Louis van Gaal has managed some of the biggest clubs in world soccer, including Ajax, Barcelona and Bayern Munich. His most successful spell was back in his native Netherlands where he won three Eredivisie titles and the Champions League with Ajax. Now at 62, Van Gaal is managing the Netherlands national team. He is aiming to coach the nation back to their glory years after Bert van Marwijk managed the team to zero points at Euro 2012. Netherlands have an almost perfect record in qualifying for the 2014 World Cup, and van Gaal has so far impressed.
Football's top managers
The new season is under way, and we will soon find out which managers will hold their nerve in this year’s competitions. We have put together a list of the best managers around – some established and some potential, but they all have serious pedigree. Who will pick up FIFA Football Coach of the Year this time around?
Frank de Boer - Ajax
After an illustrious playing career, Frank de Boer took charge of Ajax in 2007. The Dutch club was without a title in six years before de Boer started his managerial career. They didn’t have to wait long to end that dry spell, as de Boer won the Eredivisie in his first season. Now in his fourth campaign, de Boer has won three Dutch titles and was reportedly courted by Liverpool for their manager’s job.
Carlo Ancelotti – Real Madrid
It is safe to say Carlo Ancelotti has been a success wherever he has found himself in the past 18 years. He started his managerial career at Reggiana in 1995 before moving on to clubs such as Juventus, Milan and Chelsea. Ancelotti now finds himself managing Real Madrid after winning titles in three different countries and collecting two Champions League trophies. The man oozes class.
Pep Guardiola – Bayern Munich
Pep Guardiola is regarded as one of the best coaches of all time for his heroic management of Barcelona between 2008 and 2012. With Guardiola at the helm, Barca went on to win three league titles, two Copa Del Rey crowns and two European cups in his four years in charge. After all the success, Pep decided it was time to have a break from soccer before returning to management this season with German and European champions Bayern Munich. The fact Guardiola has chosen an already perfect team will leave a lot of people questioning his true ability.
Jurgen Klopp - Borussia Dortmund
Jurgen Klopp spent his whole paying career at Mainz – the sort of loyalty you rarely see in modern day soccer. He went on to manage the German club for seven years until Bundesliga side Borussia Dortmund came in for his services. Since taking over Dortmund, Klopp’s profile and that of the club has sky rocketed. It took him a couple of seasons of consolidation before Klopp pushed on and won back-to-back Bundesliga titles. Last season was the highlight for Klopp’s men as they charged to the Champions League final. He’s a future great.
Arsene Wenger – Arsenal
Arsene Wenger has been labeled as many things in his prestigious managerial career, possibly the kindest of those would be a ‘revolutionary.’ He is often praised for the way he has changed English soccer’s mentality towards tactics, nutrition, fitness and youth development. Wenger is nicknamed ‘Le Professeur’ by some fans because of his studious demeanor. He also speaks six languages, including German, Spanish and Japanese. Wenger joined Arsenal in 1996 and has been there ever since, winning three Premier League titles and four FA Cups. Arsenal haven’t won any silverware for eight years, and Wenger has come under increasing pressure to deliver.
Jose Mourinho – Chelsea
Jose Mourinho – or ‘the special one’ as he has become known in the English media – certainly likes being the center of attention. This arrogant family man has good reason to have confidence in his own ability. He is arguably one of the most successful managers to have ever lived and has the trophies to show for it. Unlike Sir Alex Ferguson, who won a majority of his trophies at one club, Mourinho has jetted around Europe picking up trophies in every country he has coached. He has won two Champions League titles and league titles in England, Italy, Spain and Portugal. One of the greats.
Antonio Conte – Juventus
Juventus manager Antonio Conte is one of the best young coaches around at the moment. Conte managed promotions with Bari and Siena from Serie B before taking the reins at Italian giant Juve. The Juventus hierarchy gave Conte the task of restoring the club to the top of Italian and European soccer. He has certainly taken to his objectives, winning two league titles and two Italian cups. Conte had to serve a four-month ban for failing to report match-fixing, which finished in December last year.
Vincente del Bosque – Spain
He has what many would describe as the easiest job in world soccer, but Vincente del Bosque has made dramatic progress as Spain boss. Until the World Cup win in 2010, Spain had never been to a World Cup final. He then took the national team to glory at Euro 2012, which made them the first side to win back-to-back European Championships. Del Bosque had great success at Real Madrid and is also in a select group of coaches that have won two or more European Cup titles.
Rafa Benitez – Napoli
Rafa Benitez has only just started his journey with Napoli, but we think he deserves to make this list for his previous triumphs. Benitez is likely to be a huge hit at Napoli having proved himself in every country he has managed. The Spaniard lists a Champions League trophy, two Europa League honors and titles in his homeland among his vast résumé. Fans all over the world will probably remember him best for masterminding Liverpool’s Istanbul success of 2005, in an astonishing second-half comeback.