Football News

Top 5 Greatest UK Football Managers

This little island has given football many things over the years.

Not only is this the home of football, but there was a time when we were producing the best managers and coaches too.

True, right now, all of the top clubs are managed by foreign coaches, some more successfully than others.

But the clubs they manage, the really big ones – Liverpool and Manchester United we’re looking at you – were made great by UK born coaches.

In fact, the list of great British managers is simply too long to list all of the deserving names we would want to include.

Honourable Mentions

Sirs Alf Ramsey and Bobby Robson, plus Cloughie and Bill Nicholson. I mean, the claims of these four alone!

A knight of the realm, Sir Bobby Robson deserves a mention for everything he achieved in his managerial career. It was, after all, a career that included winning the UEFA Cup (Europa League) with Ipswich, managing Porto, PSV and Barcelona and leading England to the semis at Italy 90.

Amazingly, there is no room for Sir Alf Ramsey who actually won England its only ever World Cup, or Bill Nicholson who won the European Cup Winners Cup in 1963 with Tottenham. Neither make the top 5 despite being utterly brilliant in their time.

Finally, Brian Clough, the other name considered for this list. Two European Cups (Champions League) with the now forgotten Nottingham Forest was an amazing achievement.

Sorry guys, there’s just no space on the list. In the end, it comes down to a final five.

So, then, here are the top 5 greatest British managers.

Jock Stein

Clubs Managed: Dunfermline Athletic, Hibernian, Celtic, Leeds United and Scotland

We have selected Jock Stein because of the plain fact that he was the first British coach to win a European Cup.

He did so in 1967 with Celtic who beat Inter Milan 2-1 and, in doing so, became the first British team to lift the European Cup.

Coincidentally, they remain the only ever Scottish team to lift Old Big Ears.

One of the greatest managers in Scottish history, Stein won the Scottish league title with the Bhoys nine years in a row between 1965 and 1974 and 10 times in total.

With a record like that, Stein had to make the list

Sir Matt Busby

Clubs Managed: Manchester United and Scotland

A man to whom so much of the credit of making Manchester United what they are today must go.

Sir Matt, who actually played for arch rivals Manchester City and Liverpool in his playing days, famously put together the Busby Babes before the horrifying Munich Air Disaster of 1958 so tragically decimated his team.

Within 10 years he had put together another side and this team went on to win the European Cup, the first for an English team this time.

The fact that the great man faced such unbelievable horrors and still won so much with the club very easily ranks him as one of the greatest coaches of all time.

Bill Shankly

Club Managed: Carlisle United, Grimsby Town, Workington, Huddersfield Town and Liverpool

One of the most often quoted people in the beautiful game, the father of modern Liverpool, Bill Shankly started something so powerful that he built his Liverpool team up into – to quote the great man himself – “a bastion of invincibility”.

Shanks created a legacy along with traditions that still stand today along with the boot room and the Liverpool way.

He also of course delivered great teams and numerous domestic titles and cup victories, plus the club’s first European trophy, the UEFA Cup in 1973.

“Some people believe football is a matter of life and death, I am very disappointed with that attitude. I can assure you it is much, much more important than that.”

In short, he made the people happy and today Anfield famously honours their Scottish hero with both a statue and the Shankly Gates.

He also coined this little beauty “there are only two teams in Merseyside, Liverpool and Liverpool reserves”.

As we said, quotable.

Sir Alex Ferguson

Clubs Managed: East Stirlingshire, St Mirren, Aberdeen, Scotland and Manchester United

Without question, Fergie is the greatest living British manager.

In his native Scotland, he broke the dominance of the auld firm with his Aberdeen team that also collected a UEFA Cup Winners Cup.

He then moved south of the border to Manchester United where he “knocked Liverpool off their f***ing perch”. His words, not mine.

As well as Champions League deuces, he created a dynasty, building and re-building title winning sides on a regular basis.

Perhaps his best achievement was to end 28 barren years – in which Manchester United did not win a title and even got relegated – when he won their first title.

This would go on to prove incredibly fortuitous timing as the newly launched Premier League gave British football a shiny new makeover, allowing the club to brand themselves like no club before.

That, plus the trophy haul, is why he makes this list.

Bob Paisley

Clubs Managed: Liverpool

Perhaps the most understated manager in football but one of its most important and certainly most successful.

Famously, Bob didn’t want the job when Bill Shankly stepped down, believing himself to not be management material and wishing to stay out of the limelight.

How wrong he was.

In his first six years in charge, Paisley won three European Cups. Yes, three.

That’s half of the European trophies he was in for.

In fact, in 9 years of management, he amassed an 18 major trophy haul that, although smaller than Ferguson’s (the only other possible occupant of the top spot), was collected in half the time.

Paisley averaged 2.1 trophies per season during his time at Liverpool, Ferguson averaged 1.4 at Manchester United.

As he himself put it “I wasn’t here for the good years. One year, we came second”.

Which just about sums it up really.

…and three for the future

Brendan Rodgers

Yes, that bloke that failed at Liverpool. If anything, he took the Liverpool job too soon.

39 is a hell of a young age to take one of the biggest jobs in football, especially given that he hadn’t been a star player with a standing in the game.

Trophy less with Liverpool – the only recent Liverpool manager to stay at the club for a full season and not win something – doesn’t do his spell in charge justice.

His time with the Reds delivered flair football and one second place finish. At other clubs, that would have been enough to spare him.

When his Liverpool career was behind him, it could very easily have been the end of him. For other, less confident types, it surely would have been.

Instead, Rodgers moved to Glasgow to manage Celtic where he did more than just win, he broke multiple records and won many trophies and titles.

Now in charge of Leicester, it looks increasingly likely that the Foxes will enjoying Champions League football next season.

Neil Lennon

Yes, we know he has just walked away from the Celtic job with the club about to lose their nine year spell of dominance, but he was also a major factor in that dominant period and will surely find work elsewhere soon.

Consider this, in two spells at Parkhead, the former Northern Ireland skipper delivered five Scottish Premier League titles, four Scottish Cups and one Scottish Cup.

That’s a pretty impressive trophy haul.

The point is that all good things come to an end and just because something finishes badly, doesn’t mean everything was always that bad.

In fact, they were really rather good and that shouldn’t be forgotten.

And, more to the point, should the right job open up in the English Premier League, he could prove his considerable managerial capabilities still further.

Steven Gerrard

Many Liverpool fans have already earmarked their former skipper for the Liverpool job when current occupant Jurgen Klopp vacates the role.

And, as we write this, he hasn’t even won anything yet.

However, he is now in his second year in charge of Rangers and this one looks like delivering big time.

With Celtic, under Neil Lennon and Brendan Rodgers, enjoying a nine year run of back to back titles, Rangers had fallen on hard times, at one point even filing for insolvency and dropping down the divisions.

Things could not have been much bleaker for the blue half of Scotland’s second city.

Now, though they are on the cusp of putting all that misery to an end and win the Scottish Premier League for the first time since 2011.

Heck, who knows, the Liverpool legend might yet even throw in a Europa League as a bonus too.

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