Established in 1905, Chelsea has won multiple domestic league titles, FA Cups and European trophies.

In recent times, financial support from Russian owner Roman Abramovich was the driving force behind the team’s achievements. This investment played an important role in attracting the best managers and players to Chelsea Football Club. However, this period of unprecedented success came to an end in May 2022 when Abramovich was forced to sell the club after he was sanctioned by the British Government due to the war in Ukraine. Roman Abramovich spent more than £2 billion, hired 15 managers and won 21 trophies during his time in charge.

A consortium led by Todd Boehly, chairman and CEO of Eldridge, and Clearlake Capital Group, L.P. purchased the club for a sum of £4.25 billion. Since their takeover, the spending hasn’t stopped. Chelsea’s transfer spending has gone beyond the £1billion mark in just three transfer windows.

In today's article we’ll look at the top 10 best Chelsea managers, their accomplishments and accolades as well as the impact they had on the direction of Chelsea’s future.

Who is the current Chelsea manager? The current Chelsea manager is Mauricio Pochettino. The 51-year-old signed a two-year deal with the option of a further year after the conclusion of the 2022/23 season.

Who was the best Chelsea Manager? Chelsea’s best manager and most successful manager is Jose Mourinho, nicknamed the “Special One”. Jose Mourinho enjoyed two very successful spells as Chelsea head coach.

During his first spell with the Blues, Mourinho won the League Cup twice, Premier League twice, FA Cup once and Community Shield once.

He then re-joined the west London outfit in 2013 to guide them to another League Cup and another league title. In total he won 8 trophies, making him easily the best Chelsea manager of all time.
Chelsea Managers History

In Chelsea manager history there have been a total of 31 permanent Chelsea managers, with four of them also serving as player-managers. 

There were seven interim managers and six caretakers, including Ron Suart who served in both roles. Notably, Roberto Di Matteo started as an interim manager but later became permanent, while Frank Lampard had a stint as both permanent and interim manager. Guus Hiddink served as interim manager twice, and José Mourinho had two separate terms as permanent manager.

The club's first manager was Scottish player John Tait Robertson, who managed Chelsea while still playing and resigned a year later. David Calderhead holds the record for the longest-serving manager, overseeing the team from 1907 to 1933, totaling 966 matches. On the contrary, Graham Potter who was Todd Boehly’s first managerial appointment, had the shortest tenure as coach of Chelsea, overseeing 31 games. Statistically, Frank Lampard had the least successful stint as manager of Chelsea, much to Chelsea fans disappointment.
Famous Chelsea Managers

There have been many famous Chelsea coaches in their history including current Real Madrid head coach, Carlo Ancelotti. However, Jose Mourinho stands out as the most famous among them, blending tactical brilliance with a charismatic persona, memorable celebrations, and entertaining post-match interviews. A true Chelsea fan favorite.

Honorable MentionIf there was an 11th Spot on this all time greatest Chelsea managers list John Robertson and William Lewis would share this spot. Being the first and second manager for the Blues, the pair led Chelsea to a 3rd place finish in the old Second division. This earned them a spot in the top flight of English football just a year after the club was founded. 
Ranking the Top 10 Greatest Chelsea Managers of all time

  1. Claudio Ranieri (2000-2004)

Nationality: Italian
Career stats: Played 184, 95 wins, 44 ties, 45 losses
Awards: N/A

Despite not winning any trophies with Chelsea, Claudio Ranieri played a crucial role in establishing the foundations for future success. He is credited with the signing of Frank Lampard from West Ham and bringing John Terry up from the Youth team, both of whom are now Chelsea legends.

For the three years before Roman Abramovich’s takeover, Ranieri ensured Chelsea trended towards the top four of the Premier League table. His breakthrough came in 2003, when he finished 4th with Chelsea, with the club in financial hardship under Ken Bates.

When Ken Bates sold the club to Abramovich in June 2003, Ranieri was provided with a rather large transfer budget  to compete on all fronts. He went out and signed; Damien Duff, Wayne Bridge, Joe Cole, Glen Johnson, Claude Makelele, Hernan Crespo, and Juan Sebastian Veron. The spending spree paid off as it saw Chelsea finish second in the league, only topped by the “invincibles” Arsenal team. This was the highest league finish for the club in 49 years.

Ranieri also led Chelsea to a Champions League semifinal which would ultimately be his undoing. The Italian made a series of negative substitutions when the side were drawing 1-1 against ten men. As a result, Monaco capitalized and were able to win the tie. Heavily criticized for his mistakes, he was relieved of his duties at Chelsea.

Before leaving Chelsea, Ranieri identified Didier Drogba, Petr Cech and Arjen Robben as potential transfer targets, all of whom went on to become Chelsea legends. A long period of success and titles followed with Jose Mourinho at the wheel.

