Euro 2012: Ranking the Managers of All 16 Nations for Euro 2012
With all 16 teams for Euro 2012 decided, it is time to take a look at the men who will be guiding their respective sides through the murky waters of the European Championships.
It is not enough to have a squad full of quality players; the tactics need to be top notch as well. Bearing that in mind, here is a look at all 16 of the managers currently set to wage tactical war against each other next summer.
The rankings are only rough, and in some areas I am flexible, so please leave any suggestions you might have in the comments below.
Oleg Blokhin is in his second stint in charge of Ukraine, having previously managed his country in 2003-07. During that time, he took Ukraine to a World Cup quarter-final but failed to qualify for Euro 2008.
Oleg Blokhin was only appointed earlier this year, and while things are improving, the results have not been good. Losses to France, Uruguay, Sweden and The Czech Republic have only really been compensated for by a draw with Germany.
Blokhin has Anatoliy Tymoshchuk, an experienced, quality player, and Andriy Shevchenko, one of the finest players Ukraine has ever produced, but a few other good players aside, are lacking in many areas.
He is still getting used to his side and is experimenting with tactics and personnel.
It is hard to judge him on what has gone so far; Ukraine qualified automatically and as such have not yet played competitively.
Russia's Dutch coach secured qualification for Euro 2012 after beating off the challenge of Ireland to finish top of the group.
Dick Advocaat has a squad with the likes of Andrei Arshavin and Roman Pavlyuchenko, as well as Yuri Zirkhov, but probably does not have a squad capable of causing real damage next summer.
Advocaat has plenty of experience in Russia; he had a successful stint at Zenit St Petersburg, winning the Russian Premier League and the UEFA Cup, so has a working knowledge of the Russian League, the source of most of the Russian side's players.
He had a not so successful spell in charge of Holland, coming under fire for his tactics, and was recently criticised for being "stubborn" by Andrei Arshavin in an interview with the Independent.
He will need to be more flexible come next summer, tournaments take their toll on players and Advocaat must be willing to adapt his players and system if Russia are to make progress.
Despite having a lineup full of immensely skilled players, Portugal underperformed during qualifying for Euro 2012.
Paulo Bento did not take over until after the calamitous draw with Cyprus and defeat against Norway, meaning he won all but one of the qualification matches he oversaw.
While that is a good record, a poor defeat against Denmark in October forced Portugal, the highest seeded team in the group, to play in the playoffs.
Portugal qualified without too much difficulty, but a side that scores 21 times in eight qualifying matches and is ranked eighth in the world should be winning their group.
As it is, slopping defending cost Portugal. The conceded 12 goals, more than either Norway or Denmark and scrapped into the playoffs on goal difference.
Bento has not helped matters by falling out with both Jose Bosingwa and Ricardo Carvalho, weakening their defence.
Although Carvalho's departure seems to have been down to his petulance, Bento would be well advised to try and regain the services of Carvalho; Portugal's defence needs reinforcing.
Bento turned Sporting Lisbon into Champions League regulars and helped bring the likes of Nani and Miguel Veloso into the first team. He was even rumoured to be a potential assistant to Sir Alex Ferguson at Manchester United.
Bento oversaw an impressive 4-0 win over Spain in a friendly, but at 42 years old and with no experience of managing at a major tournament, and relatively little club level experience, Bento is a bit of an unknown quantity.
Judging by their performance against England's second-string side earlier this week, Erik Hamren's Sweden have some work to do before Euro 2012.
Zlaten Ibrahimovic was poor and has not, in recent times, looked like a player capable of carrying his side to success. Hamren has even come under some pressure to drop the star striker.
Ibrahimovic aside, Hamren's side are short on quality. Olof Mellburg is getting to the stage where he can not shoulder sole responsibility for the defence and while, with the likes of Seb Larsson and Kim Kallstrom, the midfield is solid, it is far from impressive.
There is little Hamren can do about this and the Swede must make the best of what he has got. At the moment, he is not doing that.
He has a decent record at club level but must now show that when the pressure is on he can get the most out of his team. Otherwise, Sweden will struggle.
Franciszek Smuda is a journeyman coach who has managed a fair few Polish club sides and took over the Euro 2012 co-hosts management role after they failed to qualify for the 2010 World Cup.
Poland lack quality in many positions, but in Wojciech Szczęsny they have a goalkeeper who is rapidly gaining experience and quality with Arsenal, while Jakub Błaszczykowski, Łukasz Piszczek and Robert Lewandowski are all emerging as good players for Borussia Dortmund.
With automatic qualification, Smuda has had little to work with beyond friendlies, which have produced mixed results.
A win over Argentina last year and a draw with Germany this year suggest that Poland can, with some clever tactics, compete against some of the big sides, but loss to Lithuania and a draw with Georgia reveal that Poland are inconsistent and reliant on a few big names.
