Ferguson, Mourinho, Klopp, Guardiola: Who is the greatest Premier League manager ever?

  • Kobe Tong
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The Premier League has played host to some of the greatest managers in football history.

From Jose Mourinho's legendary Chelsea teams to Arsene Wenger's invincible Arsenal squad, the English top-flight has seen many a tactical genius take to its technical areas since 1992.

However, deciding which of these Premier League masterminds is the greatest of all is a different question entirely and football fans have been going back and forth on the issue in recent days.

Greatest Premier League managers in history

And that's because Neil Warnock's controversial ranking of the Premier League's top five coaches in history, which featured Sir Alex Ferguson all the way down in fourth, has caused a stir this week.

Now, surely we can all agree that Warnock has wildly misplaced Ferguson, but even if we locked in the Manchester United icon in first place, the subsequent positions are admittedly tough to order.

As such, we wanted to take a closer look at the greatest managers in Premier League history and how they compare to one another, so it only made sense to wheel the trust medium of Tiermaker.

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With categories ranging from 'Part of the furniture' to 'GOAT', we have taken 27 managers who we consider to be in and round the conversation of the finest coaches that the division has ever seen. 

And while the positioning of each boss will ultimately come down to the opinion of yours truly, we will be using Premier League legacy, longevity and impact as our main criteria for the ranking overall.

Also, yes, we won't be factoring in managers' achievements before the 1992 rebranding nor in other divisions.

Ranking the greatest ever Premier League managers

However, enough with the disclaimers and housekeeping because there's some juicy debate to be had, so tuck in to our ranking of the greatest ever Premier League managers down below:

Part of the furniture

Alan Curbishley, Tony Pulis, Sam Allardyce and Roy Hodgson

Let's be brutally honest here, none of these names are getting you weak at the knees in a giddy state of excitement. No one is screaming: "Oh my Pulis, I love and adore you," are they?

Nevertheless, with more than 1,500 Premier League matches between them, their unfashionable status is most certainly outweighed by the simple fact that they are four of the safest pair of hands in the division's history.

It's no coincidence that Charlton Athletic started falling apart upon Curbishley's departure after more than 700 games in charge and lest we forget his 'Great Escape' at the helm of West Ham United.

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Pulis did a fantastic job at keeping Stoke City afloat for half a decade with devilishly pragmatic tactics, while also being named Premier League Manager of the Season at Crystal Palace.

Meanwhile, no coach has managed more Premier League clubs than Allardyce and although his once-perfect relegation record is no longer in tact, the streets will never forget his iconic Bolton Wanderers side.

And give or take his Liverpool spell, Hodgson seldom put a foot wrong in the Premier League with steady leadership at West Bromwich Albion and Palace as well as dodging relegation in miraculous style with Fulham.

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Let me entertain you

Roy Evans, Kevin Keegan, David O'Leary and Mauricio Pochettino

There's good reason to think that every manager in the previous tier had a bigger Premier League impact than this quartet, but let's face it, we know which coaches you'd rather watch in action.

For all the turmoil of Liverpool in the 1990s, you could rest assured that Evans' 'Spice Boys' would deliver entertainment with Steve McManaman, Robbie Fowler and Jamie Redknapp bringing thrills en masse.

However, if anyone could outdo them for watchability in the mid-1990s, then you could bet that it was Keegan's Newcastle side who became the stuff of legend with their attacking brand of football.

And everyone has a special place in their heart for O'Leary's Leeds side at the turn of the century with the likes of Alan Smith, Ian Harte, Mark Viduka and Lee Bowyer inspiring them to lofty Premier League finishes.

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Then, to round things off, Pochettino might never have won silverware at Tottenham Hotspur, but seeing prime Dele Alli, Mousse Dembele and Harry Kane running riot was always good value for money.

Underrated

Martin O'Neill, Gerard Houllier and Brendan Rodgers

How often do you hear O'Neill touted amongst the greatest Premier League managers? Not often enough is the answer because he's easily deserving of a place in the top 25 at least in our eyes.

When he wasn't performing miracles as Leicester City boss, O'Neill was turning Aston Villa into one of the most formidable non-top-four sides in Premier League history. We'll ignore his Sunderland spell, mind.

