Soccer managers wear many different hats. They must prepare training sessions, readying their teams for the rigors of a grueling season. They must incorporate tactics, design game plans, and manage the individual matches themselves. 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 us, the media, and talk convincingly, come victory or defeat.
It’s a difficult job, and one that hasn’t always gotten the attention it deserves in the women’s game. We at The Equalizer wanted to redress that, so we 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, the best managers — or head coaches, depending on your preferred phrasing — in women’s soccer today.
Of course, there is always a heavy dose of subjectivity when it comes to rankings like these, but we did our best 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 a team called Barcelona or Lyon.
Now on to the final part: No. 5 to No. 1…
5. Joe Montemurro
Contrary to the narrative around his attacking style, the major decisions Montemurro made as Arsenal manager related to the back line. He settled on a more consistent defensive four, improving its organization. Also, Lisa Evans and Katie McCabe were redeployed as marauding fullbacks, helping to develop the fluid offensive play expected of an Arsenal side. Within two years of Montemurro’s appointment in November 2017, they were English champions. Amazingly, that league title remains the only one the club has won in the last 11 years.
Montemurro was unable to repeat the feat, though after departing in 2021 he led Juventus to their first treble of league, cup and super cup. That domestic supremacy came to an end last season, but there’s no doubt Juve became more competitive in Europe over the last two years, securing results against Chelsea, Lyon and Wolfsburg. And, on top of his work with Arsenal and Juventus, Montemurro won multiple titles in Australia, including a perfect season with Melbourne City at the start of his career.
It would be wrong to label Montemurro as a tactician. He is, instead, a big-picture manager, a coaching chameleon who has adapted and delivered in three different countries, fostering harmony within his teams, and delivering results.
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