Words: Sam Diss 
Images: Offside Sports Photography

You can’t please all the people all the time.

Jury’s out on who said that first. One of those "every quote is attributed to Marilyn Monroe or Oscar Wilde or Mitch Hedberg" deals. Tough to say. But it’s true, and fair play to French footy magazine France Football for going in with both feet on their list of the 50 best managers of all time in their new issue which is out today.

Their top five works along a standard impact + achievement equation.

  1. Rinus Michels (Holland)
  2. Alex Ferguson (Scotland)
  3. Arrigo Sacchi (Italy
  4. Johan Cruyff (Holland)
  5. Pep Guardiola (Spain)

And while some would argue that putting Pep in the top five managers of all time after just a decade in management, it’s hard to argue with what he’s achieved: seven league titles in three countries, two Champions Leagues, countless individual awards, and the ability to have all that money and still not be able to find a better coat than that grey hooded cardi.

The rest of the starting eleven is a mix of pioneers (Helenio Herrera), outsized legends (Bill Shankly and Matt Busby) and relatively deep cuts (Austrian manager Ernst Happel, one of the first men to win league championships in at least four different countries, and Ukrainian manager Valeriy Lobanovskyi, who was known for his highly scientific approach to the game while in charge of the very-hard-to-beat USSR).

Above: The great Matt Busby, telling someone off for doing a solo tea round, probably.

José Mourinho pops up at number 13 (despite what United fans might think about him) and from there the takes get spicier. Marcelo Bielsa scrapes in at 48, Rafa Benitez comes in at 37, just behind Jock Stein (34) and Arsène Wenger (32) but it’s Zinédine Zidane (placed at 22 in this list) coming ahead of Bob Paisley (three-time European Cup winner Liverpool, who is at 26) that really catches the eye.

The Frenchman won three Champions Leagues in a row with Real Madrid, took a holiday, and then went straight back into his old job to save the day after nobody else could follow his path. That’s very smooth. But, despite the unprecedented achievement, you can’t help but feel a little...  Zidane? The 22nd best manager of all time? Although, to be fair,How much does winning silverware for a team who are already one of the best in the world really count?” is also a complaint that can be levelled at Guardiola too, even with the Spaniard’s flair for philosophy. Especially when, in the case of Zidane’s Real Madrid, they somehow destroyed all comers in the Champions League despite not actually playing that well. Does that really deserve to put him 10 places higher than someone like Wenger, who — for all his myriad faults in later years — came into the Premier League and revolutionised the way British football behaved on and off the pitch? 

Is influence and iconoclasm what makes a great manager? Or does it really come down to brass tacks: the old, hard, checks-and-balances, nuts-and-bolts, tea-and-milk-with-biscuits-if-you-have-them business of Who Wins The Most?

Hard to say, but I need a beer.

You can see the full list below:

  1. Rinus Michels (Holland)
  2. Alex Ferguson (Scotland)
  3. Arrigo Sacchi (Italy
  4. Johan Cruyff (Holland)
  5. Pep Guardiola (Spain)
  6. Valeri Lobanovski (USSR/Ukraine)
  7. Helenio Herrera (Argentina/France)
  8. Carlo Ancelotti (Italy)
  9. Ernst Happel (Austria)
  10. Bill Shankly (Scotland)
  11. Matt Busby (Scotland)
  12. Giovanni Trapattoni (Italy)
  13. José Mourinho (Portugal)
  14. Miguel Munoz (Spain)
  15. Brian Clough (England)
  16. Marcello Lippi (Italy)
  17. Nereo Rocco (Italy)
  18. Louis van Gaal (Holland)
  19. Ottmar Hitzfeld (Germany)
  20. Bele Guttmann (Hungary/Austria)
  21. Fabio Capello (Italy)
  22. Zinédine Zidane (France)
  23. Viktor Maslov (USSR)
  24. Herbert Chapman (England)
  25. Jupp Heynckes (Germany)
  26. Bob Paisley (England)
  27. Jürgen Klopp (Germany)
  28. Albert Batteux (France)
  29.  Guus Hiddink (Holland)
  30. Udo Lattek (Germany)
  31. Diego Simeone (Argentina)
  32. Arsène Wenger (France)
  33. Vincente Del Bosque (Spain)
  34. Jock Stein (Scotland)
  35. Tele Santana (Brazil)
  36. Vic Buckingham (England)
  37. Rafael Benitez (Spain)
  38. Hennes Weisweiler (Germany)
  39. Bobby Robson (England)
  40. Dettmar Cramer (Germany)
  41. Mircea Lucescu (Romania)
  42. Tomislav Ivić (Yugoslavia/Croatia)
  43. Stefan Kovacs (Romania)
  44. Luis Aragones (Spain)
  45. Frank Rijkaard (Holland)
  46. Otto Rehhagel (Germany)
  47. Raymond Goethals (Belgium)
  48. Marcelo Bielsa (Argentina)
  49. Antonio Conte (Italy)
  50. Jean-Claude Suaudeau (France)

MUNDIAL Issue 17 is out now and available to order here, or you can subscribe and get every issue for a year to your door by clicking here.

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