Featured Matches
Previous
Arsenal
Besiktas
1
0
FT
Leg 2Aggregate: 1 - 0
Game Details
Athletic Bilbao
Napoli
3
1
ESPNDeportes FT
Leg 2Aggregate: 4 - 2
Game Details
Bayer Leverkusen
FC Copenhagen
4
0
ESPN3 FT
Leg 2Aggregate: 7 - 2
Game Details
Aston Villa
Leyton Orient
0
1
FT
Game Details
Birmingham City
Sunderland
0
3
FT
Game Details
Stoke City
Portsmouth
3
0
FT
Game Details
Burton Albion
Queens Park Rangers
1
0
FT
Game Details
Arsenal
Besiktas
1
0
FT
Leg 2Aggregate: 1 - 0
Game Details
Athletic Bilbao
Napoli
3
1
ESPNDeportes FT
Leg 2Aggregate: 4 - 2
Game Details
Bayer Leverkusen
FC Copenhagen
4
0
ESPN3 FT
Leg 2Aggregate: 7 - 2
Game Details
Ludogorets Razgrad
Steaua Bucuresti
1
0
ESPN3 FT
Leg 2Aggregate: 1 - 1
Game Details
Malmo FF
SV Salzburg
3
0
ESPN3 FT
Leg 2Aggregate: 4 - 2
Game Details
Aston Villa
Leyton Orient
0
1
FT
Game Details
Birmingham City
Sunderland
0
3
FT
Game Details
Bradford City
Leeds United
2
1
FT
Game Details
Burton Albion
Queens Park Rangers
1
0
FT
Game Details
Stoke City
Portsmouth
3
0
FT
Game Details
Los Angeles Galaxy
DC United
2:30 AM GMT
Game Details
León
Herediano
12:00 AM GMT
Game Details
Municipal
Pachuca
2:00 AM GMT
Game Details
Cobresal
General Díaz
1
2
LIVE 76'
Leg 2Aggregate: 2 - 4
Game Details
Independiente Terán
Trujillanos
0
0
LIVE 79'
Leg 2Aggregate: 1 - 0
Game Details
Libertad
Nacional Potosí
11:30 PM GMT
Leg 2Aggregate: 0 - 1
Game Details
River Plate
Universidad Católica
11:30 PM GMT
Leg 2Aggregate: 1 - 0
Game Details
Internacional
Bahia
1:00 AM GMT
Leg 1
Game Details
Atlético Nacional
Deportivo La Guaira
2:00 AM GMT
Leg 2Aggregate: 0 - 0
Game Details
Alianza Lima
Barcelona
2:00 AM GMT
Leg 2Aggregate: 0 - 3
Game Details
Atletico Rafaela
Newell's Old Boys
2
3
FT
Game Details
Rosario Central
Godoy Cruz de Mendoza
0
1
FT
Game Details
River Plate
Defensa y Justicia
0
0
LIVE 16'
Game Details
Estudiantes La Plata
Boca Juniors
12:30 AM GMT
Game Details
Irapuato
U.A.N.L
0
0
LIVE 1'
Game Details
Morelia
Celaya
0
0
ESPNDeportes LIVE 1'
Game Details
Oaxaca
Chiapas
0
0
LIVE 0'
Game Details
Atlas
Mineros de Zacatecas
2:00 AM GMT
Game Details
Correcaminos
Santos
2:00 AM GMT
Game Details
UNAM
Mérida
2:00 AM GMT
Game Details
Zacatepec
Guadalajara
ESPNDeportes 2:00 AM GMT
Game Details
América RN
Atletico Paranaense
10:30 PM GMT
Leg 1
Game Details
Cruzeiro
Santa Rita
4
0
LIVE 76'
Leg 1
Game Details
Botafogo
Ceará
1:00 AM GMT
Leg 1
Game Details
Bragantino
Corinthians
1:00 AM GMT
Leg 1
Game Details
Coritiba FBC
Flamengo
1:00 AM GMT
Leg 1
Game Details
Palmeiras
Atlético MG
1:00 AM GMT
Leg 1
Game Details
LDU Quito
Deportivo Quito
12:15 AM GMT
Game Details
FC Seoul
Pohang Steelers
0
0
FT-Pens
Leg 2Aggregate: 0 - 0FC Seoul win 3-0 on penalties
Game Details
Guangzhou Evergrande
Western Sydney Wanderers
2
1
FT
Leg 2Aggregate: 2 - 2
Game Details
Amazulu
Bloem Celtic
0
2
FT
Game Details
Mamelodi Sundowns
Orlando Pirates
0
3
FT
Game Details
Pretoria Univ
Free State Stars
0
1
FT
Game Details
Silver Stars
Kaizer Chiefs
0
2
FT
Game Details
SuperSport United
Mpumalanga Black Aces
1
2
FT
Game Details
Saprissa
Santos
Postp
Game Details
Carmelita
Club Sport Uruguay
2
0
FT
Game Details
Cartagines
Perez Zeledon
Postp
Postponed - now being played Sun, Aug 31
Game Details
Antigua
Marquense
9:15 PM GMT
Game Details
Petapa
Coatepeque
2:00 AM GMT
Game Details
Vida
Marathon
1:00 AM GMT
Game Details
Next

Alderweireld: I don't regret Atletico Madrid move

La Liga news Jan 21, 2014
Read
Aug 9, 2013

Greatest Managers, No. 2: Michels

Some managers etch their names into history because they change the game. These are the visionaries, the men whose legacy is written in more than silver and gold. It is because of them that we think about football in the way we do. They are the mavericks and the dreamers, the ones who see the sport in a different way, who force us to forget all we know about how 11 players should function on a pitch.

