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July 2021

One managerial change a month for the last 16 years – and Arsène Wenger is still there


Ordinary is Pointless


By Cameron Wolfe

 WE all know that Arsenal’s manager has been around for a long while – just as Sir Alex F.  But what about the other managers?

Arsène Wengerjoined the club back in October of 1996. He brought with him new ideas of how the game should be played but more importantly he revolutionised the training and scouting systems. Largely copied now by every other club.

He is without a doubt our most successful Manager.  (See The Managers’ Index for a complete comparative guide to all the managers Arsenal has ever had). Yet every other week when things aren’t going according to plan. Certain sections of the supporters call for him to go. So I wondered from when Arsène took charge, how many Managers has he seen come and go at other clubs in the top league?

From October 1996 not taking into consideration caretakers (there’s been 46 of them) the total number of managers who have come and gone in the Premier League is one hundred and sixty five (165).

I know it’s something that you don’t think about. In reality it works out to basically just under one a manager change month for the last sixteen years.

Now I could show you a table with all the clubs and managers who have come and go but I thought I’d just list a few of the interesting ones.

Firstly there are exceptions to the big turnover.

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Stoke. Only one manager all the time they’ve been in the EPL. Obviously has a very good relationship with the owner. Although he was sacked by him then reinstated at a later date.

Man. U. They’ve only had one since the EPL started and yes he’s been very successful.

Chelsea. They’ve had ten. Some good some not so. I can’t personally stand Jose but he was their best manager by far.

With Chelsea when egos collide I think we all know who’ll win: The Boss. They’re all under the owner’s scrutiny and I’m sure Di Matteo will be judged on a game by game basis. Will he be there come next summer? Who knows.

Tottenham. They’ve had nine. The latest one is AVB. Well I think it’ll be interesting to see what happens there. He’s obviously untried in the EPL and for whatever reason Abramovich decided not to keep him, even after spending £27 million in compensation and wages. Watch this space.

Man. City. They’ve had five so far. Again I have the feeling that the manager is scrutinised on a weekly basis.

Liverpool. They’ve had six. They need stability but I’m sure that already personnel will be on the move both ways – and it is interesting that in the past Liverpool were known as the stable club who always promoted from within.

Newcastle. Have had eleven. Another club now at the mercy of a single owner.

So apart from Arsenal and Man. U the other top teams have chosen not to stick with a Manager for too long.

You can see definitely see a pattern with clubs solely owned and controlled by an individual.

Yes they maybe owned by Companies in the Cayman Islands but at the end of the day one or two people control those Companies and so have the last say in what happens on and of the field. No one will ever convince me other wise that Abramovich or the Glaziers don’t have a say in what happens when it comes to the playing staff, tours, sponsorship wage structures or whether the Manager stays.

The point being that if your club is in the hands of one or two people making the big decisions then you can only hope that they have the clubs best interest at heart and not their own.

So not exactly a stable employment environment for a manager unless you’re very successful. That said I’m sure that if SAF didn’t agree with what was going on then I’m sure he’d be gone as quick as any other manager.

So why do Arsenal stick with Arsène?

Some would argue that he’s lost his touch. His best days are behind him etc etc.  I disagree. I think he’s a visionary and he still has a vision for Arsenal. A long term vision. One that includes stability at the club for many years ahead. A largely youthful team which when it clicks will be a dominate force for many a year.

He also helps run the club as it should be these days. Now some supporters will argue that the footballing side is the most important issue here but I disagree slightly. Football’s a huge business these days owning and running a top flight football needs to run as first and foremost a successful business. That gives us stability. Leeds anyone? The collapse a few years back of Liverpool?  Portsmouth?  Even Barcelona to a degree. If they didn’t keep on getting bailed out they wouldn’t be able to survive.

Arsène does what he does best for the club by keeping on finishing in the top four with CL football year on year, even when there are two teams for whom money is no object and while the club are having also to pay attention to the building of the new stadium.   Now he gives us the ability to plan ahead. That should be our priority. Of course it would be great if we were winning the league and a cup every year. What fan doesn’t want that from their team? That’ll come.

If the board did decide to let Arsène go the big question would be: Who replaces him? I think it was only last summer that AVB was being touted as Arsène’s natural replacement.   So glad he went to Chelsea.

But seriously, who would be a great next manager for Arsenal, someone who would deliver the trophies some people crave, while keeping us solvent, without actually having a dip that would take us out of Europe for a year or two?


20 comments to One managerial change a month for the last 16 years – and Arsène Wenger is still there

  • bob

    A small aside: Last summer, whilst the Arsene Out Campaign was raging in the media, there were a few trial balloons floated by a few anti-Arsenal writers and AAA blogsters suggesting wouldn’t it be nice/refreshing for his replacement by Carlo Ancelotti.

