Is Arsène Wenger the most successful manager Arsenal have ever had?

By Tony Attwood

We know that Arsène Wenger has done some amazing things, such as…

  • Being the most successful FA Cup manager in the last 100 years
  • Being the only manager in the last 100 years to win the FA Cup in successive years, twice
  • Being the only manager to take a team all the way through a league season (in any Football League division) unbeaten, in the last 100 years.

He’s also won two League and Cup doubles – which is not a bad achievement in itself.

But still there are a few who call for him to leave.  So I wondered how the record of Mr Wenger compares with other Arsenal managers, and indeed with past eras in the club’s history.  Is Mr Wenger, for example, the most successful manager Arsenal have ever had?

For some time now in my writings on Arsenal’s history I’ve tended to divide our timeline into five periods.  Of course this is just my division into the 5 Ages of Arsenal, but other analysis tend to give us similar results to this.  (Incidentally if one were to start the Golden Age from 1925 when Chapman arrives, it reduces the effectiveness of that era, and makes the Arsène Wenger era supreme – so I am not picking eras just to suit my case).

Here are the divisions in Arsenal’s history I work with:

The Pre-Trophy Era: 1893 (when we joined the league) through to 1929.  This is the era in which we won nothing, our top achievements being one FA Cup Final and two other appearances as losing semi-finalists.

The First Golden Age: 1930-1956, under the management of Chapman, Shaw, Allison and Whittaker.    Chapman, Allison and Whittaker each won the league twice and the FA Cup once.  Joe Shaw won the league when he took over after Chapman’s death.

The Darkness: 1953-69, reminds us all that a great club can slip away to comparative nothingness.  Under the control of Crayston, Swindin, and Wright, the club became perennial residents of mid-table and the early (sometimes embarrassing) exit from the Cup.

The Rebirth: 1970-1997.  Mee’s revolution gave us a double and the first European trophy, but his era of promise only lasted four years, and we soon slipped, subsequently flirting with relegation later in his reign.  Neill, Howe and finally George Graham, pulled us back from the brink.

The Wenger Years: 1997-?   The Wenger years are just one short in length of the First Golden Age.  That (as defined above) lasted 19 years and produced 10 major trophies.  A trophy this season for Mr Wenger would give him the same – 10 trophies in 19 years.  Quite a coincidence.  And quite an achievement for one man.

Here’s the details of the eras…

Seasons FA Cup League Others Active years Ratio
1893-1929 0 0 32 0
1930-1956 3 7 19 0.53
1953-1969 0 0 16 0
1970-1997  3  3 4 27 0.37
1997-2015  6  3 18 0.5
  • Others exclude Charity Shield, but include league cup and Uefa Cup and Cup Winners Cup.
  • Active years counts the season excluding the closure of the League during the two world wars.
  • The Ratio is the number of trophies per year.

Arsène Wenger’s record at Arsenal in terms of games won is indeed impressive: 1066 games, 613 won, 249 drawn, 204 lost – a win ratio of 57.5%.  It is the highest of all the managers who have managed over 100 games.

Quite remarkably this figure keeps on going up (which is to say it is not something he established at the start and is letting slip). For example, by the end of the 2013/14 the ratio was 57.23%.  If you know a little maths you will know that when you are adding a modest number to 1000 then it is hard to get a ratio to climb at all, so that quarter of a percent growth is not to be sniffed at.

Comparing him to other Arsenal managers is interesting, and has been done in greater depth on the Arsenal History Society site.  But here is just one of the tables you will find on that page.  This table excludes managers with under 100 games, as some of these had very short runs as temporary managers.  But if you want to go further there are four of these tables on the History site, each showing different analyses.

