The most successful manager in footballing history called time on his career earlier this week and it’s left everyone wondering how great Sir Alex Ferguson was.

So we look at the five most successful mangers of all-time to put in perspective incredible the Manchester United manager. 

5. Walter Smith – 22 Trophies

A Rangers legend, Walter Smith enjoyed two spells at the helm of Rangers in the time of their dominance in Scottish football along with rivals Celtic. He won 21 trophies during those spells, including 10 league titles. 

Between his two spells, Smith presided over a revival of the Scottish national team, taking them 70 places up the rankings and leading them to the Kirin Cup in 2006.

4. Giovanni Trappatoni – 22 Trophies

Often called “The Trap”, Giovanni Trappatoni is regarded as the best manager in the history of Serie A. Trappatoni has had great spells in Italy, Germany, Portugal and Austria, and also led Ireland to Nations Cup victory in 2011. 

A European Cup winner as both player and manager, Trappatoni’s best spell came at Juventus between 1976 and 1986 when he won 14 trophies with the club. His second at Juventus was far from impressive, but the Irish manager is still regarded as a legend all around Europe.

3. Ottmar Hitzfeld – 25 Trophies

Ottmar Hitzfeld has led both Borussia Dortmund and Bayern Munich to Champions League titles – one of a select group to lead two different clubs. His most successful spell came at the helm of Bayern Munich, in two separate spells in which he won 14 trophies. 

Twice voted World Coach of the Year and one UEFA Coach of the Year, Ottmar Hitzfeld was voted as Bayern Munich’s greatest coach of all time. Currently with the Swiss national team, the trained mathematics teacher is one of the best coaches of his generation.

2. Jock Stein – 27 Trophies

Jock Stein won 10 league titles during his reign at Celtic. The Albion Rovers player was a coalminer during his day as a part-time footballer, and went on to be the best coach in the history of Scottish football. 

He had decent reigns at Dunfermline and Hibernian before Celtic came calling, and he became a club legend leading them to 25 trophies. Stein was well respected in addition to his seven year tenure as manager of Scotland, which included the Rous Cup in 1985. 

A sad end to his career when he collapsed and died on 10 September 1985 at the end of a Scotland game when they’d qualified for the 1986 World Cup. Nevertheless, he was also the man who led Celtic to its maiden European Cup in 1967, a fitting accomplishment for a legendary manager.

1. Sir Alex Ferguson – 49 Trophies

Surely the most admired and respected managers in the history of the game – Sir Alex is calling time on an illustrious career. He arrived at Manchester already with a lifetime achievement having led small-time Aberdeen to 10 trophies including two in European competitions. 

Wins against the colossal Bayern Munich and Real Madrid en route to the UEFA Cup Winner’s Cup was something he felt, “he'd done something worthwhile with his life.” Ferguson set out across England to knock Liverpool off their perch, a sarcastic gesture at the time. However, he surpassed everything imaginable, fulfilling his commitment as Manchester United dominated English football over the 20 of his 26 years in charge. 

He has built team after team, first inspired by his fledglings which have gone on to become United legends. 38 trophies as United manager, one could only embrace for the day Ferguson announced his retirement. He has accomplished everything possible, and even the neutral fan will regard his retirement as a sad day for football!

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