Every football fan would testify that the most pivotal position at a club is that of the manager. An enormous amount of responsibility is placed on the man in charge and the way he moulds his team. Recently, in the Champions League, we saw two managers, namely Mauricio Pochettino and Thomas Tuchel making the most of their scarce resources to pull off a tactical masterclass.
On the other hand, even a manager of the ilk of Jose Mourinho paid the price at Old Trafford for his failure to optimize the players at his disposal.
A good manager inevitably ends up being the difference between a team punching above its weight and another criminally under-performing. Thus, the importance of the people at the top can’t be overstated enough.
At the moment, there are several high-profile managers plying their trade across the globe. However, it is quite difficult to pin-point those who actually distinguish themselves from the rest of the pack.
Yet, we would indulge in the unenviable task of putting together a list of five of the best managers on the planet currently and why they make the cut ahead of the others. Without further ado, here is a look at them:
(The managers considered are those working at the club-level)
Honourable Mentions: Lucien Favre, Thomas Tuchel and Carlo Ancelotti
#5 Mauricio Pochettino (Tottenham Hotspur)
No. 5 in the list of best managers in the world is Pochettino. The Argentine has been around the managerial circuit for quite a while. After impressing with his work at Espanyol, Pochettino found himself on his way to England. Though a brief stint with Southampton was fruitful, it is his time at Tottenham that casts him as one of the best managers on the planet.
In his time at Spurs, Pochettino has brought several young players and made them household names. The likes of Harry Kane, Dele Alli, Kieran Trippier, Eric Dier and more recently, Harry Winks owe their success to the Argentine.
Yet, the most outstanding aspect of Pochettino’s management is his ability to squeeze every ounce of performance from the players in his ranks. Spurs have been short of funds over the past couple of years (their new stadium isn’t ready just yet) but the Argentine has made sure his core players have pledged themselves to the club.
Despite not possessing the astronomical sums of money his Premier League contemporaries have, he has made Spurs genuine title contenders as they sit just five points off the perch currently.
However, the Argentine has failed to lay his hands on a trophy during his tenure at Tottenham. While the first winner’s medal seems a question of when rather than if, his lack of silverware is the only yardstick which pulls him down.
Thus, Pochettino has to settle for fifth spot on our list.
#4 Diego Simeone (Atletico Madrid)
No. 4 in the list of best managers in the world is Diego Simeone. He was unveiled as the Los Rojiblancos’ manager in December 2011. The Argentine has since taken Atletico Madrid to dizzying heights during his stint and shows no sign of letting up.
In his very first season, he took Atletico to glory in the Europa League. A year later, he won the Copa Del Rey by defeating Real Madrid in the final whereas also enabled Atletico to finish third in the league.
Yet, his crowning glory was the 2013-14 term. In the said season, he led Atletico to their first league title since 1996. The Los Roljiblancos also nearly went all the way in the Champions League and fell short at the final hurdle against their nemesis, Real Madrid.
Though the succeeding years haven’t been as fruitful, he still managed to lift the Europa League for a second time in 2018 while also thrashing Real Madrid in the UEFA Super Cup in August of last year.
Extremely attentive to every small detail, Simeone has gained the trust of his players and made them a tough nut to crack over the years. His sides are always well-drilled defensively and rarely allow their opposition a moment’s peace.
Additionally, he has shown his tactical nous on several occasions in his managerial career. Having initially deployed an adventurous 3-3-1-3 in his time at River Plate, he has gained mastery over the 4-4-2 system while in Europe.
Thus, at this juncture, there are only a handful of managers capable of competing with Simeone’s discipline and his player management skills.
Hence, he takes the No.4 spot on our list.
#3 Massimiliano Allegri (Juventus)
No. 3 in the list of best managers in the world is Allegri. The Italian has been around the higher echelons of the Italian game for more than a decade. After winning the Serie A with AC Milan in the 2010-11 season, Allegri has taken his tally of league titles to five with four league successes in four seasons at Juventus.
Blessed with the uncanny ability to tweak things at the right moment, the Italian has earned rave reviews for his propensity to study the opponent thoroughly and for adopting an adequate game plan.
At Turin, Allegri wasn’t initially sure of the best-suited for the Old Lady. Yet, his tactical astuteness meant that he was quickly able to zero in on a solution.
Even in the current season, he has easily incorporated a certain Cristiano Ronaldo into his system and made Juventus a much tougher proposition to handle on the continental stage.
In addition, Allegri has been praised for his winning mentality at Juventus and a haul of four Scudettos, four Italian Cups and two Italian Super Cups is a testament to the fact.
However, the Italian hasn’t yet tested himself in a foreign league. Having spent the entirety of his managerial career in the tactical confines of Italy, the next logical step for Allegri would be to carve a niche in another European country.
Thus, at the moment, despite boasting of an eye-watering trophy haul, Allegri has to stay content with the third spot on our list.
#2 Jurgen Klopp (Liverpool)
No. 2 in the list of best managers in the world is Jurgen Klopp. The German sent shockwaves throughout the Bundesliga in the early part of this decade as his all-action Dortmund side swatted away the mighty Bayern Munich’s challenge not once, but twice. The Bundesliga triumphs were supplemented by three German Cups and a run to the Champions League final in 2012-13.
The German had truly distinguished himself as one of the best in the business after his spells at Dortmund. Hence, his appointment as Liverpool manager was met with unparalleled fanfare by the Anfield faithful.
After a troubled start to his reign in Merseyside, Klopp has slowly but surely established Liverpool as one of the forces to be reckoned with in the Premier League. In the current season, they are level on points with leaders, Manchester City and have a game in hand too. Hence, the Reds look primed to end their Premier League hoodoo once and for all.
Unlike many of his peers, Klopp has shown the characteristic of being flexible. His tactical awareness has been on display this term as he has seamlessly switched between a 4-2-3-1 and a 4-3-3 depending on the situation.
Moreover, he is a favourite among the players with them willing to lay it all on the line for their manager.
Thus, the German has many strings to his bow and the only thing missing from his cabinet currently is another major trophy. Yet, with Klopp, one gets the feeling that it is just around the corner.
Hence, he takes the runner-up spot on our list.
#1 Pep Guardiola (Manchester City)
No. 1 in the list of best managers in the world is Pep Guardiola. The best manager in the world currently is none other than Pep Guardiola. Since moving into management in 2008, he has won every trophy on offer. At Barcelona, he won the treble twice and arguably created the greatest club side to have ever existed.
However, many believed that Pep was only reaping the benefits of a team containing the mercurial talents of Xavi, Andres Iniesta and one Lionel Messi. Yet, he put all those doubts to rest during his time in Germany with Bayern Munich.
He won every domestic trophy on offer, transforming the Bavarians’ style of play and making them more aesthetically pleasing. But, the critics were at it again and asked him the proverbial question ‘Can Pep do it on a cold, rainy night at Stoke?’.
And Guardiola has answered that question quite emphatically with Manchester City. Though his first season was far from an overwhelming success, his next saw his side breach the 100 points barrier in the league.
Even this term, they sit at the pinnacle of the standings and look well-equipped to snatch the title out of Liverpool’s grasp.
Through the years, Pep has come up with some revolutionary ideas and that has continued in England too. His ability to play different systems and alter formations mid-game places him on a higher pedestal than his competitors.
Moreover, his man management skills are par excellence. Players love learning about the game from him and above all, relish the prospect of working for him.
As studious a coach as any, Pep has been the undisputed best manager for quite a while.
Thus, without a shadow of a doubt, he takes the top spot on our list.
Published 14 Feb 2019, 18:03 IST