As of March 2016, 39 managers have won the UEFA Champions League. Yet when it comes to choosing the best Champions League managers of all time, the 10 on this list arguably stand head and shoulder above the rest.
During nine seasons at Anfield, Bob Paisley led Liverpool to win their first ever European Cup. He also remains one of only two managers in history to win three titles (1977, 1978 and 1981). What’s more, Paisley is still the only manager to achieve this feat with one club.
Carlo Ancelotti has also won the Champions League three times. He led AC Milan to the title in 2003 and 2007, before winning it again in 2014 as head coach of Real Madrid. He is also one of only six men to have won the competition as both a manager and a player.
Brian Clough won the European Cup twice in a row (1979 and 1980) as manager of Nottingham Forest.
Clough achieved this feat with a relatively small, provincial club, leading many to regard it the greatest achievement in the history of the competition.
Sir Alex Ferguson
Many consider Sir Alex Ferguson to be one of the finest managers in history. He won his first Champions League title in 1999, when Manchester United made history by becoming the only side to win the Premier League, FA Cup and Champions League in one season.
The Scot won his second and final Champions League title in 2008.
Vicente del Bosque
Vincente del Bosque coached Real Madrid for four years from 1999 to 2003, and, under his leadership, Los Blancos enjoyed their most successful spell in recent history.
del Bosque led his side to two Champions League wins, as well as domestic titles in three of his four seasons at the Bernabeu.
José Villalonga Llorente
José Villalonga Llorente led Real Madrid to the first two of five straight European Cups in 1956 and 1957, making him the first manager to win the trophy.
Luis Carniglia is yet another Real Madrid manager on this list. The Argentine led his team to two European Cup wins in 1958 (3-2 against AC Milan) and 1959 (2-0 over Stade Reims).
Ottmar Hitzfeld was nicknamed ‘der General’, and it is clear that he was a great leader. Hitzfeld won the Champions League once with Borussia Dortmund (1997) and once with Bayern Munich (2001).
In just four seasons at Barcelona, Pep Guardiola won two Championship League titles along with every major honour available. Guardiola also won the European Cup with Barcelona as a player and is, along with Ancelotti, one of only six men to achieve the feat in both roles.
Having been a manager for a relatively short time, there is every chance that Guardiola could add to his already impressive tally of Champions League titles.
Along with Ancelotti, Hitzfeld, Jupp Heynckes and Ernst Happel, José Mourinho is one of only five managers to win the Champions League with two different clubs. In Mourinho’s case, he won it with Porto in 2004 and with Inter Milan in 2010.
It is clearly difficult to choose the best Champions League manager of all time. After all, there are so many factors involved. Are Paisley and Ancelotti the best because they won it three times each? Or are Clough and Mourinho on a par because of their ability to lead small clubs to the grand prize?
In the end, it’s all a matter of opinion. Yet what is clear is that the managers on this list have gone down in history as being among the greatest managers that, not just the Champions League, but the world has ever seen.