The three best Premier League managers of all time
December 19, 2017
It’s fair to say that Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City are currently threatening to rewrite Premier League history, with the brilliant Spaniard having overseen the best start to an EPL season in history. He’s also cultivating his very own unique brand of football, as his team dominates both possession and territory like no other in living memory.
In fact, Guardiola’s men have lost just twice in 35 Premier League matches throughout 2017, while his win ratio at the club is now just under 70% – a staggering amount.
But how does the Spaniard stack up against the EPL greats? Here are our picks for the three best managers of the Premier League era.
1. Sir Alex Ferguson
Guardiola certainly has a long way to go to match the exploits of Sir Alex Ferguson, who presided over a period of unparalleled dominance in the English top-flight.
The dour Scot won a staggering 13 title trophies during 20 years of Premier League management, which means that he won 62% of the titles that he challenged for. This, aligned with a fanatical hunger for success and an overall win percentage of 65%, makes Ferguson the best and most accomplished manager in modern history.
Like Guardiola, Sir Alex Ferguson also managed to win major honours while playing attacking, high-intensity football, which remains the single biggest challenge in the game. It is the longevity and consistency of Ferguson that truly sets him apart from his numerous rivals. This is born out of his ability to continually build great sides and overcome rivals such as Kenny Dalglish, Arsene Wenger and Jose Mourinho.
2. Jose Mourinho
While the Portuguese may continue to polarise opinion with his cautious style of play and abrasive persona, there’s no doubting his achievements across just six full seasons of Premier League management.
Mourinho has won three league titles during this relatively brief period, alongside four League Cups, an FA Cup and – most recently – a Europa League. He can also be credited for introducing the fluid 4-3-3 system and high-pressing game to the Premier League, which is something that many sides now mimic.
During his first three-year spell at Chelsea that began in 2004, the Portuguese also broke the record for most points in an EPL season (95), while achieving an incredible win percentage of 70.8% (or 2.33 points per game).
Mourinho’s star has fallen in recent times, with his win ratio lower than 55% at Manchester United and his tactical caution appearing to catch up with him. He has also been cast into the shade by the brilliant and attack-minded Guardiola on the opposite side of Manchester, while Mourinho’s consistent inability to build a legacy at his clubs also leaves a black mark against his resume.
Still, his effectiveness at winning trophies cannot be denied, and he remains one of the best pound-for-pound managers of the EPL era.
3. Arsene Wenger
While the long-standing Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger also divides opinion, he tends to do so most amongst their own fans. Although the calm and thoughtful Frenchman retains the support of core fans who appreciate his role in revolutionising the football club, there’s also a growing number of supporters who believe that he can no longer be trusted to take the club forward.
In terms of numbers alone, Wenger’s position should not be questioned. He has won 10 major honours during his 21 years in charge. This includes three Premier League titles and an impressive seven FA Cups. Seven of these honours came between 1998 and 2005, when Wenger’s athletic and cultured side produced some truly staggering football.
In the quest to replicate the possession-based style of football played by Barcelona, however, Wenger lost his focus and the club failed to win anything for nine years until 2014. Three further FA Cup triumphs have followed, but the club seem further away than ever from winning a fourth league title under the Frenchman or claiming an inaugural Champions League triumph.
Despite these challenges, Wenger’s contribution to the Premier League cannot be disputed; his initial success saw him create one of the finest footballing sides in history. He also marshalled ‘The Invincibles’ through their unbeaten season in 2004, and for this alone, he deserves his place in the pantheon of EPL managerial greats.