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Ranked: The top 10 out-of-work managers right now

By Ben Green

Published: 9:55, 25 March 2023

The dugout can be an unforgiving terrain, with managers only ever a few bad results away from the chopping block.

This may explain why there are often more than a few elite coaches resting up mid-season while their fellow coaches slog it out on the sidelines.

The 2022/23 season is no exception to that trend. Currently out of work are more than handful of renowned and, in some cases, esteemed managers, waiting in the wings for a chairman’s text.


We’ve ranked said managers who may yet feature at some point this campaign.

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10. Jorge Sampaoli

Back in the search for a new job is Jorge Sampaoli, who recently left Sevilla for the second time. The Argentinian has been around the blocks as a manager, taking charge of seven different teams from 2010 alone. They haven’t been small teams either, with spells in charge of both Chile and Argentina, as well as two spells at Sevilla, and stints at Universidad de Chile, Santos, Atletico Mineiro and Sevilla. At Universidad de Chile, Sampaoli won the Copa Sudamericana — South America’s answer to the Europa League — but his best success came when he led Chile to the 2015 Copa America title. Sampaoli’s second spell at Sevilla wasn’t too long, only taking charge in October, but despite leading them to the Europa League quarter-finals, the Argentine wasn’t able to lift them out of the relegation battle.

9. Marcelo Gallardo

Seen as one of the next up-and-coming tacticians who could take the European game by storm in the coming years, Marcelo Gallardo is a three-time South American Coach of the Year during his eight seasons with River Plate and a two-time winner of the prestigious Copa Libertadores. He worked extensively under Marcelo Bielsa during his time with the Argentina national team as a player and shared an international dressing room with Diego Simeone and Mauricio Pochettino. Gallardo is always high up the lists of favourites whenever there is a job going in Europe.

8. Lucien Favre

After winning the Swiss Manager of the Year award in 2006 and 2007 in his native Switzerland, Lucien Favre moved to Germany, where his tactical exploits really started to accelerate and thrust his name into the managerial limelight. Following flourishing stints at Hertha and Borussia Monchengladbach, he relocated to Nice in 2016 and eventually made his way to Borussia Dortmund. He spent two years in the Ruhr Valley, where he was responsible for the rapid emergences of Jadon Sancho and Giovanni Reyna, as well as signing Erling Haaland, and winning the German Super Cup in 2019. However, he was unable to sustain BVB’s form and eventually left in 2020, returning to Nice last year. Likewise, on the French Riviera, the Swiss tactician was unable to keep the club seriously competing at the upper end of the table, and he was recently relieved of his duties. Given his CV, though, it surely won’t be long before he’s back on the touchline.

7. Andre Villas-Boas

It can be argued that Andre Villas-Boas is still trying to re-establish his reputation following those two utterly underwhelming stints at Chelsea and Tottenham, having ventured to Russia and China to evade the intense limelight off Europe’s top five leagues, before returning to Marseille in 2019.

His time as OM boss ended acrimoniously due to off-the-field differences but, on the turf, Les Phoceens were ruthlessly well-oiled machine. The polarising Portuguese guided them to the Champions League for the first time in six years and ended the club’s nine-year wait for a Le Classique triumph against rivals PSG. He would eventually be replaced by Jorge Sampaoli.

6. Rafael Benitez

The Spaniard has one of the more star-studded CVs in the sport, including a spell at Newcastle where, he didn’t necessarily enjoy continental success or lift major silverware, but brought a disillusioned fanbase together, hoisting the club up from the murk and battling against a self-imploding Tyneside tide.

It didn’t work out at Goodison Park for various reasons, and in truth, it never really felt like it would work from the outset, but there can be no question that his phone probably hasn’t stopped ringing since he left the Toffees back in January 2022.

Rafa himself explained in an exclusive interview with Sky Sports how his ties with the red side of the city made running Everton the way he wanted near impossible.

“At the time Everton came in with the offer, I knew I would give my best and do everything to try to improve things. I knew it could be difficult because I was at Liverpool, so maybe I couldn’t make some decisions. It was very clear for us at the beginning.

“I realised we had to change things inside, but I couldn’t do it straight away because I was a former Red and it could be seen as ‘oh, he’s come in to change our club’.

