5 greatest Real Madrid managers of the 21st century

5 greatest Real Madrid managers of the 21st century

Spanish giants Real Madrid recently beat Athletic Bilbao in the final of the Supercopa de Espana (Spanish Super Cup). The title was the club's 31st major honour of the 21st century.

Los Blancos have maintained their status as one of the world's elite football clubs, thanks to an astonishingly dominant run in the 2010s. Their superlative performances in the Champions League helped ease the pain of the 2000s, which was a difficult period for the storied organisation.

Real Madrid are in the hunt for multiple trophies this year. It would not be a surprise to see Los Blancos add to their tally of trophies later this year. The Spanish giants are currently top of the La Liga table, four points clear of second-placed Sevilla. Carlo Ancelotti's men are also scheduled to face Paris Saint-Germain in the Champions League Round of 16 next month.

The Italian tactician is enjoying a wonderful return to the Santiago Bernabeu, and is among the greatest coaches to have managed the club. However, as Don Carlo basks in the glory of Real Madrid's most recent major trophy (Spanish Super Cup), we take a look at the club's five greatest managers of the 21st century:

#5 Bernd Schuster

The period between 2003 and 2010 was one of turmoil for Los Blancos. While Ronaldinho and Lionel Messi were guiding arch-rivals Barcelona to trophies, Real Madrid employed nine different managers over a seven-year period.

Only three of those nine coaches lasted 50 games or longer in the Spanish capital. The likes of Juande Ramos, Carlos Quieroz, Fabio Capello and Manuel Pellegrini all endured difficult times at the club.

One manager who stood out in obscurity was German coach Bernd Schuster. He spent 17 months at the Santiago Bernabeu between July 2007 and December 2008, winning a La Liga title and a Spanish Super Cup. He managed the club in 75 games, winning 44 of them, to finish with a win percentage of 58.6.

It was not an excellent spell by any means, considering Los Blancos' lofty standards. However, it remains a bright spot in a testing time for the Spanish giants.

#4 Jose Mourinho

Jose Mourinho arrived at the Santiago Bernabeu in May 2010 with a glowing reputation. Fresh off a stunning continental treble with Inter Milan, the Special One was widely acknowledged as the best coach in the world at the time.

However, Mourinho's three-year stint at Real Madrid was a mixed bag. He won three titles, including a La Liga, the Copa del Rey and the Spanish Super Cup. However, failure to win the Champions League and several El Clasico defeats against Pep Guardiola's Barcelona saw the mood at the club turn sour.

The club won 128 of their 178 games under Mourinho, giving him a terrific win percentage of 71. Despite a tumultuous relationship with club supremo Florentino Perez, the Portuguese tactician built an excellent team. However, Guardiola's Barcelona, arguably the greatest club team in history, were simply too good. Nonetheless, the current AS Roma boss is credited with building the foundation for Real Madrid's success in the 2010s.

Mourinho and Real Madrid famously got the better of Guardiola's Blaugrana in the historic 2011-12 La Liga season. Los Blancos won the title after breaching the 100-point barrier and scoring 121 goals, which remains the highest league goal tally in the club's history.

#3 Vincente del Bosque

Spain's only World Cup-winning coach, Vincente del Bosque, enjoyed a very successful four-year term at Real Madrid between 1999 and 2003.

One of the greatest managers the country has produced, Del Bosque is fondly remembered by Madridistas for leading the club to two Champions League triumphs (2000 and 2002).

Under his tutelage, Los Blancos won two La Liga titles, a Spanish Super Cup, an Intercontinental Cup and a UEFA Super Cup as well.

Winning eight trophies, Del Bosque managed the club for 233 games, emerging victorious in 127 of them to end with a win percentage of 54. The end of his tenure also marked the beginning of Real Madrid's difficult seven-year spell that lasted until Jose Mourinho's arrival in 2010.

#2 Carlo Ancelotti

Real Madrid's current boss Carlo Ancelotti is a very close second on our list. The Italian tactician, who was a terrific player in his playing days, is one of the greatest managers to have graced the sport.

Ancelotti is one of just three managers to have won the Champions League three times. He is also one of only seven individuals to have won Europe's premier club competition both as a player and as a manager. Across two spells at Real Madrid, Don Carlo has managed 148 games, winning 111 of them, which gives him an astonishing win percentage of 75.

During his first spell in Madrid, he led Los Blancos to a Champions League triumph (the legendary La Decima no less), a Copa del Rey, a UEFA Super Cup and the Club World Cup. He also added the Spanish Super Cup to his trophy haul earlier this month.

The only glaring absence from Ancelotti's trophy cabinet in Spain is a La Liga crown. Fortunately, he is on course to remedy that, and could finally clinch an elusive Spanish league title later this year. He also mentored a certain Zinedine Zidane, giving the Frenchman his first big break in management and later elevating him to the post of assistant manager.

#1 Zinedine Zidane

Already considered to be the greatest French player in history, Zinedine Zidane may very well finish as the greatest manager to emerge from the country as well. The legendary 1998 Ballon d'Or winner's coaching CV is absolutely stacked, and there's a sense that he's only just getting started.

Like his mentor Ancelotti, Zidane has enjoyed two successful spells at Real Madrid. The first stint lasted a little over two years between January 2016 and May 2018. That yielded a Spanish Super Cup, a La Liga title, two FIFA Club World Cups, two UEFA Super Cups and three consecutive UEFA Champions League titles.

In the process, Zidane became the only manager in the game's history to win three consecutive Champions League titles. He also joined Ancelotti as one of three managers with three Champions League titles and one of seven to have won the competition both as a player as well as a manager.

After Cristiano Ronaldo's departure from the Spanish capital, Zidane returned for a two-year stint in 2019, adding another La Liga title and a Spanish Super Cup to his haul. He departed in 2021 with 11 trophies to his name, 173 wins from 263 games and a superb win percentage of 65.
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