LaLiga officially known as LaLiga Santander for sponsorship reasons, is the men’s top professional football division of the Spanish football league.
Managers who have coached top flight teams in LaLiga are among the finest in the world of football.
Talks about their results, achievements, educated and in many ways have determined the game’s present landscape.
Ranking the most successful managers in the last two decades in LaLiga Santander is a tricky task. In doing so, it is important to respect the achievements solely in Spanish titles alone.
Therefore, the following are the most successful managers in LaLiga in the last two decades.
10. Tito Vilanova
Francesc “Tito” Vilanova Bayó was a Spanish professional football central midfielder and manager.
A career which consisted of a total of 26 LaLiga matches in three seasons, with Celta de Vigo.
He went on to work with Barcelona as an assistant coach under Pep Guardiola, being part of the squads that won 14 titles.
Vilanova was appointed first-team manager in 2012, winning the LaLiga in his only season.
He stepped down in July 2013 due to ill health, and died the following year from cancer.
9. Fabio Capello
Fabio Capello is an Italian former professional football manager and player.
In 2006, Capello arrived in Madrid to a Real side suffering one of the longest spells without a trophy in their history.
His remit was to bring the title back to Madrid, a task that had been too much for five other coaches since 2003.
At Real Madrid, Capello had several high-profile falling outs, and was criticised for not playing David Beckham and Ronaldo. A feud with his fellow compatriot Antonio Cassano also ensued.
In March, Real were again eliminated early from the Champions League and were mired in fourth place in the league, six points behind Barcelona.
Real Madrid won their 30th league title on the final day of the season by beating Mallorca 3–1 at home.
The victory was achieved after Capello substituted an injured Beckham and brought on José Antonio Reyes. Real had been 1–0 down prior to the substitution and Reyes turned the match scoring two goals.
Despite winning La Liga, Capello was sacked on 28 June 2007 due to Real’s pragmatic style of play.
At a club with recent memories of the individualistic and free-flowing, but ultimately unsuccessful, Galácticos Era.
8. Bernd Schuster
Bernd Schuster is a German former football player of the late 1970s through early 1990s.
He won club titles playing for the Spanish sides FC Barcelona (1980–1987) and Real Madrid (1988–1990).
After retiring as a player, he managed a number of European clubs, including Real Madrid, taking them to the league title in the 2007–08 season.
Schuster was appointed coach of Real Madrid on 9 July 2007.
As manager, he made a successful start with Real Madrid, taking them to top of the La Liga standings.
Attacking football returned again to the Santiago Bernabéu stadium with Madrid having the strongest offence.
He changed Real Madrid’s style of play, switching from the defensive football during the reign of Fabio Capello to fast paced, attacking football.
On 4 May 2008, Schuster guided Real Madrid to their 31st title with three games to spare.
On 18 May 2008, Schuster’s Real Madrid achieved the highest point total (85 points) a record that was set by rivals Barcelona.
He went on to win the Supercopa de España. Although enjoying a successful season with Madrid, Schuster had frequent confrontations with the media.
On 9 December 2008, Schuster stepped down as coach after a 4–3 defeat to Sevilla FC, and speaking out publicly about his team standing no chance of beating Barcelona (Coached by Pep Guardiola at the time) in the El Clásico derby match.
7. Rafael Benitez
Rafael Benítez Maudes is a Spanish professional football manager and former player who was most recently manager of Chinese Super League club Dalian Professional.
In 2001, Benítez was appointed coach of Valencia, replacing Héctor Cúper.
Valencia fans were soon won over by Benítez after he introduced a more attacking style of play than his predecessor, Cúper.
In 2002, these tactics saw Benítez lead Valencia to their first La Liga title in 31 years, winning it by a seven-point margin over second-placed Deportivo La Coruña.
However, the following 2002–03 season was a disappointing one; the club failed to follow up on their title success, finishing 18 points behind champions Real Madrid, and missed out on the top four by a single point.
In 2003–04 season, Valencia won La Liga with three games to spare and beat Marseille 2–0 in the UEFA Cup final.
Despite this success, Benítez fell out with Jesús García Pitarch, the club’s director of football, over control of new signings and the club’s failure to reinforce the squad with the players he wanted.
These differences of opinion saw Benítez resign as Valencia coach on 1 June 2004.
6. Diego Simeone
Diego Pablo Simeone González is an Argentine professional football manager and former player who played as a midfielder.
