Who is the greatest England manager of all time?

PUBLISHED: 12:00 08 July 2018

England manager Bobby Robson arrives with his squad in Italy for the 1990 World Cup. Photo: PA / John Giles

England manager Bobby Robson arrives with his squad in Italy for the 1990 World Cup. Photo: PA / John Giles

PA Archive/PA Images

Which one of these seven managers is England’s greatest of all time?

Sir Walter Winterbottom (1946-1962)

Walter Winterbottom is England’s first, youngest and longest serving manager. In all matches in which he was in charge, England played 139, won 78, drew 33, and lost 28. At home England lost six matches in 16 years. England won the British championship in 13 out of his 16 seasons. Notable victories during his era were 10-0 away to Portugal in 1947, 4-0 away to Italy in 1948, 4-2 at home to Brazil in 1956 and 9-3 at home to Scotland in 1961. Winterbottom led England to four consecutive World Cup finals *reaching the quarter-finals twice), a record subsequently equalled only by Helmut Schön of West Germany.

Sir Alf Ramsey (1963-1974)

Sir Alf Ramsey was manager of England from 1963 to 1974, and guided the country to victory in the 1966 World Cup. Knighted in 1967 in recognition of England’s World Cup win, Ramsey also managed England to third place in the 1968 European Championship and the quarter-finals of the 1970 World Cup and the 1972 European Championship. Ramsey used a narrow formation that led to his England side being dubbed “The Wingless Wonders”. He lost the England job following the team’s failure to qualify for the 1974 World Cup. Bobby Charlton praised Ramsey: “He was professional to his fingertips and as popular with the players as any manager I’ve ever seen. He was a winner and without Alf Ramsey England would not have won the World Cup in 1966. He gave us our proudest moment.”

Sir Bobby Robson (1982-1990)

Two days after England were knocked out of the 1982 World Cup, Robson succeeded Ron Greenwood as coach of the England national team. In September 1983, Robson suffered his only loss in the 28 qualifying matches he was to undertake as England manager. The defeat led to England’s failure to qualify for the 1984 European Championships and resulted in Robson offering to resign in favour of Brian Clough. The resignation was rejected and Robson went on to lead the England team to qualify for the 1986 World Cup. England were defeated in the last eight by Argentina with a brace of goals from Diego Maradona. England dropped only one point in qualifying for Euro 1988, where they were eliminated in the group stage. England topped their qualifying group at the 1990 World Cup. This was followed by victories over Belgium and Cameroon in the knock-out stages, to set up a semi-final with West Germany which England lost on a penalty shoot-out. Robson remains only the second coach, after Alf Ramsey, to take England to a World Cup semi-final, and the only coach to do so on foreign soil.

Terry Venables (1994-1996)

Venables was appointed manager of the England team in January 1994 and took England to a second-place finish in the Umbro Cup in June 1995. Venables decided to stand down at the end of Euro 1996 after the FA refused to grant Venables a contract extension in December 1995. Venables stood by his players in the face of media criticism before and during Euro 1996. England went unbeaten throughout the competition, drawing with Switzerland in the opening group game before beating Scotland 2–0 and the Netherlands 4–1. After his retirement, Venables described the win over the Netherlands as “perfection – my most thrilling experience in football”. England advanced past Spain in the quarter-finals with a victory on penalties, before losing out to Germany on penalties at the semi-finals following a 1–1 draw. According to Alan Shearer: “Terry’s knowledge and tactical know-how were spot-on and he knew how to get the best out of us too. We responded to him, believed in him and played some outstanding football in that tournament.”

Glenn Hoddle (1996-1999)

Hoddle guided England to qualification for the 1998 World Cup, securing the team’s entry with a memorable 0–0 draw in Rome against Italy. However, he caused controversy by omitting Paul Gascoigne from the squad and installing supposed faith healer Eileen Drewery as part of the England coaching staff. They reached the second round of the tournament, losing on penalties to Argentina. Hoddle came under fire after a disappointing start to the Euro 2000 qualifying campaign. Hoddle’s 60pc win rate during his spell as manager is only bettered by Sir Alf Ramsey and Fabio Capello.

Sven-Göran Eriksson (2001-2006)

In January 2001, Eriksson became the first foreign manager to take charge of the England national team. Throughout his five-year reign, of the 67 matches played, England won 40 games and lost 10. Almost immediately, he turned the team’s fortunes around and they qualified top of of their 2002 World Cup qualifying group ahead of Germany. At the finals they defeated Denmark 3–0 in the round of 16, before losing 2–1 to ten-man Brazil, who went on to win the tournament. England made the quarter-finals of Euro 2004 before losing to Portugal on penalties. At the 2006 World Cup Eriksson’s England, again, lost to Portugal on penalties. The result was Eriksson’s third successive exit in a major tournament quarter-final. Under Eriksson, England achieved the highest point percentage in major tournament matches of all time for an England manager.

Fabio Capello (2008-2012)

Capello was appointed as manager of the England national team in December 2007. During his time as manager, he was successful in tournament qualification, guiding the team to the 2010 World Cup, where they scraped through their group only to be beaten in their first knockout match 4–1 by Germany, and Euro 2012, where they were knocked out in the quarter-finals under new manager Roy Hodgson. In February 2012, he resigned as manager due to a dispute with The Football Association.

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