Man in Suit Wearing Medal in Stadium

Which Football Managers Have Won the Most English Titles?

When Pep Guardiola led his Manchester City side to the 2022/23 Premier League, it was his fifth English top-flight title. This is a truly fantastic achievement, but it still only puts him in joint-fourth position in the table of all-time English championship-winning managers.

In this article, we’ll run through the managers who have won at least four English top-flight titles (whether the Premier League, its forerunner Division One or even the original Football League). That only eight men have done this is a testament to the difficulty of the achievement.

Chart That Shows the Football Managers with the Most English League Title Wins Between 1889 and 2023

There are some very familiar names on the list and one or two you might never have heard of. But where else could we start than with the most successful manager in English football history and arguably the greatest gaffer of all time?

Note that we are focusing solely on English top-flight titles here and we’re not taking into account European tournaments, the FA Cup or any other competitions.

Alex Ferguson – 13 Titles

  • Manchester United (13 Titles) – 1992/93, 1993/94, 1995/96, 1996/97, 1998/99, 1999/2000, 2000/01, 2002/03, 2006/07, 2007/08, 2008/09, 2010/11, 2012/13

Alex Ferguson’s 13 Premier League titles put him head, shoulders and pointy hat above the rest. Before he began his illustrious Man United career, Ferguson had already bagged plenty of silverware at Aberdeen including three Scottish Premier Division titles, four Scottish Cups, the European Cup Winners’ Cup and the European Super Cup. But it took the Scot more than three years to land his first trophy at Old Trafford: the 1989/90 FA Cup, and that only came after Crystal Palace took United to a replay after a 3-3 draw in the final. Had United not won that replay, or if the Man United board had been as impatient for success as today’s club owners, football history could be very different.

As it was, that FA Cup triumph opened the floodgates in terms of trophies and United’s dominance of the Premier League was ludicrously impressive. Ferguson led his side to many other trophies too, including the Champions League (twice), four more FA Cups, four League Cups and the FIFA Club World Cup. But the amazing total of 13 Premier League titles is the headline here and one that even Pep will struggle to achieve in his career.

George Ramsay – 6 Titles

  • Aston Villa (6 Titles) – 1893/94, 1895/96, 1896/97, 1898/99, 1899/1900, 1909/10

While Ferguson is a Man United legend, Aston Villa had their own in the form of George Ramsay. Not only was Ramsay one of the most successful managers of all time, he was also one of the longest-serving: he stayed at the helm at Villa for an astonishing 41 years and nine months (for comparison, Ferguson was at United for only 26 years and six months).

Ramsay was well ahead of his time in terms of coaching techniques and tactics and introduced a passing game involving short, quick interchanges that often flummoxed the opposition of the day. In his long reign at Villa, as well as the six league titles, Ramsay’s team finished as runners-up on a further six occasions and won six FA Cups.

Bob Paisley – 6 Titles

  • Liverpool (6 Titles) – 1975/76, 1976/77, 1978/79, 1979/80, 1981/82, 1982/83

Between the 1972/73 season and that of 1990/91, Liverpool only finished lower than second in the league once (when they finished fifth in 1980/81). During those dominant years the Reds won 11 Division One titles: Kenny Dalglish won three titles, and Bill Shankly and Joe Fagan chipped in with one apiece (although Shankly had won two more earlier in his stint). The other six championships in that flurry of silverware were won by Liverpool when the great Bob Paisley was at the helm.

Shankly’s boots were tough to fill, but fill them Paisley did… and then some. Having played for the club between 1939 and 1954, and then becoming Shankly’s assistant from 1959 to 1973, Paisley knew the club inside-out. And the players, backroom staff and fans also knew and respected Paisley. Although he only won one league title as a player (in the 1946/47 campaign), as a manager Paisley guided Liverpool to six titles in eight seasons. He also led the Reds to their first three European Cups (the forerunner of the Champions League), since when the club has added three more. Interestingly, despite his amazing success, Paisley never won the FA Cup as either a player or a manager.

