Football can be a cruel, cruel game and is seemingly continuing in that direction. We currently find ourselves in probably the most cutthroat era there ever has been in football history. There’s usually a myriad of reasons why a team doesn’t perform well but almost always, the buck stops with the coach. Keeping that in mind, let’s take a look at the top five managers currently out of work.
Allegri might not be known for an exciting brand of football, but there’s no doubt over his tactical nous. Between 2014 and 2019, the 53-year-old Italian helped Juventus increase their stronghold over Serie A by winning the Scudetto each year, having won it once before with AC Milan in 2011. With 6 Serie A titles, 4 Coppa Italia and 3 Supercoppa Italiana, Allegri is arguably the greatest Italian manager in recent history.
Allegri’s time at Juve came to an end in 2019 (with 70.5% win ratio) after he failed to win the Champions League with the club, having taken them to the final twice. While Juve are still waiting to win the coveted European crown, Allegri’s name keeps gathering traction with every passing day that sees him without a club.
Usually a calm, mild-tempered personality, Allegri’s teams are known for their defensive and positional acuity, which is a vital requisite for any club that dismiss their manager in search of stability. There have been apprehensions regarding Allegri’s brand of football working outside of Italy, but his name now pops up every time a big-name club sack their manager. It is only a matter of time before someone calls Allegri for his services.
For a guy who was a banker in his 40s, 62-year-old Maurizio Sarri has done pretty well for himself. His managerial career rose to fame during his time at Napoli, which saw him almost topple Juve from their perch with significantly lesser resources, culminating in a 91-points season in 2017-18 that saw Napoli miss out on the Scudetto by five points.
Since then, Sarri has had two one-year stints. He spent the 2018-19 season at Chelsea, where he finished third in the Premier League and won the Europa League. He was then poached away before the start of next season by former rivals Juventus themselves with whom he finally won the Serie A; the club’s ninth consecutive league win. He was later dismissed in August last year after Juve got knocked out of the Champions League in the Round of 16 by Ligue 1 side Olympique Lyonnais.
Despite winning trophies at Chelsea and Juve, Sarri had a hard time connecting with fans of either club, who never really managed to buy into “Sarriball” – the name bestowed upon his rigid yet robust brand of football. There’s an argument to be made here that Sarriball never really got into gear because of the lack of time given to Maurizio, but the heights his football reached during his time at Napoli indicates that given the right amount of time, Sarri’s tactics certainly come good. Now with some silverware under his belt, there’s no doubt Maurizio Sarri warrants another shot at a big-name club, one ready to invest in his long-term vision to reap the best results.
If anything, Ernesto Valverde’s stock has risen since his dismissal from Barcelona last January. Given the way the Catalan club’s dismal state has unravelled over the past twelve months, it is clear that the 56-year-old was clearing out a lot more fires than previously believed, and yet somehow managed to win back-to-back La Liga titles between 2017 and 2019 along with a Copa del Rey (2017-18) and Supercopa de España (2018). Remarkable.
Valverde’s other achievements include taking Athletic Bilbao back to the Champions League and a scintillating run to the UEFA Cup (now UEFA Europa League) final with RCD Espanyol back in 2007. Clearly, Valverde knows how to ride high even in dangerous waters. There’s only a matter of time before he returns to management.
Ralf Rangnick is easily the most underrated name in this list, but not one that doesn’t deserve to be here. Known for his calculating nature, Rangnick is a brilliant multitasker and was at one point serving as both manager and sporting director to RB Leipzig. He’s ideal for a club looking to find someone who can fill more roles than one.
Rangnick was at one point certain to join AC Milan ahead of this season, only for Stefano Pioli finishing the season with a form so promising he couldn’t be dismissed. While AC Milan’s decision to keep Pioli has paid dividends so far with the Rossoneri top of the Serie A, it still leaves Ralf waiting for an offer.
Despite a managerial career that dates as far back as 1983, Ralf Rangnick is yet to have a high-profile stint. Now 62, he understands he won’t be getting a lot of chances, making his next job a crucial one. There have been reports linking him to directorial roles all over Europe, but if the right club were to ask for his managerial services it would very hard for Rangnick to turn them down.
With his managerial CV, Rafa Benítez needs no formal introduction. The 60-year-old has only recently made himself available to this list after leaving Chinese Super League side Dalian Professional last week.
With his ruthless defensive tactics, Rafa has won silverware at every major club he’s been. Before moving to China, he endeared himself to the fans of Newcastle United, the club he had to leave citing irreconcilable differences with owner Mike Ashley. While he’s been considered in some circles to pick up that role once again, it’s highly unlikely he’ll go back to Tyneside while Ashley presides over St. James’ Park.
Benítez has currently decided to take a step back and be with his family; given last year, he can hardly be blamed. He has also signalled that he’ll be waiting for the ‘perfect’ job to open up for him to return to football. While it’s likely he’ll stick to roles within the UK, given the way football managers fall across the continent throughout a season, it’s anybody’s guess where Rafa goes next.