Darren Norris believes Alex Ferguson could become the greatest Champions League manager of all time if he wins tomorrow — a loss and Pep Guardiola rises further up the list

1 Bob Paisley (Liverpool)

A reluctant successor to the legendary Bill Shankly, Paisley (inset, and main picture at Anfield) would ultimately eclipse the achievements of his predecessor. In a glorious nine-year spell at Anfield from 1974 to 83, Paisley led Liverpool to six league titles, one UEFA Cup, three League Cups and most impressively of all, became the first and, until tomorrow at least, only manager to win the European Cup three times. German side Borussia Monchengladbach were beaten 3-1 in the 1977 final, a Kenny Dalglish goal against Brugge retained the trophy 12 months later while a late Alan Kennedy goal saw off Real Madrid in 1981.

2 Alex Ferguson (Manchester United)

The Scot could join Paisley as the only manager to win the European Cup three times if United defy the odds and beat Barcelona tomorrow night. Probably the greatest manager in the history of British football, Ferguson won his first European Cup in 1999 when injury-time goals from Teddy Sheringham and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer against Bayern Munich snatched victory from the jaws of defeat. Nine years later United beat Chelsea on penalties after a 1-1 draw in Moscow. Big achievements both, but victory over Barcelona would be his crowning glory.

3 Brian Clough (Nottingham Forest)

Old Big ‘Ead’s achievement in transforming unfashionable Nottingham Forest from a struggling Division Two side to European champions in the space of four years remains one of the most enduring in football history. Clough led Forest to promotion to the top flight in 1977 and in their first season in Division One they remarkably won it. It got even better in 1979 when a rare Trevor Francis header saw off Swedish side Malmo in the European Cup final. And just for good measure Forest retained the trophy 12 months later, defeating Kevin Keegan’s Hamburg 1-0 thanks to a John Robertson goal.

4 Pep Guardiola (Barcelona)

A European Cup winner as a player in 1992, Guardiola has enjoyed a remarkable start to his management career. A surprise appointment as Barcelona boss in 2008, he took over an underachieving side. He had an instant impact though, leading Barcelona to a treble of La Liga, the Copa del Rey and Champions League in his first season. In doing so, he became the youngest manager ever to win the Champions League. Tomorrow he will attempt to win his second Champions League in a three-year spell as manager, an astonishing achievement for a man who only turned 40 in January.

5 Jock Stein (Celtic)

Arguably the greatest achievement in European Cup history was the Scot’s feat in leading Celtic to a historic victory over Inter Milan in 1967. Celtic did it the hard way, coming from behind to pierce Inter’s famed Catenaccio defence twice thanks to second-half goals from Tommy Gemmell and Stevie Chalmers.

Incredibly Celtic’s win was achieved with players all born within a 30-mile radius of the club, an astonishing achievement. For good measure Stein also guided Celtic to nine successive league titles between 1966 and 74.

6 Matt Busby (Manchester United)

The original Godfather of Old Trafford, Busby defied the FA by leading Manchester United’s Busby Babes into European competition in the 1950s. However his brave stance turned to tragedy when seven of his ‘Babes’, including Duncan Edwards and Ireland’s Liam Whelan, died in the Munich air disaster in 1958. Busby himself twice received the last rites but fought back and led a rebuilt United side to an emotional 4-1 extra-time European Cup victory over Benfica 10 years on thanks to two goals from Munich survivor Bobby Charlton and a goal apiece from George Best and Brian Kidd.

7 Rinus Michels (Ajax)

The man credited with inventing total football was the mastermind behind the great Ajax team that dominated Europe in the early 70s. Future legends Johan Cruyff and Johan Neeskens first emerged during Michels’ time at Ajax as the club won the domestic title four times between 1965 and 71. They lost the 1969 European Cup final to AC Milan but two years later Ajax became kings of Europe after a 2-0 win over Panathinaikos. Michels then left the club but the quality of the team he left behind meant Ajax went on to win the European Cup in each of the next two seasons.

8 Jose Mourinho (Porto and Inter Milan)

The self-proclaimed ‘Special One’ first emerged in 2003 when he led Porto to victory over Celtic in the UEFA Cup final. 12 months later, he was celebrating another European victory after his side, having come within seconds of being knocked out against Manchester United in the last 16, won the European Cup after a 3-0 victory over Monaco. Given Porto’s resources it was a remarkable achievement. Mourinho couldn’t quite repeat the trick at Chelsea but last season he again defied the odds, leading a non-vintage Inter Milan side to Champions League success with a 2-0 win over Bayern Munich.

9 Arrigo Sacchi (AC Milan)

In the late 80s the Italian built one of the finest teams in club history to make AC Milan kings of Europe. Their success was largely down to the flair of Dutch trio Marco van Basten, Ruud Gullit and Frank Rijkaard and a watertight defence superbly marshalled by Franco Baresi and a young Paulo Maldini. Having won Serie A in 1988, Sacchi’s side won the European Cup in imperious style, demolishing Steaua Bucharest 4-0 thanks to two goals from both Gullit and Van Basten. 12 months later AC Milan retained the trophy after a Rijkaard goal against Benfica.

10 Helenio Herrera (Inter Milan)

The man who pioneered the Catenaccio (door-bolt) system, a specialised defensive approach designed to grind out 1-0 wins, led Inter to European Cup victories in 1964 and 65 during an eight-year spell at the San Siro between 1960 and 68 and is one of the most significant coaches in history. He was ahead of his time, forbidding his players to drink or smoke and insisting they controlled their diet. He enjoyed phenomenal success throughout Europe, including with Barcelona, but it is his achievements at Inter that he will be best remembered for.

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