Table of managers in win percentage order excluding those who managed Arsenal for under 100 league games

Name From To Games Win% Honours
Arsène Wenger October 1996 1066 57.50 3 League
6 FA Cup
Harry Bradshaw August 1899 May 1904 189 50.79
Herbert Chapman June 1925 Jan 1934 403 49.88 2 League
1 FA Cup
George Graham May 1986 Feb 1995 460 48.91 2 League
1 FA Cup
2 Lg Cup
Tom Whittaker June 1947 October  1956 429 47.09 2 League
1 FA Cup
George Allison May 1934 May 1947 279 46.24 2 League
1 FA Cup
Don Howe Dec 1983 Mar  1986 117 46.15
Terry Neill July 1976 Dec 1983 416 44.95 1 FA Cup
The Committee August 1893 May 1897 118 44.92
Bertie Mee June 1966 May 1976 539 44.71 1 League
1 FA Cup1 Fairs C.
Phil Kelso July 1904 Feb 1908 152 41.45
George Swindin June 1958 1 May 1962 179 39.11
Billy Wright May 1962 June 1966 182 38.46
George Morrell Feb  1908 April 1915 292 35.27
Leslie Knighton April 1919 May 1925 268 34.33

The * indicates that the top 4 finishes were in the second division.  (The Committee, shown above, ran Arsenal until the appointment of the club’s first manager, Thomas Mitchell, who lasted just one season with the club, leaving because of “interference” from The Committee.)

If we do include all managers in our analysis, Pat Rice comes out top having managed four games (while waiting for Arsène Wenger to return from Japan), and won three, and Joe Shaw, who as I mentioned took over from Herbert Chapman, after his death, who managed just 23 games in the second half of that season.

In case you are interested in Arsenal’s history, you might like to know that in August the Arsenal Independent Supporters Association will be publishing the sixth in its series of reviews of Arsenal’s history – this one dealing with Tom Whittaker.  These publications are given to all AISA members free of charge upon release, and past copies are still available from AISA to non-members and members alike.  Details of AISA are on its web site.

The books

Woolwich Arsenal: The club that changed football – Arsenal’s early years

Making the Arsenal – how the modern Arsenal was born in 1910

The Crowd at Woolwich Arsenal

57 Replies to “Is Arsène Wenger the most successful manager Arsenal have ever had?”

  1. I really believe that by the time he completes 25 years as our manager , he would have left so high a benchmark that others can only dream of ever achieving it .
    And his statue outside the stadium will dwarf all others and also be the main focus of pilgrimages by the faithful the world over .
    Long may he reign , At least long enough to piss ‘them’ off !
    Arsene Wenger who ? – REALLY !

  2. And he ‘ll be around to get our top flight centenary celebrations going in 2019 , probably with his forth double triumph !

  3. Nice and interesting article, although I think it fails to show the significant impact George Graham made. He took us from sleeping giant to a powerhouse of British football. Personally, I think he was just as important to the club as Wenger and I just do not feel he ever gets the credit he deserves. He won us the title after an 18 year wait and we have ever since been fighting at the top of English football. Yes, Wenger took us on once again and his achievements (at least in the first half of his reign have been remarkable) but for me it was Graham who turned as into a giant once again, something Wenger takes all the credit for. Graham six trophies in nine years (including a European trophy) Wenger nine trophies in 18 years and none in Europe, what is the more impressive???

  4. While the statistics speak for themselves, Arsene Wenger will ever be remembered for instituting the dietary changes and training methods in the working lives of so many professional footballers. The regular “drinking culture” and ultra high protein diet for instance, has all but disappeared.
    Not only at Arsenal but fervently copied elsewhere in our land. 😉

  5. George Graham still leads the way on trophies won per season. Thats my yardstick as trophies are the measure of success in football in my view. Wenger has done more for the club than Graham, but Graham as it stands had a more succuessful period in charge.

    Its a tough one really because Wengers reign at Arsenal has been so varied. Unbelievable success for 7 years to start and then a long barren period of winning nothing and now showing signs of success again.

  6. Jayram

    I’m intrigued that two consecutive FA cup wins counts as ‘signs of success’ -‘ok, but not great; look at the ratio’, I read that as- whereas for Graham you value the one FA cup, and two league cups extremely highly. They make up half the trophies that, by your yardstick, elevate Graham above Wenger, so each one, and we’re supposing league cups are equivalent to the FA cup here, should individually count for a lot.

