World Cup Manager’s Guide
This year’s World Cup won’t just play host to some of the world’s greatest players. It will also serve as a stage for some of the world’s best football managers.
There’s a healthy blend of youth and experience as young managers like England’s Gareth Southgate and Belgium’s Roberto Martinez prowl the touchline alongside the likes of Didier Deschamps and Germany’s Joachim Low.
Having a good manager can often make the difference between success and failure. And the Coral News Team has run the rule over all 32 of them here.
Everything you need to know about Gareth Southgate
This will be Gareth Southgate’s first major tournament as England manager. The 47-year-old was appointed Three Lions boss in November 2016 following the departure of Sam Allardyce after just 67 days in charge.
He graduated to the job from the England Under-21 role, a position he held for three years between 2013 and 2016.
Prior to that, the Watford-born coach had a three-year-spell managing Middlesbrough and a successful playing career with Crystal Palace, Aston Villa, Boro and England.
His most notable moment for the Three Lions came at Euro 96 when he missed a crucial penalty in the semi-final against Germany at Wembley. England were subsequently eliminated.
This year’s World Cup is the most open in years. Germany are one of the favourites for their second tournament in a row alongside Brazil at 9/2. France and Didier Deschamps are 6/1, while Spain go into a World Cup without Vincente del Bosque for the first time since 2006. They complete the main contenders at 6/1.
Former goalkeeper and USSR manager Stanislav Cherchesov is the man tasked with guiding Russia through Group A in a home World Cup. He has the third-worst win ratio of any Russia coach since 1992.
Group favourites Uruguay will be led by the oldest coach at the World Cup, Oscar Tabarez. The 71-year-old has been manager of La Celeste since 2006. They finished fourth under his stewardship in 2010 and were knocked out in the last-16 in Brazil. A 2011 Copa America win is his sole success as Uruguay manager.
Argentine Hector Cuper is the man charged with leading the Egyptian hopes in their first World Cup appearance since 1990. The former centre-half managed Mallorca, Valencia and Inter Milan among others before taking the Egypt job in 2015. He presided over their AFCON Final defeat to Cameroon in 2017.
Saudi Arabia will be bossed by former Barcelona striker and Chile coach Juan Antonio Pizzi.
Spain will be looking to recapture the trophy they lost in 2014. However, they’ll have to do so under a cloud of uncertainty. Manager Julen Lopetegui left on the eve of the tournament following news of his future appointment at Real Madrid. Former Bolton Wanderers star Fernando Hierro is the man tasked with guiding La Roja, who remain one of the favourites.
Mediterranean rivals Portugal will be banking on the experience of 63-year-old Fernando Santos once more following their Euro 2016 success over France. His team can call upon the talents of Cristiano Ronaldo. But they remain underdogs, with Santos saying, “Brazil, Argentina, Spain, Germany and France are the favourites to win the World Cup.”
Iran will do battle with ex-Portugal and Real Madrid boss Carlos Queiroz at the helm. He is the first manager in the country’s history to lead the national team to two World Cups and did so this time with 12 consecutive clean sheets. Morocco are headed by two-time African Cup of Nations winning-manager Herve Renard.
One-time winners France will be relying on Didier Deschamps to secure a first World Cup triumph since 1998. But the 49-year-old is not quite as bullish about their chances as our traders. “We are not at the same level as Germany, Spain and Brazil – yet”, he told reporters. The ex-Juventus and Marseille coach led them to the quarter-finals in Brazil and has won over 60% of his games as France manager. Check out our analysis of Les Bleus here.
He’ll be joined in Group C by Peru boss Ricardo Gareca, Denmark manager Age Hareide and Australia’s Bert van Marwijk. The Socceroos chief was last seen at a World Cup in South Africa when his Netherlands side were defeated by Spain in the final.
This is his third international job after replacing Graham Arnold as boss in January 2018. He has won over 55% of his matches as an international manager. Danish leader Hareide had spells with Manchester City and Norwich City as a player.
Jorge Sampaoli is the most high-profile gaffer in Group D. He’ll take charge of Argentina after guiding Chile to the last-16 stage in 2014 and their first Copa America success in 2015. An ill-fated spell at Sevilla followed before he became the third coach of La Albiceleste during a tough qualification process. He’ll attempt to balance a weak looking defence with his intense pressing style.
Croatia boss Zlatko Dalic is also new to the role after being appointed in October 2017. He guided the nation through a play-off against Euro 2004 winners Greece to reach this stage.
Heimir Hallgrimsson helped mastermind Iceland’s success over England at Euro 2016. He’ll take sole charge of the side in Russia after joint-manager Lars Lagerback stepped down two years ago. He has won over 60% of his 50 matches as boss.
