In our updated top 10 best Spanish managers list, we're also taking a look at Luis de la Fuente's chances of joining the likes of tactical genius Pep Guardiola if he wins the next grand prize up for grabs in 2024.
It's been a dozen years since the greatest Spain squad of all time delivered it's second successive European title, doing so just two years after a maiden World Cup trophy.
Spain at Euro 2024: Can De la Fuente Lead La Roja to Glory?
Under De La Fuente, Spain enjoyed a strong Euro 2024 qualification campaign. La Roja topped Group A with seven wins and one defeat, which was a 2-0 loss in Scotland. Specifically how Spain dominated Group A was impressive too, with 25 goals scored.
De La Fuente is trying to implement a blend of experience and youth. A combination of youngsters like Lamine Yamal, Ferran Torres and Oihan Sancet with experienced senior players such as Joselu, Jesús Navas and captain Álvaro Morata shows where the 62-year-old sees the future of the Spanish team.
But a transitional Spain squad will face bigger tests in the Euros finals compared to the likes of Cyprus, Georgia and Norway in qualifying. Moreover, the loss of star player Gavi to a late ACL injury will give De La Fuente an early headache leading up to Euro 2024.
For such a strong Euro 2024 qualification campaign to follow a travesty of a World Cup elimination against Morocco, De La Fuente is already eighth on our charts. But he'd certainly threaten the top-three if La Roja were to lift the grand prize next summer.
The top 10 best Spanish managers of all time
10. Juande Ramos
Much of the credit for Sevilla’s achievements over the past two decades went to Monchi, the club’s sporting director – now with Aston Villa. However, while his transfer dealings and long-term strategising have had a massive impact on the Andalusian side’s progress, some praise must be given to Juande Ramos for kicking off an exciting new era.
Ramos didn’t enjoy much success as a player – he bounced around Spain’s lower leagues before retiring at the age of 28 – however, as a manager, he eventually worked his way up to La Liga through spells at Barcelona’s B team and Rayo Vallecano, where he won promotion.
In two seasons as Sevilla manager, from 2005 to 2007, he led the club to two consecutive UEFA Cup wins, one European Super Cup, one Spanish Cup and one Spanish Super Cup. In addition, he took the club to third place in La Liga in 2006/07, where they finished just five points behind champions Real Madrid.
A disappointing spell in England with Tottenham Hotspur tarnished Ramos’ reputation, but he has since gone on to do respectable work with Real Madrid and Ukrainian side Dnipro.
9. Javier Clemente
Javier Clemente never quite fulfilled his potential as a player, retiring at 24 after consecutive unsuccessful knee operations. However, as a manager, he would steer Athletic Bilbao to their greatest period of achievement.
His first spell as club coach saw Athletic remain in La Liga’s top four for five seasons in a row. And, in 1983 and 1984, they won the title. His style of play came under scrutiny for its roughness, with one moment in particular standing out. In 1983, during one of Athletic’s battles with César Luis Menotti’s Barcelona, Andoni Goikoetxea broke Diego Maradona’s ankle with an aggressive tackle from behind.
Thus, Clemente’s Athletic aren’t what comes to mind nowadays when people think of a traditional “Spanish style” of football, but they were uncompromising, apologised to no one, and won major honours in the process. It is this stern approach that has seen the Spanish veteran coach lead the likes of Libya and the Basque Country national teams in recent years.
8. Luis de la Fuente
Some managers flourish as leaders at the international level and forge careers for working with national team squads. Current Spain boss Luis de la Fuente fits this mould.
The former full-back had an established playing career in La Liga and he won two league titles and a Copa Del Rey between 1978 and 1994 with Athletic Bilbao. Following his retirement, De La Fuente remained in Spain and had spells managing Portugalete, Athletic Bilbao and Alavés.
However, the budding coach was appointed as Spain's under-19 coach in 2013 and he has been involved with La Roja’s setup ever since. De La Fuente has risen through the Spanish national team youth system, leading the under-19s, 21s and 23s. During this time, he achieved success at international level, winning the under-19 and under-21 European Championships.
Following Luis Enrique’s departure from a disappointing round of 16 exit at the 2022 World Cup, De La Fuente was appointed as head coach of the Spain national team up to Euro 2024. Since his appointment, the 62-year-old successfully guided La Roja to the Euro 2024 finals and led his side to the 2023 Nations League title.
7. Unai Emery
Following a playing career in Spain’s lower divisions, Unai Emery transitioned to coaching in 2004 with Lorca Deportiva. After his foray into club management, Emery soon stepped up in level and had long-term spells with Almería and Valencia.
In 2013, Emery moved to Sevilla and started to showcase his unique ability to produce stunning results in European competitions. Between 2013 and 2016, Emery led Sevilla to three consecutive Europa League titles and he would win one more with Villarreal in 2021..
A high-profile move to Paris Saint Germain followed for the former Real Sociedad player and he continued to win titles in France. In a trophy laden two year spell in Paris, Emery won Ligue 1 once and lifted two Coupe de France, Coupe de la Ligue and Trophée des Champions titles.
Another big move to the Premier League giants followed. But Emery struggled to replicate the form from PSG and Sevilla, although he continued his impressive record in the Europa League as the Gunners finished runners-up to Chelsea in 2019.
Now back in the Premier League with Aston Villa, Emery is proving to be a success with the Midlands club after joining in October 2022.