    It makes little sense. As though you’re sat there thinking ‘aye, win an fa and league cup double for three or four years in a row, Arsene, then you’ll overtake Graham’s trophy-per-season ratio, then I’ll start treating subsequent cups as real and enjoyable success, rather than as the lesser sign of success’

    Another good way to look at it is that if a new manager had stepped in two years ago, and achieved the exact same results every game Wenger did in reality, you would presumably be phenomenally pleased with him : two years, two trophies- what a ratio! what a manager! What can this guy go on to achieve!

  7. ” Sometimes people don’t want to hear the truth because they don’t want their illusions destroyed.”
    Friedrich Nietzsche.

  8. “Is Arsène Wenger the most successful manager Arsenal have ever had?” is a loaded question ( unlike “who is etc”), but your stats confirm it anyway. Add on the stadium build, competing against billionaires and with budget constraints, the invincible season and even the risable “calendar year champions” and you get a CV of a rock star manager.

  9. One of the hardest lessons in life is letting go. Whether it’s guilt, anger, love, loss or betrayal. Change is never easy. We fight to hold on and we fight to let go.

  10. Since the Premiership started, Man Utd through to 2005ish, were financially head and shoulders above everyone else. Yet in that time they didn’t win the League every year, didn’t win the FA cup every year. They had a large and relatively easy to expand stadium. Didn’t need to take on the massive financial commitment of building a brand new stadium. Didn’t have to compete with clubs bankrolled by unlimited funds.

    Despite this dominance; they were never guaranteed success in all competitions, year in, year out.

    Its with this context, we need to judge Wenger over the past 18 years.

    Arsenal under Wenger have not enjoyed that level of dominance off the pitch. He has never had the financial advantage over rivals – first Man Utd, and then joined by Chelsea and Man City. One only wonders what might have happened had he the resources Man Utd, Chelsea or Man City have access to.

    I can say with some certainty that both Man City and Chelsea would have spent far less, and gotten a far better return for their money, if they’d been lucky enough to have Wenger at the helm.

  11. Patrick, it depends if you build in the factors surrounding it.

    Graham didn’t have to cope with oil rich clubs
    Graham’s achievements were great, but in between, and at the end we sank down a long way
    Graham did overstep the line by taking a bung, which counts as a big negative
    On entertainment value Graham could sometimes be poor – in 1992/3 we sank to 10th and scored 40 goals in the league – the lowest of any club.
    Graham didn’t lose his transfer budget to a stadium rebuilding project.

    These things do count I feel. My article was only meant as a quick summary, but if we want to dive deeper we do have to take these things into account.

  12. In addition to the team’s results, his transformation of the club, the building of the new stadium and the training ground must be recognised. The fact that such a high level of consistent performance was sustained through this transitional period makes his record all the more impressive.

    Also his wider contribution to football, development of young players etc is a key part of his legacy.

  13. oh dear…Jayaram!!..

    Now that he has won 2 in 2 years, people ask trophies per year. Atleast be consistent in your demands. From ‘all I want is ARSENAL compete’ to ‘trophies per year’.

  14. What comes to my mind –
    a) Bung -noun
    1. a gratuity; tip
    2. a bribe
    b) Baksheesh – noun
    1. a tip, present, or gratuity.
    2. to give a tip.

    Synonyms for baksheesh
    something to sweeten pot

  15. @Patrick

    I loved the George Graham era. Two league titles. Broke the Anfield monopoly on the league. Cups as well. Wonderful stuff and the team didn’t get enough credit for the football it played at times.But some of our league form was a little inconsistent. He had the opportunity to maintain the consistency of performance but couldnt do so. In his final season we were quite poor. The financial environment in which he operated was also quite different to the last 10 years of Wenger’s reign. For me it is Arsene Wenger’s Arsenal that has pushed us on to be recognised and taken the club to the next level. Whoever comes next has to maintain that or even better it!

    If I was to be critical of Arsene Wenger’s record it is that he needs a European trophy or two but don’t forget, again comparing to George Graham’s time, Graham had the Uefa Cup and Cup Winners Cup plus the European cup to go for. That was a very different to today whereby the Champions league dominates and (sadly) there is no Cup Winners Cup.