Nigeria will rely on experienced German Gerhot Rohr, who has previously managed Nice, Nantes, Gabon, Niger and Burkina Faso. The Super Eagles were the first African side to qualify for Russia.
Brazil will attempt to win their sixth World Cup with Tite at the helm. The 57-year-old took over from Dunga in 2016. He guided Selecao to 41 points from 54 in qualification and has so far lost just one match since taking charge. The ex-Corinthians boss likes to play 4-1-4-1 and sees former Tottenham star Paulinho as one of his most important players.
Surprise quarter-finalists in 2014 Costa Rica will hope Oscar Ramirez can follow up on the job of Jorge Luis Pinto. A record of four wins from 10 matches in qualifying suggests they’ll need to improve.
Mladen Krstajic is one of the younger coaches at the World Cup. He’ll take charge of Serbia after Slavoljub Muslin was sacked after achieving the qualification. The 44-year-old is not afraid to make big decisions after dropping Branislav Ivanovic as captain. Fellow Europeans Switzerland will be led by Vladimir Petkovic following Ottmar Hitzfeld’s retirement in 2014.
Germany boss Joachim Low is reportedly the highest-paid manager at the World Cup. The 58-year-old, who has been in charge since 2006, presided over their World Cup win in 2014 and a succession of near misses in the European Championships. They’re the joint-favourites again this time around thanks to their versatile 4-2-3-1 formation. They won 10 matches from 10 in qualifying.
They’re joined in Group F by Sweden, Mexico and South Korea. The Swedes will be led by Janne Andersson, who guided IFK Norrkoping to an unlikely Allsvenskan title in 2015. Mexico have the fiery Juan Carlos Osorio as coach. The Colombian was banned for six games by FIFA in 2017 after their third-place play-off with Portugal in the Confederations Cup.
Shin Tae-Yong will lead South Korea at the country’s ninth consecutive World Cup after taking over from Uli Stielike. Though not a formidable tactician, the 49-year-old inspires confidence in his side and may implement a 3-5-2 system in Russia.
Group G is headed by England and Belgium. We already know that the Three Lions are bossed by Gareth Southgate. But Belgium also have a familiar face in Roberto Martinez. The Spaniard was appointed to the role in 2016 after spells at Swansea, Wigan Athletic (where he won the FA Cup) and Everton.
He will be assisted by Thierry Henry as the tournament’s dark horses look to impress a free-flowing attacking style in Russia. Martinez has so far lost just a single game as Belgium manager.
Tunisia are back at the World Cup under the stewardship of Nabil Maaloul. The 55-year-old took over in 2017 having previously managed the Olympic squad and Kuwait. He’s versatile and often switches between a 4-2-3-1 and 4-3-3 formation depending on the opponent.
That leaves debutants Panama, who are headed by former Colombia, Ecuador and Guatemala coach Hernan Dario Gomez. They are considered the most unlikely team to win the World Cup.
An exciting group sees Colombia as the favourites under ex-Argentina coach Jose Pekerman. The 68-year-old is known for his tactical mindset and was dubbed ‘Superman’ following a string of impressive victories. He has faced the home nation in the quarter-finals at his last two World Cups.
They’re joined by Senegal, who have been managed by ex-Birmingham City and Portsmouth midfielder Aliou Cisse since 2015. The 42-year-old is the youngest manager at the World Cup and also captained his country when they appeared at the 2002 tournament in Japan and South Korea. He has moulded an exciting attacking side after coming through a qualifying group containing Burkina Faso, South Africa and Cape Verde.
Poland will be led Adam Nawalka for the second major tournament in a row. The Poles made it to the quarter-finals under his leadership at Euro 2016. Japan will look to utilise a counter-attacking style following their transition from a possession based side under Akira Nishino.
World Cup managers: The winning formula
World Cup winning managers tend to do so with a healthy level of experience. Joachim Low (Germany, 2014), Vicente del Bosque (Spain, 2010), Marcello Lippi (Italy, 2006), Luiz Felipe Scolari (Brazil, 2002), Aime Jacquet (France, 1998), Carlos Alberto Parreira (Brazil 1994) and Franz Beckenbauer (West Germany, 1990) are the last seven managers to win the World Cup.
All seven were aged between 50 and 60 at the time of their success. Beckenbauer is one of only four World Cup winning managers to accomplish the feat without managing a club side before taking the national team job. Juan Lopez, Vittorio Pozzo and Alberto Suppici are the other three.
No country that has ever won the World Cup has done so with a foreign manager. All 19 World Cup winning managers have done so with the country of their birth. However, only 10 of those 19 had previously played for their country as a player.
Brazil’s 1994 winner Carlos Alberto Parreira also holds the record for most World Cup appearances as a manager with six. England last won the tournament on home soil with Alf Ramsey in 1966.