10 of the Toughest Managers in World Football
It's a difficult job being a football manager; thousands, maybe millions, of people rely on you doing your work well for their own state of happiness, while the pressures to perform from within and outside the club have never been greater.
Throw in the constant attention from the media in general, the fact that so many games are in the seasonal calendar and the vast sums of money being spent on new signings, and it pretty much adds up to meaning that a coach has to be a certain character: steely, resolute, tough.
Of course, there are all kinds of tough—tough to work for or with, tough because of the demands the coach places on players or tough because of his own expectations. Either way, there's no doubt that some managers are certainly more difficult to be around than others—though that can sometimes be offset by those coaches bringing great success to others around them.
Louis Van Gaal
Louis van Gaal is a notoriously tough football manager for a variety of reasons.
Tactically, he is very demanding, while he also pushes players to the limits of their endurance to get them in peak condition for his side.
He has been known to get verbally or physically aggressive with his players—always in the name of spurring them on to be better, achieve more and reach their potential.
Sinisa Mihajlovic is one uncompromising coach. A talented one, but a no-nonsense one too, for sure.
Quite aside from gaining a reputation as a demanding training-ground coach, he was also a fiercely competitive defender during his playing days who had a habit of picking up cards.
He also dropped attacker Adem Ljajic from the national team—for refusing to sing the country's anthem.
Chelsea boss Jose Mourinho is a tough coach in most senses of the word.
Unflinching in the face of criticism or questioning, unrelenting in his selection of certain players over others and absolutely willing to stand up for himself or his players when needed, his character exudes mental toughness.
Add to that his quest for perfectionism in his own style of play, and he can certainly be a nightmare to deal with even for his own players—but he has the trophy record to back up doing exactly what he wants.
Marcelo Bielsa is back in European domestic football, now with Marseille in France.
He's a tough character who is steadfast in his beliefs that his football methodologies are the best way to approach a season, as much with his media manner as with his players.
He demands an awful lot from his players physically and tactically in games, and his training sessions are known to be utterly different from many standard procedures.
West Ham United boss Sam Allardyce is tough in all the ways Mourinho is, except he looks tough physically too.
He's also tough on the ears and eyes at times with his sideline bellowing and agricultural style of football.
In terms of organisation of sides and expecting his players to be spot on with their movement and work rate, he's also tough for the players to please.
Napoli manager Rafael Benitez was notoriously harsh on his players in training during his time at Valencia and Liverpool, instructing and cajoling and repeating, over and over, until every player knew exactly what position he should be in at each moment.
His insistence on tactical perfection often meant repetitive training sessions, which several players have admitted helped them improve over time but were tough to take in the moment. Fernando Torres alluded to such, as per The Independent.
Paolo Di Canio
Paolo Di Canio has had limited time as a top-flight boss with Sunderland, but his methods and approach quickly became well-known.
He employed training-ground rules by the dozen, upset and left out players, spoke out against individuals in the game and was never afraid to back down from confrontation.
At Swindon he happily transferred listed players when they didn't offer him what he wanted and refused to play them if they went against him.
Felix Magath is now in England but spent the majority of his career in Germany where he was known for being tough to play for one reason above all others: He believed absolutely in changing the team around constantly.
Not just rotation on a game-by-game basis, but changing the makeup of the squad at every opportunity, constantly ensuring a high turnover of players.
He's also known as a massive disciplinarian on the training ground. He was called a "dictator" by former player Bachirou Salou, as per BBC Sport.
Diego Simeone is very tough, but he has very quickly earned the right to be.
The Atletico Madrid boss came very close to doing a major double last season as he won La Liga and lost the Champions League final, but his tough, aggressive side could be seen when he came striding onto the pitch to confront Raphael Varane.
He's hugely demanding of his players within the team setup tactically and was always a tremendous midfield competitor as a player.
We finish up with Didier Deschamps, who is probably not looked upon as a tough guy as a coach but made some particularly tough decisions without flinching as he prepared France for their World Cup finals.
At the top of the list, of course, was the big call to leave out Samir Nasri and publicly, confidently, state that it was because the team came first and Nasri couldn't accept that.
It was a bold move that showed his self-confidence and a totally ruthless streak, and France looked good as a team, only losing to eventual world champions Germany.
Like the new article format? Send us feedback!