Football is generally associated with the players and the action that they bring on the pitch. But most of us fail to notice that the real game is not played on the ground; it is actually played by the gentleman on the touchline. The real game is played in the manager’s mind.
The manager, the captain of the ship. He shouts out instructions to his players for 90 minutes and celebrates with them when they score. He always takes the blame for his team’s bad performances and is the one who motivates the players with his pep-talks in the dressing room to bring the best out of them.
5. Louis van Gaal (Dutch National Team)
Van Gaal first stepped up to manage the Netherlands at the beginning of the millennium ahead of the World Cup. But he couldn’t work his magic as Netherlands failed to qualify for the World Cup for the first time since 1986. He decided to leave the post in 2002.
With the Netherlands finishing the Euro 2012 with zero points; they were in dire need of a manager who could take them to the 2014 World Cup.
He returned ten years after leaving the post in the first place. The Netherlands qualified for the World Cup with an incredible 34 goals scored and just five conceded. Van Gaal led them to the semi-finals where they lost to Argentina on penalties.
4. Kenny Dalglish (Liverpool)
Kenny Dalglish, a hero at Anfield, made a hero’s return to the club. After leading them to glory as a player; Dalglish repeated the feat as a manager, winning them three league titles in the 80s.
Dalglish returned to Liverpool and took charge of the first team in 2011; leading the Merseysiders to the League Cup, the club’s first trophy in six years.
3. Vicente del Bosque (Spanish National Team)
Vicente del Bosque had the ultimate managerial comeback. As a player, del Bosque won five La Ligas and four Copa del Reys.
He started his managerial career by coaching the Real Madrid B team before being promoted to the senior team on a permanent basis in 1999. He led the Los Blancos to two Champions League and two La Liga titles in his four seasons. But the club decided not to renew his contract.
The Spaniard then took a break from football after a year at the Besiktas Turkish club. He returned to the beautiful game and took up the position of the head coach of the Spanish national team; del Bosque replaced Luis Aragones after Spain won the Euro 2008 and led the dream to another European title in 2012.
He also won the first ever World Cup for the La Furia Roja and cemented his place as one of the most successful managers in footballing history.
2. Jose Mourinho (Chelsea)
Jose Mourinho, the Special One. After a trophy-laden spell at Porto, including the Champions League crown; Mourinho came to England to replace Claudio Ranieri at Chelsea. The Portuguese led the Blues to consecutive league titles, becoming probably the most decorated manager in the club’s history.
But disputes with owner Roman Abramovich made Mourinho leave the club after three seasons. He then went on to win silverware at Inter Milan and Real Madrid before making a shocking return to the Bridge in 2013. Jose, led the Blues to the Champions League semifinals. He then won the Premier League in 2015.
1. Ottmar Hitzfeld ( Bayern Munich)
After two Bundesliga titles and a Champions League crown in his time at Borussia Dortmund, Bayern came calling for Hitzfeld; as is their tradition. His best was yet to come as he won the Bavarians a Champions League, two German Cups and four Bundesliga titles. Even after winning so many trophies, Hitzfeld was sacked after one silverware-less campaign in 2004.
Three years later, though, Bayern were in a crisis as they finished in their lowest position in the league in more than a decade. Hitzfeld returned to the club after taking a break from management. He rebuffed the squad by signing the likes of Luca Toni and Franck Ribery and promoting Toni Kroos from the youth academy.