Premier League – The 3 greatest managers
When a manager has been as successful as Pep Guardiola, a debate of some sort was always going to rise to the surface. Following Pep’s denial of his influence on lower league football during his press conference, Twitter has become a battleground. The names of Arsene Wenger and Sir Alex Ferguson thrown around in an attempt to find which man has altered the direction of English football, let alone the Premier League, the most. Here, we will try to cover all angles as we dip and dive into the achievements of some of the most successful managers of all time. Strap in.
Sir Alex Ferguson
For 26 years, Ferguson’s United dominated England’s top flight. His teams won 38 trophies, including two Champions Leagues. But how ‘revolutionary’ was he? Behind the much adored (and rightly so) legacy of Sir Alex Ferguson was that his teams played ‘attacking’ football. This is untrue. Put ‘counter’ in front of it and you’re a little closer but the fact is that neither is correct…
Ferguson was about pragmatism, a way to disrupt an opponents threat and ultimately nullify it. For teams that would stereotypically sit back against United, Ferguson sat back instead, luring on the opposition before hitting them with lightning quick counter-attacks. This was not the same for every game, but it became a sort of trademark at the time.
If you’re looking for key pointers that show the influential nature of Sir Alex Ferguson, look no further than his formation choice. The introduction of a 4-2-3-1 shape was much a foreign quantity to the Premier League when the Scotsman arrived. In fact, it took all of the ‘old-fashioned’ central defenders by surprise; when instead of two out and out centre forwards playing on the last man, there was Eric Cantona floating in between the lines, they had no clue what to do. If you look around the whole of European football, not just England, you will see that the majority of teams still use this formation. Whether Ferguson created it is another debate.
The seemingly perennial Arsene Wenger may have finally departed North London in 2018, but the stamp he left will last decades, if not longer. He may have began using a 4-4-2 formation with his Premier League side, but it was the aesthetic style of Arsenal that ultimately changed the way football was played in the Premier League.
A focus on movement between the lines, using Dennis Bergkamp as the focal point, provided English football with some of the best team goals ever. Furthermore, the way Wenger was capable of developing relatively unknown talents into world class products. Take Patrick Vieira and Thierry Henry. Vieira was down and out after only two appearances in his ‘dream move’ to Milan, whilst Henry was playing wing back for Juventus. Who’d have thought it? Wenger did, and that’s why he is on the list. Not only did he bring an exciting and attacking brand of football to Arsenal, he also revolutionised the way players were scouted.
Finally, in the days of great footballing teams, like the Brian Clough led Nottingham Forest sides of the late 1970s, the pub was the main social event for players. With Wenger, a new ‘clinical’ approach was adopted. Whilst initially rejected by the Arsenal players, you won’t catch any Premier League club now that isn’t using Wenger’s model of professionalism. He innovated what is now the standard.
This devilled man is an interesting case. Now seen as a footballing dinosaur, many forget Mourinho’s effort with Porto; ones that saw Benni McCarthy score 20 goals in 23 games. When he arrived in London as the manager of Chelsea, he brought with him a ‘Portuguese perspective’ of football. Otherwise known as the 4-3-3.
Few sides thought of stocking up with a three man midfield. But now, it’s strange if you don’t have a player in the ‘Makélélé role’. Interesting thing that, for it was José that founded a new thinking behind football tactics in England, using Claud Makélélé as a cornerstone of his solid Chelsea sides. He let the trio of Arjen Robben, Damien Duff and Didier Drogba do the rest.
However, not only was it his introduction of the 4-3-3, but also the use of players such as Frank Lampard and Michael Ballack which earned him so many plaudits at the time. Perfecting midfield roles in a three is difficult to say the least, but not only did Mourinho bring in this new shape, he had mastered it. An innovator turn dinosaur.
His defence-heavy approach gets a lot of stick nowadays, but it really is impressive to take teams as high as he does with such a ‘backwards’ approach. Sure, he may need a break from football, but what José Mourinho did for English football should not be understated.
Most influential Premier League manager – Summary
Overall, it’s a tough one to call. If you forced me into making a decision I would have to go with Arsene Wenger. My Arsenal bias may be obvious, but the implementation of his professionalism is now a firm staple in every Premier League team. This is alongside his fluent football and a new philosophy to scouting players. Both Sir Alex and José had an almost equal effect on the game but, for me, Arsene edges it.
Well that’s it. If you were wondering where Guardiola would be then wonder no longer. He doesn’t deserve to be anywhere near the managers that I have mentioned. Sure, his success has been boundless, but has he been that influential? If anything he has inspired spending ridiculous amounts of money in the pursuit of trophies.
I’d love to hear your opinion, so drop it in the comment below and we can have a discussion! For more like this, follow us @TasteOfFtbl on Twitter!