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The Seven Best Managers in English Football

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Great teams are built by great managers, ones who can select the right players, choose the right tactics, turn the corner when things aren't going right, inspire and encourage their troops and act as a mediator between the owners and the footballers. It is true that football is played by the eleven on the pitch, and not the man in the suit on the sidelines, but with a manager as capable and talented as the ones on this list, half the game is won already. Here is our list of the greatest managers to serve the English game, those whose efforts from outside the field have made a lasting impression on the history of the sport in the country :

1) Sir Alex Ferguson

sir_alex_fergusonWas there ever going to any doubting Ferguson's inclusion in this list? The Scot's 25-year tenure with Manchester United has seen the Red Devils go from strength to strength, asserting their status as the most successful team in England and winning countless honours along the way. Ferguson, now regarded as one of the best managers of all time, had garnered decent success before joining United, winning the Scottish League, UEFA Super Cup and the UEFA Cup Winners' Cup with Aberdeen. He, however, took over Manchester United in less-than-auspicious times, when they were second-from-bottom in the league, but rebuilt the side, pushing them slowly up the table. However, three years into his job and still trophy-less, Ferguson was rumoured to be close to getting the sack, before a great run in the FA Cup won him his first title in 1990. Soon after that began Ferguson's golden era, as the signings of Roy Keane, Eric Cantona and Peter Schmeichel, along with the emergence of Ryan Giggs, David Beckham, Paul Scholes and other youngsters kept the Red Devils' purple patch going. A brilliant knack of never letting his team get old together, Ferguson always managed to bring the right mix of youth and experience into his side, and to date, has made countless transitions to his squads, with the same results. Now at the age of 69, Ferguson still powers on as hungry for success as ever, with the knowledge that he has helped turn British football's history on its head.

Managerial Honours

Manchester United

Premier League : 1992–93, 1993–94, 1995–96, 1996–97, 1998–99, 1999–2000, 2000–01, 2002–03, 2006–07, 2007–08, 2008–09, 2010–11
FA Cup : 1989–90, 1993–94, 1995–96, 1998–99, 2003–04
League Cup : 1991–92, 2005–06, 2008–09, 2009–10
FA Charity/Community Shield : 1990 (shared), 1993, 1994, 1996, 1997, 2003, 2007, 2008, 2010
UEFA Champions League : 1998–99, 2007–08
UEFA Cup Winners' Cup : 1990–91
UEFA Super Cup : 1991
Intercontinental Cup : 1999
FIFA Club World Cup : 2008

2) Sir Matt Busby

Another Manchester United great, Sir Matt Busby served the club for 24 years, winning the Red Devils its first league title in more than 40 years and achieving unparalleled success at the club. His side, famously called 'Busby Babes' for their young average age, won the title in both 1956 and 1957, before Busby accomplished arguably the greatest ever rebuilding act in the history of football. In 1958, tragedy befell the talented side who were challenging on three fronts, as their plane crashed on the runway in Munich killing eight of their players, with a few others sustaining injuries that didn't allow to play football again. Busby, himself severely injured, built a new side around survivors like Bobby Charlton and Bill Foulkes, and younger stars like Denis Law and George Best, to win two more league titles, and Manchester United's first ever European Cup in 1968. Befitting the great man, United won their second European Cup in 1999 on what would have been Busby's 90's birthday, five years after he died of cancer. A statue of Busby still stands in front of Old Trafford, honouring the man who had a huge part to play in the history of Manchester United.

Managerial Honours

Manchester United

First Division : 1951–52, 1955–56, 1956–57, 1964–65, 1966–67
FA Cup : 1947–48, 1962–63
FA Charity Shield : 1952, 1956, 1957, 1965, 1967
European Cup : 1967–68

3) Bob Paisley

Spending 44 years at Liverpool, Paisley was one of the most revered figures at Anfield, going from player, to physiotherapist, to coach, and finally manager of the Merseyside club. Under Bill Shankly when the Scottish manager turned Liverpool's fortunes on its head, Paisley got a chance to shine as manager of Liverpool when Shankly stepped down in 1974. With the pressure of Shankly's legacy to keep up to, Paisley bettered his predecessor's record, with his all-conquering Liverpool side winning six league titles, three European Cups, one UEFA Cup, and three League Cups in just nine years that Paisley spent as manager. Critics would say that Paisley had already inherited a champion side when he started his foray as manager of Liverpool, but the 14 major titles that he won in nine years undoubtedly shows his credibility as one of the best English managers ever.

