Managers who mattered

Vittorio Pozzo was authoritarian. But he also paid attention to detail and worked on technical aspects. The characteristics of his side can still be seen in modern Italian football, writes Andy Hampson while naming his 10 best managers.

Vittorio Pozzo (Italy)

The mastermind behind Italy's back-to-back World Cup victories of 1934 and 1938 and their Olympic gold success in 1936. Pozzo led the Italian team for one-off events at the 1912 and 1924 Olympics before being appointed their first full-time coach in 1929. He remained in charge for 19 years, becoming known as `Il Vecchio Maestro' (The Old Master). He was demanding and authoritarian, and his teams were steely and tough, but he also paid attention to detail and worked on technical aspects. The characteristics of his side can still be seen in modern Italian football. Pozzo developed many of his theories while studying in England as a young man and became the first Italy head coach not to be hampered by the decision-making process of the technical committee in 1929.

The freedom provided by that independence allowed Pozzo to develop his own ideas and he guided Italy, as hosts, to their first World Cup in 1934 despite the pressure of expectations from the nation and fascist dictator Benito Mussolini.

He followed that by winning the Olympic gold two years later — becoming the only coach in history to win the double — and Italy duly entered the 1938 tournament among the favourites, beating the `Magical Magyars' of Hungary to lift the trophy.

Under Pozzo, Italy had become the first team to retain the World Cup and the first to win on foreign soil, but the second World War intervened and Pozzo retired aged 62 having guided Italy to 63 wins, 17 draws and 15 losses in his 19-year reign.

Gusztav Sebes (Hungary)

The Hungarian side of the 1950s was blessed with magical talent — and announced itself with a 6-3 hammering of England at Wembley — but Sebes was the man who pulled it together. Sebes played to the squad's attacking strengths, using the likes of Ferenc Puskas and Sandor Kocsis. The `Magical Magyars' went to the 1954 World Cup on the back of a four-year unbeaten run and their loss in the final to West Germany is one of the game's greatest upsets.

Joseph `Sepp' Herberger (West Germany)

German football's reputation for robotic efficiency has its roots in the work of Herberger, the coach who led them to their first World Cup success in 1954. He rebuilt the West German side after the Second World War and restored national pride with the World Cup victory. He was criticised after an 8-3 loss to the brilliant Hungarians early in the tournament but he was a shrewd tactician and had rested several players. When they met again in the final in Bern, a full-strength side ground down the favourites to win 3-2.

Cesar Luis Menotti (Argentina)

The appointment of `El Flaco' (The Thin One) as Argentina coach in 1974 proved the catalyst for the World Cup triumphs of 1978 and 1986. Menotti, a forward-thinking coach who advocated attractive football, changed his country's approach to the game and moulded a powerful team to win the 1978 World Cup on home soil. He left the post after a disappointing showing in 1982 but the seeds were sown for the success of four years later. Later, he had a spell as Mexico coach but did not see them through to USA 94.

Rinus Michels (Holland)

After transforming Ajax from relegation contenders to European Cup winners and enjoying some success with Barcelona, Michels stepped up to the international stage with the Dutch national side for the 1974 World Cup. Michels took the attacking concept of the 1950s Hungary to new levels, establishing `total football' as his team powered through to the final.

They lost out to the pragmatic Germans but as Michels returned to club football he left a strong legacy that led to another runners-up finish in 1978. Michels came back to national management to lead Holland to Euro 88 success.

Enzo Bearzot (Italy)

Bearzot picked up the national team after their disappointing World Cup in 1974 and went on to become one of the country's best-loved coaches after steering them to success in 1982. He brought in both flair and solidity and Italy were a different side as they reached the semifinals in 1978. Form dipped after that and there was much criticism as the 1982 finals approached but Bearzot stuck to his principles and kept faith in the derided Paolo Rossi. After a slow start, it all came spectacularly good as the Azzurri powered to glory in thrilling style.

Sir Alf Ramsey (England)

The man who finally brought the World Cup `home' to England, birthplace of the game, in 1966. England had considered themselves so superior to the rest of the world they did not even bother entering the World Cup until 1950. A humiliating loss to the USA and a friendly thumping by Hungary at Wembley showed them how much they had to catch up. Ramsey, who played in both those humiliations, learnt from past mistakes and developed a new system without wingers. The result was England's greatest sporting triumph.

Mario Zagallo (Brazil)

With the exception of the 2002 triumph, the remarkable Zagallo has had a hand in all of Brazil's World Cup successes. He played in the first two in 1958 and 1962 and was then player-coach of the brilliant 1970 side. He went into club coaching after that but returned to lead the national team to glory at USA 94 alongside Carlos Alberto Parreira. He was in sole charge as they reached the final in 1998 and after watching Luis Felipe Scolari oversee a fifth World Cup success in Japan, he is again involved as an assistant coach.

Franz Beckenbauer (West Germany)

The `Kaiser' was another great player turned coach. He played his first World Cup final in 1966 and then captained the side to victory in 1974. He helped Bayern Munich to three successive European Cup triumphs and made a seamless transition to the dugout. He earned a reputation as an innovator and his reward was victory in the 1990 World Cup in Italy.

Guus Hiddink (Holland, South Korea, Australia)

As Australia coach, Hiddink is back for a third crack at the World Cup after reaching successive semifinals with two different countries. The first was with his native Holland in 1998, when his side had the measure of Brazil — and looked every bit as good as eventual champions France — but went out on penalties. He then remarkably carried South Korea to the last four on home soil in 2002 and will try again after guiding the Aussies through a play-off with Uruguay.

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