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The next generation: 8 of the best young managers in football

This lot have time on their hands to become the world’s best in the coming years.

Updated Jan 1st 2018, 1:00 PM

Julian Nagelsmann (Age: 30, Hoffenheim) 

AT JUST 28, Nagelsmann became the youngest manager in Bundesliga history when Huub Stevens stepped down from his role at Hoffenheim due to heart problems in February 2016.

Hanover 96 vs 1899 Hoffenheim Source: DPA/PA Images

It was a major gamble for a club who were second from bottom at the time to appoint such an inexperienced man with no pedigree as a player. However, Nagelsmann ensured they avoided relegation before transforming them into a top-four side the following year.

He was linked with the Bayern Munich job when Carlo Ancelotti was sacked in September and there has also been speculation around the possibility of him taking over at Borussia Dortmund at the end of the season.

Marco Silva (Age: 40, Watford) 

Having managed Sporting Club in his homeland of Portugal, Silva won the Greek title with Olympiacos before arriving in English football to take over rock bottom Hull City last January.

Burnley v Watford - Premier League - Turf Moor Source: Martin Rickett

He managed to improve their results in the second half of the season, but couldn’t prevent relegation as they finished 18th. Wanted by a number of clubs last summer, Silva chose to join Watford.

He has begun his spell at Vicarage Road well and the Hornets sit in the top half of the Premier League table at present. Despite Paul Merson questioning “What does he know about the Premier League?”, Silva appears to have adapted to life in England excellently.

Javier Calleja (Age: 39, Villarreal) 

As a left-sided midfielder, Calleja lined out for Villarreal, Malaga and Osasuna before retiring in 2005. He became youth team manager of the Yellow Submarine and then took over their reserves back in May.

Spain: VILLARREAL CF v FC BARCELONA.LA LIGA 2017/2018. ROUND 15. Source: SIPA USA/PA Images

That stint was short-lived, however, and he was handed the first-team job in September following the dismissal of Fran Escriba — who had endured a poor start to the season. Since then, Villarreal have climbed to sixth in the table while also progressing to the knockout stages of the Europa League, where Lyon await.

Raphaël Wicky (Age: 40, FC Basel) 

Ex-Werder Bremen, Atletico Madrid and Hamburg midfielder Raphaël Wicky represented Switzerland at three major tournaments and earned 75 international caps. Weeks after joining MLS side Chivas USA in 2008, however, he decided to hang up his boots.

Portugal: SL Benfica v FC Basel - UEFA Champions League Source: SIPA USA/PA Images

The 40-year-old has been at the helm at Swiss champions FC Basel since last April, having worked his way through the ranks as a coach. Grouped with Manchester United, Benfica and CSKA Moscow in the Champions League, Basel impressively claimed a spot in the last 16 with 12 points. The reward? A two-legged tie against the Premier League’s runaway leaders Man City in the new year.

Simone Inzaghi (Age: 41, Lazio) 

A striker who spent much of his playing career at Lazio, Simone Inzaghi had to live in the shadow of his older, more talented brother Filippo. He still managed to have a reasonable career in Serie A — lifting the league title in 2000 — but had to make do with just three caps for Italy.

Italy: Lazio Roma v OGC Nice - UEFA Europa League Source: SIPA USA/PA Images

Simone was not one of those players who you always knew would become a great coach, but he’s certainly shown signs that he has what it takes. Appointed Lazio boss in April 2016, he was initially replaced by Marcelo Bielsa but that lasted just days and the club re-instated Inzaghi.

The Romans are currently fifth in Serie A and enjoyed a fabulous 2-1 win over champions Juventus in October — ending their unbeaten start to the season. Lazio also topped their Europa League group ahead of Nice.

Marcelo Gallardo (Age: 41, River Plate) 

Tipped as ‘the next great Argentine manager’, former Monaco and Paris Saint-Germain attacking midfielder Marcelo Gallardo began his managerial career with Nacional in Uruguay.

Sanfrecce Hiroshima v River Plate - FIFA Club World Cup - Semi Final - Nagai Stadium Source: Marcio Machado

He has been in charge of his old club River Plate since 2014 — bringing success in the shape of the Copa Sudamericana and the much-coveted Copa Libertadores. They were also beaten by Barcelona in the final of the World Club Cup in 2015.

Nicknamed ‘El Muñeco’ (meaning ‘The Doll’) due to his short stature, Gallardo has been linked with European clubs for some time, with Atletico Madrid mentioned, while Lille have reportedly shown interest recently.

Eddie Howe (Age: 40, Bournemouth) 

Forced to retire at 29 through injury, Bournemouth manager Kevin Bond offered Howe the chance to coach the reserves. When he was handed the senior job three years later, the Cherries sat in the relegation zone of League Two — English football’s fourth tier.

AFC Bournemouth v Burnley - Premier League - Vitality Stadium Source: Steven Paston

Howe secured promotion in 2010, but left for Burnley the following January. 10 months later, he returned to Bournemouth and led them up the divisions to the holy grail that is the Premier League.

Impressively, they have been able to remain in the top flight since 2015 and Howe has been linked with clubs like Arsenal in the past.

Giovanni van Bronckhorst (Age: 42, Feyenoord) 

The elder statesmen of this lot at 42, Van Bronckhorst won the Champions League, La Liga, the Premier League and the Scottish Premier League as a player during spells at Barcelona, Arsenal and Rangers.

The full-back was in the Netherlands squad that finished runners-up in the 2010 World Cup, but retired shortly afterwards and took up a coaching role at Feyenoord under manager Ronald Koeman.

Turkey Soccer Europa League Source: Zuma Press/PA Images

Having begun his senior playing career at the Dutch club, he was handed the manager’s position in March 2015. Since then, he has won the Eredivisie title — their first in 18 years — and the KNVB Cup with Feyenoord.

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Ben Blake

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