Rinus Michels did more than win trophies. He changed football as we know it.
Rinus Michels did more than win trophies. He changed football as we know it.

Others are recognized as legends because they perfect the game as it exists. These are the masters, the motivators, the men who can do what everyone else does but better. They are remorseless, relentless winners, soaring above their peers, their necks adorned with medals and a heap of trophies at their feet.

Jose Mourinho, perhaps, would provide the most apposite example of the latter. Helenio Herrera, mastermind behind il grande Inter, would be another; even Sir Alex Ferguson. Marcelo Bielsa, the hipsters' darling, would be in the vanguard of the former; maybe Arsene Wenger and Tele Santana, too.

Yet there are but a handful of men who have managed to do both. It is in this category, this elite band, that we must place Rinus Michels.

Michels' CV is nothing to be sniffed at. He lifted four league titles with Ajax and led them to the first of the three European Cups with which they started the 1970s, as well as saw them beaten in the final in 1969. He won La Liga with Barcelona, too, and the Copa del Rey a few years later. With Holland, he lifted the 1988 European Championships and also took them to the 1974 World Cup final, where they were beaten by their own sense of superiority as much as by West Germany.

But weighing precious metal and counting precious medals is not a fitting way to assess Michels' contribution to the game. It does not quite explain why he was declared Coach of the Century in 1999. It does not come close to measuring his impact on football.

His name, of course, is synonymous with Total Football, that peculiarly Dutch vision of how the game should be played. When he died, in 2005, Marco van Basten described him as "the father of Dutch football." That, too, is an inadequate epitaph. Michels, in many ways, is the father of all modern football.

Total Football is often characterised as the on-pitch manifestation of the hippie revolution that swept through Holland and the rest of Europe in the 1960s. Johan Cruyff, Johan Neeskens, Johnny Rep and the rest captivated the world with their free-flowing style, their manes of hair, their statement sideburns; this was free love in shin pads, Woodstock in studs. The popular vision of Total Football is that it did away with the tyranny of positions and with the shackles of static tactical formations, allowing players to interchange places at will so that everyone was an attacker and nobody a defender.

That is an inversion of the truth, even if the consequences were largely the same. Michels was a disciplinarian, a workaholic, who drove his players into the ground. Piet Keizer, the Ajax winger, remembered his training sessions as "the hardest I ever had; sometimes we did four a day." It was Michels who introduced the Dutch to the Italian concept of sequestering the team in a hotel before a game so that the players could be entirely focused on the task in front of them. Rinus Michels, a qualified gymnastics teacher, was not a hippie.

He was also not as cavalier as his reputation suggests. Yes, Total Football granted full backs like Ruud Krol the licence to raid forward, but it demanded that another player, an attacking player, possess the capability to slot in to cover his teammate's position. When Bill Shankly remarked that he had never seen a home team play so defensively -- this after watching his Liverpool side demolished 5-1 by Ajax in Amsterdam -- he was only partly being sardonic. He had recognised that Michels' Ajax, as would be true of his Barcelona and his Holland, protected their own goal first. Johan Cruyff, Michels' greatest protégé, played as a withdrawn forward, dropping deep into his own half to gain possession and dictate play. This system was not all attack and no defence, all light but no dark. It was a symbiosis of the two.

It was to this end that Michels worked his players so hard. His system was not new: Nandor Hidegkuti had shown how much damage a withdrawn forward could do for the great Hungary side of the 1950s, while Brazil had long enjoyed a tradition of attacking full backs. Michels was not even the first man to introduce the principles to Holland -- that honour falls to his mentor, Jack Reynolds, coach of Ajax in the 1950s -- but he was the first to recognise that it could work to its full potential only if the players were physically flawless. Michels realised you need to work for your freedom.

That is the on-pitch stuff. It was that theory, combined with the two greatest generations of footballers in Dutch history, which brought him all those league titles, the move to Barcelona, the place in the World Cup final and, once Cruyff, Neeskens and Rep had been replaced by van Basten, Ruud Gullit and Frank Rijkaard, his crowning glory, the 1988 European Championships.

But there is more. It was Michels who first established the principle of schooling young players in the Ajax way, to make sure that each successive generation played in the same way; this way, his legacy was protected. It was that idea, imbued in Cruyff, which led to the foundation of La Masia at Barcelona; it is not too much of a stretch to suggest that many of the youth development principles now so common across Europe were seeded by Michels.

And it was Michels who, as van Basten hinted, ultimately defined the Netherlands' footballing identity. Those brilliant men in orange are still expected to play in his way, with his style, with his panache. Perhaps only Brazil have a more defined role in world football's firmament.

"He put the Netherlands on the map in such a way that everybody still benefits from it," said Cruyff after Michels' death. "With him, results came first, but quality of soccer was No. 1. I will miss Rinus Michels."

Him, and all of us.

ESPN FC's Top 20 Greatest Managers was determined by a polling process of more than 20 regular columnists, contributors and editors at ESPN FC.

Comments

Use a Facebook account to add a comment, subject to Facebook's Terms of Service and Privacy Policy. Your Facebook name, photo & other personal information you make public on Facebook will appear with your comment, and may be used on ESPN's media platforms. Learn more.