  16. A

    Alms – noun,
    Money, food, or other donations given to the poor or needy; anything given as charity:

  17. @Jayram

    How would George Graham have coped with moving stadium and reduced funds to compete with Chelsea, City and United? I’ve had the pleasure of experiencing both periods as a spectator and for me Arsene Wenger’s era is the better of the two and has the better record. Look at Arsenals league placings pre Wenger and since. Arsenal have never finished consistently top 4 until Wenger came along.

  18. Jayram
    “Its a tough one really because Wengers reign at Arsenal has been so varied. Unbelievable success for 7 years to start and then a long barren period of winning nothing and now showing signs of success again”

    I do not think it is a tough one. In fact, its an easy decision:

    For starters, something that does not count as a trophy is the stadium. This is a greater achievement then a trophy, it was a remarkable success story.

    Also, going a season unbeaten cannot be compared like for like with any other league title. This is an outstanding achievement that even clubs who have invested over £1bn have never managed.

    Its all very good compiling a list of trophies but it doesn’t tell the true story.

    During Wengers management there were three periods. In my opinion, one of those periods should be looked at for what it was, a period where Arsene Wenger was hugely disadvantaged like no other Manager before him.

    1. Pre-stadium move 1997-2006
    2. Stadium move and financial restrictions 2006-2013
    3. Post stadium move 2013-2015

    Wenger came to England and in his first full season won the double.He took on Manchester Uniteds might and ended up winning:

    – 3 Titles
    – (2 Doubles)
    – 4 FA Cups (2 back to back)
    – The Invincibles unbeaten season
    – Champions League Runners Up
    – Never lower than 2nd position
    – The most prolific goalscorer in the history of our club
    – Breathtaking football. George Grahams football at times, was at best pragmatic, at other times boring.

    In my opinion, no other Arsenal Manager has been through a period of financial restraints like this. What made things even more difficult was the huge investment which arrived from Russia ad Abu Dhabi. How is any Manager expected to compete in this situation? George Graham never had this to contend with.

    – Consecutive Champions League Qualification
    – Never finished below 4th
    – A negative net spend

    This is the period where Arsene Wenger is suddenly able to spend money on players. No coincidence our net spend in those two seasons is close to £100m.

    – 2 x FA Cups (back to back)

    Arsene Wenger is the greatest manager in our history.

    I also think he is the greatest manager the PL has ever seen. If anyone took the time to compare his achievements on a financial like for like basis, nobody even comes close.Factor in the style of football we play, the players he introduced, the records he has broken, the stadium move, the new training facility, the unbeaten season and ultimately the growth of our club to what is now one of the biggest in Europe.

    None of this success has been bought, it has all been built and earned. But for a red card for Lehmann, he would have what that team he built deserved and what pundits and fans use to beat Wenger unfairly.

    The fact he gets so little respect reflects badly on the ignorant. As for those Arsenal fans who constantly disrespect him this great Manager, you need look no further for proof that football fans are intellectually challenged, harbingers of doom of follow the media like a fly follows shit.

  19. Not sure I would lump George Graham in with Mee, Neill & Howe. He took a moribund team, immediately transformed it and kept it successful on a par with the 1930s.

    You should also start Wenger’s era in 1996 as there was no reason he couldn’t have won one of the three trophies avaialable to him. But I guess that wouldn’t help your massaged figures, would it?

  20. George Graham League Finishes:

    86-87 4th
    87-88 6th
    88-89 1st
    89-90 4th
    90-91 1st
    91-92 4th
    92-93 10th
    93-94 4th

    Those who don’t like Wenger, often mention George Graham as if he was a better manager. Probably youngsters.

    They talk about Wengers 4th place trophy endlessly, completely ignorant that in the season Graham failed to lift the trophy, he led us to 4 x 4th places, 1 x 6th and even finished 10th.

  21. How would George Graham have coped with moving stadium and reduced finances?

    Well, during 1992-93 and 1993-94 the finances suffered greatly due to the construction of the North Bank and the massively reduced ground capacity.

    He won “just” 3 trophies in those seasons.

  22. Patrick.

    Wenger joined at the end of September 1996 not at the start of the season.

