Important note: we’ve imposed a 20-game minimum here, because it’s probably unfair to judge a win percentage on half a season of games or less. However, we do have to give – in the pundit’s parlance – “all credit” to the only manager with a perfect 100% win record.
Yes, it’s the former Robin to Arsene Wenger’s endless Batman – Pat Rice! Rice was briefly Arsenal caretaker boss in 1996 and put the might of Sheffield Wednesday, Middlesbrough and Sunderland to the sword, compiling a record of three wins from three games.
Good show, Pat. Now, onto the countdown.
20. Brendan Rodgers
Win percentage: 46.9% (160 games)
Clubs: Swansea, Liverpool
Outstanding news: Brendan is in. In our mind, all of his victories came in that rip-roaring ‘so very near’ Liverpool season of 2013/14 – but as 75 wins in one season isn’t mathematically possible, clearly he did chalk up a few triumphs around it.
In fact, Rodgers can be proud to appear here. If you’ve spent your career solely managing Prem super-clubs it bolsters your win ratio, but Rodgers also spent a season with Premier League newcomers Swansea in 2011/12. So he’s done well to feature, edging another former Liverpool boss – Gerard Houllier – into 21st.
19. Gianluca Vialli
Win percentage: 47.9% (94 games)
The likeable Italian with a twinkle in his eye and not a hair on his head was a successful Blues boss around from 1998 to 2000. His greatest glories came in domestic and European cup competitions, but he also took Chelsea to a third-place league finish in 1998/99, back in the pre-Abramovich era when that was an impressive feat rather than a recipe for your instant sacking.
18. Roy Evans
Win percentage: 48.3% (172 games)
A very Scouse man, born in the Boot Room and only emerging to manage Liverpool in 1994. After his four-year Liverpool reign finished, it was widely viewed as a mild disappointment due to his failure to mount a sustained title challenge. Yet history has been kinder.
He took over the shambles that Graeme Souness had honed into a crack, eighth-placed unit; then took the Reds to fourth, third, fourth and a final third. All this while playing entertaining football with the likes of Robbie Fowler, Steve McManaman and Stan Collymore in attack.
17. Kenny Dalglish
Win percentage: 48.3% (238 games)
Clubs: Blackburn, Newcastle, Liverpool
Ultimate respect to King Kenneth as he still makes this list, despite a serious disadvantage (we don’t even mean managing Newcastle). As we’re just looking at the post-1992, Premier League era, Dalglish’s ratio here doesn’t even take into account his first spell as Liverpool boss, where he won England’s top tier three times between 1985 and 1991.
He claimed another title with Blackburn in 1995, becoming just the fourth manager to win England’s top division with two different clubs, before stints with Newcastle and a second at Liverpool.
16. Claudio Ranieri
Win percentage: 49.8% (209 games)
Clubs: Chelsea, Leicester
Dilly bloody dong. Left Chelsea in 2004 boasting a good win percentage, then returned to these shores in 2015 to take over odds-on relegation favourites Leicester. There, he naturally upped his win percentage to 60% in the season his Foxes side claimed the league title – all thanks to pizza promises and bell noises.
Season two didn’t go to plan, but let’s be honest: that’s not what anybody really remembers now.
15. Mauricio Pochettino
Win percentage: 50% (194 games)
Clubs: Southampton, Tottenham
Poch strikes us as a very precise man, so he’ll be delighted when we telephone him to pass on the news that he’s won precisely half of his 194 Premier League games.
Although he’s constantly improving his ratio (last season’s 26 wins was Spurs’ highest number of league triumphs since the 1960/61 season), it won’t be long before he’s raised it higher still. Go get ‘em tiger.
14. Louis van Gaal
Win percentage: 51.3% (76 games)
Club: Manchester United
We’re into the 50%+ club! Only these 14 elite gaffers are proven to win the majority of their Premier League games, which is pretty impressive. The first name is… Louis van Gaal. What?
