After Pep Guardiola’s urgently pursued Champions League glory at Manchester City finally arrived earlier this month, the debate over whether the Spaniard is the greatest football manager of all-time has resumed.
However, in this particular discussion, it very often comes down to individual preference, to state the obvious. For me, Guardiola is the most effective manager I have witnessed in my time watching football. He has studied and then taught football down to an exact science which gives his teams a huge statistical advantage to win games and therefore trophies.
But, with that said, the factor that favours Jose Mourinho and Sir Alex Ferguson in this debate is their ability to start from scratch and work within the confines of a smaller club. Mourinho’s success with Porto to me is criminally underrated in recent times due in part to a slight downward career trajectory in terms of the levels he has managed at lately.
For Sir Alex, what he achieved with Aberdeen, and in later years, the post-Ronaldo years from 2009-13 is a true testament to his ability to squeeze the absolute maximum from players whom most fans deemed to be sub-par.
I would have Ferguson at the top of my list, purely based on his ability to identify when a squad needed to be recycled and how to go about bringing in a new crop of players, while maintaining a style of play.
For a manager to oversee three, maybe four squad rebuilds and every one of them be successful in their own right is nothing short of sensational, particularly when you consider how the landscape of football changes overtime and renders previously successful managers like the aforementioned Mourinho, on the fringes of being considered an ‘elite’ manager.
Ferguson’s ability to maintain a standard of success over the length of time he did is something I don’t believe we will ever witness again in the modern game.
And therefore, here would be my rankings…
1. Sir Alex