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SL's Top Managers: 4- Michels

Number four on our managerial tour through football history is sure to confound many modern football fans who are slaves to the churches of Guardiola and Mourinho.

But consider this: neither the dapper current Bayern Munich boss who cut his teeth at Barcelona, nor the spiky Special One, would be where he is now without Rinus Michels, the inventor of Total Football, Fifa's Coach of the Century in 1999.

Dutchman Michels, who died age 77 in March 2005, may only have won 15 trophies during his managerial career, putting him well behind men like Jock Stein, Giovanni Trapattoni and Walter Smith.

But if you count Johan Cruyff, Louis van Gaal, Mourinho and Guardiola as Michels’ football children, and you should, their cumulative 64 trophies so far are the great tactician’s glittering grandchildren.

Michels was a striker for Ajax Amsterdam and Holland from 1946 to 1958.

In 1965, he began his managerial career with the first of two stints at the Dutch giants. He also managed Barcelona twice, the Dutch national team four times, with spells in America and Germany in between.

Arguably Michels’ greatest individual success was guiding Holland to the 1988 European Championships, forever remembered by Marco van Basten’s superb goal against the Soviet Union in the semi-finals.

That remains perennial underachievers Holland’s greatest footballing moment, and along with one European Cup in charge of Ajax, and 10 domestic leagues and trophies in Holland and Spain was Michel’s proudest victory.

But Michels is not great for what he won: Cruyff, van Gaal and Guardiola all picked up where Michels left off, and won more at their clubs than he ever did. And his Holland teams were famous for playing beautifully but choking at the World Cup.

Instead, Michels is great for what he gave to football, and in the guise of his Total Football successors and innovators continues to give from beyond the grave.

From tiki-taka and high-tempo pressing, to attack-minded players who can slot into more than one position, Michels’ tactical observations were novel when he thought of them during his career.

Cruyff famously said that “both as a player and as a trainer there is nobody who taught me as much” as Rinus Michels.

And when lovers of modern football admire its pace, skill and cerebral physicality, they should consider that the students have learned well and surpassed their spiritual teacher, Rinus Michels.

Click the links below to catch up on the other managers on the list.

10- Munoz; 9- Clough; 8- Hitzfeld; 7- Guardiola; 6- Mourinho; 5- Paisley; 4- Michels

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