On 23 December 2011, Simeone was unveiled as the new Atlético Madrid coach, succeeding Gregorio Manzano.
In 2012 in the domestic league, the team made an impressive start to the season, finishing the first half in second place, behind only Barcelona and above city rivals Real Madrid.
Eventually, Simeone led the team to a third-place finish in the league, which at the time was the best finish in 17 years for Atlético.
On 17 May 2013, he won the Copa del Rey after Atlético defeated rivals Real Madrid 2–1 at the Santiago Bernabéu Stadium.
Atlético began the 2013–14 season with a similar squad to their prior season, despite selling star player Radamel Falcao to Monaco and acquiring David Villa from Barcelona on a free transfer.
While the season began with a defeat to Barça in the 2013 Supercopa de España, the team recorded eight-straight victories in LaLiga, the best league start in club history.
This included a 1–0 away win at the Santiago Bernabéu against Real Madrid, making Simeone the first Atlético manager since Claudio Ranieri in 1999 to record a league victory there.
Atlético finished the first half of the season in first place in La Liga, level on points with Barcelona at 47.
In the last round of the season, on 17 May, Atlético were crowned Champions of LaLiga following the draw they needed to win their tenth league title and first since 1996, when Simeone himself was an Atlético player.
Simeone became the second Argentine manager after Helenio Herrera to hand Atlético a Spanish championship, and the second manager after Luis Aragonés to win it both as a player and as a coach of the team.
The 2014 Supercopa de España was a two-legged football match-up played in August 2014 between the champions of 2013–14 La Liga, Atlético Madrid, and the winner of the 2013–14 Copa del Rey, Real Madrid.
The first leg ended 1–1. Atlético won the trophy after beating Real Madrid 1–0 in second leg.
This was the first time that the Supercopa de España was a Madrid derby, and also the first time since 2008 that the competition did not feature Barcelona.
Simeone will be looking forward to lift the LaLiga title for a second time at the end of the 2020-21 campaign as his Atlético sides sits on top of the league table.
6. Jose Mourinho
Jose Mourinho is a Portuguese professional football manager and former player who was most recently the head coach of Premier League club Tottenham Hotspur.
On 31 May 2010, Mourinho unveiled as the new manager of Real Madrid after taking over from Manuel Pellegrini at the Santiago Bernabéu.
Prior to Mourinho’s arrival, Real Madrid had underperformed despite paying record transfer fees for Galácticos such as Kaká and Cristiano Ronaldo.
On 29 August 2010, Real Madrid drew 0–0 at Mallorca in Mourinho’s first LaLiga game as manager.
Although, the following league games were won by Mourinho defeating Málaga 4–1 and Racing Santander 6–1.
On 29 November 2010, Mourinho’s Madrid were defeated in his first Clásico encounter against Barcelona.
The match, held in Camp Nou, ended 5–0 to the hosts, with Real Madrid director Florentino Pérez regarding it the worst game in the history of Real Madrid.
On 22 December 2010, Mourinho won a match by the widest margin in his career, winning 8–0 against Levante, also of LaLiga, in the first leg of their quarter-final of the Copa del Rey.
On 20 April 2011, Mourinho won his first trophy in Spanish football as Real Madrid defeated arch-rivals Barcelona 1–0 in the Copa del Rey final.
It was held at the Mestalla Stadium in Valencia, ending Real Madrid’s 18-year-long Copa del Rey drought. Also Real’s first trophy since their 2007–08 La Liga title.
On 21 April 2012, Real Madrid won 2–1 against Barcelona in El Clásico at Camp Nou, extending their lead in La Liga to seven points with four matches remaining.
This was the first victory for Real Madrid in LaLiga against their archrivals since 2008 and the first overall at Camp Nou since 2007.
Also, in this match Real Madrid broke the record for most goals scored in the championship, with 109.
Barcelona manager Pep Guardiola conceded the title to Real Madrid.
On 2 May 2012, Real Madrid won 3–0 against Athletic Bilbao to clinch the Liga title for the first time in four years.
On 13 May 2012, Real Madrid defeated Mallorca 4–1 in their last league match of the season, which set records for most games won in a LaLiga season (32), most away wins (16), most points obtained in any of the top European leagues (100), improving the most goals scored record they already had set earlier (121) and finishing the season with the highest goal difference (+89).
Real Madrid topped the league nine points clear of runners-up Barcelona.
