Pies’ Top 5 Greatest Club Sides Of The Modern Era

Martin Cloake

28th, September 2015


Tottenham players carry the FA Cup trophy on a lap of honour after completing a league/cup double with a 2-0 win over Leicester at Wembley, May 1961

On the anniversary of Ajax’s dominant victory in the 1972 Intercontinental Cup, Pies thought it timely to once again pose the ever-contentious question: Just who were the greatest club side of all time?

Here’s five strong contenders, and why we think they deserve a their place on the list. For the record, we’ve decided the modern era means “as far back as 1945”, so heartfelt apologies to fans of Huddersfield Town and Corinthian Casuals.

Real Madrid, 1955-60

With Ferenc Puskas and Alfredo de Stefano leading the line, Real Madrid unquestionably dominated world football between 1955 and 1960, winning the European Cup five times in a row and establishing the primacy of pan-European competition.

The side’s 7-3 victory over Eintracht Frankfurt in the 1960 European Cup final is still described by many as the finest club match ever played…

Tottenham Hotspur, 1960-63

The first side ever to win the Double, i.e, the First Division and the FA Cup: the two most prestigious club competitions in world football at the time – a task thought previously to have been nigh-on impossible.

However, Bill Nicholson’s marvellous team, led on the pitch by Danny Blanchflower, smashed records, thrilled fans and somehow managed to do the impossible – changing the face of English football as they did so.

They retained the FA Cup the subsequent year then became the first British side to lift a European trophy. Those who witnessed the all-conquering Super Spurs in action almost universally testify that their like has never, and will never be seen again.

Ajax, 1971-73

Coach Rinus Michels had been developing the system known as ‘Total Football’ with Ajax since 1965. In it, outfield players were able to switch roles at will, every player capable of playing in every position.

The system clicked between 1971 and 1973. Ajax won all their home games for two seasons running, were defeated just once in the 1972/73 season and won four titles in 1972 – the Dutch league and cup, the European Cup and the aforementioned Intercontinental Cup.

Manchester United, 1999

By 1999, doing the Double was positively old hat. Even so, the rigorous demands of modern football surely meant that the prospect of a Premier League, FA Cup and Champions League treble existed solely in the fevered daydreams of the most optimistic, ambitious fan.

Not if you were Manchester United. Sir Alex Ferguson’s side dominated top-flight competition, rounding off the Treble on an extraordinary night in Barcelona against Bayern Munich. Just ask Clive Tyldesley for details.

Barcelona, 2009

Winning every competition you enter in the space of an entire calendar year surely qualifies you for this list. In 2009, Barca won La Liga, the Copa del Rey, the Spanish super cup, the Champions League, the UEFA Super Cup and the World Club Cup.

All that on the back of some of the most mesmerizing possession and interchange play ever seen, of course spearheaded by the exacting tutelage of coach Pep Guardiola and the most exciting player on the planet, Lionel Messi.


So that’s our five. Should the Liverpool side of the early 1980s be there? Arsenal’s Invincibles of 2004? The great AC Milan side of 1988-94? Great shouts all, but still we couldn’t find room in the Top 5.

And what about teams from further afield? The legendary Santos teams of 1962 and ’70 for example.

It goes without saying, but we’d definitely like your thoughts on this one…

Posted in Featured, Newsnow, Retro, Top 10s & lists

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  1. Hasselhof says:

    Bayern Munich 2012/13?

  2. James Taylor says:

    Positively gobsmacked this list doesn’t include Milan 1989-1994… Without doubt the greatest side I’ve ever seen.

