Ranking 5 greatest Spanish managers of all time

Vicente del Bosque and Pep Guardiola
Vicente del Bosque and Pep Guardiola
Sambuddha Sengupta

Spanish managers are well-known around the world for possessing unmatched tactical acumen. Their teams don't simply play by the norm but bring in something that helps them gain an edge over their opponents on the pitch.

That is exactly why even foreign countries prefer appointing Spanish managers at their helm in order to find success. One can take the example of Belgium under Roberto Martinez. The rise of the small European nation as one of football's superpowers is as much due to the quality of the players as it is due to their Spanish manager.

Spanish managers making the world their home

Spain had to wait until 2010 to get their hands on their first World Cup trophy. However, the seeds for that success had been sown well before. Spanish managers had by then started creating ripples worldwide with the introduction of their unique playing style.

Vicente del Bosque made the Spanish national team a force to reckon with back in 2010 when, under his stewardship, Spain won their first World Cup . However, none of the Spanish managers have made as much of an impact as current Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola. It was through him that Spain's unique tiki taka style of football gained popularity around the world.

However, while recognizing the present it would be wrong to ignore the past. The strong foundations for the eventual success of Spanish managers were laid by some of Guardiola's predecessors.

Here we take a look at five of the greatest Spanish managers that helped enhance the reputation of their country by working not just in Spain but around the world.

#5 Jose Villalonga

Villalonga (right) won the first international honor for Spain
Villalonga (right) won the first international honor for Spain

The fifth name on our list of greatest Spanish managers is the man who helped Spain win their first ever international honor in the form of the European Nations’ Cup. He was the one who made the nation dream and that is why a list of greatest Spanish managers is incomplete without him.

In a managerial career stretched over 12 years, Villaloga managed three different teams and made his mark almost everywhere. He started his managerial career with a two-and-a-half-year stint at Real Madrid. Despite being appointed midway through the season, he helped Los Blancos win both La Liga and the Copa Latino in his first year in charge.

At the age of just 36 it wasn't an easy job to manage stars such as Alfredo Di Stefano, Francisco Gento and Miguel Munoz. However, the young manager handled the pressure with relative ease.

After leaving Real Madrid following controversies over his deployment of Alfredo Di Stefano, Villaloga took up the vacant post at Atletico Madrid. Atletico outplayed Villaloga's former club, Real Madrid, in two successive Copa del Generalísimo finals in 1960 and 1961.

Atletico also went on to win the UEFA Cup Winners' Cup in 1962 under him. It was only recently that Zinedine Zidane managed to emulate him by winning the European Cup in his first two seasons in management.

#4 Luis Aragones

Picture courtsey: La Liga Twitter
Picture courtsey: La Liga Twitter

Aragones ushered in tiki taka to the Spanish national team and that is why his name has to be there in the list of the greatest Spanish managers.

His 35-year-long career as a manager speaks at length about the qualities he brought to the game. After hanging up his boots at the age of 36, Aragones started finding his footing in management.

Atletico Madrid's all-time highest goal scorer and club legend did not have to wait long to find success as a manager. In his first season in-charge, Atleti won the Intercontinental Cup. They then went on to add to that over the next three years, winning one Copa del Rey and one La Liga title.

His counter-attacking style of football played a huge role in turning Atletico Madrid into a force to be reckoned with.

Aragones is also credited with the emergence and growth of Fernando Torres. He identified the potential in the player and went on to nurture him.

The coach found success in international football as well. It was under his stewardship that Spain won the UEFA European Championships in 2008.

His contributions towards football in general can hardly be ignored and even seven years after his death, Aragones still remains one of the best Spanish managers of all time.

#3 Vicente del Bosque

Vicente del Bosque found unequaled success with both Real Madrid and Spain
Vicente del Bosque found unequaled success with both Real Madrid and Spain

The third name on our list of greatest Spanish managers goes to Vicente del Bosque. His illustrous CV has two La Ligas, two Champions Leagues, one World Cup and one European Championship title.

Del Bosque was a calming presence on the bench and rarely lost his composure even when his team were on the receiving end. He protected his players from media scrutiny, making him one of the most loved Spanish managers of all time.

Players often came out praising Del Bosque's man-management skills. He always had tricks up his sleeves to turn the game around.

The Spaniard stayed at the helm of Real Madrid for just four years but he guided the club to the semi-finals of the Champions League in each of those years. Del Bosque also ended up winning two of the aforementioned editions of the Champions League, making him one of the most successful Spanish managers at Real Madrid.

Despite his heroics as Real Madrid manager, the club didn't consider him one of their most glamorous Spanish managers and decided not to renew his contract after four years.

Del Bosque proved their decision wrong, leaving his own mark on the Spanish national team. And therefore, there is no doubting his inclusion in the greatest Spanish managers' list.

#2 Miguel Munoz

Picture courtsey: Marca
Picture courtsey: Marca

The main reason behind placing Miguel Munoz ahead of Vicente del Bosque in the list of greatest Spanish managers is that he remains, till date, Real Madrid's longest-serving manager. Credit goes to the quality and consistency Munoz managed to bring in at the Bernabeu.

Munoz stayed at the helm for 14 long years and helped them win as many as nine league titles and two Cup honors.

Traits of his strong personality can be seen in the way he ushered in a team without the likes of Alfredo Di Stefano and Ferenc Puskas. Though many eyebrows were raised, the decision eventually proved right as the duo had by then lost their former touch.

As some other great Spanish managers have done, Munoz tried his luck in international management. Though his stint with the Spanish national team did not result in any silverware, he managed to give the team a huge lift.

Spain had been performing poorly in international tournaments leading up to Munoz's appointment in 1982. They were knocked out of the group stages of the European Championships back in 1980.

Munoz turned things around as Spain went on to reach the final of the 1984 European Championships where they were unlucky to have been beaten by Michel Platini’s France.

However, that didn't dent his chances of being rated as one of the best Spanish managers of all time. Munoz kick-started a revolution within the Spain national team and can certainly be counted as an important figure in the history of the sport in the country.

#1 Pep Guardiola

Guardiola has found success everywhere he went
Guardiola has found success everywhere he went

Who else but the current Manchester City boss to occupy the top spot in the list of the best Spanish managers?

Guardiola has played a huge role in transforming modern football. It was his decision to play Lionel Messi as a false nine when he was manager of Barcelona and the rest is history.

That was complemented by Sergio Busquets' deployment at the heart of the midfield. Pep also decided to bring in Manchester United flop Gerrard Pique and transform him into a world-class defender.

A former student of Johan Cruyff, Pep went on to re-popularise possession-based, high-pressing football. It is something that has brought him success at Manchester City as well.

Guardiola splits the football pitch into 24 separate zones and asks his players to make sure that no two players are occupying the same position at the same time.

Contradictory to several teams' counter-attacking football, Pep's style is meant to make sure that his team never lose their shape and can gradually work up into the final third to suffocate the opposition.

Under him, the tiki taka style of football gained even more popularity. Unlike the other Spanish managers on the list though, Pep is yet to try his luck in international management.

He still has years left in his managerial career though and has already written his name in the history books as one of the greatest ever Spanish managers.

Edited by Nived Zenith


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