management after his departure from the Ireland set-up.
Ancelotti built on a hugely successful club career to emerge as one of Europe’s finest managers. He deserted Paris Saint-Germain after winning the French League and excelling in the Champions League last term to take on arguably the continent’s biggest job—at Real Madrid.
The Spanish giants will be looking for Carletto to recreate his golden era at Milan, where he won Europe’s premier club competition twice, in 2003 and 2007.
He has also achieved success in England with Chelsea, where he won a memorable League and FA Cup double.
The Grand Old Man of Italian football won five Serie A titles with Juventus during a decade of dominance. The icing on the cake was, of course, that famous Champions League triumph of 1996, coming a year after UEFA Cup final victory over Parma at the Ennio Tardini Stadium.
His crowning achievement, however, was the World Cup victory in 2006 when the Azzuri overcame France to end a 24-year drought.
He is currently managing the ambitious Guangzhou Evergrande in China.
His remarkable achievements in Catalonia feel distant now, as both manager and club have moved to a different place in time. Guardiola will doubtless be refreshed after his sabbatical year away from the sport, but the early indications are that the going will not necessarily be easy at the German champions.
The Spaniard is his own man, and whilst few would have departed from Jupp Heynckes’ winning formula at the club, it was perhaps inevitable that Pep would do things his way at Bayern.
Twice a Champions League winner with Barcelona, he remains in pole position to retain Europe’s premier club competition with Munich.
The current Switzerland head man has proved himself to be a relentless winner over 30 years as a manager.
He began his coaching career in Switzerland with the unfortunately named Zug 94, then Aarau and Grasshoppers, before heading to the Bundesliga where he enjoyed a hugely successful period first with Borussia Dortmund and then with Bayern Munich.
He is one of only four managers to win the European Cup with two different sides.
Currently looking comfortable in World Cup Qualifying, Hitzfeld will be hoping his Swiss team can make a big impact in Brazil next summer.
Things haven’t gone so easily for the artist formerly known as The Special One since his return to Chelsea and the fond confines of Stamford Bridge. However, you suspect that Mourinho will not take long to find his stride and impose himself upon the group of players assembled at the club since his departure.
The Portuguese boss will need to keep the various egos and characters of West London under control better than he managed at Madrid, but his experiences in Spain should give him the ultimate motivation to take Chelsea back to the top.
Vicente Del Bosque
Criminally under-rated considering his immense achievements, Del Bosque achieved history after taking over from Luis Aragones by leading Spain to back-to-back World Cup and European Championship triumphs. He continues to manage the multitude of egos present in the national set-up and continuously reinvents the side—as evidenced by their Jordi Alba-led demolition of Italy in the Euro 2012 final.
His greatest challenge may now be the ushering out of the old guard, the team of 2008 and the introduction and an integration of the country’s bright young hopes.
Del Bosque remains the only manager to have won the World Cup, the European Championship and the Champions League.