    Without the benefit of filling the team with his own players, a pre-season or any coaching opportunities with players he was unfamiliar with, other than in between competitive games, he took that team to third. This was obviously a transition season to familiarise himself with the players, their fitness and identify where he needed to improve.

    His first full season, with the help of clever additions and improved fitness regime, he won the double.

    I have no idea why some people try so hard to discredit him.

  23. Patrick, give it up.

    I have no idea what your motives are but you really are trying to hard.

    Did George Graham have to sell his best players and try to compete with two teams that had just invested around one billion pounds? You know the answer I am sure.

    Wenger has never finished 6th and 10th?

  24. Are you Guys Managers’ fan boys or Arsenal supporters? George Graham did his bit, Now it’s Wenger’s time. He too will leave someday. But Arsenal will live on. Hope his fans go with him and leave Arsenal fans in peace.

  25. I am eagerly waiting for looserpool and spuds to move into their new stadia howbeit with better financing, thanks to improved TV money. Yet I still want to monitor their performances in the league and Europe during that period, then I will possibly expect the MEDIA to put this debate to rest.

    For me I have my answer ready but for the benefit of those who have outsourced their thinking to the media, they will need the media/pundits’ confirmation.

    ARSENE’s the BEST!

  26. Equating league cups with fa cups and league wins, mid table finishes with consistent top four finishes, building a single stand vs an entire stadium.

    Illogical arguments all, are you sure there isn’t a more irrational reason for you making them? Both managers deserve respect but one is clearly more successful than the other by most every measure.

  27. Proudkev

    All I am doing is pointing out Tony’s illogical reasoning behind when to start and end certain eras.

    George Graham does not belong in the Neill / Howe era.

    As for Wenger’s first season, he took over the team close enough to the start of the season, added two new players, one of which was significant enough to make a big impact on the team and took them to the top of the table. There was plenty of time for him to mould the team and his impact was pretty immediate. If he had won a trophy during that first season, you can bet your life that Tony would have credited him for it!

  28. Proudkev

    There was no advantage to finishing 4th rather than 6th in 1987-88.

    Are you saying that 1992-93 was a poor season?

    Maybe 1929-30 should also be judged as a poor season for Herbert Chapman.

  29. George Graham did great things with the way Arsenal played football. He was not interested in the financial stability or financial success of the club. He made the back 5 defend within a system. That was key in providing Wenger with an aspect that made the difference in his early Arsenal years. Graham was in some ways Maureen like, in that he did not care about entertainment but more on winning.

    Wenger is holistic in his style. He makes money while entertaining & winning trophies. His primary focus is on financial success & stability. The rest will extend from financial success. There are supporters who don’t care enough about Arsenals club future but really only care about peer success. They profess to love Arsenal but really love Arsenal winning trophies at any cost (as long as it is someone else paying).

    In my opinion success is subjective when understanding is trophy based rather than finance based. Wenger has been the most successful club manager in football anywhere in the world when it comes to raising the value of the club is concerned. I am sure there is an Untolder who can draw the figures out of financial history to prove this (I don’t have the patience).

  30. Without the arrival of the Oil money Arsenal and Manchester Utd would almost certainly of shared the title and most domestic cups between them until this day, with United probably just shading it due to Arsenal building the Em’s and Uniteds superior and ever increasing wealth.

    What has to be remembered is, if the oil money had not arrived we would not of lost our top players at the ridiculous rate we did. Yes some still would of gone, but nothing like it was. a) because the only English team that could of enticed them away would of been United, and they can only field 11 players. b) players heads where turned, yes for the money, but also because they knew we where struggling to compete at the very very top.

    Barca, Real etc. would still of been a draw but United have also lost players in that direction.

    And remember, had Arsenal continued winning trophies at the kind of rate they where and maintained there position as one of the 2 dominant PL sides, as well as building the Em’s, they would of grown financially much faster than they have due to being ‘gazumped’ by the oilers.

    I believe without the oil money Wengers trophy haul would be challenging Fergies, and instead of being the 7th biggest Club in Europe they would be at least top 5 (City and Chelsea would be nowhere), and possibly higher.