  • Neutral

    Clearly there are 3 Managers out there who have done a great job..
    First it’s Wenger. Creating a wonderful team by spending very little is worth appreciating. Concentrating on the youth and making sure that the club remains in the profit and still finishing regularly in the top 4 is a great achievement. And let’s not forget the 2003-04 season. But considering the history of this blog, we all are aware of wenger and his mastermind.
    Then it’s Ferguson. A lot of people hate him. Mainly because they don’t like him personally. But if we ignore that, then he’s the most successful manager in the world with 30+ trophies and he created plenty of Legends. Even with the worst united squad he can go on and win the premiere league. Let’s not forget his achievement with Aberdeen as well…
    And then it’s David Moyes. He is just amazing. What he has achieved with Everton in the past 10 years is just brilliant. Without him Everton might have suffered relegation as well. He too went on and created a very decent squad within a limited budget. A VERY LOW BUDGET. His Man Management and his loyalty towards the fans is very good. And he finished above Liverpool last season who cashed in over 100 million last year alone in the transfer market.

  • Cameron Wolfe

    @ Neutral
    You’re right. I could’ve added Moyes to the list.He’s a good manager and I think he could be even better at a bigger club. In fairness I only put Stoke in their because they’ve only had one manager.
    I do feel though the difference between the “top” teams are they are pushing for honours year on year and whether fans like it or not. There will always be teams who make up the numbers. No disrespect meant to any other team in the ELP but some of owners are happy just to retain EPL status to keep their club going.

  • nicky

    At the end of the day it is, of course, the players who have the power to make or break a manager. Either on the field of play, the training ground or even the dressingroom. There have been reports in one club of a clique of senior players having direct access to the club’s owner. A most disturbing and undermining situation for any manager.
    Why the lack of success should automatically be down to the manager is surprising, especially when other similar jobs seem readily available to all who have suffered a sacking!

  • Ugandan Goon

    @Cameorn Wolfe,
    re: the question, who would be Arsenal’s next manager? i would like to suggest Neil Banfield or Steve Bould, it would just be the Arsenal Way, this club does things with so much class that that it would be fitting.
    There is so much that the club has achieved on and off the pitch over the last six years, and the most gratifying thing about it all is that it was planned well in advanced set out and achieved, the fact that for so long we had to take a gamble on young talent to stay competitive, while clubs burdened with more debt than we were holding went around poaching our talent and swiping any promising youngsters we were after from under our nose are fading and the brand new dawn is in sight. poetic justice isn’t it, that Malaga barged in and took Santi Carzola from under our noses last season only to return needing us to bail them out of their lunacy, after all they know for definate that we wanted him, eh?
    and you can talk about the new health centre, training ground, STADIUM,and the players coming through in fact just one player, KIERAN GIBBS.

  • critic

    erm….arsenal r owned by single person who is in power.

  • Cameron Wolfe

    Actually we’re owned by Arsenal Holdings plc. if you’re refering to Kroenke he only currently owns just over 60% in shares. The differnce at Arsenal is how it’s run.
    There is a structure in place for the club to be run. Arsene looks after the footballing side. Others are there for the financial and commercial part of the business.
    I doubt if Kroenke contacts Arsene directly to voice his opinion on the playing side.
    How often do you think Kroenke is even at the Ems? Everyday?

  • Goona Gal

    @ Cameron – nice article, AW still has it in him to lead us back to glory. I think Moyes is good, but not good enough for Arsenal. Neither is the one time highly touted Coyle, though he could and would do well at a bigger club than Bolton. I actually think Coyle should challenge himself by managing abroad. Last year I wondered why more people were not questioning AVB’s management ability at Chelsea, he was too much of a novice in the league and too inexperienced to succeed at Chelsea. I liked him and think he should of gone to Spain or Italy before returning to the EPL. This season will be the making or breaking of him and since he has gone to the Spuds, I hope he fails on an epic scale.

  • Domhuaille MacMathghamhna

    What is it that Arsene has that few other managers have worldwide?

    1)The ability to make lemonade from lemons….give him little, he still produces miracles from nothing. Could Mourinho have succeeded with Inter,Chelsea or Real without multi-million dollar transfers and funds?

    2)His faith in the vision he brought to AFC and his perseverance in the face of incessant criticism…Does SAF get such criticism in the media or from the fans? Would he have lasted at AFC as long as Wenger has?

    3)His ability to rebuild a team every year regardless of losing his ¨star¨ players…The Spuds didn’t lose any ¨stars¨ last season and still finished below us despite all the media hype about having their best season in 50 years.

    4)The loyalty and commitment he generates in 99% of the squad, despite the lure of big money elsewhere….Would Barca, Real, Chelsea, City, PSG etc. be able to rely on their mercenaries IF they suddenly lost their financiers?

    5)The elegance, adroitness, savoir-vivre and sang-froid that he displays when faced with biased and ravening media pundits, AAA plastic fanboys, moronic critics, treacherous ex and current players/part-owners and supposed supporters….look at SAF and Redknapp’s meltdowns when faced with the same rabble.