“In another club, I would have made those decisions. I did it in the past, because you know very clearly that is the way to improve, but there at Everton I couldn’t do it.”

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5. Marcelo Bielsa

The man, the myth, the legend. Marcelo Bielsa is as enigmatic as they come, but his esoteric teachings have shaped and moulded the careers of some of today’s finest tacticians. Aloof and mysterious, Bielsa’s uncanny brand of high-pressing football made Leeds a joy to watch as he ended the club’s protracted exile from the Premier League and then made them a ruthlessly attacking side in that first season back in the big time. Leeds were eventually found out last term as various injury issues and problems with consistency butchered the club’s hopes of pushing on, and the club reluctantly parted with a man who had long become immortalised at Elland Road.

4. Luis Enrique

We’ve mainly stuck to managers whose last job was in club football for this list, but we’re making an exception for Luis Enrique as it seems nailed on that his next job will bring him back to club management. Since leaving Spain after the World Cup, Enrique has already been linked with the Tottenham and Chelsea jobs — though neither were vacancies, just reports with Antonio Conte and Graham Potter not looking secure in their roles. For some, Enrique struggled with Spain, not getting enough from a talented pool of players, as they exited the World Cup in the last 16. But we cannot forget his success at club level. In three years in charge of Barcelona, Enrique won two league titles, three Copas del Rey and the Champions League, the last time the club have tasted success in the latter.

3. Julian Nagelsmann

The newest entry on this list, many will feel Julian Nagelsmann’s sacking at Bayern Munich harsh, and it’s easy to see why. Since making his breakthrough into management in 2016 with Hoffenheim, Nagelsmann has constantly proven himself to be a solid coach capable of building as part of a project. Under Nagelsmann, Hoffenheim reached the Champions League for the first ever time, first bowing out in the qualifying stage to Liverpool before reaching the group stage proper. In leading them out in the 2018/19 season, Nagelsmann became the youngest coach to manage in the Champions League, aged 31 years and 58 days – though he would exit without a win. RB Leipzig were the next project and under Nagelsmann Die Roten Bullen became regulars in the Champions League and even reached the semi-finals in 2020, though they would lose to PSG.

Then the big job came as Bayern Munich paid €25m to lure Nagelsmann away from Leipzig. In his first season, Nagelsmann won the Bundesliga despite a slow start, but were knocked out of the Champions League quarter-finals by Villarreal. This season, Bayern are currently second in the Bundesliga but can reclaim first place from Borussia Dortmund when they face off in Der Klassiker after the international break. However, Nagelsmann will not be in the dugout for that game, sacked on Friday, with CEO Oliver Kahn stating the “big fluctuations in performance” post World Cup as the main reason for his departure.

2. Mauricio Pochettino

He finally won a trophy, so there’s that. Mauricio Pochettino returned to management last year after a two-year sabbatical following his spell as Tottenham boss, and he took on arguably the most-lucrative job in the sport. As it transpired, domestic success isn’t enough in the French capital, and a failure to make significant Champions League inroads ultimately meant that the top Parisian brass lost faith in Pochettino.

The Argentine is still highly thought of in the white side of North London, having overseen the club’s final season at White Hart Lane (where Spurs would go unbeaten), before guiding the Lilywhites to their first ever Champions League final in 2019.

He may have unfinished business in the Premier League and it will be interesting to see where he pitches up next.

1. Zinedine Zidane

We’re so used to watching Zinedine Zidane lift trophies as a manager, it’s easy to forget he’s only actually been one at first-team level for five years. But during that time, he’s won two La Liga titles and three consecutive Champions Leagues with Real Madrid, alongside a wealth of Super Cups and Club World Cups. It is a trophy haul many could only dream of across an entire career.

After failing to deliver any silverware in 2020/21, the Frenchman left the Bernabeu claiming Madrid didn’t show enough faith in him. However, Zizou isn’t done with coaching just yet.

“I will be back soon. Wait, wait a little bit. Soon, soon. I’m not far from coaching again,” Zidane recently told RMC Sport.

It’s only a matter of time till the managerial merry-go-round starts turning in Europe yet again, and there is no manager out there who can boast a CV as decorated as Zinedine Zidane. He will be the sought-after name whenever big vacancies come up, but he is smart enough to pick the right job that will allow him to best flex his man-management muscles.