    If anyone contests that I would like to see there argument.

  31. Graham won four major trophies to Wenger’s two.

    The league was more competitive in Graham’s era and Graham didn’t have the luxury of working with as many quality players as Wenger.

    Tactically Graham beats Wenger hands down and Wenger also inherited Graham’s winning mentality defence.

    Graham is far superior as he has won the full set.

  32. Patrick Harrington: the North Bank Stand cost £20m, compared to £400m for the Emirates. Even allowing for inflation I think there is a difference.

  33. herman

    There is no doubt that Graham was a great manager, irrespective of the style of play, but given the current financial situation to suggest the League was more competitive in Grahams era is stretching it.

    Yes it’s probably true that more teams had a chance to win the PL back then, but it is also true to say that no teams where so far ahead as to be in a different stratosphere to everyone else, including us, as we have had the last 10 years, with Chelsea and United, with City joining in for the last 5.

    Until the last 2 years our net spend has been lower than over half the teams in the Premiership.

    The 3 aforementioned teams had a net spend, on average, ten times that of ours. TEN TIMES ! That is an enormous advantage or disadvantage depending on your point of view, and yet Wenger still competed with them, if falling just short.

    That to me suggests Wengers tactical nous is pretty impressive, so again to say ‘tactically Graham beats Wenger hands down’ is a rather sweeping statement don’t you think?

  34. Sorry for lack of response, busy,busy at work. I will find time to respond in full. In the meantime let’s not forget Wenger pretty much inherited Graham’s back four, and also for some to say are league form hasn’t been inconsistent under Wenger, really!!! By the way I am not Patrick Harrington, some seem to have become a little confused.

  35. I’d of thought Wenger would have been in his element working under financial constraints afterall he did sacrifice team affairs for construction of new training facilities when selling Anelka.

  36. Tony, there was a lot less money in football back then. You also have to allow the cost for putting seats into the clock end and at the front of the east and west stands. On top of this the net result was a major reduction in capacity. Building the emirates saw the capacity increase by 66%.

  37. Jambug

    I fear you won’t get your argument.

    You’ll get an argument, but not one which takes on your points adequately.

    What can you do- if someone insists,say, Grahams’s situation between 92-94 is the same one Wenger faced between 2006-13, where do you go from there? It’s a mystery to me that anyone can believe that’s true- did we lose a single major player in that time? Were a number of rivals spending extraordinary amounts of cash? Nope. – but I don’t believe there’s a fact or argument in the world you can present which could alter their opinion.

    Those who were very unhappy in the trophy less years and believed management was to blame are dug in pretty deep.

    Generally, it’s noticeable that they like to keep things very short and sharp- ‘won the full set, trophy per season ratio’- if that were the stuff of good reason and reasoning the best books would be packed with such sentences. They aren’t.

  38. Bu the way, I’m not dismissing Arsene Wenger’s achievements. What I’m trying to do is to bring some balance into the “argument” and pointing out discrepancies in Tony’s metrics.

  39. I think we have been blessed with several great managers over the years: Chapman, Graham and Wenger. Clearly they faced different challenges when in charge. I wasn’t around when Chapman was so I will comment on the last two. My opinion is that Graham got results (and we needed them when he got them – 18 years without a title was enough) but wasn’t the visionary that Wenger is. Wenger has always had his eye on two things: 1) present success; and 2)the long term viability of the club. He wants to leave the club in a position where general success is assured (because of the stadium, training facilities, training philosophy and bank account)and with the right mix of players and direction specific success, that is to say – trophies, will be won. It’s hard to say definitively, not knowing the insides of the club, but it is probable that these two goals sometimes worked at cross purposes (e.g. building a stadium impacted the money available for transfers and wages).

  40. Rich

    Nobody has yet contested my proposition that had the oil money not arrived Wenger would of amassed many many more trophies and thereby left Grahams, all be it impressive Trophy haul, miles behind.

    Or that managing to compete with teams operating at a level of finance TEN times that of yours suggests that you have a fair bit of tactical nous.

    As has been suggest on here many times, it is far easier to build a brick wall than it is to create a work of art.

