These are always tricky waters to tread. Football is perhaps the most popular sport in the world, and Europe is arguably its holy domain. With hundreds of millions of fans closely watching the action all year round, there are bound to be favourites and not-so-favourites. So, when it comes to picking the five of the best club managers in European football over the last two and a half decades, there will be contentious choices and polarized opinions.
That’s why, in the best spirit of the game and in the most neutral of the stances imaginable, we try to pick who we think have been the best club managers in Europe in recent history.
1. Sir Alex Ferguson
Despite club loyalties and contrasting views, not many football fans would disagree with this choice. Sir Alex Ferguson rose from the footballing backwaters of Scotland to become probably the most decorated manager of all time.
He spent over 25 years at Manchester United, starting well before the English Premier League even came into being. He virtually ruled over the club during his tenure and it was his iron grip that saw the club win the league an astonishing 11 number of times. Add to it 2 Champions League trophies and you get a CV that’s nothing but perfect.
2. Vincente Del Bosque
Vincente Del Bosque served Real Madrid for over a decade. He was at the helm of the club when Los Blancos boasted some of the most accomplished players in their starting XI.
He is the only manager in the history of football to have won the Champions League, Euro Cup, World Cup and the Intercontinental Cup, not to mention the Club World Cup. Despite his muted managerial skills that saw Real Madrid win the Champions League twice, he was unceremoniously sacked by the management, much to the dismay of fans.
3. Josep Guardiola
Josep ‘Pep’ Guardiola resurrected Barcelona from the trenches that they were left reeling in, post 2007 season. He oversaw the rise of the team that he once played for, winning innumerable league titles. His first ever season saw the team trounce every opposition, including the arch-rivals Real Madrid to win the treble. Bettering himself, he made sure that the team won a record of six trophies in the following season – a feat that’s not much likely to be surpassed.
With his innate man-management skills, he handled high profile players like Messi, Iniesta and Xavi to ensure that the core of the team never got replaced. He presently mans the lines for German giants Bayern Munich.
4. Arsene Wenger
What Sir Alex Ferguson was to Manchester United, Arsene Wenger is to Arsenal – perhaps much more. In spite of never having won much of silverware during his almost two-decade long career at the Emirates Stadium, Arsene Wenger still wields enormous power in the corridors of English football. He has developed a unique reputation for unearthing soccer stars from nowhere and signing huge names at throwaway prices – a list that includes the likes of Robin Van Persie, Cesc Fabregas, Robert Pires, Thierry Henry and Mikel Arteta.
5. Fabio Capello
The name wouldn’t go down the throats of English fans, but Fabio Capello has a serious club record to back his legacy. He transformed A.C. Milan from a second string team of celebrity players to first rate world beaters. The first five years of the 1990’s signified one of the most fertile periods in the history of the club, when they won four Serie A trophies in just five years, while decimating reigning champions Barcelona to lift the Champions League cup in 1994.
He also successfully managed other big-budget acts like Real Madrid, Juventus and Roma.