Tom Watson – 5 Titles

  • Sunderland (3 Titles) – 1891/92, 1892/93, 1894/95
  • Liverpool (2 Titles) – 1900/01, 1905/06

A long time before Bob Paisley’s reign at Liverpool (and an even longer time before those of Kenny Dalglish or Jurgen Klopp), Tom Watson led Liverpool to their first ever top-flight title. By then, Watson had already led his previous club Sunderland to three titles, one in the original Football League, and two Division One titles once the league had split into two divisions.

Indeed, when he took Liverpool to their first title in 1900/01, it was Sunderland who had to settle for the runners-up spot. Watson stayed at Liverpool for 19 years in total and to this day he is the longest-serving manager at the club.

Matt Busby – 5 Titles

  • Manchester United (5 Titles) – 1951/52, 1955/56, 1956/67, 1964/65, 1966/67

Any manager that wins multiple titles at a club will no doubt go down in folklore. But the ups and very real downs of Matt Busby’s time at Manchester United are certainly more dramatic than most. He first led the club to the Division One title way back in 1951/52, then two more in 1955/56 and 1956/57. It was midway through the following season, on 6th February 1958, that the Munich air disaster occurred and changed everything for Busby, Man United and – to some extent – football itself. Eight players died as a result of the air crash, along with three members of backroom staff and two journalists. Busby survived along with Bobby Charlton and several other players.

Busby spent the next few years rebuilding the squad and the club and in 1964/65, he led the Red Devils to the title once again. He followed that up with another triumph in 1966/67 and then guided United to become the first English side to win the European Cup the following year. Bobby Charlton scored twice in the final as they beat Benfica 4-1 after extra time. Busby was already a legend by that point, but the European Cup triumph – and all that went before – elevated him to almost saint-like status at the club.

Pep Guardiola – 5 Titles

  • Manchester City (5 Titles) – 2017/18, 2018/19, 2020/21, 2021/22, 2022/23

Given that Pep Guardiola is still very much going strong and that he manages one of the best (and richest) clubs in the world, it is very likely he will add to the current total of five Premier League titles. But as things stand, he still lags behind those above him… and quite far behind Alex Ferguson!

Of course, it ought to be remembered that Guardiola already had a fantastic CV before arriving on English shores. He won three La Liga titles as manager of Barcelona and three Bundesliga titles at Bayern Munich. The only thing City fans might fear is that Pep might fancy trying his hand in Italy, or in international football. But if he stays in English football, we are confident he’ll make inroads into Ferguson’s record haul of 13 titles. Though he could be hard-pushed to ever surpass it.

Herbert Chapman – 4 Titles

  • Huddersfield Town (2 Titles) – 1923/24, 1924/25
  • Arsenal (2 Titles) – 1930/31, 1932/33

Although Arsene Wenger won one more title at Arsenal than Herbert Chapman managed, the Yorkshireman surpasses Wenger on our list as he won two titles with Huddersfield Town as well. Not only was Chapman successful, but he was also very influential and had a forward-thinking approach to tactics, introducing the WM formation that revolutionised the game.

Sadly, Chapman died of pneumonia at the age of 55 midway through the 1933/34 season. Had he lived longer, there’s no doubt he would be higher on this list (Arsenal won the title that season and the one after that). But even so, Chapman goes down as one of the greats of English football.

Kenny Dalglish – 4 Titles

  • Liverpool (3 Titles) – 1985/86, 1987/88, 1989/90
  • Blackburn Rovers (1 Title) – 1994/95

As well as the three titles Kenny Dalglish won at Liverpool in the club’s heyday, he also achieved what only three others have managed: winning the top-flight title at two different clubs. Only the aforementioned Tom Watson and Herbert Chapman, along with the inimitable Brian Clough, had done this before Dalglish led the bankrolled upstarts Blackburn Rovers to the 1994/95 Premier League title.

This gave the former Liverpool legend his fourth English top-flight title, moving him one ahead of one of his heroes Bill Shankly, as well as Wolverhampton Wanderers legend Stan Cullis. Arsene Wenger and Jose Mourinho have since made it to three titles, but even those modern footballing greats couldn’t match Dalglish, or indeed any of those we have featured above.