  3. Eric says:

    ’67 Celtic
    ’61 Peñarol
    Post-war Honved
    Il Grande Torino
    ’62 Santos

  4. Inno says:

    Celtic’s 1967 team; won everything they entered, including becoming the first British team to lift the European Cup and all with a team that had no play born from more than 25 miles from Celtic Park. Managed by the greatest Scottish manager of all time (Sorry Sir Fergie, but he says that too) in Jock Stein, we’ll never see a team like that again… and captain Billy McNeill still has no knighthood…

  5. Jumbo says:

    Shut up chris

  6. Edinburgh Saint says:

    Preston fans will no doubt back up the claim that Spurs were the first team to do the double…

  7. Murray says:

    CORRECTION: Barcelona 2009 won every competition in a CALENDAR YEAR–The Spanish Super Cup, UEFA Super Cup, and the World Club Cup were played at the beginning of a NEW season, after Barcelona had already won everything else in the previous campaign.

    Gross oversight for your #1 Club, Mr. Cloake.

  8. Mojojojo says:

    Ajax 1995 are pretty special…if only for their one season together before being snapped up elsewhere…believe they only lost one game all season and won 3 trophies (including Champions League). Van der Sar, Blind, Bogarde, De Boers, Reizeger, Davids, Overmars, Rijkaard, Seedorf, George, Litmanen, Kanu, Kluivert…Most of the team young guys, too

    Also, Celtic 67, Milan early 90s and Barca circa 2009 for me

  9. Wis eup says:

    Spurs over ac Milan , behave yourself !!!!

  10. Big jock says:

    Celtic 67 HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA look attheroute to the final burton Albion could’ve got to that final with Brendan Rodgers in charge hahahaha

  11. Dave says:

    I aaalmost agree, but like most here I agree Milan of the late 80s/early 90s is a shoe in, probably in place of Tottenham (just cos I’m not so familiar with that side). Pleased to see Man Utd in there but 99 was the zenith of not just an extraordinary season but a few years either side I’d say. Honorable mention to the Real side that won 3 Champs leagues 98-02??

  12. milt_palacio says:

    I would also include Milan 1989-94 somewhere in the top five.

    And maybe Bayern Munich’s 2012-13 vintage on 7th place. Coming back from the gut-wrenching CL-final loss to Chelsea, to go along with finishing second in the league and getting completely embarassed by Dortmund in the German Cup final. By winning the treble with just one loss in the league, beating Barcelona 7-0 over two legs and some memorable games like 9-2 vs. Hamburg, 6-1 vs Wolfsburg in the German Cup semifinal and 3-4 vs. Gladbach after being down 3-0. Also it was the teams third CL-final in 4 years.

  13. JC says:

    Spurs the first to do the double, except those teams that did it before them obviously.
    The Milan side of the late 80’s early 90’s not included?!?! Seriously?

    • Murray says:

      Spurs are first to do the double in the 20th century. Previous year a team won the League and FA Cup in a single season was, what, 1898???

  14. Bruno says:

    Tottenham Hotspur 1960-63?
    hahahahahaha come on!

    What about Celtic in the 60s, Flamengo in the 80s, that Milan of the early 90s, Bayern in the 70s…? Even Ajax and Juventus in the 90s were better teams.

  15. Bruno says:

    The Santos team with Pele would beat that Tottenham side by 15×0.

  16. Anonymous says:


  17. Bruno says:

    Here’s my list. Very hard to leave Santos and Celtic out, but…

    Real Madrid (1950s)
    Ajax (1970-73)
    AC Milan (1989-93)
    Manchester United (1998-2001)
    Barcelona (2008-2011)

    Honourable mentions:

    Benfica (1960s)
    Inter Milan (1960s)
    Santos (1960s)
    Celtic (1967)
    Manchester United (late 1960s)
    Bayern Munich (mid 1970s)
    Liverpool (1977-85)
    Juventus (1982-85)
    Flamengo (1980s)
    Ajax (1994-96)
    Juventus (1996-98)
    AC Milan (2004-2007)
    Manchester United (2007-2009)

    Big thanks to Jock Stein, Rinus Michels, Sir Matt Busby, Arrigo Sacchi, Sir Alex Ferguson and Pep Guardiola for creating some of these teams.

  18. Jan says:

    FC Bayern München 1974-76,

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