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Who is the best english football manager in History ?

Although there are very few successful English managers currently plying their trade in the game, there have been some excellent managers in the past, this debate is designed to argue the pros and cons of the English managerial elite. If one of your favourite managers has not been included, feel free to add him in.

All the Yes points:

  1. Brian Clough
  2. Bob Paisley
  3. Sir Alf Ramsey
  4. Sir Bobby Robson

All the No points:

Brian Clough

Yes because…

Brian Clough is not only the best manager England never had, he is the best manager the country has produced. His achievements are legendary. He took Derby County from the bottom of the old division two, to become champions of England within four seasons. However his landmark achievements where to come with Nottingham Forest. He took over in season 1974-1975 with the team in the second division, but by the 1977-78 season Forest were champions of England, making Clough the first manager since Herbert Chapman to win the league with two different clubs. Arguably his greatest achievement would be winning the European Cup twice in a row in 1979 & 1980. This achievement of taking two teams from the lower leagues to win the league and guiding a provincial team to European glory not once but twice is why Clough deserves to be seen as the best English manager of all time.

No because…

There are a variety of reasons why Clough is not the best manager. The number one reason would be that without his assistant Peter Taylor, he lasted only 44 days at Leeds and finished only a modest 8th in the second division with Forest in his first full season while he was without Taylor. A great manager should be able to function on his own, and not depend on somebody else for their success.

In his long career he never established a ‘great’ team. The best managers build teams that dominate their domestic leagues, but Clough only won two championships in his whole career, and never won the FA cup. The two European cups in a row is obviously a commendable achievement, but without establishing a great team that dominated English football for a number of years, he cannot be seen as the best.

Bob Paisley

Yes because…

Bob Paisley was Liverpool manager between 1974 & 1983. He has the unenviable task of taking over from the great Bill Shankly, but it is a measure of his talent that his 9 years in charge where more trophy laden than that of his illustrious predecessor. In his nine years in charge, Paisleys Liverpool won silverware in eight of those including 6 league championships and three European cups. He remains the only English manager to win three European cups. In addition to these he also won three league cups, one Uefa cup and one European super cup, giving him a quite sensational total of 14 major trophies in 9 years.

No because…

Paisleys trophy haul is undeniably impressive. However unlike managers such as Clough, Robson etc, Liverpool was a ready made successful team packed full of good players when he took over. This obviously makes the job of forming a winning team much easier than it would be to take Nottingham Forest from the second division to European cup glory within five years.

Sir Alf Ramsey

Yes because…

Sir Alf Ramsey was manager of Ipswich Town between1955-1963, and in that time took them from the third divsion south to English champions, which in itself is an extraordinary achievement. However his crowning achievement is to do what no other English manager has achieved, when he was the manager of the English world cup winning team of 1966. He also guided England to third place in the 1968 European Championships and quarter final finishes in the 1970 World Cup and 1972 Euros.

No because…

His early managerial achievements are obviously impressive, however his failure to sustain a prolonged period of achievement, with both England and subsequently back at club level, the likes of which Sir Bobby Robson was able to do, would be my argument as to why he cannot be seen as the best manager the country has produced.

Sir Bobby Robson

Yes because…

Sir Bobby Robson deserves to be seen as the most successful English manager of all time for the following reasons;

During his 13 years in charge of Ipswich he firmly established the side as a top six team, finishing runner up on two occasions, he also won the FA cup in 1978 and the Uefa cup in 1981. He is also one of the few English managers to achieve real success on foreign soil. He won the Dutch championship with PSV Eindhoven in 1991 & 1992 and during his period in charge of the Dutch team he was responsible for bringing to Europe a young Brazilian forward by the name of Luis Nazario De Lima, better known as Ronaldo. From PSV he went to Porto where he won the Portugese championship in 1995 & 1996 as well was Cup of Portugal in 1994. In 1996 Robson was appointed manager of Barcelona, where he won the Copa del Ray, the Spanish Super Cup and the Cup Winners cup and was subsequently voted European manager of the year for the 1996-1997 season. However his failure to win the Spanish championship resulted in him being ‘moved upstairs’ the following season. His last managerial role was as manager of his boyhood team Newcastle United. He was Newcastle manager between 1999-2004 and oversaw a rare period of stability for the club, guiding them to champions league qualification in two of his seasons.

Robsons most famous managerial exploits however, are involved with his role as manager of England which he began on 7th July 1982. After failure to qualify for the 1982 European championships, Robson guided the team to the next three major tournaments after that, losing only one of his 28 qualifying games as England manager. His greatest achievement was to some in the 1990 world cup when his England team were only knocked out on penalties by West Germany in the semi finals.

No because…

Although winning the Dutch and Portugese championships is a decent achievement, it is not as much of an achievement as winning the championship of one of Europes major leagues (England, Spain and Italy). This is a glaring omission from his trophy collection as he failed to win the championship during his 15+ years of management in England, and his failure to win the Spanish title with an expensively assembled squad, (Ronaldo cost £19miliion alone) was the reason he lost his job with the Catalan giants. Unlike many of the other managers on this list, he failed to win the European cup or the world cup, therefore cannot claim true greatness.

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Steve Aaron
3 years ago

No mention of George Ramsay or Tom Watson or Herbert Chapman then?

How often history is viewed the the lens of that which is within living memory.

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