  1. Ruud Gullit (1996-1998)

Nationality: Dutch
Career stats: Played 81, 42 wins, 15 ties, 24 losses
Awards: FA Cup 1996-97

Gullit was appointed player manager of Chelsea in 1996. He was the first Dutch manager in the Premier League, and the first black manager to secure a British football trophy, guiding the team to their first major title in 26 years by winning the FA Cup.

The following year, Gullit got off to a great start with Chelsea sitting second in the league and in the quarterfinals of two cup competitions. Allegedly, Gullet had a falling out with the board regarding his pay and the board decided to move on from him, replacing him with Gianluca Vialli, another player coach. Vialli would take the team leftover by Gullit and win the UEFA Cup Winners Cup and the Football League Cup.

  1. Dave Sexton (1967-1974)

Nationality: English
Career stats: Played 342, 148 wins, 102 ties 92 losses
Awards: FA Cup 1969-70, European Cup Winners’ Cup 1970-71

Dave Sexton, a former player turned coach, began his coaching career in 1965. Two years later, he was appointed manager of Chelsea. During his time as Chelsea manager, the team won the FA Cup in 1970 and the UEFA Cup Winners’ Cup a year later.

Unfortunately, this was a difficult time for Chelsea with the club going through some off the field issue. Sexton had disagreements with several board members and players, leading to the departure of key players. Eventually, Chelsea were relegated in the 1974-75 season.

Despite this difficult period for the club, Sexton is still celebrated and loved by the fans.

  1. Antonio Conte (2016-2018)

Nationality: Italian
Career stats: Played 106, 70 wins, 15 ties, 21 losses
Awards: Premier League 2016-2017, FA Cup 2017-18

Conte’s managerial stint at Chelsea couldn’t have got off to a better start. He set a remarkable club record by securing 11 consecutive victories in a single season, a feat that eventually extended to 13 consecutive wins. This led to Conte making history as the first manager to win three consecutive Premier League Manager of the Month awards.

During their journey to clinching the Premier League title, Conte's Chelsea team set a new league record for the most wins in a single season, winning 30 out of 38 matches. This record remained unmatched until the 2017/18 season.

In both his seasons at Chelsea, Conte reached the FA Cup final. He lost to Arsenal in 2016/17 but was victorious over Man United in 2017/18. Despite their FA Cup success in the 2017/18 season, Chelsea struggled to perform in the league. They finished fifth, which meant failure to qualify for the Champions League. Conte was sacked at the end of the season.

  1. Thomas Tuchel (2021 - 2022)

Nationality: German
Career stats: Played 100, 63 wins, 19 ties, 18 losses
Awards: UEFA Champions League 2020-21, UEFA Super Cup 2021, FIFA Club World Cup: 2021

Thomas Tuchel joined Chelsea halfway through the season, replacing club legend Frank Lampard. He took over a team struggling for any form and turned things around. He set a club record for the longest unbeaten run by a Chelsea manager, spanning 13 games without a defeat.

Tuchel led Chelsea to an FA Cup Final, beating Manchester City in the semis but unfortunately losing to Leicester City in the final. The German manager’s major breakthrough came in the Champions League where they would crush Real Madrid 3 - 1 in the semifinal of the competition to set up a mouthwatering final against Premier League rivals Man City. Against all odds, Chelsea won the final 1 - 0 thanks to a smart Kai Havertz finish. This was Chelsea’s second UEFA Champions League trophy in their history.

The following season, Tuchel led Chelsea to the EFL Cup final and the FA Cup final but lost on both occasions. Off the field issues dominated the media, however, with the Ukraine war directly affecting Chelsea as Abramovich’s assets were frozen due to his links to Russia. Tuchel was tasked with facing the media on multiple occasions during this unprecedented time and had to navigate all the implications of these sanctions by the UK government. Chelsea were even unable to renew multiple players’ contracts due to their constraints.

Following Chelsea’s loss in a Champions League fixture in 2022, Tuchel was sacked. There’s much speculation about whether he was sacked for the team’s poor performance or for other issues relating to disagreements with the club’s transfer strategy under the new ownership group. Either way, Tuchel left Chelsea with a 60%-win rate, ranking him fourth highest in Chelsea history (of managers who managed at least 100 games).

  1. Gianluca Vialli (1998-2000)

Nationality: Italian
Career stats: Played 135, 72 wins, 38 ties, 25 losses
Awards: UEFA Super Cup 1998, UEFA Cup Winners’ Cup 1997-98, FA Charity Shield 2000, League Cup 1997-98, FA Cup 1999-2000

Vialli was the first Italian manager to manage in the Premier League. He replaced Ruud Gullit as a player manager, inheriting a squad sitting in second-place position in the league and still fighting in cup competitions. Under Vialli, Chelsea went on to win the League Cup and the European Cup Winners’ Cup.

