Winning the Champions League is the pinnacle for every football manager. After all, it’s the elite club competition in European football and far more prestigious than any other counterpart across the world.
The Champions League started off as the European Cup in 1956 and it was initially dominated by Real Madrid who reeled off five successive victories under three different managers. Wind forward to last season and Los Merengues were once again kings of Europe after Zinedine Zidane steered them to the final where they beat city rivals Atletico on penalties.
Zidane remains in charge at the Bernabeu, while 2015 Champions League winning-manager Luis Enrique continues as manager of Barcelona. One of Enrique and Zidane might just find themselves hoisting the trophy again this term considering that Real and Barca are among the favourites.
Bayern Munich are the other team in the “Big Three” and that is where 2014 winner Carlo Ancelotti has arrived as the Italian looks to build on the good work done by Pep Guardiola and Jupp Heynckes. Indeed, the latter was displeased by the way he was replaced by the Spaniard, although Pep couldn’t emulate his success at the Allianz Arena.
However, Guardiola was a Champions League winner with Barcelona in 2009 and 2011, with the 45-year-old now faced with the task of turning Manchester City into European champions. The English club have broken the bank to secure his services and hope to see a solid return on their investment.
Guardiola’s arch-rival in England is Jose Mourinho, someone who has tasted success with two European clubs when it comes to the Champions League. Mourinho was an up-and-coming manager when he steered FC Porto to glory in 2004, although it was six years later that he enjoyed more success in this competition thanks to his work with Internazionale.
Therefore, Mourinho has prospered with “underdogs” like Inter and Porto, although he’s failed to win Champions League titles with Chelsea and Real Madrid, despite being armed with bigger budgets and better players. He’s now in charge of Manchester United and it will be hard to see the Red Devils not returning to the competition from next September.
After several failed attempts under Mourinho, it was ironic that Roberto Di Matteo managed to become a Champions League-winning manager, with the Italian taking charge of Chelsea after Andre Villas-Boas was given early marching orders during the 2011/12 season.
Di Matteo only lasted eight months as permanent manager at Stamford Bridge and subsequently managed FC Schalke although he’s now back in England where he’s in charge of Aston Villa in the second tier.
He’s not the only Champions League-winning manager in that division; Rafael Benitez was installed as Newcastle chief towards the end of last season. Benitez’s 2005 Champions League triumph was an unlikely one, not least as they found themselves 3-0 down to Milan in the final. His task now is to bring Newcastle back to the Premier League and many sports experts question whether the teams in the Championship will be able to prevent this. 888 sport has them as clear favourites to land promotion back into the Premier League; their news blog breaks down the odds and looks into their performance next season.
Another to have lifted this trophy is Vicente del Bosque. He did so with Real Madrid in 2000 before creating the most successful Spanish national team of all time.