The season is well underway and there are some notable managers absent from Europe’s touchlines. Some may prefer the TV studio, while others are waiting by the phone. Here, we look at the 10 best managers currently missing from the technical area:
10. Gennaro Gattuso
The controversial former AC Milan skipper went back on the market, just 23 days after he agreed to join Fiorentina. Broken commitments on transfer funds were blamed for Gattuso’s brief engagement in Florence, but he does come with eight years of management experience, which peaked last summer when he followed his midseason appointment at Napoli with the Coppa Italia triumph. However, he left Napoli at the end of last season after missing out on the Champions League; a similar fate to the one he previously suffered at AC Milan.
Possible Suitors: Gattuso looked set to join Tottenham in the summer, but Spurs fans rebelled over inflammatory comments Gattuso had previously made that enraged LGBT supporters. Gattuso has been linked with Newcastle, whose whale-skinned owner is unlikely to care about Gattuso’s lack of diplomacy.
9. Ernesto Valverde
The experienced Spanish coach has been out of work since leaving Barcelona in January 2020. He does have a strong pedigree having enjoyed success at Espanyol, Olympiacos and Athletic Bilbao before joining Barca in 2017. He enjoyed an impressive first season as Barca stormed to the La Liga and Copa del Rey double, despite a shock Champions League elimination that proved a forewarning of worse to come. Valverde was front and center for Barcelona’s epic collapse at Anfield as they surrendered a 3-0 first leg lead. Despite recovering to retain the La Liga title, Valverde’s number was up.
Possible Suitors: It is really a case of how much blame for Barcelona’s decline people ascribe to Valverde. It wasn’t his idea to overspend and buy the wrong players, but as coach, he did oversee a declining team at the Camp Nou. As with Manuel Pellegrini and Unai Emery, an appointment at a mid-budget La Liga team would be an opportunity to rehabilitate the career of a fine coach.
8. Joachim Low
It is hard to remember a time Joachim Low wasn’t coaching the German national team, but this summer saw the end of his 17-year relationship with DFB. He did damage his legacy by staying around five years too long, but still he was integral to the rebirth of German football. He won a World Cup and made at least the Semifinals in five successive tournaments as manager. How much Germany improve under Low’s former assistant Hansi Flick may determine if Low is viewed as a busted flush.
Possible Suitors: Low has stayed away from the spotlight since Euro 2020 and it’s unclear if he wants to return to management. He was relatively successful in club management, most notably with Stuttgart, but that was back in the mid 1990’s. He would represent a gamble, but there are plenty of clubs in Germany who would welcome him. There is always the possibility of bringing his huge international experience in his suitcase to a foreign national team.
7. Paulo Fonseca
The Portuguese manager was another who looked set for Tottenham this summer, but problems with the fineprint on his contract means the former Roma boss remains out of work. Fonseca impressed with Braga to earn a move to Shakhtar Donetsk where he won three league titles in three years and reguarly progressed in the Champions League. At Roma his team again played attacking football but he failed to solve their long running problem of leaking goals.
Possible Suitors: Fonseca was a surprise candidate at Tottenham but if things continue to go wrong for Nuno Espirito Santos, Fonseca is a good fit if they can agree a deal. However another stint in Serie A seems the most likely next assignment for Fonseca.
6. Eddie Howe
It’s not too long ago that Howe was considered an England manager in waiting. Howe’s astonishing achievement of taking Bournemouth from League Two all the way up the pyramid to the Premier League is staggering, but relegation in 2020 did see his reputation falter. He seemed set for Celtic, but turned them down with the 43-year-old known to be very attached to his homelife on the English southcoast. Howe’s Bournemouth played attractive football and punched well above their weight, but weren’t the most secure at the back, whilst his transfer market record was decidedly mixed
Possible Suitors: Howe’s an unlikely fit for a team in trouble, but he could be a nice appointment for a Premier League club whose manager has departed on his own terms and has a good recruitment policy already in place. It’s easy to envisage a suitable situation emerging next summer at a mid level Premier League club. Howe would clearly prefer to remain in the south of the country, but he’s already been away over a year and football does forget managers very quickly.
