Before the end of the 2012/13 European soccer season, I had known only one football manager all my life and he never did wrong (so I will like to think), even when he admitted he regretted selling Jaap Stam I still didn’t see it as a wrong move. You still don’t know who I am talking about? Its definitely Sir Alex Ferguson now. Who else could it have been? No disrespect to the other coaches that were around when Fergie was the head honcho at Manchester United. He was just too perfect for the team and a look at the trophy cabinet will only buttress the point of how good he was.
Post Fergie Era
There are a whole lot of coaches or managers out there today but there are only 5 I would pick from the pool if I was asked for my favourites. Find below my five best football coaches/managers:
- Antonio Conte: the very first time I heard this name was during the Euro 2000 tournament jointly hosted by Netherlands and Belgium. I could remember vividly that day in June, on the 11th to be precise which was my cousin’s birthday. I went out with the big boys that night and when the game came on I could just see the passion all over Conte’s ball play on the day. He didn’t disappoint me on this day and he even scored Italy’s first goal in the Azzuri’s 2-1 victory over Turkey. The moment he was announced the coach of my favourite Italian team and the 4th best team in the world, Juventus I was so happy for him (yes he doesn’t know me). He won the Serie A for 3 straight seasons and also bagged the Serie A manager of the year 3 years in a row. He stepped down as Juventus’ manager in July of 2014 after winning the Serie A with a record 102 points to take over the reins of the Italian National team. He led Italy to the quarter finals of Euro 2016 losing to Germany 6-5 on penalties after playing out a 1-1 draw in regulation time. He agreed to sign for Chelsea before the Euro 2016 tournament and he’s my favourite coach at the moment though he’s in charge of a rival team. Conte’s passion for the game is the reason I admire him a whole lot. If I had my way I would have preferred him to be the coach of my beloved Manchester United.
- Jose Mourinho: the self-acclaimed Special One is what the football world needs. Someone who will always have something to say about anything #SomeSortOfEntertainment. I had known there was something really special about him when he was in charge at Porto. In the 2003 UEFA Cup Final (now Europa League) he beat Celtic 3-2 in the final to claim the trophy and in 2004 he beat my beloved Man United in the 2nd round of the Champions League. Yes beating Man United has to be special. Mourinho went on to win the Champions League of that year causing Chelsea to snap him up in the summer. Mourinho was an instant hit when he signed for the Blues winning the Premiership and League Cup in his first season. His first spell with Chelsea brought about 6 trophies (2 Premiership titles, 2 League Cups, 1 FA Cup and 1 Charity Shield). Mourinho signed for Inter in 2008 and with them he won the Champions League, the Italian Serie A (twice), Supercoppa Italiana and the Coppa Italia. He also won the Spanish La Liga with Real Madrid, the Copa Del Rey and the Supercoppa de Espana in a 3 year stint before a return to Chelsea in 2013 where he won the league one more time (2015). He’s currently at the helm of affairs for Manchester United.
- Zinedine Zidane: I am sure you are shocked to find this young man on the list. For me it is not too early to add Zidane into the frame. He won the Champions League for Real Madrid within 6 months of handling the team. If he didn’t win the Champions League people will say it was because he wasn’t experienced. 15 months into the job and it’s looking like he could win the league though he faces serious competition from Barcelona and maybe Sevilla and Atletico Madrid. At some point he was my best footballer (between 2000 and 2004). His playing days was trophy laden-ed. He was named FIFA Player of the Year 3 times (1998, 2000 and 2003),he also won the World Cup (1998) and Euro 2000 with France. He won the Champions League as a player with Real Madrid and as assistant to my next favourite coach on the list. Zizou as Zinedine Zidane is popularly called has a very impressive resume. Shine on Zizou.
- Carlo Ancellotti: I didn’t use to like Italian coaches to be honest. I saw Arrigo Sacchi’s men beat the Super Eagles at the 1994 World Cup. I believed Sacchi set his team up to hurt and get the key players of the Nigerian team out of the game. That was my take and that I will stick with till my dying day. There’s something special about Carlo though. He has this calm demeanour which I really like. He has been to different places like mazes as a Manager coaching Chelsea, Real Madrid, Paris Saint-Germain not forgetting the club he played for A.C Milan. He is presently in charge of Bayern Munich. Not much to say about the gentleman but what is there not to like about him? I digress.
- Massimiliano Allegri: even if you don’t like the guy I am sure you love the name *winks*. The former A.C Milan coach is now the boss at Juventus (the fourth best club in the world). He has not let the big foot Antonio Conte left behind deter him. He’s on track to winning his 3rd Serie A title, he has also won the Coppa Italia twice and the Supercoppa Italiana once. He led Juventus to the final of the 2015 Champions League final which held in Berlin,Germany losing to Barcelona 3-1.
There you have it, my favourite coaches of the beautiful game (at the moment) and strangely they all have ties with the Italian Serie A. Notable mentions; Diego Simeone, Pep Guardiaola, Marcelo Bielsa, Guus Hiddink, Luciano Spalletti, Thomas Tuchel, Jurgen Klopp, Mauricio Pochettino, Jorge Sampaoli and Claudio Ranieri to mention a few.