Comparing Tottenham and Arsenal: what is the secret of success?





By Tony Attwood

The sacking of the Tottenham manager – or maybe his decision to walk – or maybe a departure by mutual consent – has been on the cards for weeks.  There is talk of Julian Nagelsmann – sacked by Bayern Munich on Friday – on the club’s wish-list.   

In this regard, the German league table is quite interesting, in that Bayern Munich have won the league for each of the last ten years.  So slipping disastrously as they have done this season into to second place, one point behind Borussia Dortmund is not clearly acceptable, even if there are nine games to go.  Plus Bayern have a goal difference that is 21 better than Dortmund.  seems to make it a funny time to lose your manager.  (Although to be fair the reason overall seems to be more due to a lack of player development rather than league position). 

But anyway, two defeats in the last five games is too much for Bayern Munich so out goes the manager.   And thinking of this it is interesting to compare the level of expectation of Bayern Munich with that of Arsenal and Tottenham.

The last Bayern manager to make it past the two-year mark was Pep Guardiola, who lasted three complete seasons finishing in 2016.   Since then they have had seven managers and none of these has completed two or more seasons.   One and a half is the norm.

Team P W D L F A GD Pts
1 25 17 2 6 55 31 +24 53
2 25 15 7 3 72 27 +45 52
3 25 14 6 5 38 28 +10 48
4 25 13 7 5 38 34 +4 46


However Bayern’s habitual changing of managers is reminiscent of Tottenham Hotspur.  From the Summer of 2016 onward Bayern Munich have had seven managers one of whom was a caretaker.

Over the same period Tottenham Hotspur have had five managers and are today bringing in their sixth who is a caretaker.

So as we can see Tottenham have been following the Bayern Munich tradition, except Bayern have done it while staying top of the league (until this season).   Arsenal on the other hand have had three permanent managers over the same period and one caretaker.

So maybe changing managers all the time is not guaranteed to generate success, and in this regard we might compare Arsenal and Tottenham in the league over the last ten years.  In that time Tottenham have had seven managers and are now looking for their eighth.  Two of the eight are caretakers.

Over the period Arsenal have had four managers, one of whom was a caretaker (Freddie).  So let’s compare the clubs…

Tottenham have finished above Arsenal six times in these ten years in the League.   But neither side have won the league – each has come runners-up once.

In the FA Cup, Arsenal has won the cup three times in these ten years.  Tottenham have reached the semi-finals twice.   In Europe Arsenal has had five seasons in the Champions League, and four in the Europa.  Tottenham have had five seasons in the Europa, four in the Champions League getting to one final, and one in the Conference.

So over these ten years we have to admit Tottenham have perhaps shaded things in Europe, by getting into the Champions League final, whereas Arsenal only made it to a Europa final.  And for the past six years Tottenham have finished above Arsenal in the league.

But, and this really is how history is measured, during these ten years in which Tottenham have clambered above Arsenal for the first time in a very long time, they still haven’t won anything, while Arsenal have won the FA Cup three times.

And although Tottenham have on average performed better than Arsenal it is only fractionally.  Arsenal’s average league position is fifth.  Tottenham’s average league position is 4.5.

So in terms of trophies won, Arsenal have it by 3-0.   In terms of league position Tottenham’s average is half a place higher than Arsenal’s – and indeed if Arsenal win the league this season and Tottenham finish fourth Tottenham will still have shaded it over the last ten years.

Looking at all this data it seems to me that Tottenham have not found the magic solution to winning stuff.   They’ve copied Bayern by changing managers a lot, they have played in Europe, they have copied Arsenal by building a big stadium.  But there is still that something missing in terms of winning things.   Their last trophy was the League Cup in 2008.  Since then Arsenal have won the FA Cup four times.

Perhaps what they really need to do is wonder if the Bayern model of changing managers all the time really is the secret to success. 

4 Replies to “Comparing Tottenham and Arsenal: what is the secret of success?”

  1. I would have thought the Spurs problem is pretty obvious. With Pochettino they had a manager who served them for five years, developing players on limited funds while they built the stadium. He may not have won anything but he left the club in a much better place than he found them. Then, rather than finding another Pochettino they went after big name managers, Mourinho, Conte, who’d been there and done it on unlimited funds. Since Spurs, like most clubs, don’t have any oil wells it was always a long shot. The irony is Arteta’s time at Arsenal is much closer to the way things used to be done at Spurs under Poch.

    Oh and “copied Arsenal by building a big stadium”, seriously ? The Spurs stadium is light years ahead of the Arsenal effort, a different generation. It’s a money making machine and it’s going to be interesting to see just how much revenue from non football sources it generates in the coming years.

  2. Only to say that we’ve won the FA Cup four times since 2014 and not three over 10 years.

  3. jod

    “The Spurs stadium is light years ahead of the Arsenal effort, a different generation. It’s a money making machine and it’s going to be interesting to see just how much revenue from non football sources it generates in the coming years”

    That’s as maybe, but given your history of spending I fail to see the point you’re making?

    08/09 Berbatov £38 Million

    12/13 Modric £35 Million

    13/14 Bale £101 Million

    17/18 Walker £52 Million

    Every penny of that p!$$£d up the wall.

    Yep, nice stadium shame about the team. Being able to fill a glass from underneath and host American football games means diddly squat if you have a rubbish football team.

    You see, if you’re going to come here and brag about something, it’s best you make sure it actually means something before you do. It’s going to be interesting to see how Spurs manage to waste the money they make on Kane.

    It’s no use ‘generating’ money if you don’t know how to spend it.

  4. It is a point I’ve stressed before, but it think this post proves it. Both Bayern and Arsenal have a backoffice that is professionnal and efficient. Yes Bayern are sometimes called FC Hollywood, yet the club has a structure that does the work and does not depend on a single person even if Uli Hoeness did have lots of control. Yet the person was and is a special football actor, and a legend in Germany. Yes they change managers, but some times it is just that the managers having won all they can move on. And, it must be said, Bayern have been dominating german football for 30 years or so, and lately got if I am not wrong 10 titles in a row. They are THE club in Germany. Much unlike Spurs.

    And Arsenal do have a backoffice that knows its stuff, and has been getting better and better.

    As for Spurs, well I’m not convinced they have the backoffice, and are not THE club in the PL.

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