ASK any football fan who they believe is the best coach in European football and they will roll-out names like Pep Guardiola, Jürgen Klopp and Carlo Ancelotti. But despite their impressive records and the number of prizes they have won in their glittering careers, the two coaches with the best win rates among Europe’s top leagues are relatively unknown outside the countries they in which they work.
Rúben Amorim of Sporting Lisbon and Matthias Jaissle of Red Bull Salzburg have win rates of 73.15% and 72.92% respectively in their current jobs. Both win slightly more often than Guardiola at Manchester City, who has the best record among the top five leagues.
Amorim is just 37 years old and took Sporting to their first league title in years in 2020-21. The former Portugal international earned his spurs at Braga and took over at Sporting in March 2020 and in his first full season led the club to the Primeira Liga with just one defeat in 34 games, their only loss coming against Lisbon rivals Benfica.
Amorim also has the best career win rate as a manager, 73.48% versus Guardiola’s 72.83%. But he cannot match Pep’s trophy haul of 17 major trophies (League, Cup and Europe). Unsurprisingly, Amorim has attracted the attention of Paris Saint-Germain according to reports coming out of the French capital.
Red Bull Salzburg’s Jaissle (34) is another young coach who was appointed in July 2021, taking over from Leipzig-bound Jesse Marsch. In his first season, he won the double in Austria, finishing 18 points clear of second-placed Sturm Graz and beating Ried in the cup final. Of course, any team in the Red Bull franchise has distinct advantages over their competitors and that’s very clear in the case of Salzburg. Nevertheless, the ubiquitous energy drink continues to build a network of coaches that can be used across their multi-club model.
Win rates at their current club
|Club||Current win rate %||Career win rate %|
|1||Rúben Amorim||Sporting Lisbon||73.15||73.48|
|2||Matthias Jaissle||Red Bull Salzburg||72.92||70.77|
|3||Pep Guardiola||Manchester City||72.73||72.52|
|5||Julian Nagelsmann||Bayern Munich||70.2||51.1|
|7||Carlo Ancelotti||Real Madrid||69.6||58.3|
|8||Ole Werner||Werder Bremen||68.42||53.13|
|9||Giovanni van Bronckhorst||Rangers||68.29||59.17|
|10||Mauricio Pochettino||Paris Saint-Germain||65.48||48.49|
Guardiola has had a charmed career in that he has managed only very top clubs – Barcelona, Bayern Munich and Manchester City. Hence, he has had every chance to succeed, but there’s no denying the intelligence and influence of his approach. Guardiola’s career record is a win rate of 72.82%, almost identical to his figures at Manchester City.
Statistics only illustrate one aspect of performance and they can be misleading. It has to be noted that the records of Guardiola and some of his contemporaries have been built over many years, whereas some coaches have had relatively short careers and therefore, the true measurement of their ability will be revealed in time. A good example of this is Ole Werner of Werder Bremen, who has a win rate of 68.42% from just 19 games with the Bundesliga club.
Sérgio Conceição, Porto’s 47 year-old coach, has had a 271-game career with his club and has accumulated a win rate of 71.96%. Admittedly, Porto are one of three clubs dominating Portuguese football and there’s some distance between that trio and the rest of the league. His compatriot, José Mourinho has one of the best career records in the game, a win rate of 63.05% and a trophy haul of 17 major prizes. Yet Mourinho’s current rate – 52.73% at AS Roma – ranks among the lowest of his time in the game, even though he continued his penchant for lifting trophies in the form of the inaugural UEFA Europa Conference League. Just ahead of Mourinho in terms of career win rates is Erik Ten Hag, the new Manchester United manager. Ten Hag’s figures, arguably, should be weighted because he’s yet to manage in a top five league, although he was very successful at Ajax, who rightly belong among Europe’s royal family of clubs. By contrast, Mourinho has coached in England, Italy and Spain, as well as his homeland of Portugal and has been employed by five former European champions. Carlo Ancelotti, who has a career stat of 58.3% and has won no less than four Champions Leagues as a manager, also has a killer CV that includes AC Milan, Real Madrid, Chelsea, Bayern Munich, Paris Saint-Germain, Napoli and Juventus. Another top 10 coach, Ange Postecoglou, is a 70% success with Celtic, but he has made his name in lower level leagues, which does somewhat dilute his position.
Interestingly, notable managers of the past did not have anything like the statistics of Guardiola (72.82%), Klopp (61.4%), and Thomas Tuchel (61.29%). Arsenal’s Herbert Chapman, for instance. He won 49.64% of his games with the Gunners and secured two league titles and the FA Cup once. The current boss at the Emirates, Mikel Arteta, has won 54.2% of the 131 games he’s been in charge and yet it is unlikely Arteta will create the sort of impact Chapman made. Liverpool’s Bill Shankly had a win rate of 49.24%, much lower than his successors Bob Paisley and Kenny Dalglish, but the legend of Shankly lives on. Matt Busby (Manchester United), Don Revie (Leeds United), Bill Nicholson (Tottenham) and Bobby Robson (Various) all hovered around the 50% mark. Brian Clough’s career record was 46.5%. Different times, different methods and perhaps a more democratic era for football.
The figures for the current batch of managers will not change the perception people have of the really top coaches. They are the big names in the management game because of the quality of their CVs. These generally take time to compile, so some of the characters in the current list will either rise or fall, depending on performance. Just as we have elite teams and competitions, football also has an elite group of coaches who command the very best jobs.