B/R Football Ranks: The 10 Best Managers out of Work Right Now

Sam Tighe@@stighefootballWorld Football Tactics Lead WriterOctober 28, 2019

TURIN, ITALY - MAY 19: Head coach Massimiliano Allegri of Juventus celebrates during the awards ceremony after winning the Serie A Championship during the Serie A match between Juventus and Atalanta BC on May 19, 2019 in Turin, Italy. (Photo by Tullio M. Puglia/Getty Images)
Tullio M. Puglia/Getty Images

Are you underwhelmed by your current manager? Is there a general sense of underachievement at your beloved club? Do you feel as though there are others out there who could do a better job?

Well, you've come to the right place!

Feast your eyes on the finest managers currently out of work, a veritable who's who of men who could save your club from impending doom.

Whether it's a tactical issue, a personal one, or perhaps things have just gone a little bit stale, we are here to help.

B/R Football Ranks the top 10 managers currently out of management and there available, detailing their M.O. and offering a suggestion at their best potential fits.

      

Note: Luis Enrique has stepped away from football for personal reasons, so he is not included on this list.


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10. Javi Gracia

Last job: Watford (2018-19)

WATFORD, ENGLAND - AUGUST 03:  Javi Gracia, the manager of Watford looks on during the Pre-Season Friendly match between Watford and Real Sociedad at Vicarage Road on August 03, 2019 in Watford, England. (Photo by David Rogers/Getty Images)
David Rogers/Getty Images

Gracia was the first (and to date only) Premier League managerial casualty of the season, sacked just four games into the 2019-20 campaign.

In truth, the decision was based on a larger sample size than that. They hadn't kept a clean sheet since February, and their form slid alarmingly toward the end of the season, culminating in a 6-0 loss in the FA Cup final.

The Watford we saw during that spell was a soft touch, far removed from the sort of side Gracia has usually coached. The same Hornets team were physical, combative and difficult to outmanoeuvre in the first half of the season, and his Malaga sides were pretty stingy defensively.

Perfect for: Real Betis


        

9. Roger Schmidt

Last job: Beijing Guoan (2017-19)

NANJING, CHINA - JULY 21: Head coach Roger Schmidt of Beijing Guoan reacts during 2019 China Super League between Jiangsu Suning and Beijing Guoan  at Nanjing Olympic Sports Stadium on July 21, 2019 in Nanjing, China. (Photo by Fred Lee/Getty Images)
Fred Lee/Getty Images

Schmidt hasn't tended to stick around too long wherever he's been, but that's perhaps more to do with the intensity of his playing style—a la Marcelo Bielsa—than any upsets he causes.

He made his name at RB Salzburg, leading them to a title and constructing an incredible press-heavy system that opponents couldn't cope with.

He took that to Bayer Leverkusen and started brilliantly, finishing fourth and third in his first two seasons, but things fell away in season three, and he was sacked in 2017. Most recently he was in China, where he turned Beijing Guoan into a contender and stayed true to his principles, winning the FA Cup as a result.

At this point we know Schmidt is no dynasty manager; he's not one to set your foundations and rule for 10 years. But he will make a strong short-term impact, produce excellent, high-energy football and allow you to punch above your weight.

Perfect for: Milan, Real Betis


     

8. Quique Setien

Last job: Real Betis (2017-19)

EIBAR, SPAIN - MAY 05: Head coach Quique Setien of Real Betis Balompie looks on prior to the start the La Liga match between SD Eibar and Real Betis Balompie at Ipurua Municipal Stadium on May 05, 2019 in Eibar, Spain. (Photo by Juan Manuel Serrano Arce/G
Juan Manuel Serrano Arce/Getty Images

Setien's footballing philosophy falls right in line with Pep Guardiola's: possession-orientated, free-flowing and adaptable to the opponent.

Some of the performances his Real Betis side produced last season were right out of the sport's top drawer.

Unfortunately for Setien, he ran aground in Seville because of a philosophical difference in how he viewed the game compared to how the fans did.

Betis fans wanted the ball played forward, faster, and lost patience during games with their team's relentless ball circulation—even if it conjured sensational passages of play at times.

Setien's position became untenable in the end, but with the right club-manager fit, he could produce something special in his next job.

