Written By: Abidoye Babatunde
With the end of 2023 rapidly approaching, it’s safe to say it’s been another phenomenal year of football.
More often than not it is the players who get all the praise but today we are going to look at the tacticians who lead them.
Here are our top five managers of 2023…
5. Xabi Alonso (Bayer Leverkusen)
Xabi Alonso was a classy player and it seems his managerial skillset is just as good as his footballing ability.
Since taking the reins at Bayer Leverkusen in October 2022, his stock has only risen. Originally in the relegation zone when appointed, fast-forward a year and the club sit top of the Bundesliga and are unbeaten this season.
In fact, Alonso’s side are currently on one of the longest unbeaten runs in Europe having not lost one of their last 25 games in all competitions and they are the only team in Europe’s top five leagues to be unbeaten in all competitions.
Leverkusen have some world class talent in their ranks with the likes of Victor Boniface, Florian Wirtz and Jeremie Frimpong all contributing heavily.
They’re playing some great football and to keep Bayern Munich at bay in the Bundesliga takes some serious doing.
4) David Moyes (West Ham)
Maybe a bit of a bold shout but once you take things into perspective, you will see that the Scotsman belongs on this list.
Moyes has been pivotal in West Ham’s transformation from relegation candidates to European regulars.
In 2023 West Ham played 56 games in all competitions, they won 30 and drew nine. That’s a winning percentage of 53.57%.
But the most important factor of all is the success in Europe. West Ham ended their 42-year trophy drought by winning the Europa Conference League unbeaten with a fantastic 2-1 win over Fiorentina in Prague.
This alone makes Moyes a worthy candidate for this list but you can also add topping their Europa League group and a Carabao Cup quarter-final tie against Liverpool into the mix.
The football hasn’t been pretty at times but it’s a results based game and whether you like it or not, the Scotsman has had a blinder of a year with the Hammers.
3) Jonatan Giráldez (Barcelona Women)
In third place we have Barcelona Women manager Jonatan Giráldez. The Spaniard has been a revelation for Barça since his promotion to head coach back in July 2021.
His side have had a dominant 2023, winning 39 out of 41 games in all competitions. His influential side have only dropped their winning standards just twice this year, having drawn once to Emma Hayes’ Chelsea in the Champions League semi-finals and losing once to Madrid CCF in their last game of the 2022/23 season.
Such a winning streak comes with silverware and Giráldez’s side are in no means short of trophies.
Barcelona completed the treble, winning the Supercopa De España, the Primera División and the Champions League.
What’s more, they look set to do it all again with the 32-year-old’s side currently sitting top of the league, nine points clear of Real Madrid and top of their Champions League group stage with three wins from three.
The only change this time around is that any silverware won in 2024 will be a farewell for Giraldez who has recently confirmed he will be leaving the Catalan club at the end of the season, and what a legacy he will be leaving behind him.
2) Luciano Spalletti (Napoli/Italy)
In second place we have the current manager of the Italian men’s national team Luciano Spalletti, but his role managing the Azzurri is not the reason he has made this list.
Spalletti is the man who masterminded Napoli’s first Serie A title in well over 30 years.
Napoli dominated Serie A, becoming the third side ever to reach 50+ points in the first half of a single Serie A season and dealing out Juventus’ worse defeat since 1993 (5-1).
It was just their third ever league title and it has cemented the Italian as a Partenopei legend.
Spalletti also helped Napoli to reach the quarter-finals of the Champions League for the first time in their history, where they eventually lost out to eventual finalists.
Whilst it’s not the reason he has made the list, you can also add into consideration Italy’s qualification for Euro 2024, which is not always a guarantee and was achieved after he took over from Roberto Mancini this year.
1) Pep Guardiola (Manchester City)
And finally our best manager of 2023.
It will probably have come as little shock to many to see Pep Guardiola’s name at the top of our list.
Manchester City completed the sought after treble, winning the Premier League, FA Cup and the Champions League in their usual explosive fashion. In doing so they became the 8th team in history to have completed the feat, and the first English side since Manchester United in 1999.
Guardiola was appointed by win City the Champions League in the summer of 2016 and after seven long hard years of disappointment, heartbreak and coming desperately close in 2021, the Cityzens finally achieved their goal.
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They pipped Arsenal to the Premier League title despite the Gunners holding an eight-point lead at one stage, with City eventually lifting the trophy for the third consecutive season.
Guardiola’s side have gained 90 points in the Premier League across this year – more than any other team.
When you really look at it, it’s hard to argue against him.
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