Arteta now the fourth longest serving manager in the PL, and the danager that reveals


By Sir Hardly Anyone

The longest-serving manager in the top four divisions in England has been in the job for almost 15 years, but you’ll be forgiven for not knowing him.  It is Simon Weaver (at least according to Wikipedia) at Harrogate Town.

The longest-serving manager in the Premier League is of course about to quit.  It is Jurgen Klopp at Liverpol, who has been there over eight and a half years.  A bit longer in fact than Guardiola at Manchester City who is approaching eight years in the job.

Looking at the list of managers in the Premier League, after these two long-serving managers, however, and we begin to notice a bit of a problem.  Not with Thomas Frank, the Brentford manager who has been in post for over five and a half years, keeping the club in the Premier League with a ground capacity of just over 17,000, but in noting that the fourth longest-serving manager in the league is Mikel Arteta, who has been in post for four years 139 days as of 10 May 2024.

There is of course nothing wrong with Arteta having been at Arsenal that long – I think he has done a wonderful job thus far, despite the constant sniping that accompanied his work – remembering that after the walk out during the defeat to Villa, there were people calling for him to be sacked.

But the point is it took Arteta from his appointment in December 2019 to August 2022 to put together a team that could challenge for a  the Premier League’s top spots.   In his first incomplete season Arsenal were eighth.  The following season Arsenal were eighth again.  The next season fifth.   And as for taking four years and 139 days to get close to winning the league, is for some people too long.  

Others have not lasted so long.  Moyes at West Ham was appointed just a few days after Arteta, and despite taking on a club with no historic stadium costs as Arsenal have, he’s not done enough (or maybe he has had enough).   Winning the Conference League while coming 14th doesn’t cut it, it seems.   

Fifth is Marco Silva who joined Fulham almost three years ago, and is thus a veteran. Then comes Eddie Howe on two and a half years at Newcastle – and at this point we are into managers in serious trouble.   As shown in the headline from Eddie Howe is in serious trouble at Newcastle

From here on – and we are up to the seventh longest-serving manager in the Premier League – we have people who really are on the edge.  Because next is Erik Ten Gag who as of today has served under two years at Manchester United is facing multiple demands for his removal.

Now of course some times managers are not just sacked, but rather are tempted away from where they are even if they haven’t been there too long.  Take Roberto de Zerbi, who has been at Brighton just over one and a half years.  There is talk of Manchester United going after him.

As for Unai Emery, after a mere 1 year 190 days at Villa there is talk of him moving on – possibly to take on the Liverpool job.

And we are now heading toward managers who have only been at their club for less than a year.   Pochettino at Chelsea for example, Postecoglou at Tottenham, Maresca at Leicester City, Iraola at Bournemouth, O’Neil at Wolverhampton, Espirito Santo at Forest for under half a year, 

Or put this another way around, none of the last seven Tottenham managers have lasted over two years, although of course many were temporary appointments. (They like temps at Tottenham).

To my mind there is something very wrong here.  If it is a fact that there are only three or four men who can actually make a team work, there’s no point in changing managers all the time as the next boss will only be as bad as the last.  If it is the fact that (as with Arteta) it takes two and a half years for a manager to put together a team that can challenge for the title, why are most of them sacked faster than that?

In August 2022 Arsenal won their first five league games and the saner members of the supporters ensemble at Arsenal knew we were onto something good.  (The insane members were still crying for his removal this season after the loss to Aston Villa).

But remember that just before the good start to 2022/23 Arsenal’s last 12 games in 2021/22 involved six wins, and six defeats scoring 16 and conceding 20.  There were calls for Arteta to go.  Luckily he didn’t – not just luckily as I think he is a good manager, but luckily because we could have got one of the other men now currently managing in the Premier League.

We are incredibly lucky in supporting Arsenal that the board do not listen to some of the supporters, bloggers and journalists.  I am not saying the board is perfect – I really don’t know what they get up to – but at least they didn’t sack Arteta when most Premier League clubs would have done.

For the fact is there are very few brilliant managers out there, and when they are in the market for another job there are an awful lot of clubs vying for their signatures..

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