Perfect for: Barcelona


        

7. Luciano Spalletti

Last job: Inter Milan (2017-19)

Inter's Italian coach Luciano Spalletti is seen before during the Italian Serie A football match Napoli vs Inter Milan at the San Paolo Comunal Stadium in Naples, on May 19, 2018. (Photo by Andreas SOLARO / AFP)        (Photo credit should read ANDREAS SO
ANDREAS SOLARO/Getty Images

The word "eccentric" doesn't even begin to describe Spalletti; those who have worked with him and for him have often been simultaneously impressed and dumbfounded by his character.

Mauro Icardi once described him as "like a hammer," per Corriere dello Sport (h/t FourFourTwo), referring to his relentless intensity and discipline no matter the scenario. That has often translated into some fantastic football—most recently with Inter Milan, but with Zenit St. Petersburg and Roma before that too.

The teams he constructs can be fantastic. That Roma side, powered by Edin Dzeko, Radja Nainggolan and Mohamed Salah, was thrilling; and after that his Inter Milan flew on the wings of Ivan Perisic and Icardi.

By and large, the work he does on the pitch is brilliant; it's perhaps off the pitch he can struggle at times. Asking him the wrong question—or the same question too many times—can sour his mood, and he's been seen beating his head against the desk in a press conference as a reporter rubbed him up the wrong way.

Spalletti is volatile and explosive, but he's great. At his happiest, he's one of the best around, but he despises sideshows and can be thrown off his game.

Perfect for: Milan, Manchester United


        

6. Marcelino

Last job: Valencia (2017-19)

VALENCIA, SPAIN - SEPTEMBER 01: Marcelino Garcia Toral head coach of Valencia CF reacts during the Liga match between Valencia CF and RCD Mallorca at Estadio Mestalla on September 1, 2019 in Valencia, Spain. (Photo by David Aliaga/MB Media/Getty Images)
David Aliaga/MB Media/Getty Images

Marcelino's sacking at Valencia earlier this season is one the least justifiable in recent history, with reports essentially suggesting the owner didn't like him because he...won the Copa del Rey, per AS.

Before leading Valencia to consecutive fourth-placed finishes in La Liga, plus landing them a Europa League semi-final against Arsenal, he got Villarreal promoted and secured three straight top-six finishes with them too.

Once Marcelino had swapped Villarreal for Valencia, we saw the former decline rapidly and the latter rise up. There's no doubt that wherever he goes, improvement follows.

His patented 4-4-2 formation favours grit in the centre and speed on the flanks, meaning there isn't a top European league it doesn't suit. Marcelino has developed good bonds with his players wherever he has been—so much so that when he was fired at Valencia, the players staged a mini-protest, per ESPN's Adriana Garcia.

Perfect for: Arsenal, Everton


       

5. Ralf Rangnick

Last job: RB Leipzig (2018-19)

BREMEN, GERMANY - MAY 18: Head coach Ralf Rangnick of RB Leipzig looks on prior to the Bundesliga match between SV Werder Bremen and RB Leipzig at Weserstadion on May 18, 2019 in Bremen, Germany. (Photo by TF-Images/Getty Images)
TF-Images/Getty Images

It seems everything Rangnick touches turns to gold. He's football's greatest multitasker, often juggling two or three different responsibilities and somehow nailing them all.

Last year he fulfilled the role of manager and sporting director at RB Leipzig, holding the fort before Julian Nagelsmann could take over. During that time he continued to operate an entire football club, taking care of its transfer business all while finishing third in the Bundesliga and constructing the league's best defence.

That was his second stint as manager of RB Leipzig, with the first coming in 2015 as he took the reins for one year, got them promoted and then handed them over to Ralph Hasenhuttl. He'd also previously finished runners-up with Schalke.

His tactical acumen is clear, but most impressive is his ability to develop skills and people. He's something of a footballing Godfather, and if you were to entice Rangnick away from the Red Bull tree—where he's back in a developmental role—you'd probably need to sign over quite a lot of power.

On the evidence he's put forward so far, it'd be worth it.

Perfect for: Manchester United


        

4. Laurent Blanc

Last job: Paris Saint-Germain (2013-16)

Former French football player Laurent Blanc looks on prior to a friendly football and rugby union match between former French football stars and former French rugby players. (Photo by NICOLAS TUCAT / AFP)        (Photo credit should read NICOLAS TUCAT/AFP
NICOLAS TUCAT/Getty Images

It's been some time since Blanc took to the helm at a club, and outside of France he's been forgotten by many.

