The European Championships are starting this week and the excitement is reaching fever pitch. The players will get their chance to shine on the biggest of stages. However, it is not only about the twenty-two on the pitch. The men who manage them from the dugouts will be equally in the spotlight. FootTheBall looks at the top coaches who will be gracing the continental stage.
GARETH SOUTHGATE (ENGLAND)
The sole manager who wears a waistcoat in the list. Southgate has one of the most talked about individuals in the nation since his taking over. Having been a key reason for English heartbreak at the 1996 Euros with his missed penalty, Southgate has been more successful in his coaching pursuits. He won the Toulon Tournament with the youth squad in 2016 before being charge of the senior team. The Three Lions performed superbly, reaching the semi-finals for the first time since 1990.
They eventually finished fourth and revived the prospects of a whole country. England also finished third in the 2019 UEFA Nations League to further show signs of improvement. Though the media scrutiny surrounding the team and Southgate has been immense, the Three Lions look well stacked to make another deep run this summer. It might just be coming home for real.
ROBERTO MARTINEZ (BELGIUM)
The Red Devils boss has been with the team since 2018, which has arguably coincided with the best period of the team. They finished third at the 2018 World Cup and have held on to the number one ranking amongst nations for almost three years. However, Martinez is most famous for his days managing Wigan Athletic in England. He took the Latics through some of their most famous season in the Premier League, including their great escape in 2012.
Though his legacy was still not written. The following season, Martinez took all the way to FA Cup victory, defeating Manchester City with 1-0 to give Wigan their first piece of silverware ever. With a supremely talented squad, including Kevin De Bruyne, Romelu Lukaku, Thibaut Courtois among others, Belgium and Martinez have great expectations from the upcoming Euros where they will be a major force.
SENOL GUNES (TURKEY)
The only manager to have a stadium named after him amongst the seven. Gunes is a Turkish footballing icon, second only to the legendary Fatih Terim. The Turkish boss is a serial winner in his home country, with two Turkish top-flight titles, two Turkish Cups and two Turkish Super Cups. Furthermore, he has also finished as runners-up four times in the league as well as in South Korea.
His crowning moment with the national team came in 2002 when Gunes guided Turkey to a third-place finish, their best ever. He repeated the same feat at the Confederations Cup next year to cement his place in folklore. Turkey will hope to reach the same heights this summer as well, and with a host of top names including a trio of Lille players who recently won the Ligue 1, there is no doubting their hunger for winning this time.
FERNANDO SANTOS (PORTUGAL)
The man who led an underachieving nation to silverware glory. 12 years on from their lowest point after losing Euro 2004 to Greece, Santos guided the Selecao to Euro 2016 triumph with an undefeated campaign. They followed that win up with further glory by winning the inaugural UEFA Nations League title in 2019. All that winning and an influx of major creative talents has made Portugal looking pretty good to defend their crown.
Santos himself is no stranger to winning, having won trophies with Porto and AEK Athens before joining the national team. He will have the services of Cristiano Ronaldo once again, along with a whole host of star names like Ruben Dias, Bruno Fernandes, Diogo Jota, who will prove to be a real handful for their opponents in the ‘group of death.’
ROBERTO MANCINI (ITALY)
A most loved manager across two clubs. Mancini was a titan in Italy, winning three Serie A and four Coppa Italia trophies in the 2000s. At the start of the next decade, he joined Manchester City and led the Cityzens to their first Premier League title in 2012. He also won the FA Cup and a Turkish Cup with Galatasaray before linking up with the Azzurri in 2018. Since then, the national team has been on an upward trajectory of dominance. ‘
They qualified for Euro 2020 by winning all their matches and have not conceded a goal in their last eight fixtures. Italy have an influx of young talents mixed with older heads. Mancini will look to lead the team to a much improved performance this time with Italy having failed to make it out of the group-stage in 2016, in between missing the 2018 World Cup altogether.
LUIS ENRIQUE (SPAIN)
Barcelona’s most successful coach in the last decade. Luis Enrique’s finest moment under the sun came in 2015. The club won a historic ‘treble’ along with the UEFA Super Cup and Club World Cup. He would win a further La Liga title and two Copa del Reys during his three year stay at Camp Nou. La Roja hired him in 2018 and he has helped steady the ship quite a bit after some disastrous results in previous tournaments.
Enrique has also overseen a complete overhaul of the team, with new faces being installed across all positions on the pitch. He has very much overseen the making of a new Spanish team as there are no more of the old stalwarts that remain. Having not selected Sergio Ramos, a fixture in the side for more than a decade and their most capped player, Enrique has firmly braced the winds of change and looking to the future.
DIDIER DESCHAMPS (FRANCE)
The longest tenured manager in the list and the most recent World Cup winner. Deschamps led France to their first world title since 1998 three years ago. He won the Ligue 1 in 2010 and has also been a four-time French Cup winner. Deschamps is also fondly remembered in Italy for being the man who won Serie B with Juventus in their year away from the top-flight.
The national team under him reached the quarter-finals of the 2014 World Cup in his competition debut, before following that up with a runners-up medal at the 2016 Euros. They have squad filled with world-class players including superstars Kylian Mbappe, N’Golo Kante, Paul Pogba and more. Considered one of the favourites to win a second consecutive international trophy, France will be going all guns blazing once again.