Some of Europe’s most prominent managers today are former players who have had illustrious careers. It’s fantastic to see a former player return to his former club as a manager. However, it is not a common occurrence in the world of football.
Many of today’s most successful managers did not have entirely satisfying careers as players. This demonstrates that, in addition to technical excellence, a lot goes into forming a successful team. Top managers must be tactically astute, mentally strong, and excellent people managers.
If they are in charge of a high-profile club, the managers must be wary of the big personalities involved and work hard to get their players to work as a team. We’ll be here all day if we start talking about the best managers in the game. Today, we’re going to try something new.
Let’s take a look at five of the best managers in the game right now, ranked by their playing ability.
(Please note that only managers currently in charge of a club are included.)
Number 5: Ole Gunnar Solskjaer
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, the ‘baby-faced assassin,’ spent 11 wonderful years at Manchester United before hanging up his boots. He was a quick, pacy, and astute striker who flourished under Sir Alex Ferguson.
Solskjaer famously scored the game-winning goal in stoppage time against Bayern Munich in the 1998-99 Champions League final to send Manchester United to the promised land. The Norwegian was the epitome of a super-sub,’ scoring 126 goals in 366 appearances for the Red Devils.
He is Manchester United’s only player to have scored four goals in a game twice. So far, Solskjaer’s managerial career has not reached the heights of his playing career, and there are serious doubts about his future.
During his time at Manchester United, he won six Premier League titles, one Champions League, and two FA Cups.
Number 4: Pep Guardiola
Pep Guardiola is widely regarded as the world’s most tactically astute manager. He has done an incredible job with Manchester City, even coming within a whisker of winning the Champions League last season.
Guardiola had a successful playing career. He is a La Masia product who made 384 appearances for Barcelona, scoring 12 goals and providing 44 assists in all competitions.
Guardiola was typically used as a deep-lying playmaker, a position in which he excelled during his time with Barcelona. Before joining Qatari side Al-Ahli, he also played for Brescia and AS Roma. After one season with Mexican club Dorados, Guardiola called it quits on his playing career.
He was a dynamic playmaker with exceptional tactical understanding and technical prowess. Guardiola won six La Liga titles, one European Cup, one Copa Del Rey, four Supercopa de Espana, and one UEFA Cup Winners’ Cup during his playing career.
Number 3: Patrick Vieira
Patrick Vieira is regarded as a Premier League legend. He captained the legendary Arsenal ‘Invincibles,’ who went an entire Premier League season without losing. Vieira was a box-to-box midfielder with as commanding a presence on the football field as any we’ve seen.
The Frenchman was a fiercely competitive and belligerent player who would rather die on the field than give the opposition a yard. Under Arsene Wenger, he was instrumental in Arsenal becoming a Premier League force to be reckoned with.
Vieira’s feud with Manchester United captain Roy Keane contributed to some of the most entertaining derbies of the twenty-first century. With Arsenal, he won three Premier League titles and four FA Cups.
Vieira was a member of the Juventus team that was demoted as a result of their involvement in the Calciopoli scandal. He quickly left the club to join Inter Milan, where he won four consecutive Serie A titles and the Champions League in 2009-10.
Vieira was also a member of the French national team that won the FIFA World Cup in 1998 and the Euros in 2000.
Number 2: Steven Gerrard
Steven Gerrard has just returned to the Premier League as the manager of Aston Villa. During his three years as manager of Scottish giants Rangers, he did an outstanding job. Gerrard’s Rangers won the Scottish Premiership in 2020-21, and he has left the club while they are top of the table this season.
Despite not winning the Premier League, Gerrard is regarded as one of the best midfielders of the twenty-first century. He led Liverpool to Champions League glory, inspiring a stunning comeback against AC Milan in Istanbul’s 2004-05 final.
Gerrard was the complete package, an extremely intelligent and tenacious box-to-box midfielder. He also had a monster shot and was unstoppable when he was in the zone.
Gerrard played for Liverpool for 17 years. He won the Champions League once, the FA Cup twice, the League Cup three times, the UEFA Cup once, and the UEFA Super Cup once.
Number 1: Xavi Hernandez
Xavi is widely regarded as one of the greatest footballers of all time. The legendary midfielder has been appointed as Barcelona’s manager. Xavi, a La Masia product, was a member of Spain’s dominant national team, which won the World Cup in 2010 and the European Championship twice, in 2008 and 2012.
He is also regarded as one of Barcelona’s best players of the twenty-first century. Xavi, one of the most intelligent and technically proficient midfielders of all time, was instrumental in popularizing Barcelona’s and Spain’s tiki-taka style. His one-touch passing and chemistry with Andres Iniesta made his sides a joy to watch.
He had a fantastic playing career. With Barcelona, Xavi won eight La Liga titles, four Champions League titles, three Copa Del Reys, five Supercopa de Espana, and two Club World Cups.