Can the World's Best Managers Escape the Premier League's Clutches?

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Can the World's Best Managers Escape the Premier League's Clutches?
Associated Press

Without much debate: England is an attractive footballing destination. Possessing a passionate sporting culture, monetary advantage and traditional powerhouses—some comprising the world's most popular domestic sporting competition—English clubs, namely those in the Premier League, are coveted entities.

Most would argue, however, about where Europe's best football is played.

With France, Germany and Italy just behind, the usual argument boils down to England vs. Spain. The former is tenacious, while the latter is technical. One's preference can sway them in either direction, but, viewed from the purist's eyes—wanting to see Pele's "beautiful game" enacted on a weekly, gamely basis—Spain is the likely choice.

Examining the rosters of Barcelona, Real Madrid, Atletico Madrid and several "lesser" institutions, one can find scores of Earth's greatest active footballers in the Iberian Peninsula's biggest league. With massive playing talent invariably comes massive managerial talent. A list would be too extensive, and while certainly not unique to Spain, some of the best tactical minds have graced Spanish touchlines.

Despite having the world's best technical football and the globe's two largest sports franchises (Real Madrid and Barcelona), a trend is presently occurring: Huge names aren't going there, or are linked with leaving. Merely using Spain as the ultimate example, this trend is not limited to Spanish football.

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If the Bundesliga feels too simple, Pep Guardiola must take on a new challenge: Manchester City it is.
Where are they going appears the next logical question, but it doesn't matter where they go, at first, what matters is where they eventually arrive—not a riddle, promise. 

Take Pep Guardiola for instance. The Spanish manager left Barcelona in 2012, arguably in the midst of their greatest generation, to explore the proverbial greener grass. Is there more greener grass than what exists at the Camp Nou? Probably not, but Guardiola wanted to challenge himself elsewhere.

He chose Germany. Taking control of Jupp Heynckes' 2012/13 treble-winning Bayern Munich side, the then-42-year-old has proceeded to win three domestic trophies—with another league title looking imminent this season.

Success, though, was not enough to keep Guardiola at the Allianz Arena; he and Bayern announced last December their three-year contract would not be renewed. Two months later, Guardiola revealed he was Manchester City manager, starting from 2016/17.

The now-45-year-old's primary rival at Barcelona was Real Madrid's Jose Mourinho. Following silverware-laden stints at FC Porto, Chelsea and Inter Milan, the Portuguese found himself at the world's most valuable club, as suggested by Forbes' Kurt Badenhausen.

Contending with Barca's juggernaut, Mourinho won two domestic trophies as Madrid boss and reached three consecutive Champions League semi-finals, in three seasons, but left the Santiago Bernabeu—returning to Chelsea. At Stamford Bridge, he created success (lifting 2014/15 Premier League and League Cup), yet the club sacked released him during a horrid 2015/16 campaign.

Clive Mason/Getty Images
Why does Jose Mourinho want England? It's the greatest domestic challenge in Europe.

Denis Doyle/Getty Images
Linked with Chelsea, could Diego Simeone be Jose Mourinho's long-term replacement? It is popular with supporters.

Able to go anywhere on the planet (except maybe Barcelona and/or Arsenal) to manage, Mourinho—as documented by the Telegraph—told an interviewer: "At this moment I don’t have a job, and I don’t know where football will take me, because in football you never know. But, for sure for sure, as a family, our home will still be England."

A proponent of English football, enjoying the intensity and match-to-match competitiveness (especially when compared to Spain and Italy), Mourinho and Manchester United have been incessantly linked since his west London departure. The Daily Mail's Dominic King offers the former Blues boss is "on the brink of" replacing Louis van Gaal come season's end, but, as he said, "in football you never know."

At Stamford Bridge: Replacing the club's best-ever manager is proving convoluted. The names on Roman Abramovich's alleged wish list are extensive. Massimiliano Allegri, Antonio Conte and Jorge Sampaoli are a few of the potential candidates, as penned by Telegraph's Matt Law, but the stand-out name is Diego Simeone.

Atletico Madrid's fiery gaffer won La Liga in 2013/14 (against rather substantial odds) and was a corner-kick clearance away from potentially winning the Champions League. The 45-year-old's stock is higher than ever, and with offers all but arrived, one wonders—like Mourinho and Guardiola—whether England's beckoning is too appealing to discard.

Proving his worth at Atletico—his one league title might as well be seven—should Chelsea be the next chapter in Simeone's managerial career? Only he could answer, but it seems the next logical step to test English waters. If a club with the resources of Chelsea come knocking, as seen with Jurgen Klopp and Liverpool (albeit the German was unemployed), saying "pass" at that opportunity cannot be straightforward. 

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Pep Guardiola and Jose Mourinho are not the only managers wanting a piece of English football.
Having the best football does not necessarily equate to having the most competitive or challenging league. Players might choose clubs on particular styles, environments, wages or any number of factors, but managers should take a more investigative approach.

Where are the world's best going, and should I go as well?

Will my owner/president/chairman assist me to win trophies?

Which club and country gives me the best platform to grow?

Where the best football is being played is personal preference, but where the best managers are headed, or already reside, is evident: The Premier League.

It is not for the weather nor the food; it is for the competitive nature of English football, the resources to compete and the lure of managing (both for and against) many of the most prestigious and/or domineering clubs in world football.


*Stats via; transfer fees via Soccerbase where not noted.

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