Arsenal and Tottenham: two styles, two approaches, different results


By Tony Attwood

Arteta joined Arsenal on 20 December 2019.  Tottenham now have their new manager ready for the next season.  So how does the state of the two clubs compare at the moment of handover?

We can get some sort of insight by looking at the goals scored, goals conceded and points achieved on a per game basis at the moment of handover to a new manager…


Lge pos Club F/pg A/pg Pts pg
10 Arsenal 1.41 1.59 1.29
8 Tottenham Hotspur 1.84 1.65 1.57


Tottenham are, on this basis, in a much better position on their handover to a new manager, than Arsenal were in December 2019 for the handover to Arteta.  They have been scoring more goals per game than Arsenal were, and although conceding slightly more than Arsenal, the goals scored gives Tottenham the better record.  Overall they got more points per game last season than at the moment that Arsenal brought in Arteta.

And of course Tottenham’s new man has the summer to plan his moves and bring in the players he wants which Arteta didn’t have.  So put all that together Tottenham should have a much easier ride up the table than Arsenal had under their new manager.

However there is something else here, and that is while the Arsenal manager has to deal with a benign chairman who is ready and willing to let the manager get on with it (not least because that is what Wenger was allowed to do and he delivered the years of income prosperity that the club needed to pay for the stadium), Tottenham is a different kettle of sea creatures.

For the thing that most people who talk about Levy and who are not under an editorial directive to “talk up Tottenham” hint at, is that he is a man with multiple personality syndrome: fiercely competitive, charming, refusing to bend his view, convivial, intransigent. The man who loves his club manager until the day he sacks him.

What any opinion of Levy has to incorporate is how he is coping with failure.   The failure to get a sponsor for the stadium.  The failure to win anything since the league cup in 2008.   The failuer to win the FA Cup since 1991.  The failure to win anything in Europe since the Uefa Cup in 1984.  The failure to win the League since 1961.

And yet he hires managers who love to spend money on players – indeed one might say “oh how they love to spend money on players.”  Just look at recent years…


Window In Out Cost
2017/18 €121.00m €103.80m €17.20m
2018/19 €0 €5.35m -€5.35m
2019/20 €150.50m €64.50m €86.0m
2020/21 €110.50m €13.30m €97.2m
2021/22 €95.90m €34.62m €61.28m
2022/23 €177.90m €38.75m €139.15m
Total €655.80m €260.32m €395.48m


So that is a third of a billion euros spent on players across six seasons during which they have finished 3rd, 4th (twice), 6th, 7th, and 8th.   They have during that time reached the semi-final of the FA Cup once, the final of the Champions League once and won nothing.  All for a third of a billion quid.  Not a very good return.

And yes I know Arsenal have won the FA Cup only once, although if we’d gone back one more year we would then have Arsenal winning it twice, but nothing for Tottenham since 2007/8, as I believe we have mentioned before.

As the Athletic recently pointed out, “In total, there have been 13 permanent managers since ENIC completed its £22 million takeover of Tottenham in 2001.”  The Athletic didn’t add, that since that date Tottenham have won the League Cup (once).  Arsenal have won the FA Cup four times and had three permanent managers.  Both clubs have built a new stadium.

To put a little more flesh on what the 13 managers have achieved, in that era Tottenham have graced the top four seven times.  Arsenal have done it 17 times.  Indeed there’s a lovely quote from Arry Redknapp that says that Levy’s “long-term planning hasn’t been very good.”   Arry never got much right, but he got that one spot on.

One more bit from the Athletic.  ‘When Levy spoke to the Cambridge Union in April, returning to the university where he obtained a first-class honours degree in economics, he was asked about the business of hiring and firing managers.

‘”It’s just part of the game,” he said. “It’s not personal. We are in the business of winning and, if they don’t win enough games, they know their job is on the line. They are paid very well for that. It’s just how it is”.’

You’ll notice, there is very little economics in that statement.  And if Tottenham is in the business of winning, shouldn’t we say that of late, they have failed somewhat?


One Reply to “Arsenal and Tottenham: two styles, two approaches, different results”

  1. We are constantly told football is “a business” with the PL being the pinnacle. n a new study compiled by University of Liverpool Management School football finance expert Kieran Maguire states that the much abused CEO Daniel Levy has made Spurs the 3rd most profitable sports club in the world & most profitable football club in the world. In the PL the figures are
    Spurs £2.6B, City £2.2B, United £2.1B, Liverpool £1.6B & Arsenal £1.4B This is small comfort to the ever complaining Spurs fans as they sup their beers in the longest bar in Europe in the newest & biggest stadium in London.
    Meanwhile Arsenal being more successful are shown to be nearly half as profitable as Spurs in spite of being in their stadium for over 10 years, which was built we were told to provide greater income. No doubt the Arsenal fans prefer the cups over profits but then again it’s not them that have to invest millions with the hope of being successful.
    And to think Eric bought 29% of their shares for only £22M and now 23 years later worth $2.6 billion.

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