“I wouldn’t say I was the best manager in the business. But I was in the top one.”

The iconic words of one Mr Brian Clough.

Confidence? Arrogance? A bit of both?

Whatever your take, Clough’s point stands.

Who, throughout the annals of coaching history, can claim to have matched his achievements?

Many can point to more trophies, more wins etc etc.

But, how many of those achieved said success against all odds?

A few, admittedly.

Clough, though, was so much more than a mere manager.

He was the full package.

One of a kind

Charisma, charm, coaching acumen, wit and the enviable collection of major honours.

Of the current crop of so-called top bosses, can anybody get close?

Pep Guardiola is widely considered to be teacher’s pet in the class of 2019, and has passed enough exams to back up those claims.

Can you see the Catalan turning up to address the assembled media kitted out ready for the squash court?

Or dragging a pitch invader off the field by his collar while giving him a clip around the ear for good measure?


Clough was one of a kind and a man without equal.

It is, therefore, slightly surprising to find that France Football, in their infinite wisdom, have managed to come up with 14 managers deserving of a standing above Old Big ‘Ead on their list of 50 all-time greats.

Carlo Ancelotti and Jose Mourinho are somehow considered to place above Clough on that roll of honour.

Here is their top 20:

(Photo by David Cannon/Allsport/Getty Images)
  1. Rinus Michels
  2. Sir Alex Ferguson
  3. Arrigo Sacchi
  4. Johan Cruyff
  5. Pep Guardiola
  6. Valeriy Lobanovski
  7. Helenio Herrera
  8. Carlo Ancelotti
  9. Ernst Happel
  10. Bill Shankly
  11. Matt Busby
  12. Giovanni Trapattoni
  13. Jose Mourinho
  14. Miguel Munnoz
  15. Brian Clough
  16. Marcelo Lippi
  17. Nereo Rocco
  18. Louis van Gaal
  19. Ottmar Hitzfeld
  20. Bela Guttmann

Here are the guidelines they were working to:

“What is a great coach? How do you compare two major technicians sometimes separated by more than half a century? And, in the end, who is the best of them, all things considered?

“In order to make its choice and establish its Top 50, France Football has used three main criteria – winning record, legacy left on the game and personality – to which is added, implicitly, a fourth: the duration and impact of the career.”

Clough ticks all of those boxes and then some.

Such rankings are, however, always open to individual interpretation and personal preference.

With that in mind, here is our alternative:

  1. Brian Clough
  2. Everyone else

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