The Best Debut Seasons as Manager of a Club - Ranked

We've all heard of the term 'new-manager-bounce'; a fresh face walks through the door and a team bereft of quality and confidence suddenly sparks into life.

Now, while that might last five or maybe even ten games, the novelty soon wears off as the team slips back into its old habits. However, there are a select few managers who - for want of a better way of putting it - are just really good at being managers.

Those bosses have managed to retain the enthusiasm and drive that comes with having a new man at the helm for an entire season, often guiding their team to numerous pieces of silverware in the process.

We've compiled a list of the greatest debut seasons as manager of a club, ranking on points per game before naming the best of the lot.

20. Eric Gerets (Points Per Game: 2.37)

Eric Gerets would spend two years with Club Brugge | ABDELHAK SENNA/Getty Images

Having narrowly missed out on Belgian top-flight glory to Lierse SK in 1997, Club Brugge wasted no time in appointing Eric Gerets - Lierse SK's manager in their triumphant campaign - as they looked to wrestle back their domestic crown.

And the crafty move immediately paid off.

Gerets would lead Brugge to an emphatic title win - with their nearest challengers a whopping 18 points back - as they finished the season with an impressive 2.37 points per game.

19. Bruno Lage (Points Per Game: 2.37)

Bruno Lage would spend just one season at the helm of Benfica | Gualter Fatia/Getty Images

Bruno Lage took charge of Benfica in January 2019 having been promoted from within the club following the dismissal of Rui Vitoria.

The Eagles looked destined to miss out on the Primeira Liga title at the expense of fierce rivals Porto, however, a run of 19 games unbeaten secured domestic triumph, finishing with an eye-watering plus 71 goal difference in the 34-game league campaign.

Lage's first full season as manager wouldn't end in league glory, as the club were unable to retain their title and the Portuguese tactician was dismissed.

18. Unai Emery (Points Per Game: 2.37)

Unai Emery's impressive spell with PSG is often overlooked | Aurelien Meunier/Getty Images

It would be amiss to suggest Unai Emery left the Premier League as something of a joke figure, but he certainly didn't depart with the respect a man who'd accomplished great things at Paris Saint-Germain.

Okay Ligue 1 isn't the most competitive league in Europe, and yes having Edinson Cavani and Angel Di Maria at his disposal was always going to help a little bit, but 2.37 points per game over a 57-game season is a mighty record.

17. Jorge Jesus (Points Per Game: 2.37)

Jorge Jesus returned to Benfica in 2020 after a successful first spell with the club | Quality Sport Images/Getty Images

Jorge Jesus' maiden campaign at the helm of Benfica in 2009 will live long in the memory of fans of the Eagles.

The club romped to Primeira Liga glory, with an 8-1 defeat of Vitoria Sport Clube on matchday three setting the tone for their season.

Jesus would depart in 2015 after notching a further two league titles, though he returned in August 2020.

16. Jose Mourinho (Points Per Game: 2.39)

Mourinho failed to win over a lot of Madrid fans, but his points haul in his maiden season was certainly impressive | OLI SCARFF/Getty Images

Jose Mourinho endured a turbulent time in Spain, with swathes of the Real Madrid fan base and media criticising his tenure.

However, that didn't stop the Special One from racking up impressive stats, taking an average of 2.39 points per game in the 2010/11 season, though that wasn't enough to end Real's three-year wait for La Liga success.

But the foundations had been laid, and Mourinho would secure the Spanish title the following year.

15. Fatih Terim (Points Per Game: 2.39)

Fatih Terim's current spell with Galatasaray is his fourth as the Turkish side's boss | Angel Martinez/Getty Images

When Graeme Souness' eventful spell in charge of Galatasaray came to an end in 1996, the Turkish giants turned to national team boss Fatih Terim.

The club experienced a dramatic turnaround having finished a disappointing fourth the season prior, losing just two league games all season as they romped to league glory.

Galatasaray would go on to win four consecutive titles under Terim's stewardship as well as the 2000 UEFA Cup, making the Turkish boss the club's most successful ever manager.

14. Tito Vilanova (Points Per Game: 2.40)

Tito Vilanova took over from Pep Guardiola at Barcelona | David Ramos/Getty Images

Taking over from a club legend is never going to be easy - just ask David Moyes - but Tito Vilanova made a pretty decent go of it following Pep Guardiola's departure.

Barcelona dominated the 2012/13 La Liga campaign, recording 100 points, however, they failed to add any further silverware despite an impressive first season in charge for Vilanova.

13. Martin Jol (Points Per Game: 2.42)

Martin Jol spent one year at Ajax | GIUSEPPE CACACE/Getty Images

Martin Jol's time at Ajax was brief to say the least, with a poor start to his second season at the club seeing him resign. But his first year was something special.

The former Tottenham boss recorded an average of 2.42 points per game throughout the 2009/10 season, yet they somehow failed to be crowned Eredivisie champions, with FC Twente taking the crown by just a point.

Not to be denied, Jol lead the club to KNVB Cup glory at the expense of Feyenoord just four days after narrowly missing out on the league title.

12. Oleg Dolmatov (Points Per Game: 2.42)

Oleg Dolmatov spent two years with CSKA Moscow | Epsilon/Getty Images

Next on our list is Oleg Dolmatov.

When Dolmatov took charge of CSKA Moscow in 1998 the club were in the midst of a crisis, losing four of their previous five league games and picking up just three wins all season.

However, the Russian boss revitalised their season, losing just one of their remaining 15 games as they somehow managed to claw their way to a second-place finish.

11. Antonio Conte (Points Per Game: 2.43)

Conte's first year at Chelsea saw the club bounce back from a disastrous previous campaign | Clive Brunskill/Getty Images

Life as a Chelsea fan is never easy. The club managed to go from champions to tenth in the space of a season, with Antonio Conte appointed in 2016 to try and steady the ship.

