Top 10 best available managers: Zidane still the prime pick

Football managers occupy a tough spot in today’s game. They are very quickly disposable when results do not go their club’s way. It is quicker to sack one man rather than overhaul an entire squad, particularly in the age of the sporting director.

The summer has brought many managerial changes, with six of our previous top 10 best available managers now employed, and a whole host of new coaches looking for a new challenge.

Top 10 best available managers – our picks

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's time at Manchester United may be looked on more favourably now – Photo by Icon Sport

10) Ole Gunnar Solskjaer

After over two seasons away from management – and his heart-breaking demise at Manchester United – perhaps Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is ready to manage again.

Solskjaer generally had a positive impact at United, even if things soured at the end. In his two full seasons at the helm, he led them to third and second placed finishes.

Solskjaer has previously said “I have a few offers but I'm not ready… because when you have been at United and managed them. You learn a few things and you want to do it your way the next time.”

Given Manchester United's recent struggles under Erik ten Hag, Solskjaer's time at United should perhaps be re-evaluated somewhat.

9) Joachim Low

The 2014 World Cup winner is an outside pick for many roles, having not managed a club since 2004.

However, he could be an excellent choice as an interim manager to steady the ship at a top club, given his experience coaching and managing the many superstars Germany had during his lengthy tenure between 2006 and 2021.

Low is not short of willing: he said in 2023 that he “would like to coach a club again. That would be fun for me.” Few coaches can boast a World Cup on their CV, so perhaps we'll see Low back in the dugout soon.

Laurent Blanc didn't last long at struggling Lyon – Photo by Icon Sport

8) Laurent Blanc

One of the finest defenders of his generation, Laurent Blanc has been in management for 17 years now, having first taken over at Bordeaux in 2007.

The Frenchman has since managed the French national side, Paris Saint-Germain and Olympique Lyonnais.

Blanc's managerial career started very brightly, helping Bordeaux to end Lyon's seven-season stranglehold on the Ligue 1 trophy in 2009, getting the best out of the likes of Yoann Gourcuff and Marouane Chamakh.

He moved on to the French national side in 2010, and helped stop the rot following the World Cup fiasco in South Africa.

Though he helped lay the foundations for Didier Deschamps' era, Blanc fell at the quarter-final stage to all-conquering Spain at Euro 2012.

He won all three league titles available in his spell at PSG too, but struggled to break through in the Champions League.

After over four years out of management, Blanc returned to the dugout at Al-Rayyan, but was sacked for a poor run of form.

History repeated itself at Lyon at the start of the 2023/24 season, and he was sacked after just four games.

Despite recent struggles, a manager of Blanc's calibre could definitely find a club, if he felt so inclined.

7) Sergio Conceicao

Former Portugal international Sergio Conceicao made himself very well-known to English fans in former club Porto's round of 16 Champions League clash with Arsenal.

Despite working with lesser resources, the 49-year-old made Mikel Arteta and co sweat as his side nullified the Gunners and forced a penalty shootout.

Conceicao has just ended his seven-year spell as Porto manager, having won three Primeira Liga titles, five cups and repeated strong performances in the Champions League.

Conceicao, whose son Francisco recently scored the winner for Portugal in their European Championships clash with Czechia, has previously managed elsewhere in Europe, taking charge at Nantes and Standard Liège.

After seven years at Porto, Conceicao is likely looking for a new challenge, perhaps in one of Europe's top five leagues.

Graham Potter is one of the Top 10 best available managers
Graham Potter has taken stock in the year since he left Chelsea – Photo by Icon Sport

6) Graham Potter

Graham Potter had a torrid time at Chelsea, but such was the quality of his work at Brighton, that he remains a hot commodity. 

Potter steadily modernised Brighton and improved every player under his charge, recording famous victories along the way. The Seagulls would not be enjoying their Europa League adventure with Roberto de Zerbi without the solid foundation laid by his predecessor.

The Englishman turned down advances from Leicester City earlier this year, and will be discerning in choosing where he goes next. West Ham have been linked with Potter in recent weeks, as their form under David Moyes continues to flounder.

