Manager XI: The best team of coaches currently employed based on their playing careers

  • Rob Swan
Chelsea v Liverpool - Premier League

Not every great player turns out to be a great coach.

The likes of Johan Cruyff, Franz Beckenbauer and Pep Guardiola were all masters on the pitch and in the dugout.

But for every Cruyff, Beckenbauer and Guardiola, there’s a Ruud Guilt, Tony Adams and Gary Neville.

There are, however, some excellent former players currently in managerial roles across the world.

We’ve had a go at putting them into an XI. Some big names have missed out, including Antonio Conte and the aforementioned Guardiola. There was an abundance of choices for the midfield spots, but less so for the other positions.

Goalkeeper: Julen Lopetegui (Sevilla)

There weren’t many goalkeepers to choose from (and no… Kepa Arrizabalaga doesn’t count) so it was a toss-up between Julen Lopetegui and Nuno Espirito Santo.

Nuno won multiple titles with Porto, mainly as a back-up ‘keeper, but never won a cap for Portugal.

Lopetegui, on the other hand, was capped by Spain and also played for both Real Madrid and Barcelona.

For that reason, the Spaniard gets the nod in between the sticks.

Centre-back: Vincent Kompany (Anderlecht)

One of the best defenders of the Premier League era, Vincent Kompany walks into this XI. We’d probably give him the captain’s armband, too.

The Belgian, who is currently employed as Anderlecht’s player-manager after leaving Manchester City in the summer, was a first-class centre-back who inspired those around him.


Centre-back: Sol Campbell (Southend United)

Another legendary Premier League defender, Sol Campbell enjoyed an excellent career, making over 600 career appearances for the likes of Tottenham, Arsenal and Portsmouth.

He also pulled on the England shirt 73 times, scoring one goal.

Campbell has enjoyed a decent start to his managerial career, impressing at Macclesfield Town last season before taking the reins at struggling League One side Southend United in October.

Arsenal v FC Porto - UEFA Champions League

Centre-back: Jonathan Woodgate (Middlesbrough)

Jonathan Woodgate was a top defender but missed a lot of games during his career through injury.

Real Madrid don’t sign you unless you’re a great player (well, unless you’re Julien Faubert), and Woodgate almost certainly would have achieved more if he’d been able to stay fit.

The 39-year-old is now in charge of his boyhood club Middlesbrough, who have endured a tough start to the 2019/20 campaign.

Manchester City v Middlesbrough

Central midfield: Patrick Vieira (Nice)

A magnificent Premier League player best remembered for his nine-year spell at Arsenal, Patrick Vieira is this team’s midfield enforcer.

The Frenchman, who was part of the Gunners’ iconic ‘Invincibles’ side and earned over 100 caps for France, began his coaching career with New York City FC before landing the Nice job in 2018.

Tottenham Hotspur v Arsenal

Central midfield: Frank Lampard (Chelsea)

Chelsea’s all-time record goalscorer, Frank Lampard walks his way into the Manager XI midfield.

Now 41, Lampard - winner of three Premier League titles, four FA Cups and one Champions League - is currently managing the Blues and doing a very impressive job.

He began his coaching career with Derby County in 2018 after a couple of years working as a pundit for BT Sport.


Left-wing: Ryan Giggs (Wales)

Ryan Giggs is one of the best left-wingers of all time (if not *the* best), so he’s an obvious pick for the Manager XI.

The Manchester United hero, who won a remarkable 13 Premier League titles during his glittering career, worked in a coaching capacity at Old Trafford before moving on when Jose Mourinho was hired as Louis van Gaal’s successor in 2016.

The 45-year-old has been in charge of the Welsh national team since 2018.

Manchester United v Arsenal - UEFA Champions League

Right-wing: Steven Gerrard (Rangers)

Another world-class player-turned-manager, Steven Gerrard has been working as Rangers’ head coach since 2018. He previously worked alongside Lampard in the BT Sport studio.

The Liverpool legend, who produced countless inspirational performances for the Reds during his playing days, has enjoyed an auspicious start to his managerial career.


Attacking midfield: Zinedine Zidane (Real Madrid)

The best midfielder on this list, in terms of ability. Zinedine Zidane is one of the best footballers we’ve ever seen.

The Frenchman, who is best remembered for his spells at Juventus and Real Madrid, gave joy to millions of football fans during the late-1990s and early-to-mid-2000s thanks to his unbelievable talent.

Zidane has since proven himself to be a top manager, helping Madrid add three more European Cups to their collection between 2016-2018.

Real Madrid's Zinedine Zidane  shoots a

Forward: Diego Maradona (Gimnasia de La Plata)

Regarded by some as the greatest footballer of all time, Diego Maradona needs no introduction.

The Argentine icon, who inspired his country to World Cup glory in 1986, has experienced an eventful coaching career since taking charge of his beloved country’s national team in 2008.

Agentina v West Germany World Cup 1986

Maradona has spent time managing Al-Wasl and Fujairah in the United Arab Emirates. He coached Mexican side Dorados de Sinaloa more recently and now finds himself in charge of Argentine side Gimnasia de La Plata.

He recently managed a game while sat in a throne on the touchline, which is peak El Diego.

Forward: Andriy Shevchenko (Ukraine)

(NOTE: This was written just before Thierry Henry was appointed Montreal Impact manager!)

It may not have worked out for Andriy Shevchenko at Chelsea, but never forget how good he was for AC Milan and Ukraine.

At his peak, there was no better centre-forward in European football.

Shevchenko, who quit football to embark on a career in politics in 2012, took charge of Ukraine’s national team in 2016.

AC Milan v PSV Eindhoven

Manager XI

And here's the XI in full...

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