Thomas Tuchel out, Julian Nagelsmann in with a bullet on our top 10 best available managers
Bayern Munich have shaken things right up here, haven’t they? Here’s how we’ve ranked the best managers currently out of work…
10) Jesse Marsch
Marsch is only one of six recently axed Premier League managers to make this list. Ralph Hasenhuttl could hardly wait to retire while he was at Southampton; Nathan Jones endured a shambolic 95-day reign as his replacement; while Frank Lampard and Steven Gerrard will struggle to get another Premier League job after their failures at Everton and Villa respectively. And what next for Patrick Vieira?
You might say similar about Marsch following his dismissal at Leeds, but Saints were intrigued enough to speak to the American about a swift return to English football. And it’s easier to foresee the ex-RB Leipzig and RB Salzburg boss landing a big-ish job ahead of the other axed gaffers.
Most Leeds fans were glad to see the back of the man who followed Marcelo Bielsa – an impossible job in itself – but there were signs that Leeds were not as far away as some of the other clubs who chose to make a change in the dug-out.
9) Andre Villas-Boas
AVB is without a job, that much we know. Whether or not he wants to work again is rather less clear.
Villas-Boas has never hidden his intention to retire early. “Fifteen years, that’s all,” he said while bossing Chelsea in 2011. Since he’s been managing since 2009, that leaves him only a couple of years, even if he has taken a few breaks along the way, diverting himself to personal ambitions like the Dakar Rally.
His last position was at Marseille, a role he walked away from in disgust over their transfer policy – a recurring theme, it would seem. Like many others before and since, he flopped at Chelsea but he had a 55% win ratio at Spurs, which is marginally better than Mauricio Pochettino and bettered only by Antonio Conte in the post-war era.
8) Marcelino Toral
The Spaniard chose to walk away from Athletic Bilbao in the summer while not feeling the full confidence of the candidates in the club’s presidential election. “The time has come to step aside and close a beautiful story,” he said.
Marcelino has managed most of the clubs which sit beneath the big three in Spain, with spells at Valencia, Villarreal and Sevilla preceding his reign at Athletic. In Bilbao, he finished eighth and 10th. Previously, he has guided Valencia and Villarreal to top-four finishes, while beating Real Madrid on five occasions.
Marcelino fancied replacing Luis Enrique as Spain boss after the World Cup. “When the position became vacant I had slight hopes but they quickly dissipated,” he said. “It’s a desire that I still have.” He is rather less optimistic of getting a call from Real or Barca: “I am convinced that they are not going to call me. We are a coaching staff that does not meet their conditions. The coaches they choose are usually very successful or former players. They look more for this second profile.”
7) Rafael Benitez
Hindsight is 20/20 but Rafa at Everton never seemed a good fit. Should he be applauded for taking a chance, or judged for not seeing the problems that lay ahead?
Either way, Benitez is on the market but, weirdly, he was barely even been mentioned as a contender for Leeds or Southampton.
Liverpool and Newcastle fans will certainly vouch for Rafa’s managerial talents; Real Madrid fans less so. But there is no doubting his credentials when it comes to organising and preparing a struggling side and making them harder to beat. It’s not for everyone in the modern game, but it might be for Palace in the long-term after Roy Hodgson’s brief return.
6) Joachim Low
The German is one of only 21 managers to have won the World Cup. But no-one has given him a route back into club football just yet after he stepped down in 2021 from the Germany post which he occupied for 15 years – the longest international reign for a European nation.
“The will is there,” Low said last summer. “I would like to coach a club again. That would be fun for me.”
Low ‘studied one or two offers’ and was heavily linked with the Fenerbahce job but his last club position remains the manager’s role at Austria Vienna, which he stepped away from 18 (eighteen) years ago. He might fancy Bayern but doesn’t everyone?
5) Marcelo Bielsa
Being sacked and leaving Leeds in the relegation mire might be a blot on some managers’ records. But Bielsa’s reign at Elland Road deserves far, far greater context.
It was he who got them back into the Premier League when, at times, it seemed they were destined never to return. And while he was at it, he made a city fall in love with its club once more with the kind of football that made Dirty Leeds a popular watch among the neutrals.
Bielsa will remain sanctified in West Yorkshire long, long after he moved out of his granny flat above a Wetherby sweet shop. And there’s barely a chairman out there who wouldn’t be intrigued by the possibility of replicating that impact elsewhere, especially since Bielsa prefers to rely on his coaching expertise more than his employer’s cheque book. Everton certainly were, even if they couldn’t give him the half-season he wanted to drill the Under-21s before taking over the first team.
4) Zinedine Zidane
Is Zizou a great coach, or just a great Real Madrid coach?
That isn’t to denigrate his achievements at the Bernabeu. Only Carlo Ancelotti has won the Champions League more often than the three occasions Zidane has lifted it. And the Frenchman stockpiled his winners’ medals in consecutive seasons. Add a couple of La Liga titles and Zidane’s record is unimpeachable.
Still, though, we’d love to see Zidane take another job. He seems to be very choosy – fair f***s, he’s certainly earned that right – having been linked with PSG, Manchester United and Chelsea in the past. He has spoken about his level of English being a barrier to managing in the Premier League, but we all want to Zidane to take the chance to prove he’s brilliant beyond the Bernabeu.
3) Luis Enrique
Big clubs and countries are reported to be considering hiring Luis Enrique following his departure as Spain manager in the wake of the World Cup. Chelsea are said to be keeping tabs on the ex-Barcelona boss despite their proclamations of faith in Graham Potter, while Brazil were considering offering him the chance to return to the international stage; Spurs technical director Fabio Paratici is also a confirmed fan.
Enrique has turned down Chelsea before, when Roman Abramovich was in control. He has managed outside of Spain only once before, for a solitary season at Roma over a decade ago.
The 52-year-old isn’t in a hurry to return – he’s spent much of his time since the World Cup on his bike – but when he does, it’s likely to be to a club side. “I will surely wait for next season. I see myself joining a club and developing a squad with greater finesse and precision than I had time to do with the national team.”
2) Mauricio Pochettino
We’re not sure when Pochettino slipped from the top spot in this ranking. Perhaps when he was overlooked by Manchester United for the umpteenth time.
His spell at PSG didn’t really enhance his credentials, despite winning his first silverware as manager at the Parc des Princes. That said, you could stick a PSG bench jacket on an onion and it would probably win Ligue 1.
At no point did it ever appear that Pochettino was particularly happy in Paris. The lure was obvious and understandable, but never did it seem the kind of project that suited him. He built his reputation in the Premier League with Southampton and Spurs by building from the ground up, trusting young players and inspiring others to play above themselves.
Pochettino’s body of work remains strong enough to put him in the conversation for any job in the world. But he needs a chairman or owner ready for a project, rather than instant gratification. And how long can he remain out of work but remain relevant when vacancies arise?
Maybe Poch and Daniel Levy should just kiss, make up, and crack on.
1) Julian Nagelsmann
Brutal from Bayern, who faced with the unacceptable prospect of an actual fight for rather than procession to the Bundesliga title have sacked Nagelsmann and snaffled the previous holder of top spot on this list, Thomas Tuchel. And just as Tuchel replaces Nagelsmann at Bayern, so Nagelsmann replaces Tuchel here. And thus we are all connected in the Circle of Life.
Obviously it’s going to be absolutely fascinating to see what the still outlandishly young and outlandishly clothed Nagelsmann does next. He once said the new Tottenham stadium was “very impressive” so expect to see that as the foundation for a 65o-word article on at least one website before the weekend is out.
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