By Dr Billy “the dog” McGraw head of Certain Things, Arsenal FC
I was recently able to lay my hands on the following confidential memo circulated to members of the board and senior executives at Arsenal. It reveals the difficulties the club are facing in finding a new manger.
Recent changes to the Employment (details of relevant conditions) Act 2013 have made it clear that the employer must go to greater lengths than may previously have been thought to be the case to explain all issues surrounding any employment that is offered to a prospective employee.
It would appear that several football clubs have been judged not to have been compliant with this legislation of late, and tribunals are underway involving clubs such as West Ham and Everton which are likely to go in the government’s favour. It is therefore vital that when we advertise for a new manager, we make it clear to all applicants the specific issues that surround the role of manager at Arsenal FC.
The following list of relevant conditions is offered to the board for consideration in the document.
Part 1: The perception of the board
The board is perceived by the media and some fans of the club to be made up of a combination of what they would describe as “fuddy-duddys” and out-of-touch old-timers. The majority shareholder has regularly been falsely accused of removing money from the club for his personal gain.
It is therefore logical that a group perceived in this way will not make the best, or even half-best choice of club manager, and thus any manager chosen will be virulently opposed by many people who describe themselves as fans, simply because the board have selected him.
2: Major negative publicity from media can be expected at all times.
While clubs such as Liverpool, Manchester City, Chelsea, Tottenham and Manchester Utd gain very positive support in the media, irrespective of any trophies they may or may not win, the reverse is true for Arsenal, irrespective of what the club does.
This table may help
|Club||Last trophy||Previous trophy||Total since 2014|
|Manchester Utd||2016 FA Cup||2013 Football League||1|
|Liverpool||2012 League Cup||2006 FA Cup||0|
|Arsenal||2015 FA Cup||2014 FA Cup||2|
|Chelsea||2015 Football League||2015 League Cup||2|
|Tottenham H||2008 League Cup||1999 League Cup||0|
|Everton||1995 FA Cup||1987 Football League||0|
|Manchester City||2016 League Cup||2014 Football League||2|
3: The minimum requirement
The last three seasons at Arsenal have produced results that are the fifth-best set of results over three years in the entire history of the club sine 1888 including two FA Cup wins, and coming runners’ up in the league. This is defined in the media and by some fans as so appalling that the current manager should leave at once even though as the table above shows, it is equal to two other clubs are surpassed by none.
The minimum requirement for the manager in the next three years is at least two trophies, one of which must be either the League or the Champions League, the second of which should be either of those or the FA Cup, and for the club to come a close second in the League or Champions League in the single season without a trophy. Anything less is defined as failure.
4: Judgement will be made after one year.
Because of the detailed requirement of fans, if the first season ends without either a trophy or a second place slot, the manager will leave.
5. The myth of Arsenal injuries
Although this is still propagated daily by the media it is not true, and has never been true that Arsenal get more injuries than other teams. It is vital that the new manager keeps injuries to the current level.
6: Attacks from fans and the media will start on day one.
These will probably include fake news created around the manager’s private life, and may include allegations of serious crimes in the new incumbent’s previous job. The press can be relied on to criticise the manager from the first match of the pre-season friendlies and will advise the fans that nothing has changed and that the club is still a failure, despite its obvious record across the last three years.
7: Spending on transfers
The new manager will need to spend money immediately, even though there is some extraordinary talent coming through from the youth team. These players should not be given a chance no matter how talented. Since all players of quality now know the trap that the fans have laid, and know that their careers can be ruined by a season at Arsenal, in which even trophies and fine performances can be seen as being of no worth, it will be extraordinarily hard to bring in players of the highest quality.
8: Remembering the past
Although at present it is agreed among the media and the fans not to mention the successful players brought in by the current manager, immediately the new manager is appointed by groups will compare any new players with earlier purhases such as Vieira, Henry and Pires.
9: Out notices
The media will again be supplying “out” notices and paying supporters to hold them up after the first two defeats, unless the club is top of the league.
10: Current players will leave with the current manager.
Although the media and some fans have a fantasy that the current manger is one of the worst managers of all time, most of the players at the club are unremitting in their admiration of Mr Wenger and will want to leave when he leaves, having had enough of endless press and fan abuse.
In the Premier League, refereeing is run by a highly secretive tiny cabal of officials who are clearly incapable of refereeing football matches. This may be because they are so overworked (there is a much smaller number of them than in other leagues) or because of corruption, no one knows. But as a manager you should expect an accuracy rate of decisions of around 60%, on a good day.
12: Referees – a bias against Arsenal
This issue is banned from media discussion, but there is an overwhelming level of evidence that it doesn’t “all even out in the end” as the quaint English saying goes. One may expect a lot of false decisions against Arsenal, about which you can do nothing. Therefore to beat a team 2-0 Arsenal normally have to score four, with two perfectly legitimate goals being disallowed.
13: The English media and foreigners
If you are not born and bred English you will be treated to hostile abuse for not being English, especially from Phil Thompson and Paul Merson who work for Sky Sports. This will be vile, personal and highly offensive, and if you are of non-white Western appearance, quite possibly racist. (At the moment this is speculation, since anything other than non-white managers of Western appearance is extremely rare in UK football. You may make your own decision as to how racist English football is in this regard).
14: You must never show annoyance or frustration.
If you do you will be called “emotional” and “unreliable” and “unstable” and (if you are not English) “foreign”. Such comments once given will never be withdrawn.
15: Under no circumstances can Arsenal ever end up below Tottenham in the league.
The current manager has managed to do this, but gets no thanks for it. Even one season below Tottenham will result in your immediate eviction.
We wish you well in your application and look forward to interviewing for a job as Arsenal manager.