Arteta is now the 4th longest serving manager in the league. So what?



By Tony Attwood

As we said in the last article, there was not one vote for Arteta as the manager of the season while quite a few managers below the obvious Manchester City man did get votes.

And along with the fact that the Premier League of 20 clubs had 37 managers this season, excluding those who were specifically noted as “caretakers” waiting for the main man to come along and take over, that suggests something is amiss.

But this vote, and the fact of 37 managers in a 20-club league in one season has now come about with not that many comments of amazement (let alone outrage) cropping up, shows us just how short-termist the Premier League is getting.

Everyone knows that as Wiki says, “the period from 1986, when Alex Ferguson was appointed as Manchester United manager, to 2013, when he announced his retirement from football, was the most successful in the club’s history.”

What is perhaps forgotten (or ignored because it doesn’t quite fit with the Ferguson image) is that for his first six seasons, the club didn’t win the league.   But let’s compare the two managers…

Arsenal League Manchester Utd league Cups?
Season 1 8th 4th FA Cup, Arsenal
Season 2 8th 11th
Season 3 5th 2nd
Season 4 2nd 11th


Whichever way one looks at this, Arteta is doing better than Ferguson.  Both started part way through a season, both in their first four seasons managed a second place in the league.  Arsenal also won the FA Cup.  To be fair and complete we might add that Ferguson did actually win the FA Cup in his fifth season.   And of course, both totally restructured their respective clubs.

It took Manchester United until 1993 to win the league – Ferguson’s eighth season, so to emulate Ferguson, Arteta still has a bit of leeway.

But how many managers can be given that long?   Certainly, if Ferguson had produced those results in his first few seasons in this era he might well have been out, unless he had been manager of Arsenal which seems to be just about the only club that is willing to let a manager develop (at least sometimes).

And what makes this whole process so ludicrous is that if the manager wants to introduce a wholesale set of changes to the way his team plays, he doesn’t have the time.  In fact, I imagine that if a manager were to be interviewed for a job today and suggested he needed four or five years to get the team up to the league and be challenging at the top, he’d never get the job.  As shown by these figures derived from information on Wikipedia.


Manager Club From Time as manager
Sam Allardyce Leeds United 3 May 2023 21 days
Ryan Mason Tottenham Hotspur 24 April 2023 30 days
Dean Smith Leicester City 10 April 2023 44 days
Frank Lampard Chelsea 6 April 2023 48 days
Roy Hodgson Crystal Palace 21 March 2023 64 days
Rubén Sellés Southampton 12 February 2023 101 days
Sean Dyche Everton 30 January 2023 114 days
Julen Lopetegui Wolverhampton Wanders 14 November 2022 191 days
Unai Emery Aston Villa 1 November 2022 204 days
Roberto De Zerbi Brighton & Hove Albion 18 September 2022 248 days
Gary O’Neil AFC Bournemouth 30 August 2022 267 days
Erik ten Hag Manchester United 23 May 2022 1 year, 1 day
Eddie Howe Newcastle United 8 November 2021 1 year, 197 days
Steve Cooper Nottingham Forest 21 September 2021 1 year, 245 days
Marco Silva Fulham 1 July 2021 1 year, 327 days
David Moyes West Ham United 30 December 2019 3 years, 145 days
Mikel Arteta Arsenal 22 December 2019 3 years, 153 days
Thomas Frank Brentford 16 October 2018 4 years, 220 days
Pep Guardiola Manchester City 1 July 2016 6 years, 327 days
Jürgen Klopp Liverpool 8 October 2015 7 years, 228 days


It is all getting ludicrously short termist; Ferguson would never have made it at Man U had he been starting out now.  Restructuring the whole approach is not allowed in most clubs.  Indeed if Arsenal had followed the demands of “fans” and “reporters” Arteta would have been out at the end of his first (incomplete) season).

But it is not just a Premier League thing.  In fact, as information from CIES shows “Less than one in two coaches finished the season”

In their analysis of the 850 teams reviewed, 484 changed coaches during the season, corresponding to a percentage of 56.9%.  Thus showing this is not a bit of Premier League nonsense but it is the way in a lot of countries.  The exceptions in the big five league are the Italian Serie A clubs where “only” seven in 20 coaches got the chop this season.   In the Premier League 11 out of 20 changed managers, and as we can say, quite a few of them did it twice.   Indeed the Premier League is the most unstable of all the major leagues when it comes to managers.   

But the crazy thing in all this is that changing manager does not mean change in success.  In his first season Unai Emery took Arsenal up one position and to the Europa semi-final – perhaps we wanted more but it was an improvement.  In his first half-season Arteta took Arsenal to fifth, but in his second season, we sank to eighth.   Maybe there was no thought of getting rid of Arteta at that point, or maybe the fact that he had won the Cup helped.

Or maybe, just maybe, he had managed to explain to his bosses exactly what he was up to tactically and where it was going.  And maybe the Arsenal board listened to that.  I really hope so.

I am not sure if it is going to be successful, but just as Untold has found some interesting and fairly complex tactical approaches made by Arsenal and Leicester, we might be able to see if any other teams have been doing that.  Or is it now all a case of results in five games and if it is no good, you are out?

One Reply to “Arteta is now the 4th longest serving manager in the league. So what?”

  1. In observing the managerial merry go round one thing jumps out. Excluding the Oil State teams, do these billionaire owners operate the companies which provide team buying wealth the same as those entities? I think not, or they would have lost that wealth by now. Perhaps they have some expertise in those other businesses, they certainly don’t in football.

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