Football is an ever-changing, ever-growing phenomenon. Football is always growing, expanding, and improving as times go on. It is the most popular sport in the world, watched by an estimated 3.5 billion people. The popularity of football has caused the economics of the sport to absolutely explode.
To put the growth of football into perspective, we can take a look at the most expensive transfer of the 20th century, Zinedine Zidane's transfer from Juventus to Real Madrid in 1998 for £45.6 million. This amount seems minuscule when compared to the current most expensive transfer, with Neymar joining Paris Saint-Germain from Barcelona for a fee believed to be in the region of £200 million.
Along with the rise in the money in football, so has the quality and expectations shouldered by those involved in the sport. When a businessman or woman spends north of €1 billion to purchase a club, they expect results, trophies, and more importantly, a sizeable return on investment.
The manager of a football team is essentially the face of the team. The manager of a football club plays the role of the father of a household. The manager, like a father, must develop and nurture his kids or players, and invest in what he deems is right for the child's future.
The owners of a football club, therefore hold the manager as accountable for the ongoings at a club. In the 20th century, when the money invested in football was much lesser than what it is now, managers were given more time to exert their influence over proceedings at clubs and their players.
A football club's board of directors, who are answerable to the owner, would give a manager a couple of seasons to exert their influence, presence and strategies at the club in the 20th century. Times have changed. Due to the enormity of investments, and the sheer amount 'money on the line' for the club and its owners, time, money, and instant success are of the essence in the 21st century.
Some of these great tacticians have spent years or decades at a single club, winning trophies year on year, whereas some have achieved success at multiple clubs in different countries, showing their adaptability and relevance in any style of the game.
On that note, here are the ten greatest managers of the 21st century ranked in the increasing order of the magnitude of their achievements.
#10 Zinedine Zidane
Many people would question Zinedine Zidane's inclusion in this list since he has only been a manager for three and a half years, but he has already won three Champions Leagues, two La Liga's and a Supercopa de Espana.
Zidane is the only coach to have ever won three consecutive Champions League title in the modern era. The Frenchman has spent his entire managerial career at Real Madrid, a club that is known to give managers very little time to prove themselves.
Real Madrid have always been one of the biggest clubs in Europe. Success is not an expectation, but a requirement at the Santiago Bernabeu, given the fan base and the financial backing given to the managers of the club.
Great managers like Carlo Ancelotti and Jose Mourinho, have not lasted as long as Zidane in the Madrid job, nor have they won as many trophies as the Frenchman.
#9 Carlo Ancelotti
Carlo Ancelotti has managed some of the biggest clubs in Europe such as Juventus, AC Milan, Chelsea, Paris Saint-Germain, Real Madrid, Bayern Munich, and Napoli, and has won domestic titles in Italy, England, France, Spain, and Germany.
The Italian is one of three managers to have won the Champions League three times, and one of only two to have managed in four finals. He has won the FIFA Club World Cup twice, whilst managing AC Milan and Real Madrid.
He is regarded as one of the best and most successful managers of all time by iconic players like Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Cristiano Ronaldo. His trophy cabinet speaks for itself, and his reputation precedes him.