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Real Madrid: Top five greatest managers of all time

Published at :July 1, 2020 at 6:31 PM
Modified at :July 2, 2020 at 5:49 PM
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Andrew Rodrigues

Los Blancos have had some of the iconic tacticians of the game managing them over the years.

Real Madrid are one of the most successful clubs in Europe with it’s grandeur and mythical history making it one of the most sought after destination for top players and managers. However, it is that much more difficult to carve out a noteworthy career in the Spanish capital as the unquenchable expectation and the constant spotlight coupled with the magnification of every single movement creates an insurmountable pressure on every individual.

The Spanish giants have also developed a notorious reputation of rarely shying away from bringing down the axe on their managers. It takes a special mixture of qualities to withstand the endless scrutiny and prove one's worth at Real Madrid.

Here are the five managers that managed to do just that and etched their names in the glorious history of Real Madrid.

5. Carlo Ancelloti

Despite only spending two seasons at the Santiago Bernabeu, the Italian manager will undoubtedly hold a special place in the hearts of the Real Madrid faithful.  Following Jose Mourinho’s acrimonious tenure in Madrid, Carlo Ancelloti was brought in to repair a fractured dressing room as his laid-back approach and fatherly man-management prowess was the urgent requirement at that time.

Real Madrid Carlo Ancelotti
Ancelotti helped Real Madrid win La Decima

However, he went on to do a little more than that as he led the club to La Decima, fulfilling the club's long-standing desire of winning the UEFA Champions League since 2002.  His side recorded a 4-1 victory over cross-town rivals Atletico Madrid in the 2014 final of the Champions League to realize their dream. Additionally, he claimed the Copa del Rey owing to some magic by then world-record signing Gareth Bale and also clinched the FIFA Club World Cup and the UEFA Super Cup.

His second term couldn’t match the lofty heights of his debut campaign as he finished the season empty-handed despite his side scoring a whopping 118 goals but ultimately missed out agonizingly close on all the competitions and was subsequently sacked by the club. Nonetheless, the Italian is the proud holder of the highest win-percentage at Real Madrid with a marvelous 74.79%, which aptly encapsulates his impact during his short stay in the Spanish capital.

4. Jose Villalonga

At the age of 36 years and 184 days old, Jose Villalonga became the youngest coach to win the European Cup and holds the record to this day. He guided the Los Blancos to the coveted trophy in the very first iteration of the competition.

Jose was appointed the manager in the middle of the 1954/55 season following the departure of Enrique Fernandez. Soon after, he became the first coach to win the European Cup as he brilliantly led the likes of Alfredo di Stefano, Raymond Kopa, and skipper Miguel Munoz.

 During his eventful two and a half year stint, he amassed six trophies and maintained an impressive win percentage of 62.86%. He departed the Los Blancos at the end of the 1956/ 57 campaign with the perfect leaving present in the treble consisting of the Primera Division, European Cup, and Copa Latino.

3. Vicente del Bosque

Vicente del Bosque is one of the most decorated Spanish managers of all time. The mild-natured man from Salamanca won the UEFA Champions League twice, completed the league triumph on two occasions, and picked up the Spanish Cup as well as the Intercontinental Cup during his four-year stay in the Spanish capital.

Real Madrid Del Bosque
Vicente del Bosque is one of the most decorated Spanish managers of all time

The Spaniard was also responsible for bringing an end to their five-year wait for league glory in 2001. However, he was unceremoniously sacked just a day after he guided Real Madrid to a La Liga title in 2003, as President Florentino Perez also demanded European success.

The decision ended up proving to be a howler as Madrid failed to win any major trophy in the following four years. Meanwhile, del Bosque ended up managing Spain and added the World Cup and the European Championship to his already highly-impressive catalogue of trophies.   

2. Zinedine Zidane

Zinedine Zidane has achieved more in his career in management at the highest level so far than most managers would accomplish in their entire careers. His records are other-worldly and are completely astonishing. When Rafa Benitez was sacked midway through the 2015-16 season, Zinedine Zidane was asked to take over the mantle and steady the ship after the squad had endured a turbulent time under their former boss.

Zinedine Zidane
Zidane has won three UEFA Champions League on the trot for Real Madrid

Within a couple of months, he helped Real Madrid clinch their 11th Champions League trophy and kick-started a glorious period of unprecedented success under the Frenchman. He went on to become the only manager to win three European Cups in a row and further added a La Liga championship, two Club World Cups, one single Spanish Super Copa, and another UEFA Super Cup to his trophy haul.

The 48-year-old only lost a mere 16 games across 149 matches with his side plundering 393 goals in that period. He also became the second-only individual to lift the European Cup as both a player as well as a manager, with the first person to achieve the feat also holding a special place in the history of Real Madrid.

1. Miguel Munoz

Miguel Munoz has an unparalleled legacy at Real Madrid with tales of his outstanding achievements as both a player and a manager being deeply embedded into the folklore of the Spanish outfit. For a side that rarely hesitates from pulling the trigger, Munoz’s 14-year long stint in the dugout is truly uncharacteristic and hence makes the feat even more remarkable.

Munoz managed Real Madrid for 14 years

Even before setting foot as a manager, the Spaniard had made an indelible mark at Real Madrid with a tally of four La Liga titles, three European Cups, and two Copa Latina trophies as a player. Moreover, he scored Los Blancos' first-ever goal in the European Cup and later became the first Real Madrid captain to lift the European Cup after a 3-2 victory over Stade de Reims in Paris.

In the second major act of his career, he guided the Los Blancos to a staggering nine La Liga titles, including eight wins in the span of 10 years, two European Cups, two Copa del Rey trophies, and one Intercontinental Cup. When he conquered Europe as a manager after a fabulous 7-3 win over Eintracht Frankfurt in 1960, Munoz subsequently became the first coach to get his hands on the prestigious trophy as both a player as well as a coach.

Such longevity and sustained dominance over a considerable period of time with a single permanent figure at the helm is unfathomable at any club now, let alone Real Madrid. Many younger generation fans might not be familiar with his extraordinary journey, nevertheless, his special legacy will always be preserved in the history books.