While the likes of Ronaldo, Totti, Buffon, Bergkamp and Ibrahimovic have never won the Champions League as players, some of the world’s best coaches have also failed to get their hands on European football’s most coveted prize.
We racked our brains to think of the top coaches never to win the Champions League, and we came up with this as our top five:
5. Marcelo Bielsa
The spiritual father of so many coaches, including Mauricio Pochettino, Gerardo Martino and Pep Guardiola, who once described Bielsa as “the world’s greatest manager”. Bielsa is perhaps not best known for his long list of titles, but for his impressive work with the Chilean national team. Currently managing Marseille, Bielsa also guided Athletic Bilbao to the final of the Europa League in 2012, but his side lost to a Falcao-inspired Atletico Madrid.
4. Manuel Pellegrini
Pellegrini was the Real Madrid coach when they signed Kaka, Cristiano Ronaldo, Karim Benzema and Xabi Alonso, but lost his job when the club lost to Lyon in the last 16 of the Champions League. When he was fired, Pellegrini said: “Florentino Pérez sold players that I considered important. We didn't win the Champions League because we didn't have a squad properly structured to be able to win it.” Having just won the Premier League with Manchester City, Pellegrini will be hoping he can get his hands on the Champions League trophy sooner rather than later.
3. Bobby Robson
Robson won the UEFA Cup, FA Cup, Portuguese League (twice) + the Portuguese and Spanish Cups – but never the Champions League. The legendary coach, who guided England to the World Cup semi-finals and took a young Jose Mourinho under his wing, was never quite able to crack Europe’s top club competition with Porto, Barcelona, PSV or Newcastle.
2. Juergen Klopp
Klopp is a manager on the rise and he’ll have many more opportunities in the Champions League with Dortmund, having guided them to last year’s final but narrowly missed out to Bayern Munich. Klopp guided Dortmund to back-to-back Bundesligas in 2011 and 2012 and was German manager of the year in both seasons. While Dortmund are currently in a transitional phase following some high-profile departures, Klopp will surely have another crack at the Champions League sometime soon.
1. Arsene Wenger
He may have been Arsenal manager for almost 20 years, but Wenger has never won the Champions League. He got pretty close in 2006, when his 10 men were 14 minutes away from victory over Barcelona in Paris, before goals from Samuel Eto’o and Juliano Beletti ended Arsenal’s dream. Wenger has proven himself as a coach of the highest order, but Champions League success seems destined to always be missing from his CV.
Real Madrid are 2.10 to win the 2014 Champions League.