    So no matter how strong the wall, or how delicate the art, I would always walk past the wall to admire the painting.

    Mourinho and Graham are very good at building walls, but I would always prefer to watch Wenger create his art.

  41. Jambug, what you’re suggesting is pure speculation. It is something we will never so we should stick to the facts.

  42. Ok I hate doing this but you asked for it.

    FACT: Wenger has been competing with Clubs spending 10 times the amount he has been able to.

    FACT: Before the oil money arrived Wenger finished 1st or 2nd in the PL every year.

    FACT: Apart From Liverpool (who by the way have themselves spent 5 times that of Wenger) ONLY teams that have spent 10 times that of Wenger have finished above him.

    So okay, Yes it is speculation to suggest that had the oil money not arrived the status quo would of been maintained, but only in the sense that it’s pure speculation that it will rain again in the UK this Summer.

  43. Patrick Harrington

    Hamilton is 30 seconds clear with 10 laps to go and a wheel falls off.

    -Is it pure speculation to suggest had a wheel not come off he would of won, or is it just a sensible conclusion given what you have been watching for the last 60 laps?

    Red Rum is 30 lengths clear but falls at the last.

    -Is it pure speculation to suggest that had he jumped the final fence he would of won, or is it just a sensible conclusion given what you have been watching for the last 4 and 1/4 miles?

    It’s pure speculation that Chelsea and Man City will be battling it out for the title next season, but given what we’ve witnessed these last 5/10 years, speculation or not, it is extremely likely isn’t it.

    And that’s my point.

    Given what had been happening for the 5 years before the oil money arrived it is highly likely that had the status quo been maintained, Man Utd and Arsenal would of continued to dominate.

    It is completely unjustified to simply cast it aside as irrelevant speculation. It is a sensible, highly likely prediction, given the evidence in front of us.

  44. herman

    Dismal compared to who,though?

    Circumstances have changed so much for Arsenal teams in the years they’ve been qualifying, and within the competition itself, so trying to find a true measurement- i.e. by looking at teams of roughly the same quality/resources as Arsenal- of how they’ve performed is not an easy task, if you set about it in a fair-minded rigorous way.

    Liverpool are about the best you can do. Their team was put together in the same conditions- England and the English market- with reasonably similar budgets. They got to two finals to our one, and obviously they won it once. They also got to the quarters twice and semis once on other occasions.

    For us it was the quarters four times and semis once. So,Liverpool have done well-at least quarters five times out of nine- when they’re in it. Our record is six times out of 18 (1 in 3)

    You can say that’s all there is and all that matters-how you do when you’re in it- though there’s something bizarre about effectively weighting non-qualification for the tournament as a better performance than qualifying. Our comparative record has effectively suffered because that damn Wenger keeps doing well enough in the league to get us into the champions league when we weren’t strong enough to win it (6 out of 13 sounds much better).

    We haven’t got to see how Liverpool would perform in these later years, which have hurt our record and in which a group of three clubs are noticeably growing very strong. We got a glimpse this year; it was unimpressive.

    If you were interested in truly understanding how well the team had performed each time, the only thing for it is to attempt to weigh up how well each individual team performed- should the set of players available each time have performed better than they did?

    Should Wenger have been able to assemble a better team, with the money he had, on various occasions? For instance, the hugely disappointing year for me was 2003-2004- we had an excellent team, undoubtedly good enough to win the thing, but fell short.

    If that scenario had been a constant all these years- a team that good, rivals as good as they were in comparison, – and we had achieved the results we subsequently have, that would be dismal. But the reality has been nothing like that- others strengthened massively and we simply could not match them. A quarter final can be a worse performance than a round of 16 exit, or a group exit; it all depends on how strong you are at the time.

    Anyway, I won’t waste time breaking things down any further.

    Now please explain Chelsea’s record in Europe pre and post Abramovich, and go into a little detail on what you think powered it- Drogba, Cech, Robben, Carvalho, Ballack, Cole, Essien, etc, an endless parade of expensive signings- what a shame Wenger didn’t have the good sense to buy those guys. We could have signed them within our budget,couldn’t we? And if some flopped, we could do the same next year, and next year, couldn’t we?

