Teams Managed: JOS Watergraafsmeer, DWS, Ajax, Barcelona, Netherlands, Los Angeles Aztecs, 1. FC Koln, Bayer Leverkusen
Titles: European Championships 1988 European Cup 1971 Inter-Cities Fairs Cup 1971 Dutch League 1966, 1967, 1968, 1970 Spanish League 1974 Dutch KNVB Cup 1967, 1970, 1971 Spanish Cup (Copa del Rey) 1978 German Cup (DFB Pokal) 1983
Not just a winner, but an innovator for total football too. Michels scored 122 goals in 266 games for Ajax as a player but it was as Manager where he became widely known as one of the best in the business at his job.
After starting out at JOS in 1960 he took charge of DWS Amsterdam in 1964 taking them to second in the Eredivisie title behind Feyenoord earning him a move back to Ajax who that season finished 13th in Dutch football’s top flight, just three points above relegation.
Michels took over at Ajax from English Coach Vic Buckingham who was credited for scouting Johan Cruyff, Buckingham had set the foundations to the way Ajax played for many years to come, but putting results into practice was another thing.
The newly appointed Manager however had an immediate impact, taking an Ajax team that included a young Cruyff, Sjaak Swaart, Bennie Muller, Wim Suurbier & Piet Keizer to a first title in six years. De Godenzonen also beat Liverpool in a famous European match 5-1 which sent a ripple across the continent. This Ajax team under Michels was very good.
More domestic trophies would follow, the league three more times and the KNVB Cup three times all before Michel’s first and only European Cup success. Ajax had been convincingly beaten in the 1969 European Cup final by Milan but would go one better during an era of Dutch dominance when in 1971 Ajax would lift the continents most prized trophy for the first time, it was the first of a hat-trick of European wins for Ajax as they beat Panathinaikos of Greece in the Wembley final in what would be Michels last game before moving to Barcelona.
Michels, a tough disciplinarian with some whacky ideas had turned Ajax from a promising young team into an entertaining hard working outfit that attacked from all angles. The epitome of total football, the style and substance earning him a lucrative move to Barcelona.
Barcelona had not won La Liga since 1960, but within three years in charge Michels finally gave the Catalan fans their wish taking the 1973/74 Spanish Championship after successive third place and second place finishes. Michels left Barcelona to become Manager of the Dutch National team on the eve of the 1974 World Cup. His impact again immediate as he lead the Oranje to the final after shocking the world with the stylish way in which they played.
A year after the World Cup final defeat to West Germany Michels rejoined Ajax before a further spell at Barcelona where he won the Copa del Rey. After short spells in USA and West Germany (winning the DFB Pokal with Cologne) he became Manager of the Dutch National team for a second and third time where he would perhaps enjoy his finest achievement in 1988. With players such as Koeman, Rijkaard, Murhen, Gullit & van Basten he lead the Dutch to a first ever national title by winning the UEFA European Championships beating USSR in the final. Michels still boasting a fluid style of football that encouraged play out from the back. The Ajax way, the Dutch way, the Michels way.
After a short spell at Bayer Leverkusen Michels took charge again of the Netherlands between 1990 & 1992. His fourth and final spell as Clockwork Orange Manager ending in semi-final defeat to Denmark via penalties.
A man who made his style one of the most iconic in football, who created a dynasty for the way Ajax, Barcelona and the Dutch National team would play for many years later. A man who embraced hard work and attacking play from all his team. Awarded the coach of the last century by FIFA not just for what he did in football, but for how he did it.
Major Domestic League wins: 5
Major Domestic Cup wins: 5
Continental Cup wins: 1
Other Continental Trophy wins: 1
Intercontinental/World Club Cup wins: 0