Check out our rankings of the best soccer managers in the game today.
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Fans of sports at large tend to focus most of their attention, both positive and negative, on the players. This is especially true in soccer. It doesn't happen as much on the MLS level, but it certainly applies when looking at the game on an international scale. Soccer is the world's sport, and players are the primary draw. It isn't always clear how much value even the best soccer managers hold to their respective clubs.
In some cases, it might make sense to take the "Players determine their own fate" stance. But the right coach can make all the difference. There's a reason why the cream of the crop are paid as much as they are. They can tilt the direction of a team in the right direction with their practice strategies, schemes, capacity to implement adjustments, ability to juggle egos and rotations, along with so much more.
Those who bet on soccer would do well to familiarize themselves with the absolute best managers. Whether it's the Premier League or Champions League or another league or tournament entirely, having a firm grasp on the coaching ranks will help you figure out which teams are the most attractive future bets.
Ranking Top Soccer Managers
With all that in mind, who's ready for some soccer manager rankings?
Our criteria is simple: We're looking at those who are currently employed and weighing both their track record and the current state of their clubs. Let's get to it.
1. Jose Mourinho, Tottenham Hotspur
This will come as no surprise to anyone who follows soccer on a regular basis. Jose Mourinho is one of the most decorated managers in the history of the sport.
So far, the 58-year-old has racked up eight league titles and four domestic cups during stints with Porto, Chelsea, Inter and Real Madrid. Plus, he won the 2003 UEFA Cup and the 2004 Champions League with Porto, the 2010 Champions League with Inter and the 2017 Europa League with Manchester United.
Currently the manager of Tottenham Hotspur, Mourinho has developed a reputation for keeping his teams in tip-top conditioning form and fielding first-rate defenses. As far as this list goes, he'll be pretty hard to unseat at No. 1 anytime soon. His term with Tottenham would have to end like it did with Manchester United: via a messy breakup.
2. Carlo Ancelotti, Everton
Some people will have Carlo Ancelotti at the very top of this list. We won't push back too hard, though we still believe Mourinho's defensive credentials are underrated. (Ancelotti has also moved around a bit more.)
Ancelotti has more than 20 trophies to his name, a ridiculous number for someone who is barely into his 60s. While his most successful tenure came with Milan, where he managed the team between 2001 and 2009, Ancelotti is lauded for his versatility. He has been known to completely switch up his offensive and defensive approaches based on the personnel assembled or inherited.
To be clear: This is a big deal. Many managers—and particularly those with Ancelotti's level of experience—can often be stubborn in their ways. He's more of an innovator than most of his peers.
3. Jurgen Klopp
Jurgen Klopp used to be included in lists like these as an honorable mention—an up-and-comer to watch. He is now one of the top-most inclusions.
Klopp cut his teeth during his time with Borussia Dortmund. (He also spent seven years previously with Mainz 05.) He coached them to Bundesliga league titles in 2011 and 2012, in addition to a 2012 German Cup victory. After managing them between 2008 and 2015, he moved on to Liverpool, where he is still the head honcho.
Known for his animated reactions and impassioned overall demeanor, he is also adept at managing his squads to dictate the pace of play. They know how to control the ball on offense and understand how to position themselves on defenses in order to grind opposing ball-handlers to halt. It's this quality that helped Klopp once head up a 28-match unbeaten streak.
4. Diego Simone, Atletico Madrid
By the time 2011 rolled around, and he had less than a decade of managerial experience under his belt, Diego Simone was already one of the hottest commodities in coaching. He had developed a reputation for quickly turning around broken franchises at all his previous stops, and every club in need of a fresh start was after him.
Atletico Madrid ended up landing him, and he has yet to leave. It's not hard to see why.
Atletico Madrid won both the Europa and UEFA Super Cup just three years ago (2018), and people still reference the drubbing they put on Chelsea back in 2013. Just like his time with Atletico Madrid, expect his term in the top five to last quite a while.
5. Antonio Conte, Inter Milan
Antonio Conte secures a spot in our top five by virtue of his versatile approach to the game. Interchangeable schemes and players are all the rage on the pitches, and his 5-3-2 system, while not the most popular, is built to throw opposing teams for a whirl.
It has taken Conte a while to find his footing as a manager. He coached seven different clubs between 2006 and 2018 and didn't land with Inter Milan until 2019.
Still, despite his shorter tenures, he has enjoyed a high degree of success. He won Serie A in all three of his years with Juventus and coached the Italian National team in 2016. He then won the Premier League in his first season with Chelsea and scooped up the 2018 FA Cup.
He's going to be a staple in this discussion for a long time.
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