An example of how managing a very big club for a relatively short spell can skew your stats, Van Gaal did well in his first season to take Manchester United to fourth – up from the previous season’s seventh. However, he played such a constipated style of football that we can barely recall any of his 39 league wins. Oh well.
13. Rafa Benitez
Win percentage: 51.7% (290 games)
Clubs: Liverpool, Chelsea, Newcastle
One of the most successful managers not to win the Premier League, Benitez makes it on here despite managing a (relatively) austerity Liverpool and a (definitely) austerity Newcastle, either side of his short spell as Chelsea’s fill-in boss. Great show.
Frankly, any manager who’s taken charge of the current Magpies set-up and kept his win percentage above 50% is worthy of our respect. Good luck keeping it this high with just Joselu and a scarecrow made out of string and old Sports Direct bags up front, Rafa.
12. Andre Villas-Boas
Win percentage: 51.9% (81 games)
Clubs: Chelsea, Tottenham
It’s easy to dismiss the Jose Mourinho protege-turned Dakar Ralliest as a Premier League flop, but Villas-Boas did have his moments. Admittedly not at Chelsea, where the Portuguese didn’t see out his first season in 2011/12. Yet after that, he took Tottenham to a then-highest-ever Premier League points total of 72 in 2012/13, which helps explain his position here.
Admittedly it went south afterwards, not helped by Gareth Bale’s departure that summer. A lot of Villas-Boas’s wins came via the Welshman wanging in a wondergoal every game – a hard strategy to replicate when Bale wasn’t actually there, but Roberto Soldado definitely was.
11. Jurgen Klopp
Win percentage: 52.1% (96 games)
The German grinner has certainly showed his ability to win games in the Premier League. Every top club has fallen to his swashbuckling bunch at one time or another, although Liverpool fans probably wish they’d stop dropping points in matches they really should see out.
Still, he’s on course to be the quickest Liverpool manager to 50 league wins since Sky Sports invented football in 1992 – just one more is needed.
10. Guus Hiddink
Win percentage: 52.9% (34 games)
The Dutch firefighter stayed in the Premier League for a fun time, but not for a long time. Twice he was asked to come in and be a stable hand on the Chelsea tiller after Luiz Felipe Scolari bit the bullet (in 2009) and Jose Mourinho was stopped from his heroic attempt to actually relegate Chelsea (in 2015).
In both cases, Hiddink was quietly successful, improving results in the league and also leaving the club with an FA Cup after his first spell. Thank the Lord Roman they got rid of that hapless Big Phil.
9. Luiz Felipe Scolari
Win percentage: 56% (25 games)
Sorry, what? Proof here that a win percentage only tells you so much. Yet the big Brazilian did get off to a strong start as Chelsea boss, winning 10 of his first 13 games to sit atop the Premier League in mid-November.
Then things went pear-shaped as the Blues won just four of 12 matches. This being the time when Chelsea were the league’s preeminent financial power, that was nowhere near good enough for Abramovich. An increasingly baffled-looking Scolari was sacked, but he’ll always have his good win percentage (and 2002 World Cup triumph with Brazil) to comfort him. We assume he thinks more about the World Cup.
8. Arsene Wenger
Win percentage: 57.6% (816 games)
A fine win percentage for the three-time Premier League winner. However, it won’t come as a surprise to anyone who follows the Gunners that it’s gradually slid in the wrong direction over the last 18 months, as Wenger’s record of never having finished outside the top four finally came to an end last season.
Of course, his most famed league stat – the ‘0’ in the losses column he achieved in 2003/04 – can never be taken away from him. But catching Alex Ferguson’s record of 528 Premier League wins is looking a way off for Wenger on 470.
7. Manuel Pellegrini
Win percentage: 61.4% (114 games)
Club: Manchester City
A manager whose win percentage perhaps reflects the job he was given as much as it does his success in it. Pellegrini spent three seasons in charge of a fiscally super-powered Manchester City, at a time when the gap between Premier League haves and have-nots has never been wider.