On 22 May 2012, Mourinho signed a new four-year contract to remain as Real Madrid manager through to 2016.
After losing 3–2 in Barcelona in the first leg of the 2012 Supercopa de España, Real Madrid won the return leg in Madrid 2–1.
Real Madrid won the competition on the away goals rule after a tie of 4–4 on aggregate.
This meant Mourinho had won every domestic title available for a manager in the Spanish top division within two years.
He became the only coach who has won the national super cups in four European countries.
This also made Mourinho the first manager in history to win every domestic title, the league championship, cup, super cup and league cup in four European leagues.
5. Vicente Del Bosque
Vicente del Bosque González is a Spanish football manager and former player who last managed the Spain national team.
He is regarded as one of the greatest and most successful managers of all time.
He is to date the only football manager to have won the Champions League, the European Championship, and the World Cup, as well as the Intercontinental Cup.
Del Bosque served at Real Madrid since 1994 and rose through the ranks at the club and was given the full time job in 1999–2000 by the club management.
In his four seasons in charge, del Bosque ushered the club through two domestic LaLiga titles in 2001 and 2003, a Supercopa de España in 2001.
In the del Bosque era Real managed 104 wins out of a possible 186 in his time as coach of Madrid.
Despite the level of success, many players were bought without the input of del Bosque amid often made allegations that the Real Madrid hierarchy (in particular Pérez and general manager Jorge Valdano) had more control over transfer policy, team selection and other aspects of club that minimised the level of control del Bosque had during his time as manager.
Real Madrid decided not to renew Del Bosque’s contract in 2003, just a day after he won the club its 29th Liga title and a week after the club signed David Beckham.
4. Frank Rijkaard
Franklin Edmundo Rijkaard is a Dutch former footballer and former manager who played as a midfielder or defender.
In his managerial career, he was at the helm of the Netherlands national team, Sparta Rotterdam, Barcelona, Galatasaray and the Saudi Arabia national team.
Rijkaard was appointed manager of Barcelona for the 2003–04 season, with Albert Roca as the assistant coach.
He’s resilience won through and from 2004 onwards, he achieved a massive turnaround, as the team went from strength to strength.
Barcelona finished runners-up in LaLiga in 2003–04, having been close to the relegation zone at one point in the earlier stages of the season.
He eventually succeeded in turning around the fortunes of the club, with the strong support of Joan Laporta, (Barca president) and within the next couple of years finally managed to win LaLiga both in 2004–05 and in 2005–06.
He also won the Spanish Super Cup twice for the Catalunya giant.
Rijkaard became the first Barcelona coach to have won twice at Real Madrid’s Santiago Bernabéu Stadium.
An achievement which even successful managers like Johan Cruyff, Louis van Gaal and Luis Aragonés were unable to accomplish.
On 8 May 2008, the day after Barcelona’s dismal 4–1 defeat to archrivals Real Madrid, Barcelona president Laporta announced that at the end of the 2007–08 season, Rijkaard would no longer be head coach of the first team.
Laporta made the announcement after a board meeting, and Rijkaard was succeeded by Pep Guardiola. Laporta made it clear that Rijkaard’s achievements “made history” and praised him for his time at the club.
3. Zinedine Zidane
Zinedine Yazid Zidane popularly known as Zizou, is a French former professional football player who played as an attacking midfielder.
He is the current manager of LaLiga club Real Madrid and is one of the most successful managers in the world.
In 2013 Zidane became an assistant manager at Real Madrid.
Following a year he took over managerial duties at Real Madrid Castilla, the top-division club’s reserve team.
In January 2016 he was promoted to manager of Real when the club made a mid-season coaching change.
Zidane led Real to the LaLiga title in the 2016–17 season.
He shockingly resigned from his managerial position just days after the 2018 Champions League final, citing his belief that the club needed a cultural change.
His time away from the sidelines was brief, however, as he returned to manage Real in March 2019 soon after the club had been eliminated from the Champions League tournament.
Currently as Real Madrid’s head coach, Zidane as won two LaLiga titles and two Spanish Super Cup.
He will be looking forward to win his third LaLiga title this 2020-21 season as Madrid are just couple of points behind city rivals Atlético.
2. Ernesto Valverde
Ernesto Valverde Tejedor is a Spanish football manager and former player who played as a forward.
On 2 June 2009, Villarreal CF announced that Valverde would succeed Manuel Pellegrini on a one-year deal, after the Chilean had left for Real Madrid.
