Top coaches can be found outside the Premier League

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

  ClubCurrent win rate %Career win rate %
1Rúben AmorimSporting Lisbon73.1573.48
2Matthias JaissleRed Bull Salzburg72.9270.77
3Pep GuardiolaManchester City72.7372.52
4Sérgio ConceiçãoPorto71.9658.48
5Julian NagelsmannBayern Munich70.251.1
6Ange PostecoglouCeltic7052.09
7Carlo AncelottiReal Madrid69.658.3
8Ole WernerWerder Bremen68.4253.13
9Giovanni van BronckhorstRangers68.2959.17
10Mauricio PochettinoParis Saint-Germain65.4848.49
Top five leagues (England, France, Germany, Italy and Spain) plus Portugal, Netherlands, Austria, Scotland.

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.

It’s not just about Pep, Jürgen and Carlo – the coaches with the best success rates in Europe

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

  ClubCurrent win rate %Career win rate %
1Rúben AmorimSporting Lisbon73.1573.48
2Matthias JaissleRed Bull Salzburg72.9270.77
3Pep GuardiolaManchester City72.7372.52
4Sérgio ConceiçãoPorto71.9658.48
5Julian NagelsmannBayern Munich70.251.1
6Ange PostecoglouCeltic7052.09
7Carlo AncelottiReal Madrid69.658.3
8Ole WernerWerder Bremen68.4253.13
9Giovanni van BronckhorstRangers68.2959.17
10Mauricio PochettinoParis Saint-Germain65.4848.49
Top five leagues (England, France, Germany, Italy and Spain) plus Portugal, Netherlands, Austria, Scotland.

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.

Erik Ten Hag and the pursuit of a smarter football club

ERIK TEN HAG, at last, has been appointed manager of Manchester United and the fans cannot wait to welcome their new man through the door. The hope is, after almost a decade of frustration, that Ten Hag can return United to the forefront of European football. Everyone is enthused, but the same script has been read before, at least four times since Sir Alex hung up his stopwatch.

It is arguably the boldest move made by the United board since Ferguson retired, the hiring of a coach who has enjoyed success in the Eredivisie with Ajax but has never managed at a higher level. There is a big difference between the Dutch league and the Premier League, as players who have made the move to England have found out, and despite the status of Ajax (four times European champions), Manchester United will thrust Ten Hag into an intense cauldron of expectation and employers with diminishing patience.

Can he handle it? United is rapidly becoming a basket case of a club where highly-paid players have underperformed and the rise of Manchester City has made the country’s most successful club more neurotic by the day. They’ve spent heavily but there’s a lack of strategy, a whole load of short-termism and some huge egos that need stroking. United have also developed a peculiar penchant for signing late-career superstars such as Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Edinson Cavani and Cristiano Ronaldo. But since 2013, they have won just three trophies, the last in 2017. For a club accustomed to winning trophies in clusters, this has become a crisis. It is not out of the question they may not be in Europe in 2022-23.

One of the big competitive differentiators in football today is intelligence – Manchester United have to get smarter.

Ten Hag, everyone keeps reminding us, created a very exciting Ajax team a couple of years ago, but they were beaten by Tottenham Hotspur in the semi-finals of the Champions League. That team was packed with youngsters who earned Ajax a lot of money when they were [inevitably] sold, but it has to be noted Ten Hag was not the creator of a system that continually creates such talent. The system is Ajax’s business model that enables them to remain competitive. They develop young players, introduce them to the first team and then sell them. It is a model that has proved to be very successful. Ten Hag harnessed those players and moulded them into a team that was not far away from being European champions. This doesn’t mean he will replicate that process at Old Trafford, it really depends on how much raw talent he has in the United youth structure.

Manchester United is his big step-up test and it couldn’t be tougher. Apparently, he will not have a huge transfer budget, possibly a hangover from below-par transfer market activity over the past decade. It may also be down to United’s falling revenues; they have been overtaken by Manchester City in the Deloitte Football Money League this year, which provides some indication of their commercial decline. Nevertheless, United will surely allow him to strengthen the team with West Ham’s Declan Rice being among the list of players to be considered. United also need options up front and in the heart of defence. There will also be an exodus of players who are not going to get any better in a United shirt, such as Paul Pogba.

Ten Hag will need time and that is not a luxury afforded to managers at top clubs these days. He may have signed a contract that takes him to 2025 (with an option for another 12 months), but will he get that long? One would hope that the United suits will bear in mind the club has stagnated for at least five years and they have fallen away from contention. For the past few seasons, there has been an obsession that it is always the coach’s fault, but the club’s owners would be justified in looking at how transfer targets are identified and evaluated. United may need to go backwards to go forwards and take apart their entire structure to build something that is far-reaching, self-perpetuating and sustainable. They need to look at Manchester City, but not in the pursuit of finding their own Pep Guardiola. One of the key competitive differentiators in football today is intelligence. United have to get smarter.