Smuda must ensure that Poland qualify from their group; they are in pot one and could well get a favourable draw. Beyond that, he can only hope to upset sides which are, on paper, far superior to his.
Manager of Denmark for over a decade, Morten Olsen has weathered rises and falls in popularity and is now a widely respected figure in his homeland.
He took his side through a difficult qualifying group, seeing off both Sweden and Portugal, to qualify for the 2010 World Cup, and again saw off Portugal to qualify for Euro 2012.
Olsen has assembled a good squad with the likes of Daniel Agger, Simon Kjaer and Simon Poulsen in defence, with the likes of Christian Poulsen, the talented Christian Eriksen, and the vastly experienced Martin Jorgensen in midfield, as well as Niklas Bendtner and Dennis Rommedahl in attack.
Olsen has pulled Denmark back into FIFA's top 10 sides after Denmark failed to qualify for Euro 2008 or the 2006 World Cup.
Olsen has concocted a mix of youth and experience to mould a side that could be one of the surprise packages next summer.
Denmark have caused upsets before; in 1992 they qualified courtesy of the expulsion of Yugoslavia and went on to win the whole tournament. While a repetition of that performance may seem unlikely, don't be too surprised if Denmark manage to see off one of Europe's bigger sides next summer.
Slaven Bilic is probably best known to England fans for masterminding home and away victories over England during qualifying for Euro 2008.
While England sat at home, Bilic led his team to the quarter-finals of Euro 2008, despite the absence of Eduardo Da Silva, beating finalists Germany 2-1 in the group stages.
They succumbed to Turkey on penalties, but conceded the fewest goals in the tournament.
Bilic was less successful during qualification for the 2010 World Cup, this time losing out to England and Ukraine.
Bilic has a squad of mixed ability; from the hugely talented Luka Modric and Eduardo Da Silva to players unknown outside Croatia.
Bilic has done a good job of making his squad work well together and has gained widespread praise for his management of the side.
He has shown that playing for Croatia is no joke; before his first match in charge he suspended Darijo Srna, among others, for missing training. The lack of preferential treatment for the more well known players is a very healthy attitude that helps to build a strong team mentality.
Euro 2012 qualifying forced them to face Turkey in a playoff, a rematch of the 2008 quarterfinal. Bilic led Croatia to a 3-0 win in Turkey, against the reputable Gus Hiddink, and held the Turks to a 0-0 draw in Croatia, securing qualification.
Bilic is only 43 years old, young for an international manager, but he has already been in charge of the side for five years. He has imposed his mentality and style of play on the team and has shown that he can, with the right players, perform at the European Championships.
His promotion of youth players has rejuvenated the side and, combined with his relatively long tenure, has given some stability to the side.
Michal Bilek became the fourth manager of the Czech Republic in a single calender year when he took over in 2009 after the Czechs had failed to reach the World Cup.
The Czechs, and Bilek, are not blessed with a strong squad. Petr Cech, one of the world's best goalkeepers aside, they lack quality.
Tomas Rosicky has shown that he can be devastating, for Arsenal and the Czech Republic, but rarely and Bilek has been unable to increase his reliability.
Milan Baros, meanwhile, is experienced and a proven international goalscorer. It will be vital for Bilek to harness Baros as fully as possible; Bilek has used nine strikers this season but does not seem to have settled on a first choice combination up front.
Bilek managed to lead his side to second place in what was effectively a head to head race against Scotland; Spain's first position was never really in doubt.
However, the Czechs were far from convincing in qualifying. They lost to Lithuania, and only saw off minnows Lichtenstein 2-0 on both occasions.
They were the lowest ranked second place team to qualify and probably do not have the necessary quality to progress beyond the group stage next summer.
This will be Bilek's first tournament and although he experienced success with Sparta Prague during a two year stint with the club, he lacks experience and may not be up to the challenge of wringing the most out of a squad of limited ability.
Fabio Capello has done well to get England back on their feet after yet another disappointing tournament performance in South Africa last year.
The veteran manager has led England to Ukraine and Poland without defeat, although their group was by no means the toughest.
Most recently, Capello masterminded a win over World and European title holders Spain. It was a victory built on defensive solidarity and a good work ethic, qualities England would do well to replicate come next summer.
Capello has been criticised for his disciplinarian attitude, with suggestions that the England side have been put under unnecessary extra pressure.
Hopefully Capello will have learnt from his mistakes at the World Cup, and the surviving England players from theirs.
Capello is undoubtedly a great manager; he has a long track record of success with some of Europe's top clubs.
That success has not yet transferred onto the international stage; England have been patchy and not nearly ruthless enough.