The Italian did far more than that. After a rocky start, the Blues reverted to a back three and would steamroll their way through the top flight, picking up 93 points as they notched their fifth Premier League crown.

10. Carlo Ancelotti (Points Per Game: 2.43)

Ancelotti secured the Champions League in his first season at Real Madrid | TF-Images/Getty Images

Following Mourinho's departure from the Santiago Bernabeu, Carlo Ancelotti's appointment as head coach certainly ticked the box of a big name, though free-flowing, attacking football not so much.

While Real Madrid's third-place league finish did little to appease Los Blacos faithful, a cup double of Champions League and Copa del Rey success represented a quality first year at the club.

9. Erik Ten Hag (Points Per Game: 2.44)

Erik ten Hag enjoyed a stunning first year at Dutch behemoths Ajax | BSR Agency/Getty Images

Erik Ten Hag's record of 2.44 points per game in his first year in charge of Ajax is mighty impressive, but somehow the Dutch behemoths failed to notch a single piece of silverware.

Ajax would finish four points behind PSV Eindhoven in the Eredivisie, coupled with early exits from the Champions League and KNVB Cup.

Despite the fruitless campaign, the club's hierarchy saw clear potential and the following season the club would be crowned Dutch champions as well as narrowly missing out on a place in the Champions League final.

8. Morten Olsen (Points Per Game: 2.45)

Ajax secured the double in Morten Olsen's only year in charge at the club | Mark Thompson/Getty Images

Another Ajax boss who enjoyed a stunning maiden year at the helm.

Morten Olsen spent just 18 months as manager of the Dutch giants, though in that time he secured a domestic double and lead the club to the quarter-final of the UEFA Cup.

A rumour of disharmony in the dressing room eventually brought about his exit from the club, though a points haul of 2.45 per game remains the best of any manager in their first season with Ajax.

7. Guus Hiddink (Points Per Game: 2.46)

Guus Hiddink managing PSV Eindhoven back in 1987 | VI-Images/Getty Images

Not really sure how Guus Hiddink manages to make white socks and a moustache look cool in that picture, but somehow he does.

Anyway, fashion aside, he's not bad at doing his job either. His debut year as manager of PSV Eindhoven in 1987 saw him record an incredible 2.46 points per game as they marched to Eredivisie glory.

Hiddink would leave the club in 1990 with a total of three Dutch top-flight tiles to his name.

6. Pep Guardiola (Points Per Game: 2.46)

Pep Guardiola during his time in the Bundesliga | TF-Images/Getty Images

Didn't expect to see this name so far away from the top spot, did you?

What's perhaps even more surprising is that it's not his first season with Barcelona which sees him at number six on our list.

Guardiola's 2.46 points per game came in his first season at the helm of Bayern Munich in 2013. The Bavarians would lose just two league games all season - both coming after the title had been secured - as they comfortably swept aside every team that dared come before them.

5. Miguel Munoz (Points Per Game: 2.47)

Miguel Munoz's time as Real Madrid boss may be a little too early for some to appreciate, but his record at the club still stands strong to this day.

2.47 points per game in his debut season as manager of Real Madrid sees him take fifth spot. The Spaniard would enjoy 14 trophy laden years at the Santiago Bernabeu before leaving in 1974.

4. Zinedine Zidane (Points Per Game: 2.48)

Zinedine Zidane's first year in senior management saw him at the helm of Spanish giants Real Madrid | Soccrates Images/Getty Images

Talk about being thrown in at the deep end. When you were as good a footballer as Zinedine Zidane was, there's no need to work your way up through the leagues - just jump into arguably the biggest and toughest job in management.

Zizou's first year in charge at Real Madrid in 2016 certainly didn't disappoint, leading the club to Champions League glory before securing a league and European Cup double the following season, before winning the Champions League AGAIN the year after. And breathe.

3. Luis Enrique (Points Per Game: 2.57)

Luis Enrique took charge of Barcelona in 2014 | Sergio Camacho/Getty Images

Yet another Barcelona manager.

After a relatively settled period of just two managers in nine years at Camp Nou, the club embarked on a flurry of different bosses with Luis Enrique becoming their fourth boss in less than two years when he was appointed in 2014.

The Spaniard enjoyed a brilliant first season as Barcelona boss, becoming just the third manager ever to secure the treble in his first year as boss.

2. Andre Villas-Boas (Points Per Game: 2.62)

Andre Villas-Boas was catapulted into the public eye after his brief spell with Porto | Jamie McDonald/Getty Images

If you're wondering who the other two managers to complete the treble in their first year at a club were - you're about to find out.

Andre Villas-Boas shot to footballing fame in 2010 when he guided Porto to a domestic double before adding the Europa League crown to his already impressive haul.

The Portuguese tactician hasn't quite lived up to the hype that surrounded the early years of his managerial career, but his first and only season as Porto boss is one he'll never forget.

1. Hans-Dieter Flick (Points Per Game: 2.77)

Hansi Flick has enjoyed a scintillating first year as Bayern Munich boss | DeFodi Images/Getty Images


Is it possible to 'complete' football? Because if it is then Hansi Flick has done it.

After being appointed Bayern Munich boss in November 2019 following Niko Kovac's departure, Flick took a side who had won just five of their opening ten league games (we know - they're that good that they think that is rubbish) and had just been thumped 5-1 by Eintracht Frankfurt, and transformed them into treble winners.

They're easily the best team on the planet right now, and it's all thanks to one man. Flick has completely revitalised the club and sits proudly in the number one spot of best debut seasons as a manger.

Source : 90min