The English Premier League Glory Years Part Two: The Greatest Managers

Danny BrownAnalyst IAugust 24, 2008

The English Premier League has hosted some the best football managers worldwide since its inception 16 years ago. It continues to attract the top names today, as proven by Luis Scolari's appointment at Chelsea.

Yet who have been the best managers in the Premier League overall?

In part two of my series looking at the glory years of the English Premier League, I offer my opinion on who has made the biggest impact. You may or may not agree—feel free to leave your own views as to who the best Premier League managers are.

Sir Alex Ferguson, Manchester United

There can be no doubt that Fergie will go down as one of the greatest ever football managers. From his success with Aberdeen in breaking the Rangers and Celtic monopoly in Scottish football in the 1980's to his phenomenal success with Man Utd, Fergie is a true managerial great.

It didn't seem that way at first, though—in his first season at Man Utd in 1986, fans were calling for him to be sacked after a disappointing league campaign. Thankfully, the Man Utd board were made of stern stuff and supported Fergie.

They were rewarded in spades when Fergie's Man Utd side started winning silverware like it was going out of fashion. Beginning with the FA Cup in 1990, Fergie led Man Utd to the European Cup Winners Cup the following season and then the League Cup in 1992.

He finally got his hands on the Premier League title in the 1992-93 season and hasn't looked back since. The wonderful treble-winning season in 1999, when Man Utd won the Champion's League, Premiership and FA Cup and last season's double has cemented Fergie's reputation as a world-class manager.

Arsene Wenger, Arsenal

The second-longest serving manager in the Premier League behind Ferguson, Arsene Wenger has shown that you can build great teams without spending hundreds of millions.

Sure, he has spent big in the past, but Wenger is better known for his ability to take raw talent and turn them into mature superstars. Just one look at the players he's nurtured over the years attests to his managerial skills.

Who else would have seen Thierry Henry's potential as one of the game's most lethal strikers when he was being wasted as a winger at Juventus? Or the undoubted class of teenager Cesc Fabregas when he was in the Barcelona reserves?

Wenger hasn't been short in the success stakes when it comes to silverware either. He won the Premier League in only his second season, and did the double of the Premiership title and the FA Cup in 2001-02.

Although his last major successes with Arsenal were the Premier League title in 2003-04 and the FA Cup in 2005, there's no doubting that Wenger is currently building a young team capable of challenging on all fronts for many years to come.

Harry Redknapp, Portsmouth

One of the most-loved managers in the game, and possibly the best manager never to lead the English national team, Redknapp is currently enjoying a late career bloom.

Famous for leading little Bournemouth to victory over Man Utd in the FA Cup, Redknapp's greatest achievement came last season when he led Portsmouth to FA Cup glory.

Known for his wheeling and dealing and getting the best out of the players he signs, Redknapp is regarded as one of the best managers to buy hidden gems. Although he's had his fair share of controversy surround him with alleged bungs and dubious transfer deals, Redknapp continues to confound critics with his Portsmouth team.

Keeping Portsmouth in the Premiership, and turning them into genuine Top Six contenders, ensures Harry Redknapp can sit happily in this list.

Sam Allardyce, Bolton

Although no longer at Bolton, Allardyce joins this list for his achievements at this most unfashionable of clubs. From guiding Bolton to the semi-final of the FA Cup in his second season to taking them into the Premiership in the 2001-02 season, Allardyce always over-achieved with his band of ragamuffin footballers.

Having perhaps an even better knowledge of budget buys than Harry Redknapp, Allardyce built his team on a shoestring budget. He was also known for bringing in players in the twilight of their careers and getting even more out of them—Ivan Campo is a prime example.

While never a team that would challenge for the title, the fact that Allardyce made Bolton a solid Premiership team who stood toe-to-toe with the big boys sees his name in this list of best Premiership managers.

Jose Mourinho, Chelsea

Sure, he had Roman Abramovich's millions to help him and sure, he was also able to sign some of the biggest names in world football because of it. Yet Mourinho still had to make sure these superstars gelled into a team, and he did this fantastically.

In his first season with Chelsea in 2004-05, Mourinho led them to the Premier League title as well as the League Cup. He went on to retain the Premier League the following year, and he added another League Cup as well as the FA Cup and Charity Shield.

Yet this wasn't enough for his Russian boss, who saw the Champions League as the Holy Grail.

Mourinho's failure to win the elite European competition, along with the alleged falling out with Abramovich over the signing of striker Andriy Shevchenko, meant his days at Chelsea were numbered.

After a mixed start to the 2007-08 campaign, Mourinho left Chelsea in September. However, history will show that he was Chelsea's most successful manager ever, with six trophies to his name.

His Chelsea side were also unbeaten at home under him, making Mourinho one of the best in the Premier League.

So there you have it—my choices for the best Premier League managers since the competition began. There are some big names missing from there—Rafa Benitez at Liverpool, for example. However, Benitez's continued failure to win the Premier League sees him discounted.

For the big three managers—Ferguson, Wenger and Mourinho—their achievements in the Premier League ensures their place here. Redknapp and Allardyce's success with limited budgets is the reason for their inclusion.

Do you agree with the managers listed here? Or would you have someone else included? I've listed my candidates—now it's over to you.


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