5) Massimiliano Allegri

For eight years of the last decade, Max Allegri has been at the helm of Italian giant Juventus, with a two-year break between 2019 and 2021.

The first stretch of the Italian's time in Turin was phenomenal, winning five straight Serie A titles and reaching two Champions League finals.

His return has been less fruitful, with his win rate dropping from 70% to 54%, and failing to reclaim the Serie A title.

Allegri has come under serious scrutiny for the conservatism of his football, which many argued has held back the Old Lady's attackers.

But context is important here. Juventus' squad is nowhere near as talented as the one Allegri first had, with many of his best players leaving without adequate replacements.

The Bianconeri have also been in hot water with the authorities, resulting in points deductions outside of Allegri's control.

Allegri will be intent on proving he still has what it takes to be a top-class manager, and it will not be long until he is back in a hot-seat somewhere.

Roberto De Zerbi took Brighton up a level- Photo by Icon Sport

4) Roberto de Zerbi

Roberto de Zerbi departed Brighton with his head held high. Despite a challenging 2023/24, his record on the south coast is to be admired.

The idiosyncratic Italian took the Seagulls on their first ever European adventure, played arguably the best football in the Premier League, and developed some fine players.

De Zerbi was reportedly held talks with Manchester United, and was of interest to Juventus, but looks likely to join Marseille in Ligue 1 next.

3) Mauricio Pochettino

After a late rally in the season, English football was shocked to see Mauricio Pochettino depart Chelsea.

The Blues only lost one in their last 14, reached the League Cup final, snuck back into Europe and were showing green shoots of chemistry that have been missing in the last two seasons at Stamford Bridge.

But Pochettino and Chelsea's hierarchy decided to part ways, on account of different expectations of the responsibilities of Pochettino's role.

The Argentine's frustration with Clearlake Capital's recruitment process came increasingly to the fore late in the season.

Potential employers should not be dissuaded by Pochettino's time at Chelsea.

The 52-year-old developed young players like Cole Palmer and Malo Gusto, played front-footed football and forged a sense of togetherness in the squad.

All of these are attractive attributes, and Pochettino will likely have a range of suitors.

2) Thomas Tuchel

After less than 18 months at the helm at Bayern Munich, Thomas Tuchel has departed the Bavarian giant.

Tuchel won the Bundesliga handily in 2022/23, but 2023/34 saw Bayern lose out on the Bundesliga for the first time in over a decade.

The German can be prickly character, but there is strong reason to believe that Bayern's issues are much deeper seated than the man in the dugout.

Bayern's 2023/24 points tally of 72 was higher than last campaign's 71, and forms a steady downward trajectory in the Bavarians' totals since Pep Guardiola departed.

Tuchel's CV is glittering. He has won the Champions League with Chelsea, crafted a fine Borussia Dortmund side full of brilliant young players, and brought PSG within a whisker of European glory.

The 50-year-old has a brilliant tactical mind. It won't be long before we see him gracing Champions League touchlines again.

Zinedine is a legend on and off the pitch – Photo by Icon Sport

1) Zinedine Zidane

As strange as it sounds for a man with three UCL and two La Liga titles to his name (as a manager, that is), Zinedine Zidane is still something of an unknown quantity for all but one club. 

The Real Madrid job is such a unique one that it is hard to predict how he would fare in another environment. Zidane’s greatest skill is his ability to manage the big personalities in a colossal dressing room and keep them motivated – he reportedly left most of the coaching and tactical decision making to his staff and extraordinarily gifted and experienced players.

Zidane is one of an elite club of managers to have had enormous success on the pitch and in the dugout, ranking alongside the likes of Johan Cruyff and Franz Beckenbauer.

Zidane has been linked with Manchester United, PSG and Chelsea before, and now with Bayern Munich. But the Frenchman is reportedly very picky regarding which job to take. And who can blame him, given what he has achieved already?

William Evans is a football and politics fanatic. A first-class graduate of UEA's Broadcast and Digital Journalism MA course, he also achieved a first class degree in politics and media studies during his time at UEA.