Bayern Munich is perhaps the first name that you think about when talking about German football. The club has had unprecedented success, winning a long list of league and continental titles throughout its prestigious history. Much of that is thanks in part to some fantastic managers, with these five men standing out as the best in club history. Before we start the list, some of the managers who just missed the list include Jupp Heynckes, Dettmar Cramer, Zlatko Cajkovski, and Felix Magath.
Louis Van Gaal
Dutchman Louis Van Gaal enjoyed a long playing career throughout the 1970s and 1980s, playing in his first matches with Royal Antwerp. Van Gall then joined Telstar for a brief period prior to heading to Sparta Rotterdam where he spent the bulk of his career (eight years). He wrapped up with AZ in 1987, then went into managing, landing his first gig with Ajax in 1991. After bouncing around to a handful of teams including Barcelona, Van Gaal became the Bayern Munich manager from 2009 to 2011.
Van Gaal managed 96 games with Bayern Munich. During that time he won 59 of those matches, losing just 19 times. From 2009 to 2010, Van Gaal saw his squad win the Bundesliga, DFB-Pokal, and DFL-Supercup while nearly winning the UEFA Champions League.
The first German manager on the list is Hansi Flick, who spent much of his playing career with Bayern Munich during the 1980s. Flick also played for SV Sandhausen, 1. FC Koln, and Victoria Bammental before retiring in 2000. Toward the end of his career, he was a player-manager, then took over at 1899 Hoffenheim. After serving for several years as an assistant with various clubs, Flick took over as Bayern’s manager from 2019 to 2021.
Flick managed just 86 matches during his Bayern Munich career, but what he was able to accomplish during that time was absurd. He lost just seven matches, winning 81.4 percent of those matches. Bayern won the Bundesliga in back-to-back years while also winning the UEFA Champions League with Flick at the helm.
Pep Guardiola has had plenty of time in the spotlight both as a player and manager, though much of it has come in his native Spain. Guardiola was most-known for his playing days with Barcelona, though he also played for the likes of Roma, Al-Ahli, and Dorados during his 18-year professional career. After retiring, he began managing Barca’s B team, then took over as top manager until making the move to Bayern Munich in 2013. He remained in Germany until 2016 before heading to Manchester City.
In three consecutive seasons from 2013-14 to 2015-16, Bayern Munich won the Bundesliga with Guardiola as the manager. He also won the DFB-Pokal in two out of three years while also adding a UEFA Super Cup and FIFA Club World Cup to his resume. Overall, he finished with an impressive 121 wins in his 161 matches, losing just 19 times.
A bit of a journeyman throughout his career, Ottmar Hitzfled played for Basel, VfB Stuttgart, Lugano, and Luzern between 1971 and 1983. Hitzfeld then took on the managerial role with SC Zug after retiring, then managed Aarau and Grasshoppers until the early 1990s. Hitzfled was the manager of Borussia Dortmund from 1991 until 1997, then had two stints with Bayern Munich from 1998 to 2008, ending his career as the Swiss National Team manager.
During his first stint with Bayern Munich, Hitzfeld finished with a record of 193 wins, 73 draws, and 53 losses. In his second, he had 45 wins, 20 draws, and 11 losses. Overall, Hitzfeld was able to guide Bayern to the Bundesliga title five times, winning the DFB-Pokal three times, and the DFB-Ligapokal four times. In 2001, Bayern won both the Intercontinental Cup and UEFA Champions League under Hitzfeld.
While the rest of the managers on the list had lengthy playing careers with some pretty high-level clubs, that wasn’t really the case for Udo Lattek. Born in Bosemb, Lattek was only in the top flight for the final few years of his career before retiring and becoming an assistant coach for West Germany’s National team. In 1970, he took over Bayern Munich for the first of his two stints, with the other going from 1983 to 1987.
During his overall career with Bayern, Lattek won the Bundesliga title a whopping six times. He also won the DFB-Pokal three times and the European Cup once. ESPN ranked Lattek as one of the 20 greatest football managers of all-time while other outlets put him in the top 40. Lattek won more than 61 percent of his matches with Bayern Munich, losing just 67 times total in over 400 matches.