Since the turn of the century, the footballing world has witnessed the arrival of countless geniuses who have forever altered the game. Football is constantly evolving, extending, and improving. Managers have been primarily concerned as the club’s public face. These are the men who influence and mould not only the club’s philosophy, but also its fortunes. Since the turn of the century, several such intriguing figures have emerged who have managed to turn the game on its head, and it’s about time we found out who stands atop, especially given the magnitude of their exploits.
There may be some who dispute whether Klopp is deserving of a spot on this list, but one cannot ignore the man’s ability and the fact that under his leadership, two teams who were desperate for success were able to reach heights that were largely unimaginable prior to his arrival. Klopp took over as manager of Borussia Dortmund, leading them to the Bundesliga title in 2010–11 before capturing the club’s first-ever domestic double in a record-breaking season. The German also led Dortmund to a runner-up finish in the 2012–13 UEFA Champions League before departing as the club’s longest-serving manager in 2015.
After joining Liverpool in 2015, he led the Reds to two consecutive Champions League finals in 2018 and 2019, winning the latter and claiming Anfield’s sixth European trophy. The next season, he won the UEFA Super Cup and Liverpool’s first FIFA Club World Cup before delivering the club’s first Premier League title in 30 years. It’s no surprise that Scousers sing his name with pride.
There is just one reason why Wenger, despite his wealth of football expertise, cannot crack the top three, and that is a severe dearth of titles in his career. Even if one disregards the denomination, there is no doubt that this man is at the very top, rubbing elbows with the greatest in the business. Wenger was Arsenal’s manager from 1996 to 2018, and he retired as the club’s longest-serving manager. He single-handedly transformed the English game by implementing reforms to scouting, training, and player nutrition, as well as helping to build the Emirates Stadium, one of the finest stadiums in the world.
At the start of the decade, Wenger guided the club to a Premier League and FA Cup double. In 2002, the club won another league and cup double, and the FA Cup a year later. And yet, as if to prove a point, he led the Gunners on a siege of the English Premier League, going undefeated throughout the season and breaking Nottingham’s record of 42 unbeaten games. The Invincibles are remembered as one of the greatest teams in football history, and this is the man who is behind for that miracle.
One simply needs to glance at “The Special One’s” accolades to see that he is one of the greatest managers this century has seen. He’s won in every place he’s gone. Portugal, England, Italy, and now Spain are all on the list. Seven league titles across four countries. He has two Champions League championships to his name. Not for nothing did he show the world how to beat Barcelona when no one else could.
Mourinho has shown to be a consistent winner. He won the Primeira Liga twice and guided the team to a Champions League title, which is now regarded as one of the finest managerial achievements in the history of the sport. That performance earned him a move to England in 2004, where he won two Premier League crowns, an FA Cup, and two League Cups in three seasons. In 2010, he guided Inter Milan to a Serie A, Coppa Italia, and UEFA Champions League treble. As a result, he is one of just five coaches to have won the European Cup with two clubs. This mysterious persona has had a difficult run recently, but one cannot deny that his success is sufficient to win him a position on the podium of individuals who altered this sport.
Sir Alex Ferguson:
There is no doubting this man’s effect on Manchester United, one of Europe’s most powerful football clubs. Sir Alex Ferguson was a dynamic individual, and the playstyle employed by his team reflected this. He led the Red Devils for 27 years, becoming much more than just a manager. Sir Alex won 13 Premier League crowns, five FA Cups, and two UEFA Champions League titles during his tenure at the club, giving the Red Devils a total of 38 trophies.
With his offensive style of play, eye for youthful talent, concentration on youth development, and man-management abilities, he transformed the club’s fortunes. In every way, he has become a symbol for managers, fans, players, colleagues, and general professionals. He is an excellent role model for young, aspiring managers. As if that wasn’t enough, he also managed to dethrone the Reds of Anfield, exceeding them in league titles and thereby establishing United as the most successful team in EPL history. Sir Alex Ferguson has controlled English football in the new millennium like no other.
If Cruyff saw what his protégé has accomplished, he would be overjoyed. Guardiola has accomplished what no one else has in an amazingly short period of time. Pep Guardiola led Barcelona to the treble of La Liga, Copa del Rey, and UEFA Champions League in his first season as first-team manager. Guardiola became the youngest manager in history to win the most prestigious European championship. After leading the team to another La Liga and Champions League double in 2011, he finished his four-year Barcelona tenure in 2012 with 14 honours, a club record. Guardiola joined Bayern Munich in 2013, where he won the Bundesliga every season and two domestic doubles. Bayern scored 254 goals in 102 league matches, a Bundesliga record, while conceding just 58 goals, an average of 0.6 per game.
Then there was his spell with Manchester City. City was transformed under his leadership from a club battling to compete to a seasoned team scoring goals for fun. Manchester City became the first team in Premier League history to reach 100 points under Guardiola. During his five years at the Etihad Stadium, the Catalan oversaw the Club’s most successful time in history, winning ten trophies and every competition on offer in England. In that time, he has broken record after record, leaving an indelible impact on both City and English football, leaving a legacy that will stand the test of time. There are titles galore, as well as a revelation in the way football can be played. Even if he never takes another job, Guardiola’s name will be remembered as one of the all-time greats.