Unlike most of his colleagues, Manzano was not a professional player before becoming a manager, but a high school teacher, at IES El Valle, and psychologist, which earned him the affectionate nickname of “The Professor.” He did play at amateur level in clubs like Recreativo de Bailén, where he was recently named honorary president in June 2014.
Manzano’s career as a manager began in 1983, when he balanced teaching and managing the local team of Santisteban del Puerto, in Jaen. Over the following years, his knowledge of psychology and teaching skills led many local clubs to seek his services and so he managed various grassroots teams until he arrived at Ubeda Club de Futbol, where he made his Third Division debut in 1989.
After managing Ubeda C.F., Real Jaen and C.D. Martos, in 1996 he was signed by Talavera C.F. in Second Division B. He remained at the club for two seasons before making his Second Division debut when he moved to C.D. Toledo in 1998.
After just one season in the silver category of Spanish football, his outstanding trajectory attracted the attention of Real Valladolid. He became the Castilian team’s First Division manager for the 1999 season and led the club to its best result in the previous twenty years.
Valladolid was then followed by Racing de Santander and Rayo Vallecano until, in 2002/03, he became manager of RCD Mallorca and led the team to win Spain’s Copa del Rey, his greatest achievement and the centenary club’s only title to date.
This extraordinary success opened the doors of Atletico de Madrid, one of the great clubs in Spain, where he secured qualification for the UEFA Intertoto Cup. He then moved to Malaga C.F., before returning to RCD Mallorca in February 2006, where he remained for 5 seasons and managed to qualify for the UEFA Europa League, whilst also becoming the club’s manager with most Spanish league matches (221).