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Ranking the 5 best managers in football right now based on their playing ability (October 2022)

Wayne Rooney (left), Steven Gerrard (center) and Xavi Hernandez (right)
Wayne Rooney (left), Steven Gerrard (center) and Xavi Hernandez (right)

Do managers need to have been exceptional footballers in order to be successful in their coaching careers? Evidence suggests that it's not a pre-requisite. But there are plenty of top footballers who have gone on to become exceptional managers.

Zinedine Zidane has been an immensely successful manager and he was a phenomenal footballer. He is perhaps the most high-profile among player-turned-managers in the world right now. Unfortunately, he is not in charge of any teams right now.

Today, we are focusing on former players who are currently managing a team. Plenty of modern day greats have ventured into coaching in recent times.

Without further ado, let's rank the five best managers in world football right now based on their playing ability.


#5 Frank Lampard

Frank Lampard of Chelsea celebrates
Frank Lampard of Chelsea celebrates

Frank Lampard seems to finally be turning a corner in his managerial stint at Everton. The former Chelsea midfielder is a Premier League legend and is one of the greatest goalscoring midfielders of all time.

Lampard packed a thunderous strike in his right foot and has scored 41 goals from outside the box in the Premier League, the most in the competition. He was named the Premier League Player of the Decade from 2001 to 2010.

Lampard shone as a tenacious box-to-box midfielder and was one of the key figures during Chelsea's rise to the top of European football in the 21st century. The Englishman had an illustrious domestic career.

He won three Premier League titles, one UEFA Champions League, one UEFA Europa League, four FA Cups and two League Cups in his domestic career.

#4 Steven Gerrard

Leicester City v Liverpool - Premier League
Leicester City v Liverpool - Premier League

Steven Gerrard is one of the best midfielders of the modern era. The Liverpool legend has never won a Premier League title but that's not a fair reflection of his ability.

Gerrard led Liverpool to Champions League glory in the 2004-05 season, sparking a glorious comeback against AC Milan in Istanbul in the final after being 3-0 down at half-time. He excelled as a box-to-box midfielder and quite often as a supporting striker and possessed a wonderful shooting range.

It was nigh-on impossible to deny Gerrard once he put his laces through the ball. Gerrard was pretty close to being the complete package as a midfielder. Since retiring, he has ventured into coaching and did a spectacular job with Rangers in the Scottish league.

Gerrard won the Scottish Premiership in the 2020-21 season with the Rangers but left them halfway through the 2021-22 campaign to take charge of Aston Villa. The Liverpool legend has won one Champions League title, two FA Cups, three League Cups, one UEFA Cup and one UEFA Super Cup.

#3 Wayne Rooney

Manchester United v Arsenal - FA Cup Quarter Final
Manchester United v Arsenal - FA Cup Quarter Final

Wayne Rooney is one of the modern day greats of the beautiful game. Combining grit with streetsmarts and an astounding level of technical proficiency, Rooney burgeoned into one of the most dynamic forwards of the 21st century.

Rooney's versatility enabled him to play anywhere across the frontline and he possessed an incredible ability to find the back of the net from anywhere on the pitch. He was a hard worker as well and could always be counted on to put in a shift for his team.

Rooney is Manchester United's all-time top goalscorer, having found the back of the net 253 times for them. He is also England's all-time top scorer but is likely to be overtaken by Harry Kane soon (he is on 51).

Rooney is one of the most decorated Premier League players of all time. He has won five Premier League titles, one UEFA Champions League title, three League Cups, one FA Cup, one UEFA Europa League title and one FIFA World Cup with United. Rooney is currently managing MLS outfit DC United.

Wayne Rooney officially retires from playing to take his first job in management.This goal in the Manchester derby will never be forgotten 😱(🎥 via @ManUtd_ID) https://t.co/ileg3U9wQq

#2 Andrea Pirlo

Juventus v FC Barcelona  - UEFA Champions League Final
Juventus v FC Barcelona - UEFA Champions League Final

Andrea Pirlo had quite a high-profile start to his coaching career. The first senior team he coached was Juventus, but it ended in rather disappointing fashion as he was sacked at the end of his first season in charge.

Pirlo is currently the manager of Turkish Super Lig side Fatih Karagumruk. If Pirlo can pass on all his footballing knowledge to his players, he could have quite a successful career as a manager. As a footballer, Pirlo was simply exceptional.

He is one of the greatest deep-lying playmakers of all time. Pirlo moved about the football pitch with a great deal of nonchalance and made dominating midfield battles look elementary. The Italian midfielder had an illustrious career for both club and country.

He won two Serie A titles, two UEFA Champions League titles, one FIFA World Cup and a Coppa Italia with AC Milan. The Italian legend would then join Juventus, where he became an integral part of the side that dominated the Serie A for several years.

Pirlo won the Scudetto four times with the Bianconeri and also won the Coppa Italia once. He played a starring role in Italy's FIFA World Cup triumph in 2006 as well.

🇮🇹 The 'Professor' Andrea Pirlo = football genius 😎 #UCL | @Pirlo_official https://t.co/rUzLvaPKYr

#1 Xavi Hernandez

FC Barcelona v Elche CF - LaLiga Santander
FC Barcelona v Elche CF - LaLiga Santander

The undisputed king among players-turned-managers, Xavi is inarguably one of the all-time greats of the beautiful game. Rarely has a player mesmerized fans with their elegance and vision throughout their career as the current Barcelona manager has.

Xavi was nothing short of phenomenal in Barcelona and Spain's midfield as he raked in silverware for both club and country during his prime years. He was a crucial member of the Spanish national team that won the 2010 FIFA World Cup and the European Championship in 2008 and 2012.

Xavi is one of the most technically gifted footballers of all time. His footballing intelligence is unmatched and that has helped him burgeon into a top manager quite early on in his coaching career as well.

Xavi has won a total of eight La Liga titles, four Champions League titles, three Copa del Reys, five Supercopa de Espana and two Club World Cups with Barcelona.

🔵🔴 Xavi Hernández 😍2⃣0⃣0⃣9⃣🅰️🏆2⃣0⃣1⃣1⃣🅰️🏆#UCL | #FlashbackFriday | @FCBarcelona https://t.co/Q7RdK6Xb4l

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Edited by Shambhu Ajith
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