As the team stood tenth in the league on 31 January 2010, he was sacked following a 0–2 home loss against CA Osasuna.
Valverde returned to Spain again but with Valencia this time around. On 1 June 2013, immediately after the 3–4 away loss at Sevilla.
It meant Valencia could only finish fifth, thus out of qualification positions for the UEFA Champions League, Valverde announced he would leave the club.
He returned to Athletic Bilbao on the 20th, qualifying for the Champions League in his first year and also reaching the final of the 2015 Spanish Cup.
On 17 August 2015, Valverde led the Lions to their first trophy in 31 years after a 5–1 aggregate defeat of Barcelona for the Supercopa de España.
He declared on 23 May 2017 he would be stepping down on 30 June, to be replaced by former Athletic teammate José Ángel Ziganda.
Valverde’s 306 matches in charge of the team over two spells set a club record, beating the previous total of 289 set by Javier Clemente.
He also surpassed Clemente’s 211 league matches managed, finishing on 228, but was unable to match his record of victories:
The latter won 141 games – 102 in the league – while the former came up one short, with 140 and 101.
Additionally, he was on the bench for 42 European matches, another record.
On 29 May 2017, Valverde replaced Luis Enrique as the new Barcelona manager.
His spell began with defeat as rivals Real Madrid won both legs of the Spanish Super Cup at the season’s outset.
However, the team then went on a 29-match unbeaten run in all competitions from 20 August 2017.
Up until 17 January 2018, they lost to Espanyol in the first leg of the quarter-finals of the Spanish Cup.
They recovered to progress in that tie as part of another sequence of 15 matches without defeat.
Barcelona remained undefeated for 43 matches in the Spanish League only to lose in their penultimate game of the campaign on 13 May 2018.
Lionel Messi was rested for the trip to Levante and they were beaten 5–4 by the hosts.
They finished with a league and cup double, defeating Sevilla 5–0 in the Copa del Rey final.
The 2018–19 season began with a 2–1 victory over Sevilla to win the domestic supercup.
In February 2019 Valverde signed a new one-year contract extension, as they went on a 23-match unbeaten streak and secured a second consecutive league title under him in April following a victory over Levante.
He also guided the side to another Spanish Cup final, this time losing 2–1 to Valencia.
On 13 January 2020, he was sacked by the club, with his last game being a 3–2 defeat to Atlético Madrid in the Supercopa de España (known as Spanish Super Cup).
1. Pep Guardiola
Josep “Pep” Guardiola Sala is often considered to be one of the greatest managers of all time.
He holds a record for the most consecutive league games won in LaLiga, the Bundesliga and the Premier League.
Pep Gaurdiola started off his journey in football by playing as a defensive midfielder and a playmaker. He featured in Johan Cruyff’s “Dream Team”.
As a player, he won four consecutive La Liga titles from 1991 to 1994, and also had glory in European Championships with FC Barcelona.
After retiring as a player, he was appointed as the coach for “Barcelona B” team.
He went on to become one of the most successful managers the world has ever seen, and his record of winning, especially league titles is impeccable.
Pep was appointed the manager of senior side of FC Barcelona in 2008.
After losing his first match in the LaLiga, he led Barcelona to the top of the table with an unbeaten run of 20 games. He defeated Real Madrid 6-2 in his first El Classico.
The Spaniard’s first season was nothing short of a dream as he led Barcelona to become the first Spanish team to win a treble – the Copa Del Rey, LaLiga and the Champions League.
He was also the youngest manager to win a Champions League title. Out of his first 100 games for Barcelona, he won 71 and only lost 10.
He retained the LaLiga title in his second season, with 99 points, which were at the time the highest points to be scored in any major European League ever.
His amazing spell at Barcelona continued as he beat Real Madrid in five back to back El Classicos.
In the 2010-11 season, Guardiola’s boys lost to Real Madrid in the finals of the Copa Del Rey.
However, his magic led Barcelona to a third LaLiga victory in a row and second Champions League victory, winning 3-1 against Manchester United in the finals.
Pep went on to also win three Spanish Super Cup for Barca making a tally of 8 titles won in Spanish top flight competitions.
In 2012, he was named FIFA Coach of the Year. His last season in Barcelona saw him win the FIFA Club World Cup and the Copa Del Rey, as Tito Valanova was announced to be his replacement.