The victory over Spain suggests that Fabio Capello can get his players up for the big matches and has the tactical nous to break down better teams.
Italy disappointed at the 2010 World Cup, failing to follow up on their 2006 triumph, bowing out at the group stage.
Cesare Prandelli has started the process of making up for that failure with a successful qualifying campaign that has seen Italy dominate their group, winning eight and drawing two.
Although their group was not the strongest, friendlies against the likes of Spain, who they beat 2-1, and Germany, who they tied 1-1 with in an away fixture. Defeats to Ireland and Uruguay were less promising, but Prandelli's reign has been, for the most part, successful.
Serious injuries to Antonio Cassano and Giuseppe Rossi mean that Prandelli must work closely with Mario Balotelli in the remaining friendlies before the competition begins if he is to be sure of having a focused striker capable of playing with Italy's system.
Italy were wasteful against Uruguay earlier this week and Prandelli must find strikers, aside from Balotelli, who can get the job done.
There have been questions over Prandelli's selection, with his faith in Riccardo Motolivo and Andrea Ranocchia being criticised.
Italy are not short on talented players, and also have plenty of experienced options, so Prandelli should not have problems picking players on form.
A lot can change over the next six months, but Prandelli still has some work to do if Italy are to be serious contenders next summer.
Vincente Del Bosque
Vincente Del Bosque inherited a formidable team from Luis Aragonés after Euro 2008. He proceeded to guide his team through qualifying for the 2010 World Cup with a perfect record of 10 wins out of 10.
With probably the greatest collection of talent in World Football at his disposal, Del Bosque led his side to World Cup glory in South Africa with a hard fought campaign.
Spain lost their first match 1-0 against Switzerland, but Del Bosque managed to rally his side and led them through the rest of the tournament to their first World Cup triumph.
For all the talk of their tiki-taka style of play, Spain's success is built on a near impregnable defence. They did not concede a single goal after the group stages, winning each game, 1-0.
Del Bosque's most impressive achievement, however, has been to keep his side on the same page. He has a side made up almost exclusively of players from either Barcelona or Real Madrid.
Even those who don't play for one of Spain's two big sides tend to hold an allegiance to one or the other; Pepe Reina is formerly of Barcelona and Juan Mata of Real Madrid.
The players are regularly seen on opposite sides of heated exchanges during matches between the two sides, yet Del Bosque is able to bring them together without any real problems.
His record at Real Madrid is unmatched in the modern era. In his four years in charge from 1999 to 2003, the Spaniard guided his side to the last four of the Champions League every year and claimed two La Liga and Champions League titles.
He did all this without much control over transfer policy. Since his departure, Real Madrid have reached the Champions League semi-finals just once, last season with Jose Mourinho at the helm.
Del Bosque is blessed with a plethora of attacking options and a solid defensive unit. Recent stumbles against England and Costa Rica should not be overplayed; with Del Bosque at the helm, Spain are certainly among the favourites for next summer's tournament.
Ireland's Italian manager has been an inspiration for the Irish since taking over the reigns in 2008.
Robbed of a place in the 2010 World Cup due to Thierry Henry's infamous handball, Giovanni Trapattoni dusted himself down, picked his side up off the mat and led them to Euro 2012 qualification.
Trapattoni's Ireland went undefeated during the group stage of qualification for the 2010 World Cup, despite coming up against Italy. The Irish secured two draws against the World Champions.
A single loss against Russia in qualification for Euro 2012 meant they faced qualification, which Trapattoni navigated with ease, despite the memories of their previous play-off experience.
Trapattoni is the only manager to have won every European club competition. He is vastly experienced has been highly successful in Italian and German club football.
His spell in charge of Italy, from 2000 to 2004, did not go as well, the two major competitions he was in charge for were forgettable.
At the age of 72, Trapattoni has seen it all and is exactly the type of wise head an Irish side that lacks experience in major tournaments needs.
He is a popular figure in Ireland and does not suffer from the same criticism his fellow Italian, Fabio Capello, does.
Trapattoni has built his side's success on a solid defence and the goals of the prolific Robbie Keane, Shane Long and Kevin Doyle. With the reliable Shay Given in goal, Trapattoni has a side that can cause even the best of teams a problem or two.
Laurent Blanc took over the job of French manager after Raymond Domenech departed in the wake of the scandalous 2010 World Cup.
Immediately suspending all the players from the World Cup squad, Blanc showed that he was not going to stand for dissent and has since gone some way to restoring the credibility of the national side, a racism scandal aside.
A loss against Belarus with an under strength team aside, France have been improving and are no longer the disaster zone they were during the 2010 World Cup.
They have beaten both Brazil and England in friendlies and topped their qualifying group, despite a strong challenge from Bosnia-Herzegovina.
