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.
We’ve ranked said managers (keeping it to those most recently at clubs and not national teams, sorry Joachim Low and Tite) who may yet feature at some point this campaign.
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10. 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.
9. Javi Gracia
The brilliant Spaniard has time and again proven himself capable of building defensively solid sides that can frustrate and occasionally draw blood from those with bigger budgets. In his first job in England he kept Watford in the Premier League and guided them to their first FA Cup final in 35 years. A poor start to the following season saw him sacked, and in 2020/21 he struggled to make Valencia make sense (but who wouldn’t struggle to do that?).
He is currently out of work, waiting for a good opportunity to jump back into management having left Al-Sadd after just 22 games in charge. The former Watford man was brought into replace Barcelona bound Xavi and helped the Qatari side retain their title after a thumping 8-2 win over Al Ahli but then departed soon after.
8. Peter Bosz
When Frank de Boer left Ajax after six years they needed someone to take the reins, and that man was Peter Bosz. In what would prove to be his only season at Ajax, Bosz led the club to the Europa League final where they were beaten 2-0 by Manchester United, while also finishing second in the Eredivisie – missing out on the title by one point. His performances earned Bosz a move to Borussia Dortmund but while he failed there, he did make a home in Germany with Bayer Leverkusen. Bosz’s time at Bayer Leverkusen saw them become a Champions League club once again, bringing through the likes of Kai Havertz. He underwhelmed at Lyon, however, and is currently a free agent having been sacked in October.
7. Sean Dyche
Having twice guided Burnley to promotion and stabilised the Turf Moor club in the Premier League following their second elevation in 2016, Sean Dyche became an integral part of the top-flight furniture, charming fans up and down the land with his gravelly yet insightful pressers, while he made the Clarets a team that everyone hated facing.
Willing to ruffle a few feathers, defend stoutly and grind out results, Burnley were the mid-30s James Milner of the Premier League under Dyche, not glamorous or flashy, but ruthlessly disciplined, effective, hard-nosed and athletic. Unfortunately, last season Burnley finally cracked, and following a string of poor results, Dyche left Turf Moor after a decade in the dugout.
6. 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.
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5. 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.
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.”
4. 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.
3. 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.
2. Thomas Tuchel
Such is the life of a Chelsea manager. No club better epitomises the revolving door nature of modern management. Even though he was hired under a different regime, Thomas Tuchel would have known he wasn’t going to be at Stamford Bridge for the long haul. A poor start to 2022/23 saw the former Borussia Dortmund and Paris Saint-Germain head coach being shown the door.
He left the British capital with his head held high, averaging a trophy every 33.3 games and knowing that he is the only manager in the club’s history to win the Champions League, UEFA Super Cup and the FIFA Club World Cup.
1. Zinedine Zidane
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.