Chelsea Managers Ranked by Win Percentage

Football managers are often judged by their trophies, but their win percentage is not something that should be overlooked. Even if silverware does not come thick and fast, a healthy win percentage goes a long way to keep their job safe. When this percentage begins to drop, that is when managers can find themselves in trouble. Chelsea fans know this more than most, having seen managers come and leave the club on such a regular basis over the past 15 years.

Of course, there is more to job security than win percentage. Managers can have a falling out over player recruitment, transfer budgets, personal terms, playing style etc., and these can play a major role in why a manager ends up departing. For an ambitious club like Chelsea, a lack of trophies will usually see a manager on thin ice, but if they are regularly winning matches, they will usually be given more leeway. As for which Chelsea managers have won the most often, almost all took the helm this side of the century.

All-Time Table (Ranked by Win Percentage)

Here is the table of all Chelsea managers ranked by their win percentage. Caretaker managers are not included, however, interim managers are included, which we have indicated in the below table with an asterisk (*). There are also three player-managers (Glen Hoddle, Ruud Gullit and Gianluca Vialli) among Chelsea’s former gaffers.

Name Nationality Year Start Year Left Matches Win %
Guus Hiddink* Netherlands 2009 2009 22 73%
José Mourinho Portugal 2004 2007 185 67%
William Lewis* England 1906 1907 27 67%
Avram Grant Israel 2007 2008 54 67%
Antonio Conte Italy 2016 2018 106 65%
Maurizio Sarri Italy 2018 2019 63 62%
Carlo Ancelotti Italy 2009 2011 109 61%
John Tait Robertson Scotland 1905 1906 54 61%
Thomas Tuchel Germany 2021 2022 100 60%
José Mourinho (2) Portugal 2013 2015 136 59%
Rafael Benítez* Spain 2012 2013 48 58%
Roberto Di Matteo Italy 2012 2012 42 57%
Luiz Felipe Scolari Brazil 2008 2009 36 56%
Claudio Ranieri Italy 2000 2004 199 54%
Gianluca Vialli Italy 1998 2000 143 53%
Frank Lampard England 2019 2021 84 52%
Ruud Gullit Netherlands 1996 1998 83 49%
André Villas-Boas Portugal 2011 2012 40 48%
Tommy Docherty Scotland 1961 1967 303 47%
Bobby Campbell England 1988 1991 165 47%
Dave Sexton England 1967 1974 372 44%
Geoff Hurst England 1979 1981 81 43%
Mauricio Pochettino Argentina 2023 Current 22 43%
John Neal England 1981 1985 203 41%
David Calderhead Scotland 1907 1933 966 40%
Graham Potter England 2022 2023 31 39%
John Hollins England 1985 1988 145 39%
David Webb England 1993 1993 13 38%
Eddie McCreadie Scotland 1975 1977 97 38%
Guus Hiddink (2)* Netherlands 2015 2016 27 37%
Ted Drake England 1952 1961 426 36%
Ian Porterfield Scotland 1991 1993 90 34%
Leslie Knighton England 1933 1939 269 34%
Glenn Hoddle England 1993 1996 157 34%
Billy Birrell Scotland 1939 1952 293 33%
Ron Suart* England 1974 1975 34 24%
Ken Shellito England 1977 1978 66 23%
Danny Blanchflower Northern Ireland 1978 1979 32 16%
Frank Lampard (2)* England 2023 2023 11 9%

*Denotes interim manager

The unweighted average is 46% while the weighted average is 44.5%, so this gives you a sense of what is needed to be a solid but unspectacular all-time Chelsea manager. Expectations are much higher than they used to be mind you, so even a win rate comfortably above this would not be deemed much of a success in the modern era. Looking at José Mourinho (first stint) onwards, Chelsea have won 59% of their matches, showing just how far the bar has been raised since Roman Abramovich’s money came into the club.

It is interesting to see Hiddink top the chart and it could well be some time before someone dislodges him. He took over the role mid-way through the 2008/09 season when Chelsea fired Luiz Felipe Scolari. Hiddink was still the manager of the Russian national team at the time but was able to handle both roles simultaneously. The Dutchman only lost one game during this initial brief stint at Stamford Bridge, not bad for a man called up on very short notice to see out the rest of the season.

You may think that thanks to the so-called ‘honeymoon period’ it is easy for a short-term manager to enjoy a healthy win ratio but often such arrangements do not work out. Frank Lampard provides us with a very stark example of this as he was brought in midway through the 2022/23 season to help steady the ship. Seen as a safe pair of hands given his familiarity with the surroundings, the club legend proceeded to win just one of 11 matches.

Little Longevity at the Top

José Mourinho
José Mourinho (@cfcunofficial | Wikipedia)

It is interesting that of the six managers with the highest win percentage, only two of them lasted more than 63 games in charge. Given that there are usually 50+ games in a season, it is unusual to see seemingly successful managers struggle to last much more than a year at the club. There are reasonable explanations for all though. In the case of William Lewis and Guss Hiddink (first stint) they were both interim managers rather than permanent appointments. The other two names that failed to last long are Avram Grant and Mauricio Sarri.

In the case of Grant, Chelsea fans were hardly outraged at his firing as he wasn’t seen as giving Chelsea anything extra. They reached the Champions League final and finished second in the Premier League but with the squad they had, this was not seen as any overachievement. There was also the issue of playstyle as Grant’s style of football could be a chore to watch at times and it focussed on grinding out results. In the 2007/08 Premier League, second-place Chelsea scored fewer goals than 11th-placed Tottenham.

As for Sarri, on paper, he oversaw quite a successful season. The Blues finished third in the league, won the Europa League and were a penalty shootout away from a League Cup win. Despite their seemingly solid league finish though, Chelsea finished 25 points behind second-place Liverpool, having failed to win 17 of their 38 matches. This is not what cost Sarri his job though, as reports seem to indicate that the Italian wanted to leave more than the club wanted him to go. By all accounts, Sarri disliked living in England and was eager to move back to Italy.

A Club with Little Patience

Conte with Diego Costa
Antonio Conte with Diego Costa (@cfcunofficial | Wikipedia)

If you look at the other managers that also occupy the higher places on the table, you will see plenty of recent names such as Antonio Conte, Carlo Ancelotti and Thomas Tuchel, all with a 60%+ win rate. For reference, Jürgen Klopp’s record at Liverpool at the time of writing stands at 60.5% so anything above 60 is an impressive figure. All three of the originally mentioned names though got the sack from the club, rather than leaving themselves. Why? Because there had been a dip in results.

For Antonio Conte the club had gone from league champions to fifth-placed finisher. Under Ancelotti, they had gone from champions to trophyless runners-up. The dip Thomas Tuchel experienced was much smaller. Having won the Champions League months prior, the German then tasted defeat in three of Chelsea’s opening seven matches. It seems that past successes do not seem to buy managers much time at Stamford Bridge, although it is possible this may change under the new ownership. Possible but not, perhaps, likely!