Blanc is showing that, with good management, the French team can be successful. He has blooded new players such as Yann M'Vila, Yohan Cabaye, Laurent Koscielny and Mamadou Sakho who were not associated with the World Cup, while also rehabilitating players like former captain Patrice Evra.
France head into the European Championships with little chance of completing their feat from Euro 2000, but Laurent Blanc could put to bed the anger from the previous major competition with a semi-final appearance.
Laurent Blanc seems to have benefited from watching Sir Alex Ferguson late in his playing career; he enjoyed a successful stint at Bodeaux, his first managerial position, winning a league and cup double in his second season.
Blanc won Euro 2000 with France, as well as the 1998 World Cup(but missed the final after an incident with Slaven Bilic), so knows what it takes to succeed at major competitions as a player, so he should be able to handle the pressure.
If he wants to, Blanc could have a long and productive spell in charge of France. He has formed a solid side and seems keen to avoid the type of situation Domenech found himself in.
Portuguese manager Fernando Santos took over control of the Greece football team after the 2010 World Cup and has led his side to qualification for the tournament they triumphed in in 2004.
What is more, Greece have qualified unbeaten, winning seven and drawing three to qualify ahead of Croatia.
Greece have lost just once under Fernando Santos; a defeat to Romania in a recent friendly ended a 17 game unbeaten run.
Greece fielded an alternative side, including a 17-year-old goalkeeper, against Romania, a sign of the confidence and seriousness Santos has brought to the job.
He is not prepared to stick with any one combination of players and seems focused on finding a side that he is confident in before Euro 2012 starts.
Greece do not have a star studded squad; only Giorgos Samaras and Theofanis Gekas will be familiar to a wide European audience with Apostolos Vellios making a name for himself at Everton.
Santos, who has worked in Greece for much of the last decade, has a good knowledge of Greek players and the Greek footballing system; he has not come into this job as a foreigner with no knowledge of local players.
Santos has even been voted the best manager in Greece of the last decade.
Neither he or his players are high profile, but Santos will lead his side into the European Championships with a degree of confidence and, coming out of pot three, are not the easy option some fans may be hoping for when the groups are announced next month.
Bert Van Marwijk
Bert van Marwijk has presided over a period of great success for the Dutch national side. He led them to the World Cup final in 2010, qualifying for the tournament by winning every game, where they lost to Spain in extra time.
Holland under van Marwijk combine skill and strength, creating a side that will take some beating next summer.
The recent emergence of Tim Krul and Michel Vorm gives van Marwijk a host of options between the posts and, if he plays his cards right, could spur his three goalkeepers, Maarten Stekelenburg being the other, to greater success, which will only enhance Holland's chances.
With the likes of Wesley Sneijder, Rafael van der Vaart, Robin van Persie and Arjen Robben, Marwijk has a plethora of options going forwards. Add in the solidity that John Heitinga, Mark van Bommel and Nigel de Jong bring and Holland's strength becomes obvious.
Blessed with so many talented players, van Marwijk's role is all about ensuring these players work together as a well-oiled machine. He seems to be managing to do so; the World Cup showing and the qualification and friendly matches since have been impressive.
That is, of course, excluding a poor 3-0 defeat against Germany earlier this week.
Bert van Marwijk has developed a side that works hard as a team but is full of stand-out performers. He will have to continue to keep egos in check and the defence solid if Holland are to see off the other big guns next summer.
Under Joachim Low's guiding hand, Germany have gone from strength to strength. He has crafted an attacking philosophy, first as the tactician while serving as Jurgen Klinsmann's assistant, and then as head coach.
He has combined fast paced attacking football with a youth policy that has won both him and his team widespread praise.
Germany lost out to Spain at Euro 2008, in the final, and at the 2010 World Cup in the semi-final, both by 1-0 margins. That is an impressive record, considering that Spain have one of the finest side's in footballing history.
Low has masterminded the rise of a whole host of players. Under his reign, players such as Manuel Neuer, Mario Gomez Mesut Ozil, Thomas Muller and Sami Khedira have all risen to prominence.
Since the World Cup in South Africa, Germany have looked even better; they went unbeaten in qualifying and scored an impressive 34 goals in their 10 games.
Add in their solid defensive record, they conceded just seven times in qualifying, and you get an idea of the strength of the side that Low has constructed.
He has not been afraid to drop big names, notably Michael Ballack, and his policy has been vindicated. A recent 3-0 triumph over World Cup finalists Holland suggest that Germany will be in the thick of it come the knock-out stages next summer.
Low experienced mixed fortunes at club level management, but seems to be in his element with the German national side. He was at least partially responsible for the change in style under Jurgen Klinsmann and has kept improving the side, turning them into one of the best side's in the world.