Guardiola is the best – and here’s why

THERE ARE some managers who get praised on a weekly basis by pundits, fans and the media, such as the hipsters’ favourite Marcelo Bielsa, gritty Sean Dyche and the monastic Nuno Espirito Santo. And there are others, such as pantomime villain José Mourinho, who can never do much right in the eyes of the critics. 

Yet Mourinho has won more major trophies – 20 –  than any manager currently employed across the big five leagues in Europe. He doesn’t have enough fingers to point that out to people. Pep Guardiola is behind him and Christian Gross (yes, that Christian Gross) has won 14. It does depend on how you judge a “major” trophy and also where you’ve won them, but you can only win what’s available.

By the way, Bielsa has won just four important trophies in his long career and Nuno Espirito Santo has yet to lift a big prize.

But let’s look about career win rates, a good way of judging a manager’s worth, especially in a time when winning is everything. Guardiola has the best win rate across the top leagues – an astonishing 72.92%. Some might say Guardiola has had a charmed life in management as he hasn’t had to troll around in lower league football like some journeyman managers, although he did start at Barcelona B in 2007. Since then, it has been Barcelona (72.47%), Bayern Munich (75.16%) and Manchester City (72.96%). If he was a banker, it would be the equivalent of having Goldman Sachs, JPMorgan and Morgan Stanley on your CV.

The next man on the list is Mourinho, who has a win rate of 63.78% but it should be noted that his score at Tottenham is just 51.35%, the lowest since he was at UD Leiria in 2001-02.

Juventus coach Andrea Pirlo comes just behind Mourinho with 63.64% but Pirlo is in his first year of management. Julen Lopetegui has a consolidated win rate of 63.51%, but for six years of his career, he was coaching Real Madrid’s B team and Spain’s under-19,20 and 21 teams. Take these out of the equation and Lopetegui’s win rate would be 61.03%.

Zinedine Zidane could also be looked upon in the same way as Guardiola, a coach groomed for success. His first spell as Real manager saw him achieve a win rate of 69.80%, but his second stint has seen his score decline by over 10 percentage points. His overall score as a coach is 61.87%.

Interestingly, but unsurprisingly, four of the top 10 managers have all worked for Chelsea.

Antonio Conte is someone who can jump from top club to top club – Juventus to Chelsea to Inter Milan. His overall career rate is 58.5% but at his current employer, he has a 59.3% win rate and is now enjoying top spot in Italy. Thomas Tuchel, recently-appointed at Stamford Bridge, has started well in London with an 83.33% rate, but his overall career score is 56.89% and rising. Carlo Ancelotti is another Chelsea hire and his trophy-laden career has earned him a score of 58.01%. 

And what of Jürgen Klopp? The Liverpool coach has a 59.3% win rate at his current club, but overall, his record if 52.3% which puts him just inside the top 20. Surprisingly, Borussia Mönchengladbach boss Marco Rose, who was at serial Austrian champions Red Bull Salzburg (58.33%), Leicester’s Brendan Rodgers (54.3%) and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer (53.73%) have higher win rates than Champions League and Premier League winning Klopp.

This demonstrates that win rates are only one way of evaluating a manager and they change all the time. The best way to use them may be to value the peak of a career rather than its duration, which includes build-up and wind-down. Nevertheless, few would question Pep Guardiola’s position at the top thanks to is ability to land the very best jobs and then win prizes. Success is self-perpetuating and Guardiola’s career has not had to endure any troughs.


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