Coaching a world-class team is arguably one of the most difficult jobs in football – and it is certainly one of the most volatile.
Such pressure is applied that managers can find themselves out of work after only a few poor results. A handful of unfortunate breaks or the odd poor refereeing call can have a huge impact on the man in the dugout.
But while those in charge do not get showered with the same riches that the top players can earn, those at the very top of the game can receive a very healthy salary indeed.
And just as the rewards for the top stars on the field have grown along with investment in the game, so too have the wage bills of the game’s best managers.
While the top players tend to gravitate towards the biggest European leagues, the best-paid coaches in the game are spread more disparately.
The emerging force of China might have clamped down on the stream of foreign imports on the field by imposing massive taxes on transfer fees and strict limitations on how many can be used at any time, but it has actively encouraged managers from abroad to bring their knowhow to the country and develop its own players.
As such, four of the 20 best-paid managers in the game in 2018-19 – Dragan Stojkovic (Guangzhou R&F, £6m ($7.9m/€7m), Vitor Pereira (Shanghai SIPG, £6.4m), Marcello Lippi (China, £11.2m) and Fabio Cannavaro (Guangzhou Evergrande, £12.9m) – were China-based, according to a France Football study published in April.
Even at this, Cannavaro is only the seventh top earner in management today, while judging the best-paid of all time is tricky due to salaries being even more tightly under wraps than those of the players.
Sir Alex Ferguson, the legendary Manchester United manager, for example, has revealed he signed a deal in 2010 that guaranteed that he would be paid more than any player at the club. At that time, Wayne Rooney signed a deal worth an estimated £180,000 per week ($224,000), putting Ferguson’s salary around the £9.5m (£12m) mark as a minimum.
Arsene Wenger, who was Ferguson’s great adversary over many years in the Premier League, meanwhile, failed to break into the top-five highest-earning managers during his final year in charge of Arsenal. The Frenchman is reported by France Football to have scooped £17.6m ($22m) in that last season in charge, emphasising just how much wages have grown over the nine years between Ferguson penning his deal at Old Trafford and the modern day.
So who are the highest earning coaches in the game?
It is little surprise to see a super club like Barcelona boast one of the most expensive coaches in the game, though there has been pressure on Ernesto Valverde over his two years in charge at Camp Nou due to relatively poor progress in the Champions League. Defeats against Roma and Liverpool have made his position fragile, despite winning two Spanish league titles.
The former Sevilla boss reputedly earns £19.7m ($24m) per year and is under contract with the Catalan giants until June 2020.
By comparison, Clasico rival Zinedine Zidane earns £10.8m ($13m) at Real Madrid.
Some would argue that Guardiola is the greatest manager ever. Certainly, his exploits at Barcelona, Bayern Munich and now Manchester City have been constantly trophy-laden, although he has failed thus far to bring the Champions League to the Etihad Stadium.
Playing a possession-based game, his style, learned from Barcelona, has gone on to heavily influence the game all over the world and as such there will be few who argue that he doesn’t merit his £20.6m ($26m) pay packet.
Thierry Henry may only have managed 20 senior matches, yet the former Arsenal and France legend commands a staggering position well up the list of the best-paid coaches ever.
Monaco, in a state of hubris and needing inspiration, turned to their former striker as they battled relegation from Ligue 1 last season but only got worse under their rookie boss, who was promptly sacked. Farcically, they re-hired Leonardo Jardim – the man they had jettisoned initially.
Henry was on a deal worth £21.9m ($27m), according to France Football’s report.
It’s no surprise to find Jose Mourinho towards the top of this list. The Portuguese enjoyed tremendous success in the dugout at the start of the millennium and has spent the best part of 15 years at the very top of the game, having graduated from Bobby Robson’s translator at Barcelona to lead the likes of Real Madrid and Inter.
It was at Manchester United, however, where he earned his top pay, earning a reported £26.6m ($33m) each year. He is currently out of work after being sacked the Red Devils shortly before Christmas in 2018.
Atletico Madrid may not play football that is everyone’s cup of tea, but there is little doubt that Diego Simeone extracts every ounce of potential from his side. The Spanish capital’s second club have enjoyed a golden period under the guidance of the Argentine, who has led them to a domestic league title and two European Cup finals.
With a wage of £35m ($43m), he is the best paid manager in the game today, according to available sources.