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Top 5: Greatest tactician managers of all time

Valeriy Lobanovskiy

The Soviet manager was one of the very first to use scientific principles, language and methodology in football management. A product of the time when advancement in space technology in the Soviet Union was at its peak, Lobanovskiy’s management reflected his admiration for scientific principles. He famously saw football as a battle between two subsets of 11 elements in a restricted area with specific instructions, and their attempts to tilt the equation on one side.

Lobanovskiy incorporated the latest gizmos to get his players to stay at their optimum both physically and mentally in his attempts to outdo opponents.

Rinus Michels

The concept of Total Football is synonymous with the Dutch master who remains the only manager to have guided the Netherlands national team to a major international trophy – the 1988 European Cup.

Michels transformed Dutch football with his implementation of coaching methodology he learnt from Jack Reynolds. The Ajax team of the 1970s were known for their fluid movement on the pitch where each player was capable of moving forward as well as tracking back and adept at defensive as well as attacking aspects of the game.

Helenio Herrera

The Argentine, to his great credit, remains one of the very few managers who could claim to have played with two vastly different philosophies and yet achieve great success. Herrera’s first big job was at Barcelona in the late 1950s where he championed an attacking style of football with Ladislao Kubala being the star of the team. His three seasons at the team yielded six trophies, including two league titles.

However, his greatest success was to come in his next his next job at Inter Milan where during the course of his eight years he went on to win seven trophies, including back-to-back European Cups and three league titles. In stark contrast to his time at Barcelona, Herrera preached a highly defensive style of play that came to be known as catenaccio.

Pep Guardiola

Expanding upon the teachings of his ideological gurus Luis van Gaal, Johan Cruyff, Marcelo Bielsa and a host of others, Guardiola built a system at Barcelona that most teams found impossible to bypass. The philosophy was based on keeping the ball at any cost and looking for penetrating passes to get past the defence. It proved to be hugely successful as he won three league titles and two Champions Leagues at Barcelona.

He should also be credited for giving the playing identity to the last two World Cup winners as both the 2010 winners Spain and the reigning champions Germany borrowed heavily from Gurdiola’s playing style as well as his personnel from Barcelona and Bayern Munich respectively.

Arrigo Sacchi

The Italian manager was known for meticulous planning that gave world football one of the greatest Milan sides of all time.

Sacchi believed in organisation and through ruthless training he had created an insurmountable team. His team’s pressed like no other team at the time, and the 1989 European Cup final win is one of the most tactically astute displays of all time.

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