    These are but a few of Le Prof’s plethora of talents and skills he displays every day to keep the Arsenal’s reputation as a world-class Club thriving. I dare anyone who says his time has come to find someone who could fill those shoes!

  • Gooner_82

    Dennis Bergkamp when Wenger retires should be next in line

  • bob

    It’s not just personal and trophies with Ferguson. His relationship with referees (Fergie time, intimidation in the media, disproportionate calls in MU’s favor) has a lot more to do with it than whatever you mean by “personal” distaste for him. And perhaps being the one active coach with a feudal title might rub a few people the wrong way?

  • Ed

    i think based on his situation, Wenger is the best manager in the world.

    His output far exceeds the expectation that the input dictates. If you put him in the position at Chelsea, Man City, Man utd… i think he would do even better and would win trophies as well. But if you were to put one of those managers in the arsenal position, you do not think they would get top 4 for the past 16 years.

    When you get fans who only look at trophies, they really need to distinguish between the size of the achievement. like the difference between a poor working class kid who becomes a wealthy CEO, and a rich kid born with a silver spoon in his mouth taking over his dads mutlinational.

    Like a few commenters, i also think Moyes would be a good choice at arsenal. he has similarly overacheived at everton in a way similar to Wenger – restricted with money, brings the best out of a team, loses his best players regularly, rebuilds by buying relative unknowns for lesser amounts who become good.

    I think he is good enough for arsenal. he is better than coyle by being able to change tactics to win games. and he is hardly ever caught up in relegation tho the spending and players suggest everton should be. yes, there is difference in pressure to win at arsenal. but moyes has proven himself as a top top boss. i just dont like his scary pop-out eyes…

  • Armin

    I would not judge AVB (and Scolari before him)too hard, as they are given task to reorganize squad, change stile of playing etc, but with also high expectations in meaning of wining trophies what was inevitable to end abandoning one of “tasks”. At certain point Daddy Roman took charge and make decision, short term target or long term target. And managers who disagreed with him got sacked.

    But again even this argument is proof of Le Boss brilliance, as only he managed to “refresh” squad and win trophy within 2 seasons. Later, Arsene did not lost his “magic touch” than he have Emirates on his back and worked with limited funds while on the other side you got sugar daddies and (at that time) endless money flow.

    With all his mistakes I still think Arsene is best we can have, or let me put it other way, THERE IS NO BETTER MANAGER THAN ARSENE. And one day when he hang his puffy jacket, and go from us, every success new manager make will be thanks to Arsenes wisdom and patient future planing.

    Who is going to replace Arsene? Well, to be honest no one can, same as no one can replace Fergy. But I believe in that Arsene will also have final word to find man who share same vision.

  • nicky

    Your reply to Neutral was well said. The only saving grace is that totally unpleasant beings like Ferguson are only mortal and won’t go on for ever.

  • a

    Wenger has to select the next manager. Someone who will attract the talent and the young generation.

    He should get dennis bergkamp working alongside him teaching him to spot the talent and how to convince players they can play in a different role i.e Henry, lauren, toure, thuram. Spot a rare talent – george weah.

    If we do this now it will be great, as bergkamp is an all time great players will want to play for him as they know arsene taught and will also attract the younger generation.

    Sorry to say but i cant see it being a british maanger. david moyes is great but he has stayed at everton too long, he should have gone aborad, portugal , holland, got some success and built contacts. He doesnt have the pulling power, surprised spurs didnt go for moyes , he knows the british transfer market well.

    There is only one arsene wenger but you can learn from him. Spain learnt from cryuff. Cryuff from Rinus micheals, rinus learnt from a englishman ( cant remember his name )

  • emmanuelsondeji

    no doubt,wenger is d best in the world and 1 of d best dat has eva managed d game. i av learnt so many things 4rm every faculty of his profession,quotes,job and life generally. and dats y i av got as my ROLE MODEL. david moyes,u neva can doubt his ability. i solely agree with cameron,not lot of people loves fergie ,including myself,but he is very successful no doubt. tony pulis,one of those managers dat makes d premiership as interstin as it is 2day with its style of play making every manager rack his brain of hw 2 break stokes team,and also make all manager develop their own playing tradition,and this is d big difference between d EPL and D other leagues,LA LIGA most significantly.

  • bob

    a saving grace indeed! 🙂

  • ARSENAL 13

    Mr Wenger cant be pushed off….I think he will find his successor for us.

    I took a century to eclipse Chapman, it will take two to do a Wenger.

  • Georgaki-Pyrovolitis

    Erm Critic….erm dipstick!

  • GoingGoingGoone

    devil’s advocate here…Most of us on this site are firmly in Arsene Wenger’s corner. We see what he has done for our club and we have faith that his vision for the future married to support from the board. However, are we not denying credit where credit is due in regards to Alex Ferguson? Grudgingly we concede that he has been very successful but very rarely do we analyze his methods beyond saying that he bullies people. Bullying is an unpleasant action and it, I would suggest, have a limited affect on people. After all, SAF has been successful in more places than ManU. Just saying…