But he's still in the game and, seemingly, in the hunt for a new job, as ESPN's Julien Laurens confirmed he was in contention to succeed Sylvinho at Lyon before Rudi Garcia took over.

You have to wrack the memory banks a bit to recall Blanc's managerial prowess, but shake your head hard enough, and the picture will un-fuzz.

A Ligue 1 title with Bordeaux, three with Paris Saint-Germain; no other manager PSG have tried has taken them further in the Champions League than Blanc did, his quarter-final loss in 2015 matching their best efforts so far (and he was without Neymar and Kylian Mbappe).

He instructed some beautiful football and secured a triple treble in Paris (three consecutive Ligue 1, Coupe de France and Coupe de la Ligue titles), taking a good squad and pushing it to the next level.

Blanc is not the man you want if you're building from the ground up and need three years of work, but if you're 90 percent there and need a few final touches, there are not many better bets.

Perfect for: Barcelona


       

3. Arsene Wenger

Last job: Arsenal (1996-18)

TOPSHOT - Former Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger of France poses during a photo session in Paris on May 22, 2019. (Photo by JOEL SAGET / AFP)        (Photo credit should read JOEL SAGET/AFP/Getty Images)
JOEL SAGET/Getty Images

Were Wenger to return to football management, it would capture the world's intrigue. No matter the stage, location or level, everyone would be interested in how things transpired.

That's as much a mark of respect for what he achieved during his time at Arsenal as it is a recognition that, over the last five years, his methods became less and less effective. What has this period out of the game taught him? How has his M.O. changed following a little introspection?

A pioneer in the '90s, a meme trapped in a giant coat in the 2010s; a professor of attacking football in the early days, a stubborn man who constructed a character-less side later on. Which version reappears, or which extreme will he be closer to?

It's impossible to say, but we'd all love to find out.

Perfect for: Barcelona


      

2. Max Allegri

Last job: Juventus (2014-19)

TURIN, ITALY - MAY 03: Head coach Massimiliano Allegri of Juventus looks on during the Serie A match between Juventus and Torino FC on May 03, 2019 in Turin, Italy. (Photo by Tullio M. Puglia/Getty Images)
Tullio M. Puglia/Getty Images

Allegri's resume is brilliant.

His time at Juventus brought a truckload of trophies, and the state AC Milan have found themselves in after moving on from him paints the Italian in a very good light.

He's the ideal mixture of calm and intense, capable of turning up the volume when required but also aware of when to step away and let the situation breathe. When addressing the media, he almost always maintains a sense of the bigger picture and shrugs off issues with ease.

The Old Lady moved on from him in the summer, perhaps believing a new man at the helm, preaching a different style of play, could enhance their chances of Champions League success.

That was perhaps the case (albeit to a lesser degree) at Milan, and it's fair to label his tactical approach as rudimentary—perhaps lacking the panache or stylish control the elite clubs often crave—but it is undeniably effective.

He coaches a well-drilled defence and a physical, tenacious midfield, and he alters the attacking strategy according to his personnel. Most importantly, he gets results.

Perfect for: Manchester United 


      

1. Jose Mourinho

Last job: Manchester United (2016-18)

Portuguese coach Jose Mourinho arrives for The Best FIFA Football Awards ceremony, on September 23, 2019 at Teatro alla Scala in Milan. (Photo by Tiziana FABI / AFP)        (Photo credit should read TIZIANA FABI/AFP/Getty Images)
TIZIANA FABI/Getty Images

Having departed Manchester United close to 11 months ago, Mourinho is now on his longest-ever stint between jobs. He was reportedly sounded out by Lyon this month but declined them, setting his sights on bigger things, per the Guardian.

The Portuguese's stint in punditry over the last year has gone some way to rebuilding his reputation, the insightful analysis reminding us of how tactically savvy he can be when his mind is fresh and thinking clearly.

That's the key: thinking clearly. At optimal levels, Mourinho is every bit the manager his trophy cabinet suggests, but in his last two jobs (United, and before that Chelsea), pressure has muddied his thoughts, and he's backed himself into a corner either tactically or because of the volatile way he speaks.

Perfect for: Arsenal

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