Meanwhile, Houllier simply doesn't get credited enough for how he progressed Liverpool into the 21st century and finishing in second above Manchester United in 2001/02 is often overlooked.

Then, speaking of Liverpool, we have the man who almost delivered their maiden Premier League title, while also guiding Swansea City to 11th place and nearly lifting Leicester City to consecutive top four finishes.

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Great

Sir Bobby Robson, David Moyes, Harry Redknapp and Rafael Benitez

In many ways, this is a strange nether region where we can't quite claim that these managers are in the hunt to be crowned the greatest Premier League boss, but they're also comfortably clear of the likes of Allardyce and Pulis.

Moyes oversaw the third-longest tenure in Premier League history with a glorious spell at Everton, even qualifying for the Champions League, while his current West Ham stint keeps going from strength to strength.

Redknapp similarly overachieved with Tottenham by securing back-to-back top four finishes, while also keeping Portsmouth in the big time and punching above his weight with the Hammers.

Finally, Benitez has proven Premier League pedigree with steady displays at Newcastle and Everton, but it's his Liverpool spell - which peaked with a 2008/09 season that featured just two defeats - that really puts him amongst the top dogs.

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Champione ole, ole, ole

Roberto Mancini, Carlo Ancelotti, Manuel Pellegrini, Antonio Conte and Sir Kenny Dalglish

Look, at the end of the day, you can't win the Premier League title and not be considered amongst its greatest ever managers because countless top coaches have tried and failed over the years.

Sceptics will pour water on claims that Mancini and Pellegrini were crucial to Manchester City's first two Premier League titles, but underrate them at your peril because they faced fierce competition from United and Liverpool respectively.

Meanwhile, it's too-often forgotten just how thrilling Ancelotti's Chelsea side was to watch, blitzing teams by six, seven or eight goals as they became the first Premier League in history to surpass 100 strikes.

And Conte is the proud owner of one of the Premier League's highest-ever points tallies, amassing a then-record-breaking 13 league victories on the bounce to win the title at his first attempt.

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Finally, Dalglish will always have a special place in the division's history books as the coach behind Blackburn Rovers' famous triumph, commanding Alan Shearer and Chris Sutton's masterful 'SAS' to dethrone United.

Special One

Arsene Wenger, Pep Guardiola, Jose Mourinho, Jurgen Klopp and Claudio Ranieri

However, winning the Premier League is one thing and winning it multiple times is something else entirely.

'But Ranieri has only won one title!' I hear you declare, but, yes, he gets a special pass to this tier because winning the league with Leicester against 5,000-1 odds might be the biggest achievement in the competition's history.

Actually, make that two special passes because Klopp's 2019/20 Liverpool side are only topped by City's centurions for points with their mind-boggling total of 99 following up a 97-point haul the previous season.

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Anyhow, back to multiple titles because Mourinho and Guardiola stride into the 'Special One' category with a hat-trick of trophies each.

Mourinho's magnum opus came in the 2004/05 season when his omnipotent Chelsea conceded just 15 goals and Guardiola's dizzying zenith saw the Citizens amass a record-breaking 100 points.

Elsewhere, Wenger is probably the strongest candidate as the Premier League's second-greatest coach with not only three trophies to his name, but also the only invincible season with a staggering 49-game unbeaten run.

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GOAT

Sir Alex Ferguson

Can there be any debating this, seriously? Sorry, Mr. Warnock, but the fact that Ferguson has won 10 more Premier League titles than any other manager in history makes this beyond contention.

The way that Ferguson evolved countless title-winning sides at United saw him traverse eras and dominate in each of them, overcoming many of the managers who played lower down the tiers.

Not only is Ferguson by far and away the greatest manager that the Premier League has ever seen, but there's good reason to think that the beautiful game has never seen a better coach, period.

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Who is your Premier League GOAT?

Dare I suggest that there isn't too much debate to be had here? Ok, maybe that's ambitious, but there is a surprisingly clear hierarchy when it comes to the Premier League's finest coaches.

Besides, Ferguson is pretty convincingly clear of everyone else, while Wenger, Mourinho and co are also very distinct runners-up and the likes of Moyes and Benitez don't quite compete at the very top.

However, that being said, football wouldn't be football without some friendly debate, so be sure to let us know if you're a closest Warnock by telling us your own rankings across our social channels.

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