Managers who have overseen the most impressive unbeaten streaks in European footballby Simon Lillicrap / 13 January 2017, 13:01Tweet
Zinedine Zidane led his side to a Spanish record of 40 matches unbeaten on Thursday night, so to commemorate this record we look at some other gaffers who have managed to inspire some other notable unbeaten runs.
Legendary Celtic manager Willie Maley led his side to an impressive 62 game unbeaten run, starting in 1915. This run came during the First World War when only league games were played in Scotland and many sides were depleted due to the war. Despite this, many Celtic fans herald players from this era such as Patsy Gallagher and James Young as some of the greats, and going 62 games unbeaten is an impressive feat that is yet to be broken by a British side.
The closest a British side came to beating Celtic’s record was Arsenal’s ‘Invincibles’ in 2003/04. Arsene Wenger’s side went 49 league games unbeaten in total as they won the Premier League that season, although they did lose cup games during this period, unlike the run that Zidane’s Madrid are currently on.
Over in Italy AC Milan went on an outstanding 42-game unbeaten run in all competitions, led by Fabio Capello. Although he is mainly remembered in England for his strict handling of the national side during the 2010 World Cup, back in 1991 Capello took charge of Milan and led them to three successive Serie A titles, including a memorable 42-game unbeaten run in his first season.
In terms of unbeaten league games however, no side comes close to Steaua Bucharest. From August 1986 until September 1989 they went 104 league games without losing. Romanian coach Emerich Jenei and Anghel Iordanescu were the masterminds behind this incredible achievement.
Iordanescu was Jenei’s assistant as he led Bucharest to European Cup success in 1986. But after Jenei took the Romania job in 1986 Iordanescu became head coach and coached the side through this incredible unrivalled run.
Romania reached the World Cup in 1990 under Jenei’s leadership and after laying the foundations for this unbelievable run, he is often regarded as one of Romania’s best coaches.
In terms of recent history however Real are very close to breaking the 21st century record. Zoran Mamic led Dinamo Zagreb on a 45-game unbeaten run in 2014/15 whilst Juventus, led by Antonio Conte, went on a run of 43 games without defeat back in 2011/12.
Zidane has done a remarkable job in charge at Madrid. His status at the club has made managing all the egos, and making them a cohesive unit, easier and once these world class players start working hard as a team it is very difficult to stop them. With tough fixtures lying between now and the end of the season it’s unlikely that they will beat Celtic’s century old record, however they may beat Zagreb’s record from the 21st century.
Unbeaten runs in competitive top-level matches* (Uefa.com)
- 62: Celtic (SCO) 1915/17
- 60: Union SG (BEL) 1933/35
- 48: Benfica (POR) 1963/65
- 45: Dinamo Zagreb (CRO) 2014/15
- 43: Juventus (ITA) 2011/12
- 42 = Ajax (NED) 1995/96
- 42 = Milan (ITA) 1991/92
- 40 = Nottingham Forest (ENG) 1978
- 40 = Real Madrid (ESP) 2016/17