The following season, he led Chelsea to a third-place finish, tying their highest finish since 1970.

The Year 2000 saw Chelsea make their Champions League debut. They would go on to reach the quarter finals, where they were eventually knocked out by Barcelona. They finished fifth in the league but managed to win the FA Cup.

  1. Roberto Di Matteo (2012-2012)

Nationality: Italian
Career stats: Played 42, 25 wins, 8 ties, 9 losses
Awards: Champions League 2012, FA Cup 2012

When Andre Villas-Boas was sacked, Di Matteo stepped up as his assistant to take over as interim manager. A former Chelsea player himself, Di Matteo took great pride in being manager of Chelsea.

Di Matteo relied on players that Villas-Boas had cast aside; John Terry, Frank Lampard, Ashley Cole, and Michael Essien were all recalled to the starting lineup as Chelsea overcame a 3-1 aggregate deficit against Napoli to keep their Champions League dreams alive.

The belief he had in the players spurred them for the rest of the season as they continued to beat Liverpool in the FA Cup final and defeated Bayern Munich on penalties in the Champions League final. It was a historic year for Chelsea, and Di Matteo will be remembered as one of the best Chelsea coaches ever.

Unfortunately, as so often with Chelsea managers, Di Matteo was sacked the following season after a poor start.

  1. Ted Drake (1952-1961)

Nationality: English
Career stats: Played 425, 155 wins, 103 ties, 167 losses
Awards: First Division 1954-55, Charity Shield 1955

Ted Dake played a crucial role in creating the Chelsea that we know today. During his time in charge, he made important changes at Chelsea, like replacing the old crest and nickname associated with pensioners. Instead, he introduced the lion emblem to Chelsea's crest and gave them the nickname 'The Blues'.

He also implemented tougher training regimes and more in-depth scouting reports. He abandoned the idea that Chelsea would be a club that brought in big-name players that ultimately failed, instead turning to the lower divisions to recruit reliable players.

In the 1954-55 season, Drake led Chelsea to their first league title. He was the first person to win the league as both a player and a manager. Drake was sacked during the 1961 season, but his influence on this club will forever be written in the history books.

  1. Carlo Ancelotti (2009-2011)

Nationality: Italian
Career stats: Played 109, 67 wins, 20 ties, 22 losses
Awards: Premier League 2009-10, FA Cup 2009-10. FA Community Shield 2009

Ancelotti is the most decorated manager in UEFA Champions League history, but how can anyone forget about his time with the Blues.

Ancelotti led Chelsea to a Premier League title and a third FA Cup in four years. This was the first domestic double for Chelsea.

His team also broke records as the first team to score more than 100 goals in a season. This was of course later broken by Manchester City.

Ancelotti was responsible for signing Fernando Torres and David Luiz, both of whom would become staples in the Chelsea team going forward. Despite his new acquisitions, his second year in charge wasn’t nearly as successful. Chelsea finished with 71 points, the lowest under Abramovich at the time. Less than two hours after the final league game where they lost 1-0 to Everton, Ancelotti was sacked.

  1. Jose Mourinho (2004-2007, 2013-2015)

Nationality: Portuguese
Career stats: 2004-2007: Played 185, 124 wins, 40 ties, 21 losses

2013-2015: Played 136, 80 wins, 27 ties, 29 losses.

Awards: Premier League 04/05 | 05/06 | 14/15, League Cup 04/05 | 06/07 | 14/15, FA Cup 2007

Jose Mourinho is without question the best Chelsea manager ever and ranks second for all-time manager wins at the club. His first stint at the club saw him takeover from Ranieri, inheriting a squad ready to challenge for silverware. Chelsea lost just one game in 2004-05 and only conceded 15 goals. They broke the record for most points in the league at that time with 95 points.

In his initial stint with the club, he achieved an impressive 67% win rate, the highest in Chelsea's history. He secured two Premier League titles, two league cups, and one FA Cup during his tenure. His back-to-back Premier League victories marked the only successful title defense in Chelsea's history.

Mourinho’s return in 2013 was hugely anticipated as the Chelsea legend faced a difficult task of leading a team that wasn’t getting any younger. He managed to lead them to another Premier League title in 2014-15 as well as the league cup, completing the domestic double.

Unfortunately, "The Special One" was sacked the following season as Chelsea found themselves languishing near the relegation zone, amidst growing discontent within the squad.

Mourinho is Chelsea’s most successful manager ever and he created a legacy that Chelsea fans old and new will never forget.

Parameters of Rankings

These former Chelsea managers have been ranked based on their accomplishments and accolades with the football club, as well as the impact they had on the direction of Chelsea’s future.


The 10 greatest Chelsea FC players of all time

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