Six of the Best Managers in the World Cup
Soccer’s showpiece event, the FIFA World Cup is now upon us and it will feature some of the best players in the world. Dazzling us with their fancy footwork, these athletes will showcase their skills for an entire month. They, however, will not be the only ones under the spotlight. There will be plenty of big names, as far as the managers are concerned, at the tournament, who will be responsible for setting up the right tactics. The buck will eventually stop with them, so they will arguably be under more pressure than the players: because one wrong move on their part can put them on an early flight back home.
Here we take a look at the best managers in the World Cup who are expected to make a mark once the tournament gets underway. It is an interesting list, no doubt, and this is what I have managed to come up with in no particular order:
Leading Switzerland in the World Cup 2014 will be Ottmar Hitzfeld’s last managerial assignment, as he has already announced his retirement. The former Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund boss can then look back at a career full of trophies and accolades. The German has won league titles and other domestic trophies with clubs in Switzerland and Germany. He also has two Champions League titles to his name with Dortmund and Bayern Munich.
Hitzfeld started his career in 1983 as manager of Zug, a club in Switzerland. He then moved to Aarau and Grasshopper Club before Borussia Dortmund came calling in 1991, where he stayed till 1997. During those six years, Hitzfeld led the club to two Bundesliga titles, two DFB Supercups and one UEFA Champions League.
The German then made the move to Bayern Munich in 1998. During the next six years he led them to an astonishing four Bundesliga titles, two DFB-Pokal wins, one UEFA Champions League and one Intercontinental Cup. After a hiatus from the sport, he returned to lead Bayern for the 2007-2008 season in which the club managed to achieve a Bundesliga and DFB-Pokal double.
After leaving Munich in 2008, he returned to the country where he began his coaching career, Switzerland. He was appointed the Swiss national team’s manager and he has been in that role ever since. The World Cup in Brazil is Hitzfeld’s swansong and whatever happens in the tournament, he can retire content with the fact that he has had a career that not a lot of managers can match.
Fabio Capello or Don Fabio for sure is among the all time greats when it comes to soccer management. He won four league titles in five years with AC Milan and the Champions League as well. He then went on to Spain to manage Real Madrid for a season and won the La Liga. He then guided Roma to another league title, the club’s first in almost six decades. They haven’t won the Serie A since. Capello then upped sticks and went to Juventus to win two more league titles, which were revoked because of the Calciopoli scandal. Another one year stint at Real Madrid brought another La Liga.
Then came the move to England to manage the national team, but the team failed at the 2012 World Cup. It is the only black mark against his name and he now goes into the World Cup as Russia’s manager. Capello will have a point to prove and I for one will not be surprised if his team shocks a few people in the tournament.
Louis Van Gaal
The advocate of “Total Football” and the new manager of Manchester United will be under the spotlight when he guides the Netherlands in the World Cup. Van Gaal is a straight talking, no nonsense manager who has ultimate belief in his abilities. He is a winner and he has a CV to back that up as well.
Four league titles with Ajax in the early to mid 1990’s, one UEFA Cup and one UEFA Champions League wasn’t a bad way to start a managerial career. Van Gaal then won two back to back La Liga titles with Barcelona before he was sacked as he fell out with some players at the club. The Dutch maestro then guided AZ Alkmaar to the Eredivisie title in 2009 before leading Bayern Munich to a Bundesliga and DFB Pokal double. In between all that, he failed in his first stint as the Netherlands boss when the country failed to qualify for the 2002 World Cup. Van Gaal is a man on a mission and it will certainly be intriguing to see how Netherlands perform in his second tenure.
The Italian is the first of two men on this list who have made their names as international managers. Italy went to the 2010 World Cup as the defending champions but the campaign turned out to be a disaster. Prandelli at the time was managing Fiorentina and the F.I.G.C turned to him to become the new Italian manager.
Prandelli accepted the job and with him as their manager, the Italians shocked a lot of people when they reached the final of the UEFA Euro in 2012. Not a lot of people had given them any hope in the lead up to the tournament but Prandelli and his team proved them wrong. He has now guided Italy to the World Cup after a near flawless qualification campaign and there are people like Jose Mourinho who think Italy can win the World Cup. I happen to agree with him, partly because I am an Italian fan and partly because I really do think Prandelli has a clear idea of how he wants his team to play and that is a huge advantage going into a big tournament.
Luiz Felipe Scolari
Big Phil won the World Cup with his native Brazil in the year 2002 and has also won titles with clubs like Gremio and Palmeiras. He also guided Portugal to the final of the UEFA Euro 2004 and to a fourth place finish in the 2006 edition. He has international pedigree and will be one of the only two managers in the tournament to have won the World Cup.
No one gave Brazil a chance in the lead up to the 2002 World Cup. Scolari had been appointed in the middle of the qualification campaign with only five games left to play. Brazil made it to the tournament by the skin of their teeth but once they got going, everything fell into place. Scolari’s Brazil beat Germany in the final and got their hands on the Jules Rimet Trophy for the fifth time in their history.
After managing Portugal for five years between 2003 and 2008, Big Phil signed with Chelsea but was sacked in the middle of the season. After stints with Bunyodkor and Palmeiras, he returned to manage Brazil for the second time in 2012. He guided the Samba Nation to Confederations Cup glory in 2013. They decimated current World and European champions Spain 3-0 in the final. Brazil is being considered among the favorites for the World Cup once again and a lot of that is down to the work done by Scolari in the last two years.
Vicente del Bosque
Vicente del Bosque has been there and done it all. The former Real Madrid manager has a CV that others can only dream of. He is the only manager in the sport’s history to have won the UEFA Champions League, the World Cup and the European Cup with a national team. Del Bosque is a class apart.
Vicente del Bosque shot to prominence when he became the Real Madrid manager in 1999. The arrival of the Spanish tactician ushered in an unprecedented period of success for the Bernabeu club. Del Bosque was at the helm till 2003 and during this time, he led the club to two La Liga titles, one Supercopa de Espana, one UEFA Super Cup, One Intercontinental Cup and two UEFA Champions League titles.
He won the league title in 2003 but was still shockingly sacked by the club. Del Bosque then turned up in Turkey as the manager of Besiktas but that stay lasted only for a year. He took a break from soccer but came back to manage Spain in 2008 when Luis Aragones stepped down after winning Euro 2008. Del Bosque had big shoes to fill but he took it in his stride and led Spain to their first World Cup title in 2010 and then to Euro glory in 2012. I certainly will not put it past Vicente del Bosque and his team to successfully defend their World Cup crown. They certainly will be the team to beat.
So there you go. This is our list. Want to add a name or two to it? Be our guest!