Tactical geniuses: who are the most decorated managers in footballing history?
The development of the game has come with the progression of tactics, but just a few decades ago a select few managers dominated world football.
Naturally, these coaches have won a host of major trophies for a multitude of clubs – here is a list of the top three most decorated.
Pep Guardiola (34 trophies)
Undoubtedly a generational talent in the managerial spectrum, the tactics of Pep Guardiola have revolutionised the modern game. Guardiola has been with Manchester City since 2016, where he has already accumulated four Premier League titles, four League Cups, an FA Cup and two Community Shields. The Cityzens are being challenged for their third successive league title this campaign by Arsenal, though, with City placed at even odds for users betting on football, behind the Gunners who are at 5/6.
A second-placed finish would be a rare one for Guardiola, not only for his record at City but also Bayern, where he celebrated three successive league victories. However, the 52-year-old is perhaps most famed for putting together one of the greatest club sides ever assembled in his home of Catalonia. Barcelona went on to win three league titles and two Champions Leagues alongside a host of other trophies under Guardiola, with his tally as a manager currently standing at 34 trophies.
Pep Guardiola has won the league title in 11 out of his 14 seasons as a manager 🤯 pic.twitter.com/eNFAG6L0hP
— GOAL (@goal) June 24, 2022
Mircea Lucescu (35 trophies)
Placing one better at 35 accolades is Mircea Lucescu, who has celebrated success across Ukraine, Turkey, and his native country Romania. Lucescu is a veteran of the managerial game with a career spanning over 30 years. He first celebrated league and cup glory in his homeland with FC Dinamo and Rapid Bucharest, before a four-year stint in Turkey.
The 77-year-old won a Turkish league title each for Galatasaray and Besiktas before starting his longest and most successful spell as manager of Shakhtar Donetsk. Lucescu won eight league titles, six Ukrainian Cups and seven Super Cups, as well as their only UEFA Cup in 2008-09. The Romanian left for Zenit St. Petersburg in 2016 where he won a Russian Super Cup in his one season in charge. Lucescu eventually returned to Ukraine with Shakthar’s arch-rivals Dynamo Kyiv three years later, going on to win a domestic treble in 2020-21.
Mircea Lucescu became the most successful manager in Shakhtar history, winning eight league titles from 2004 to 2016.
Today, after four years away from Ukraine, he joins Shakhtar’s archrivals Dynamo Kyiv on a two-year deal. pic.twitter.com/CiVarOAK0q
— Zach Lowy (@ZachLowy) July 23, 2020
Sir Alex Ferguson (48 trophies)
Far and away the most decorated coach in footballing history, Sir Alex Ferguson is widely regarded as one of the finest managers the game has ever seen. His near 27-year existence at the helm of Manchester United coincided with the most trophy-laden period in the club’s history following the three Scottish league titles, four Scottish cups, European Cup Winners’ Cup and European Super Cup won during his time at Aberdeen.
It is that record that likely landed him the United job, although the Scot risked getting sacked after a poor run of form in late 1989. Thankfully for the club, Ferguson stayed and would go on to post a record 13 Premier League titles, two Champions Leagues, five FA Cups, four League Cups, a UEFA Super Cup, a Cup Winners’ Cup, a FIFA Club World Cup, an Intercontinental Cup and ten Community Shields. Knighted for his services to football in 1999, Ferguson has been a board member at United since his retirement in 2013.
Erik ten Hag has put a smile on Sir Alex Ferguson’s face 🥺 pic.twitter.com/oZoIT9vsnD
— ESPN FC (@ESPNFC) February 27, 2023
Thanks to the influence of these great managers, as well as many others, tactical analysis has evolved exponentially across the globe.
Nowadays clubs both big and small are being managed by some of the greatest minds in the game, some of which may eventually overtake the legendary names on this list.