The charming Chilean was clearly an accomplished manager, as his spells in Spain show, and he won the league in his debut season of 2013/14. However, finishes of second and fourth after that made for a slightly underwhelming tailing off.
6. Roberto Mancini
Win percentage: 61.7% (133 games)
Club: Manchester City
It’s appropriate that Mancini is a notch above Pellegrini, with whom he shares much in common (one league title in three full seasons at the Abu Dhabi-owned Manchester City).
Yet the Italian had to bring City to this level, taking over the club when – sure – they had a wedge of cash as thick as Mancini’s blue-and-white scarf, but had never before finished above mid-table in the Premier League. Mancini guided them to the top and even managed to get Mario Balotelli playing for a while.
5. Carlo Ancelotti
Win percentage: 63.2% (76 games)
Ancelotti’s two seasons in the Premier League are a wonderful example of Chelsea in their sublime, hiring/firing pomp. First season: Premier League and FA Cup double. Next season: second in the league to Alex Ferguson’s Manchester United. Result: you’re fired, Carlo. Who wouldn’t raise an eyebrow at such stratospheric standards?
The Italian’s excellent win percentage pays homage to his strong league form, although what got him the boot was not impressing enough in the Champions League. We might have given him another crack at that one, Roman: it’s a competition Ancelotti has an OK record in.
4. Jose Mourinho
Win percentage: 63.4% (278 games)
Clubs: Chelsea, Manchester United
A special win percentage. It was even higher after his first spell at Chelsea – a ridiculous 73.3% after 120 games as Jose won two of this his three Premier League titles. It’s suffered since, particularly during that Bizarro World Premier League season of 2014/15 where Ranieri won the title with Leicester and Mourinho’s Chelsea hovered above the relegation zone.
Anyway, he’s got things back on track (more or less) at Manchester United, and as one of only two managers who’s taken charge of 200+ matches yet maintained a win rate above 60%, he can be very proud. No prizes for guessing who the other one is.
3. Alex Ferguson
Win percentage: 65.2% (810 games)
Club: Manchester United
Hold on, we’ll need to explain this. Most observers would rank the cantankerous old hairdryer as the most successful Premier League gaffer ever, having won just the 13 titles. How can he be just third here? Well, one reason is the fluctuations of managing for 20+ years – there are bound to be dips (even if they’re just followed by rage, then more success).
There’s also the increasing, modern gap between a handful of clubs and the rest. Back in 1999, Fergie’s treble-winners claimed the league with ‘only’ 79 points. That would be good enough to sneak fourth spot last season. So managers of the 1990s and early 2000s won the league with a much lower win percentage, hence the bias towards current day managers on this list. Speaking of which…
=1. Pep Guardiola
Win percentage: 70.3% (64 games)
Club: Manchester City
We have joint winners! Not an issue that Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City will face this season, you suspect, as they’re currently on course to break multiple records – including 95 points, the benchmark set by Jose Mourinho’s Chelsea in 2004/05.
Given City’s sparkling form, it’s no surprise that Guardiola is up here, improving dramatically on the 60.5% ratio from his debut season. Critics will point to the £438m spent during his short reign to improve a richly gifted squad, but at least they’re bulldozering the league in style with a team that’s just getting better. Expect this sky-high ratio to go upwards still.
=1. Antonio Conte
Win percentage: 70.3% (64 games)
Huh. So the chap with – as it stands – the joint-highest win ratio in Premier League history is also said to be facing the axe. To be fair, Conte’s 70% mark owes a lot to a barnstorming first season where his Chelsea side went on a 13-game winning streak as they claimed the Premier League title.
The Italian ended that season with a big grin and a 79.5% win ratio, but someone clearly pinched his panettone in the summer as he’s had a face like a slapped backside ever since. Still, at least he’s nailed the Chelsea MO of glory one year, in-fighting and implosion the next. He also owns the highest win percentage of any Blues boss.