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Ranking the 5 greatest managers in Premier League history

The Premier League has been home to several world-class managers over the years
The Premier League has been home to several world-class managers over the years
Jim Beglin
EXPERT COLUMNIST

The Premier League has seen some incredible managerial talent over the years. Of course, to be regarded as one of the greatest managers in the league's history, you need to have won the competition at least once, which pretty much rules out a handful of really impressive candidates.

That said, there are several managers who have won the competition since its inception in 1992, so someone is definitely going to feel hard done by! After a lot of deliberation, I've picked five managers who I believe deserve a mention and I've also explained the reason behind my selection.


#5 Claudio Ranieri

Leicester City v Everton - Premier League
Leicester City v Everton - Premier League

Claudio Ranieri is a name that just jumps out at me because of what he achieved at Leicester City. When you look back on that season and the history that preceded it, you'll realize that it is a sporting achievement for the ages. Nigel Pearson was in charge when they pulled off the great escape in the 2014-15 season and if you listen back to what Peter Drury and I said at the time, we referred to them as one of the best bottom dwellers we'd ever seen in the Premier League.

They were stuck in a rut and lost games despite playing well, but the results began to turn in their favor towards the end of the season. Pearson eventually managed to steer his side away from the relegation zone, but he made way for Ranieri after the season.

When you look at managers like Roberto Mancini, Carlo Ancelotti, Jurgen Klopp and a few others, they're all Premier League winners who've had significant financial backing at their respective clubs over the years. Leicester City are rubbing shoulders with the big boys now and making their presence felt in the Premier League, but they weren't a big club at the time and it goes without saying that Ranieri didn't have the kind of financial backing that some of the other clubs did.

Over the course of the 2014-15 season, I found every possible detail to declare they Leicester City weren't going to win the Premier League. I've been in that situation with Liverpool I thought they'd crumble once the pressure started to kick in, but Ranieri kept it all going and managed the situation beautifully. His character was part of it all - he kept it low-key and just wanted to enjoy the ride. He was very relaxed in front of the media and his phrase 'Dilly Ding Dilly Dong' - which is something he said humorously at a press conference - is part of Leicester folklore!

Ranieri was criticized for making an awful lot of team changes during his Chelsea stint and was infamously referred to as Tinkerman. That irritated a lot of fans at the time, but all that changed at Leicester. He knew he had an efficient, counter-attacking machine at the club with a direct style of play, so he didn't mess with it too much and let it all happen.

Leicester's 3-1 victory against Manchester City at the Etihad Stadium was the moment that changed it for me. I worked on the game and it was absolutely incredible - I had to absorb it as it unfolded and it finally sunk in! I swallowed my miscalculation as I had predicted wrongly at the start of the season, but I was absolutely delighted for them. A fan won a huge sum of money after betting on Leicester City to lift the Premier League title at 5000:1 odds - that was the gamble of gambles!

It was a story with a fairytale ending and I simply had to pick Ranieri as one of the greatest managers in Premier League history. When you reflect back on what happened, it's still remarkable and I wonder if we'll ever see something like it again. The game needed something like that to happen and because of that, everyone bought into the romance of it. I wrote them off at every opportunity, but they went against the grain to accomplish something truly remarkable, so I tip my hat out to Leicester City and Claudio Ranieri.


#4 Pep Guardiola

Manchester City v Huddersfield Town - Premier League
Manchester City v Huddersfield Town - Premier League

When you look back on the managers Manchester City have had in the Premier League since their takeover, they've all enjoyed creditable levels of success. While Mark Hughes started things off, Roberto Mancini and Manuel Pellegrini both won Premier League titles. It was going well for them, but they set sights on something bigger - to build a dynasty - which is now beginning to take shape under the tutelage of Pep Guardiola.

This is the longest he has spent at any club as a manager and in a couple of years, I'd probably have him higher on my list. If he adds another title or two to his CV, he can very quickly elevate himself above the likes of Arsene Wenger and Jose Mourinho. He is a standard-setting perfectionist and was an obvious choice for Manchester City - they got the best manager available at the time and have reaped the rewards in spectacular fashion.

Guardiola can go and buy the very best players like we saw earlier this summer when Manchester City smashed the Premier League transfer record for Jack Grealish. They have big pockets and he'll be the first one to admit it, but that's not something you can fault him for. Four League Cups, three Premier League titles and an FA Cup in six years - that's a stunning trophy haul and some of the football they've played is up there with the best I've seen.

He's a lucky guy in the sense that he can get what he wants in the transfer market, but you can't ignore his coaching and the fact that he's obsessed with the smallest details - that's how he operates and what he does borders on genius in managerial terms.

His Barcelona side are the best team I've ever seen. The trophies, the style of football and the players he had in Spain were on a different level, but Manchester City have been close to that, if not on par. They've set new landmarks and accomplished everything in great style, so it goes without saying that Guardiola has been a brilliant addition to the Premier League.

Many have claimed that Manchester City's style of play under him is monotonous, but not for me. I know how hard it is to get to that level of brilliance in possession, maintain it and improve upon it every season, so I greatly admire what they've achieved in recent seasons. Sometimes you know what's coming when they face one of the so-called lesser sides in the Premier League, but the fact that they steamroll teams so often is a testament to Guardiola's ability to mastermind it all behind the scenes.

The UEFA Champions League continues to elude him at Manchester City, but we're talking about the Premier League here, so he's right up there with the very best.


Also Read: Jim Beglin's greatest Premier League XI of all-time

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Edited by Vishal Subramanian
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