5. Rudi Garcia
It’s now ten years since Rudi Garcia’s Lille shocked French football by winning the domestic double. Since then Garcia has enjoyed mixed fortunes at Roma and then Marseille but he again upset the established order this time taking Lyon to the Champions League semi-finals. However, failure to return to the Champions League in back to back Ligue 1 campaigns brought the curtain down on Garcia’s reign.
Possible Suitors: Garcia’s an experienced boss and his teams come with a defined high tempo possession based brand of football. It’s a surprise that hasn’t brought him to the attention of Premier League clubs, there are several in the middle of the pack who could be a good fit. However a Ligue 1 team looking to qualify for Europe seems more likely and there are several (including the team that made Garcia’s name) currently struggling.
4. Andre Villas Boas
It’s hard to believe Andre Villas Boas is only 43-years-old given his lengthy management career. Like his former mentor Jose Mourinho, Villas Boas came to prominence at Porto wining the domestic double in 2011. Then came mixed fortunes in London before more domestic trophies at Zenit St Petersburg and a spell in far flung China. His last job was an eventful spell at Marseille which saw Champions League qualification in 2020, but Villas-Boas then left after huge disagreements over transfers as the club spiralled into chaos and a change of ownership.
Possible Suitors: It’s been a globe trotting career for Villas Boas and there’s likely to be a few more stops yet. Marseille brought him back to the attention of European football and Villas Boas would be well advised to stay in Europes bigger leagues for his next job and could do worse than a return to his homeland.
3. Lucien Favre
The Swiss manager has been out of work since Borussia Dortmund lost patience with him last December. Favre has proved an excellent coach, whose teams play attractive attacking football but do concede goals. Favre’s record at Hertha, Borussia Monchengladbach, Nice and Dortmund was one of gradual improvement but he ultimately failed to win a major trophy in either France or Germany. Favre’s biggest strength remains his excellent track record of making first team stars out of youth team prospects.
Possible Suitors: Favre appeared set for Crystal Palace this summer, but pulled out of negotiations at the eleventh hour. He would be a perfect appointment for a club with a strong youth policy and Champions League ambitions in Ligue 1 or the Bundesliga. However, Farve may well fancy his chances in the Premier League, but with a bigger name than Palace. It was slightly surprising Favre didn’t figure in Tottenham’s lengthy manager hunt this summer but he could well be with a biggish English name before next season.
2. Zinedine Zidane
The three time Champions League winning manager of Real Madrid remains one of the very few footballing superstars to prove as successful as a manager as he was in a glittering playing career, with Johan Cruyff and Franz Beckenbauer perhaps his only peers. His second stint at Real didn’t quite hit the heights of the first, but winning a second La Liga title with a less than stellar team showed Zidane could do it without Cristiano Ronaldo, but he left the Bernabeau for a second time this summer and has remained tight lipped since.
Possible Suitors: There would appear very few jobs Zidane would even consider, unless it’s a third stint at Real the only other jobs that might appeal would be a return to Juventus or possibly a return to his homeland with PSG. None of those jobs appear likely to come available soon, but Zidane can afford to bide his time. Perhaps the most likely next step for Zizou would be to take over Les Bleus from former France teammate Didier Deschamps after the World Cup.
1. Antonio Conte
Unquestionably one of the world’s best managers, the ever combustable Antonio Conte is the name on the lips of supporters of any elite club on a bad run of form. Conte has won five league titles at Juventus, Chelsea and Inter with a truckload of management plaudits and he has shown the ability to evolve and adapt his tactical thinking to suit his teams. However his demands for ever more transfer funds undermined his relationships with the Inter and Chelsea boards with both jobs ending in very public falling outs, whilst his record in the Champions League is distinctly underwhelming.
Possible Suitors: Conte will as he did before wait for one of club football’s premier jobs to come available. His fiery nature will turn some clubs off, but if a club have the money, the ambition and are prepared to forgive his tantrums, Conte is a manager who will deliver titles.