The manager, the head coach, gaffer, the boss; whatever you call them, they’re the most important person on any team. And the Football Whispers team is here to present the 11 greatest English managers to ever grace the beautiful game.
Name: Sir Alf Ramsey
Teams Managed: Ipswich Town, England, Birmingham City
Years Active: 1955-80
With over 300 appearances for Southampton and Tottenham, Sir Alf Ramsey called time on a decent career in 1955 to become one of the greatest England managers in history.
Fifth on our list of the top eleven English football managers, the former England captain is the man that managed to lead the national team to glory in 1966, immortalizing both Ramsey and his squad for the next half century and more.
Winning the World Cup with England is no easy feat, but let’s focus on why he got the job in the first place.
It’s sometimes easy to forget that he led Ipswich Town to the summit of English football at the first attempt, which is all the more impressive when you factor in their humble beginnings when he first joined the club.
He took over in 1955 while they were in the third tier and helped to mastermind promotions during his seven-year tenure, which eventually culminated in a First Division win in 1961.
It led to a new role managing the poisoned chalice of football, but at the time it seemed like his cup was overflowing with the good stuff. He promised to win the World Cup when he was appointed as England boss, and incredibly delivered at the first time of asking.
He never managed to emulate the success of his early work in later seasons, but he continued to manage England until 1974.
The wingless wonders of 1966 are seen as a tactical masterstroke for the time, while team selection is widely agreed to be one of the key reasons for the triumph. He used methods formed at Ipswich to improve England’s defense, and packed the midfield with willing runners. It proved to pay dividends for both teams, but mental aspects were also extremely important for the manager.
Discipline and respect were key to his ethos, and he demanded nothing less from his players at all times. He treated every player equally, and it seemed to resonate with the squad as they rallied together to perform at their optimum ability.
After a decade with England, it ended fairly acrimoniously after failure to qualify for the 1974 World Cup. Ramsey was still in demand, and landed a managerial role with Birmingham city in 1977, coming out of retirement by the allure of one last throw of the dice.
It was to be his last job after health issues forced him to call time in 1978, just six months after taking on the role. One league title with Ipswich is all there is in terms of major silverware, but he also led England to the semi-finals of Euro 1968, where they were dispatched by Yugoslavia.
Negative tactics were said to be the problem in the latter stages of his career, but he still deserves the plaudits for delivering on his promise.
As the last manager to lead England to glory, Ramsey is held in high esteem, while there’s a statue of him located at Portman Road as well as a bust on display in the tunnel at Wembley Stadium.
His legacy lives on as the nation looks back every time the World Cup comes around, and it’s also a reminder of a time when the country could actually claim to be one of the best in the world at football.
After winning the World Cup, does it really matter that he started to lose his spark after 1966? Staying at the top is a near impossible feat, and at least he reached the pinnacle in the first place. Some never even get to see beyond the clouds, so it’s worth appreciating that one win is better than none.
As the only World Cup winner on the list, he deserves to be remembered as one of the greatest English managers in history.
The fact he was able to find success with both club and country raises him above most, although some argue that his efforts with the national side aren’t as spectacular when comparing careers with some of the most successful managers on this list.
Without Sir Alf Ramsey, would England have a star on their shirt? He led the team and the country to arguably their greatest ever sporting achievement, and that’s why he will always be remembered as a national hero, and a brilliant manager.