Managerial Honours


First Division : 1975–76, 1976–77, 1978–79, 1979–80, 1981–82, 1982–83
European Cup : 1977, 1978, 1981
UEFA Cup : 1976
Football League Cup : 1981, 1982, 1983
European Super Cup : 1977

4) Brian Clough

A prolific striker during his playing career, Clough scored an amazing 251 goals in his 274 games for Middlesbrough and Sunderland, before having to retire at the age of 28 because of a cruciate ligament injury. Two years later, Clough joined forces with his long-time assistant manager Peter Taylor and began his managerial career at Hartlepool United. His first real success came at Derby County, where he helped the Rams climb from Division Two to become champions of the First Division in a short span of time. A long-running feud between him and the board of directors saw Clough leave, and while his career took a nose-dive at Brighton & Hove Albion and Leeds United, he showed his genius at Nottingham Forest, where he again took a side from the Second Division to dizzying heights, winning the league, two successive European Cups, and four League Cups in his time there. Clough's Achilles' Heel was his lack of success without Peter Taylor by his side, as he was fired after 44 days at Leeds United and didn't do well at Forest before Taylor's arrival from Brighton. However, Clough, never controversy-shy, was one of the best managers to have ever plied their trade in England, and deserves his place on the list.

Managerial Honours

Derby County

First Division : 1971-72
Second Division : 1968-69
Watney Cup : 1970

Nottingham Forest

First Division : 1977-78
League Cup : 1977-78, 1978-79, 1988-89, 1989-90
European Cup : 1978-79, 1979-80
FA Charity Shield : 1978
European Super Cup : 1979

5) Bill Shankly

Signed when Liverpool were in their darkest times, languishing in the second division with the board and ground facilities in disarray, Shankly slowly but steadily started using his own unique methods to revive the club and build team camaraderie. He started with removing the dead weight from the club, releasing 24 players, and his new arrivals helped the club climb back to the First Division two and a half years after his appointment. Two years later, they were back to being where they felt they rightfully deserved to be, winning the league in 1963-64. Shankly won another title a couple of years later, before building possibly his best side in the 70s which included the likes of Kevin Keegan, John Toshack, and Ray Clemence. Loved dearly by the Anfield faithful, his premature retirement came as a shock to many, and even though his successor and long time assistant Bob Paisley earned much more success in his career as manager, Shankly had a huge hand in building a side on the cusp of attaining the heights that Paisley eventually helped them reach.

Managerial Honours


First Division : 1963–64, 1965–66, 1972–73
Second Division : 1961–62
FA Cup : 1965, 1974
UEFA Cup : 1973
FA Charity Shield : 1964 (shared), 1965 (shared), 1966, 1974

6) Arsene Wenger

Called the 'miracle worker' by former-Arsenal chairman David Dein, Arsene Wenger has been a longstay in the Premier League, with the Frenchman completing 15 years in charge this summer. Known for his reluctance to spend millions in the transfer market, and instead relying on his youth recruitment policy to build his side, Wenger has managed to win trophies without putting his club's finances in the red. He also revolutionised the way English teams played their football, emphasizing on attacking, passing football instead of the age-old physical, direct play employed in the country. Wenger's Gunners won the domestic double in 1998 and 2002, also went the whole of the 2003-2004 season without defeat in a side now glorious labelled as the Invicibles. His emphasis on youth instead of experience has had its critics, with Arsenal dropping off during crucial times in more than one season, and not winning a single trophy in the last six years. However, regardless of his recent failure to win trophies and his lack of European success, Wenger is still the Gunners' longest-serving and most successful manager, and is regarded as one of the biggest exponents of the beautiful game. He will undoubtedly go down in history as the man who changed a small North London club into a football dynasty while making a healthy profit, a rarity in modern day football.

Managerial Honours


FA Premier League : 1997–98, 2001–02, 2003–04
FA Cup : 1997–98, 2001–02, 2002–03, 2004–05
FA Community Shield : 1998, 1999, 2002, 2004

7) Jose Mourinho

The self-proclaimed 'Special One' did not spend the years in England that the other managers on this list have, but Jose Mourinho made an impact that not many others have managed. Brought to Stamford Bridge by Chelsea's Russian billionaire owner Roman Abramovich after his successful stint at Porto, where he won the unassuming club the Champions League in 2004, Mourinho didn't take time to stamp his authority on the Blues, making a spate of signings and winning the league and League Cup in his first full season at the club. The Portuguese manager had a fractious relationship with Abramovich throughout his three-year stint, heightened when Mourinho regularly dropped record-signing Andriy Shevchenko, a player Abramovich admired. Always good for a headline story and ever so successful, Mourinho won six major titles before he left Chelsea by 'mutual consent', but his signings like Didier Drogba and Michael Essien still are key Chelsea players. Every now and again, Mourinho reiterates his desire to return to the country which absolutely adores the flamboyant manager, and with Mourinho only 48 years of age and with time on his side, a return to England and more success is very likely in the future.

Managerial Honours


FA Premier League : 2004–05, 2005–06
Football League Cup : 2004–05, 2006–07
FA Cup : 2006–07
FA Community Shield : 2005

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