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The Top 25 Managers in Women’s Soccer: Nos. 25-16

Who are the best managers in women’s soccer? The Equalizer takes a look at the Top 25 in a three-part series

Photos: Daniela Porcelli / SPP; Daniela Porcelli / SPP; © Jenna Watson-USA TODAY Sports; Mia Eriksson/SPP

Soccer managers wear many hats. They must prepare training sessions and ready their teams for the rigors of a grueling season. They must incorporate tactics, design game plans and manage the individual matches. They must also manage people and maximize the qualities of their players. Often, they are involved in the recruitment process, identifying talent and building teams. And when that’s all done, they must speak to the media, come victory or defeat.

It’s a difficult job, and it hasn’t always gotten the attention it deserves in the women’s game. The Equalizer scoured the top leagues and major international competitions and assessed every manager based on their overall achievements. What was their legacy? How many teams did they improve, or not? Did they win major silverware along the way?

The end result is this: our Top 25 best managers — or head coaches, depending on your preferred phrasing — in women’s soccer today.

There is always a heavy dose of subjectivity when it comes to rankings like these, but we sought to balance overall achievement with more recent form and to avoid “big-team” bias. For example, winning the Champions League is a significant accomplishment, but these days it’s a lot easier if you manage Barcelona or Lyon.

Before we get started, some honorable mentions to those who just missed the cut: Natalia Arroyo, Matt Beard, Colin Bell, Jonas Eidevall, Jonatan Giráldez, Olli Harder, Bev Priestman, Ives Serneels and Martina Voss-Tecklenburg.

Now, on to Part 1, which reveals Nos. 25 through 16.

25. Peter Gerhardsson

Sweden hasn’t won anything since the EURO in 1984, but it has come close several times since Gerhardsson took charge six years ago. It finished third at the 2019 and 2023 World Cups, made the semifinals of EURO 2022, and won Olympic silver in Tokyo. Along the way, it notched significant victories over the United States, Germany, Japan and Australia. Focusing on solid defense and set pieces, Gerhardsson has turned Sweden into one of the most consistent national teams around.

24. Carla Ward

Ward cut her teeth as a manager with Sheffield United in the English second division before earning her first top-flight job with Birmingham City. Taking over a squad featuring just eight senior players, she wheeled and dealed and led a team merrily self-titled “The Misfits” to Women’s Super League survival. Ward then joined rival Aston Villa, where, after some contemplation, she overhauled the style of play; led the team to fifth place; entertained the fans; and recharged the careers of Rachel Daly, Kenza Dali and Lucy Staniforth.

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