AC Milan has a history that dates back to the end of the 19th century, and over the years, the club has had a long list of managers. Some have come and gone rather quickly without much success, but then there are others that stuck around for years while also winning trophies left and right.
Of those many managers, which ones rank as the best, though? Here are our selections for the five best in AC Milan history. Before we start the list, some of the managers who just missed the cut include Herbert Kilpin, Nils Liedholm, Antonio Busini, and Stefano Pioli.
Giuseppe Viani had a playing career that lasted for nearly two decades, including long stints with Inter Milan and Lazio. He wrapped up his career with Salernitana in 1943 and quickly got into management. Throughout the 1940s and 1950s, he managed several teams before finding a home with AC Milan from 1957 to 1960. It was a great way to cap off Viani’s full-time managerial career.
Viani had 376 matches as the AC Milan manager, placing him third all-time. During his tenure, Viani won the Serie A title in 1957 and 1959, while also nearly winning the European Cup in between. He was inducted into the Italian Football Hall of Fame in 2018 thanks to his long managerial stretch.
Fusignano native Arrigo Sacchi is one of those rare men that didn’t have a long and prestigious playing career in football while also being able to achieve a lot as a manager. Sacchi became a manager for the first time in 1973 with Fusignano and had several stints during the 1980s before landing with AC Milan for the first time in 1987. After four years, Sacchi went on to manage the Italian National Team before returning to Milan in 1996 and 1997.
Sacchi is the only manager on the list that’s outside of the top five of matches managed but does sit in sixth with 220. Sacchi was able to get a lot done during that time, winning eight trophies including one Serie A title. Sacchi also won the Supercoppa Italiana and had two trophies each from the UEFA Champions League, Super Cup, and FIFA Club World Cup.
Carlo Ancelotti had a trio of long stints as a player during his career, getting his start with Parma in the late 1970s before joining Roma for nearly a decade. For the last five years of his playing career, Ancelotti was a member of AC Milan, netting 10 goals in 112 appearances. He has managed some of the more notable teams in Europe, including Chelsea and Paris Saint-Germain, and he managed AC Milan from 2001 to 2009.
Ancelotti is tied for third all-time in terms of trophies won as AC Milan manager and ranks second in matches managed with 420. Ancelotti won the Serie A title once during his long tenure, while also being one of just three managers to win the Coppa Italia. Ancelotti added a handful of other titles to bring his total to eight.
Fabio Capello is one of the more identifiable figures in football as he has been involved with several major clubs as both a player and manager. He spent his playing career with SPAL, Roma, Juventus, and AC Milan then became the club’s manager in 1991 just more than a decade after his retirement. Capello had two stints with Milan from 1991 to 1996 and 1997 to 1998.
Capello ranks third all-time in AC Milan history in terms of matches managed with an even 300. Despite managing fewer games than those behind him on the list, he’s second all-time in trophies won with nine. Among those is the club record for Serie A titles, winning four of them. Capello also won the Supercoppa Italiana three times while adding a UEFA Cup Champions League and Super Cup.
Born in what was then considered Austria-Hungary, Nereo Rocco spent much of his playing career with Triestina, appearing in more than 230 matches during the 1930s. He would then spend time with several other clubs including Napoli before retiring in 1945 and managing his original club. Rocco had three stints as the AC Milan manager, with the first coming from 1961 to 1963 while the other two were from 1967 to 1973 and in 1977.
Rocco has more appearances as a manager than any other man in AC Milan’s history, and he also has more trophies than any other. Rocco retired with 10 in total, including two from winning the Serie A championship. Rocco also took home the Coppa Italia three times while also winning the UEFA Champions League and Winners’ Cup twice each.