6. Luis Enrique
Luis Enrique led Barcelona to a famous treble in his first season with the club, a domestic double of league and cup followed in his second campaign and another Copa del Rey win in the third. The former Barca player also guided the Catalan side to a Champions League title in 2015.
His star-studded spell with Barca eventually led him to the Spanish national team job in 2018. Yet, despite his promise as a developing coach, Enrique’s four-year reign was turbulent. After a year at the helm of La Roja, Enrique surprisingly quit after accusing Robert Moreno, one of his backroom staff, of disloyalty.
Eventually, Enquire returned to the national team fold and led his side to the Euro 2020 semi-finals with a youthful squad. But the former Barca player was unable to replicate such a run at the 2022 World Cup after his side was eliminated by Morocco in the round of 16 and he stepped down after the disappointment.
Following a seventh-month hiatus, Enrique returned to professional football as Paris Saint Germain’s new manager ahead of the 2023/24 campaign.
5. Luis Aragonés
Tiki-taka was a celebrated term given to the style of play adopted by the Spanish national team as they won consecutive European Championships in 2008 and 2012, and the World Cup in 2010. The man behind the first victory, and the implementation of the style, was Luis Aragonés.
That achievement was undoubtedly his most important, but long before Aragonés ended decades of Spanish underachievement he won several major honours as Atlético Madrid manager.
Having scored over 100 league goals for the club, he took up the managerial post immediately upon his retirement as a player. He proceeded to win La Liga in 1977, as well as one cup and one Intercontinental Cup.
Aragonés had three more spells with Atlético, winning two more Spanish cups, as well as a brief spell at Barcelona, before taking the national team job in 2004.
4. José Villalonga
If Aragonés was the man to end Spain’s torment, José Villalonga could be blamed as the man who got the country’s footballing hopes up in the first place. In 1964, he led La Roja to their first-ever international honour, winning the European Nations Cup on home soil with victories over Hungary and the Soviet Union.
Before that game-changing summer, Villalonga had, unusually, enjoyed spells as manager of both major Madrid clubs – Real and Atlético. With the former, he won two leagues and two European Cups before a fall-out with his assistant coach and questions over his use of Alfredo Di Stéfano led to his dismissal. He then went on to second place in La Liga while winning two Spanish Cups and one European Cup Winners’ Cup.
3. Miguel Muñoz
It isn’t easy to hold down the Real Madrid manager’s position. Thus it speaks volumes about Miguel Muñoz’s quality and consistency that he is the club’s longest serving coach.
Between 1960 and 1974 he managed Los Blancos, winning an incredible nine Spanish titles, more than any other manager has achieved (his nearest rivals – Enrique Fernandez, Helenio Herrera and Johan Cruyff – won four apiece). Muñoz also continued the club’s fine tradition of winning European Cups, overseeing their victories in the competition in 1960 and 1966. On top of all that, he won one Intercontinental Cup and two Spanish cups.
While he had an array of talent at his disposal, Muñoz was a bold man-manager. Indeed, he decided to drop Di Stéfano from the team in 1964. And, while he was unable to win further silverware with Granada, Las Palmas or Sevilla, he did take the Spanish national team to the final of the 1984 European Championships in France.
2. Vicente del Bosque
Few could take control of a group of sizeable egos including the likes of Xavi, Andreas Iniesta, Carlo Puyol and Sergio Ramos and lead them with such composure and understated class. One short spell with Turkish club Beşiktaş aside, Vincent del Bosque spent his entire managerial career with Real Madrid or Spain, handling both roles with aplomb.
Just as the Galácticos era went into overdrive, del Bosque won two league titles and two Champions Leagues with Real Madrid. Some would argue that with a team including stars such as Zinédine Zidane, Luis Figo and Ronaldo it would have been hard not to win, but Real had significant issues regarding the team’s balance that del Bosque managed expertly. As former player Steve McManaman said: “His [del Bosque’s] skill is in subtly weighing up how the team could tick.”
Del Bosque then built on Aragonés’ 2008 European Championship win, taking Spain to the same trophy in 2012 with a first-ever World Cup triumph in between.
The football played by Pep Guardiola's Barcelona will live long in the memory. His decision to bring Messi inside and have him operate as a false nine; his promotion and deployment of Sergio Busquets in a deep-lying midfielder role; his re-signing and development of Gerard Piqué from Manchester United reject world-class centre-back; there are so many calls made by Guardiola that shaped arguably the greatest club side in history.
The Catalan's decision-making and sensational style of play led Barcelona to a treble of league, cup and Champions League in 2009. That was added to by a Spanish Super Cup, a European Super Cup and an Intercontinental Cup. Two more La Liga titles, one more Champions League and one more Spanish cup followed before the manager took his aura to Bayern Munich.
Under unbearable pressure immediately after the German side won the treble the season before its arrival, Guardiola nonetheless implemented his option of football, holding off the threat posed by Jürgen Klopp’s Dortmund to win three consecutive Bundesliga titles.
Guardiola eventually left Bavaria for Man City and continued to mastermind footballing success at the top level. While the Spanish coach has delivered monumental domestic success through five Premier League titles, four EFL Cups and two FA Cups, his biggest achievement with City came in the 2022/23 season.
After securing the Premier League and FA Cup titles for the season, the Citizens went a step further to beat Inter Milan in the Champions League final. The result sealed a coveted treble and delivered City’s first-ever Champions League title.