15. QUIQUE SETIEN (REAL BETIS)
Win percentage: 4.5 Position change: 9 Position to value: 4 Knockout points: 0
Aided by the sale of Dani Ceballos to Real Madrid, Betis were able to spend significant sums on talent last season, bringing in the likes of Andres Guardado, Javi Garcia, Cristian Tello and Ryad Boudebouz to bolster their squad. However, success in football is often predicated not on individual pieces, but on organised teams. Setien, in his first season with the club, was able to integrate the new faces and build a cohesive unit.
Having thrilled at Las Palmas, he continued to work wonders with Betis. Not only did he form a team from individuals, but he made them exciting to watch. There was a 5-3 win over rivals Sevilla, a 4-4 draw with Real Sociedad, a 6-3 loss to Valencia; there was also a stunning 1-0 win away to Real Madrid. Ultimately, only four La Liga teams scored more than they did, and only two conceded more. On top of making Betis fun again, Setien secured sixth spot in the league – the club’s highest finish in 13 years.
14. JUPP HEYNCKES (BAYERN MUNICH)
Win percentage: 8 Position change: 0 Position to value: 0 Knockout points: 14
(Total x time in charge = 22 x 0.79)
Following a 3-0 Champions League humbling by Paris Saint-Germain, Carlo Ancelotti was dismissed by Bayern Munich. His departure was yet another confirmation of the high standards set by the Bavarian giants. Soon after, Heynckes was called back in after four years out of coaching, returning to the club with whom he won the treble in 2013.
He quickly re-organised the side, winning all four of the remaining Champions League group games, including a 3-1 victory over PSG at home, to seal progress to the knockout rounds. He also got the club back on top of the Bundesliga, which is where they stayed for the rest of the season. In the end, Heynckes led Bayern to a higher points total than Ancelotti had done the previous year, and led them further both in Europe and in the German Cup before retiring at the conclusion of the campaign.
13. RAFA BENITEZ (NEWCASTLE UNITED)
Win percentage: 3 Position change: 8 Position to value: 6 Knockout points: 1
Concerns over a lack of transfer spending didn’t stop Benitez from ensuring a positive return to top-flight football for Newcastle last season. The Spaniard, having won the Championship the season before, guided them to a highly respectable 10th-place Premier League finish. Perhaps what was most commendable was that he did this without a regular source of goals; Ayoze Perez, with a mere eight in the league, was his top scorer.
As has been the case throughout his managerial career, Benitez’s success was built on solid defensive foundations. He kept things relatively simple tactically, generally sticking by a rough 4-2-3-1 system throughout and focusing on making his side difficult to break down. All of this resulted in Newcastle possessing the best goals against record outside of the top six and Burnley.
12. MARCELINO (VALENCIA)
Win percentage: 6 Position change: 8 Position to value: 1 Knockout points: 3
La Liga has been dominated by a tough triumvirate in recent seasons, with Atletico Madrid joining city rivals Real and Barcelona at the top of the table. But, under the auspices of Marcelino, Valencia made the top three a top four in 2017/18. Starting his debut campaign at the helm with a 13-match unbeaten run, the former Villarreal boss made Los Che tougher to beat than they have been in years, eventually sealing Champions League qualification.
Along the way, several careers were rejuvenated. Geoffrey Kondogbia had his best year since leaving Monaco; Simone Zaza finally made it back to double figures; Gabriel Paulista and Martin Montoya became key men in the back four; and Goncalo Guedes went from Paris Saint-Germain squad player to one of the most incisive attackers in Europe. Marcelino’s coaching ability and astute tactics were behind the rapid individual and collective transformations.
11. MASSIMILIANO ALLEGRI (JUVENTUS)
Win percentage: 8 Position change: 0 Position to value: 0 Knockout points: 10
His philosophy may not be as clear or interesting as some of his modern managerial peers, but Allegri is undoubtedly one of the best coaches in the world today. Last season he led Juventus to a fourth successive league and cup double, while also taking them to the brink of a third Champions League semi-final spot in four years.
The 2017/18 campaign was his most challenging yet. He lost two of his best players, Leonardo Bonucci and Dani Alves, in the summer window. But Allegri barely flinched; rather, he maximised the squad he had and got results. At home, Napoli threatened to take his side’s crown, only to be gradually beaten down into second. Abroad, Tottenham threatened to derail Juve, only to be dumped out after a tactical turnaround inspired by Allegri’s substitutions.
An introduction to the ranking system - how are we weighting the different managerial qualities?2
The best of the rest - those who were not considered, were ineligible, or who just missed out.3
The list begins: Our rankings from 20 to 16.4
Two former European Cup winners feature as the list continues. Here are managers 15 to 11.5
Moving towards 2018's truly elite: 10 to 6.6
A third European Cup in successive years gave Zinedine Zidane the perfect exit at Real Madrid; he's in at Five.7
Diego Simeone enters at Four, having guided Atletico Madrid through their stadium move, beyond a transfer ban, and back into…8
And now Number Three: Domenico Tedesco, FC Schalke's Antonio Conte acolyte9
Burnley have had a difficult start to 2018-19, but the season before was the finest in their modern history -…10
And your winner... Getafe's hard-liner, Jose Bordalas.