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The Greatest Managers in the History of La Liga

One can't argue that the most pivotal position at a club is that of the manager. La Liga has seen many top managers from around the world testing their skills.

Last updated: 13.08.2019
The Greatest Managers in the History of La Liga | Sports Social Blog

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Some managers at the top of the list have won fewer major trophies than those at the bottom. The influence through tactics, ideology has been favored in ranking the coaches. 

Let's take a look at the top managers in the history of La Liga :



1.Johan Cruyff 


La Liga club managed - FC Barcelona


After a successful playing career, Johan Cruyff began an equally legendary managerial career in 1985 when he took charge of Ajax. 


But the Dutch manager is most admired for his time at FC Barcelona. He managed Barcelona from 1988 to 1996 yielding 4 La Liga titles, 3 Spanish Super Cups, the Copa Del Rey, the UEFA Cup Winners Cup and the club's first European Cup. Two years later Barcelona went to the finals of the European Cup & were heavy favourites to win, only to lose to AC Milan. 


In 2010, Cruyff was presented the FIFA Order of Merit for his significant contribution to football.


A proponent of the famous "Total Football" philosophy, the list of players and managers directly or indirectly influenced by Cruyff is too long to count.


2. Pep Guardiola 


La Liga club managed - FC Barcelona


Guardiola left Barcelona as a player in 2001 and had stints with Brescia, Roma, Al Ahli, and Dorados before finally retiring in 2006. In 2007, he was given an opportunity to manage Barca B (Barcelona's reserve side). He won the Tercera Division title and after just one season, he was given the control of the first team. 


In his first season as the manager of Barca's first team, he won the treble of La Liga, Copa Del Rey & Champions League. Barcelona won all six trophies that season. In his four years as Barcelona coach, he won La Liga three times and the Champions League twice. In 2011, he was named the FIFA World Coach of the Year. 


3. Miguel Muñoz


La Liga clubs managed - Real Madrid, Granada, Las Palmas, Sevilla


In the history of the best club, there has ever been, Miguel Muñoz is probably Real Madrid's best ever manager. 


Muñoz was a part of first three European Cup winners squad of Real Madrid. He retired in 1958 & was appointed the manager of Real Madrid's reserve side the following year at the request of club president Santiago Bernabeau. He took charge of the first team in 1959 and led Real Madrid to their fifth European Cup in 1960. In lifting Real’s fifth European Cup, Muñoz became the first coach to have won the trophy as both a player and a manager.


Muñoz was trusted with the first team job and Los Blancos won LaLiga five times in a row(1961-65) under him, the first team to ever win so many titles consecutively. Under his guidance, Real Madrid won the European Cup again in 1966. He left in 1974 after 16 seasons, as the side's longest-serving and most successful coach. He remained in Spain for seven more seasons (Granada, Las Palmas & Sevilla) and then took the reins of the Spanish National Team. 


4. Luis Aragonés


La Liga clubs managed - Atletico Madrid, Real Betis, FC Barcelona, Espanyol, Sevilla, Valencia, Oviedo, Mallorca


Atletico Madrid's all-time top goalscorer, Luis Aragonés was appointed as the manager of Los Rojiblancos in 1974. His retirement as a player came soon after he was appointed as Atletico's manager. 


In his first season in charge at Atletico, Aragonés led Atleti to success in the Intercontinental Cup (1974). Under him, Atletico won La Liga and Copa Del Generalismo in 1976 and 1977 respectively. He took over Betis after six seasons at Atletico but his time in Andalusia was brief and he came back to Atletico in 1982. In his second spell at the club, Atletico won Copa Del Rey & finished runners up in La Liga during 1984-85 season. He was appointed as the manager of FC Barcelona in 1987, where he won the Copa Del Rey. He took over city rivals Espanyol Sevilla the following year & joined Atletico again for his third spell. He won the Copa Del Rey with Atletico and left Los Colchoneros in 1993 for the third. He went on to manage, Sevilla, Valencia, Betis, Oviedo, Mallorca. 


With Atletico being in Segunda Division, Aragonés took over Atletico for the fourth time. He led the team to promotion back to the Primera Division. He left the club for the final time in 2003 & returned to Mallorca. In 2004, he took the job as the manager of the Spanish National Team. Under his guidance, Spain won the UEFA Euro 2008. 


5. Zinedine Zidane 


La Liga club managed - Real Madrid


There are some managers that strive their entire managerial career to win just one Champions League. And then there is Zidane, who has won it three times consecutively - in his first three seasons as a manager. His previous role in coaching was as the coach of Real Madrid Castilla (Real Madrid's reserve team). 


Zidane's managerial career feels like it has only just begun, but already he has experienced more success than most managers could ever dream of.


In January 2016 Benitez was sacked and on the same day, Zidane was appointed as the new manager of Real Madrid. 5 days after winning the third UCL in a row, Zidane announced his resignation. Under his guidance, Real Madrid won 3 UCLs, 2 Club WCs, the La Liga & the Spanish Super Cup. 


Last season, following some poor results in all competitions - Copa Del Rey elimination, 12 points gap in La Liga & an unexpected defeat to Ajax in the Champions League - Santiago Solari was dismissed & Zidane returned as the Real Madrid manager for the second time. 


6. Diego Simeone 


La Liga club managed - Atletico Madrid

The late Luis Aragones won several major titles at Atletico, but he has now been overtaken by the Argentine, Diego 'Cholo' Simeone. During his seven and a half years in charge of Atletico Madrid, Simeone has exceeded all expectations. The fiery manager reawakened one of football's ‘sleeping giants', by using his own style and methods. 


He was appointed as the manager of Atletico Madrid in December 2011. It was his second spell as a manager in Europe, having previously had a short spell at Catania (Serie A). 


Since Simeone was appointed the manager of Atletico Madrid, he has guided the club to seven major trophies, and two Champions League finals. 


He has won La Liga coach of the year award three times & was named IFFHS World's Best Club coach in 2016. 


7. Frank Rijkaard


La Liga club managed - FC Barcelona


Regarded as one of the best defensive midfielders in footballing history, Rijkaard started his managerial career as the manager of the Netherlands National Team after serving as an assistant coach for a long time. 

He was appointed as the manager of Sparta Rotterdam in 2001 and under him, the club was relegated for the first time, and he was sacked. 

Back in 2002-03 under Louis Van Gaal, Barcelona finished 6th in the league with 56 points. A change in the managerial position was required. Not a front-runner for the job, Rijkaard took charge as the club’s coach.

His first season was a disaster, with Barcelona finishing runners-up in La Liga in 2003–04, having been close to the relegation zone at one point in the earlier stages of the season. But in the following season, Barcelona won back to back league titles in 2004-05 and 2005-06 campaigns and the Champions League for the second time in their history in the latter season. The 2004-05 and 2005-06 season will go down as two of the most important seasons in the club’s history for the stability that it gave post the Van Gaal era.


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