  45. I have great respect for George Graham and what he achieved at Arsenal, who will ever forget that night at Anfield, but feel after the championship win in 1990-91 he went backwards despite the Cup trophies won afterwards. He failed to expand the teams style and reverted to runners and workers instead of encouraging flair. Anders Limpar was loved by most fans and could produce that bit of magic when needed but Graham turned against him and we became a methodical team. Michael Thomas was another who soon fell out of favour and was sold, along with the devastated David Rocastle. Paul Davis, another skilled player, was also discarded but did eventually fight his way back. We relied too much on Ian Wright to score, which he did with aplomb, and became predictable although our mighty defence held firm. In 1991 Graham was probably the best manager in England but unlike Ferguson after him failed to build on that super championship team who only lost one league game. I just feel he took the wrong route despite the cup triumphs. A disappointing end to his management but delighted he now seems to be accepted back in the fold at Arsenal gatherings.

    Arsene Wenger had the good sense not to break up that defence which gave him time to expand the team to great affect. Along with Herbert Chapman has to be our greatest manager but Graham in my opinion gets third place. Just imagine Graham working with Wenger and what they could have achieved. Dream on!

  46. Historically Arsenals record in europe has never been great. Arsene managed to get 15 minutes away from winning the CL.GG managed to get totally outplayed at home to Benfica in the major european competition. The era’s are very different and difficult to compare. However anyone who truely remebers the GG era will tell you that although at times the football was fun alot of the time the football was dire including the double cup winning season. To cap it all off he went and managed the spuds and won them a trophy so do we minus that one of his total.

  47. George Graham, he was not the Messiah, but he was a very naughty boy, but deserves huge credit, and invariably gets it from Gooners.
    But best manager, head and shoulders Mr Wenger. A builder of a club in the way Chapman was, a big trophy haul, a radical and a revolutionary, a man who had to compete against a league where most owners propped up their teams, Arsenals owner did no such thing, yet still, he sometimes finished above the billionaires, or the giant that is Utd. He had to face negative press, negative fans, negative ex players, players he had developed leaving for what they considered greener pastures, wage caps, yet still he kept us up there.
    And just to prove his greatness, he sacrificed a few years after the stadium, a few ….relatively…barren years…..but after those years, he has bounced back, not many do that.
    On top of that , he develops young players, his club are clean, he does not have to resort to kicking players off the park or bus parking to win. He doesn’t buy refs or opponents, if anything, he is on the receiving end of such things.
    Wenger epitomises not only greatness, but class, conspicuously lacking in some of his opponents.

  48. C.
    Caught with hand in till . Ka-ching ! Yeow !

    Decepticon – A Transformer .

    Eel. – Slimy , slippery

    Fingers in others’ pie .

    Greed. Grease me palms for optimum results.

    ‘ Ho – slang , will bend over for money .

    Insatiable .

    Judas – willing to crossover whenever palms are crossed by silver.

  49. Graham won 2 titles and no Champions Leagues – 9 years
    Wenger has won 3 titles and no Champions Leagues – 18 years

    Fa Cups, League Cups and minor European trophies are nice to have and do show success albeit at a lower level. Wenger has clearly demonstrated he is good at winning domestic cups – more so than Graham.

    As for 2nd place to 4th place finishes – I rate them no more highly than 17th place. Completely irrelevant to measuring success.
    As for building a stadium – also completely irrelevant to measuring success.

    My view is Graham was more successful on a per year basis (whether you include cups or not).
    Wenger is more successful in terms of trophies overall as he has had a longer tenure.

  50. Hahahaha

    If Graham had stayed 18 years, well, forget it.

    As for your views that 2nd to 4th place is no better than finishing 17th being irrelevant to measure success – completely irrelevant. Ask Liverpool, Tiny totts and Man Utd.
    As for the views that building a stadium being irrelevant – ask Liverpool and Tiny totts again.

    You don’t build house from the top. You build the foundation first. Then the walls and then the roof.

    Graham had the luxury to repair the wall and the roof. And so did Mr Wenger when he first arrived. But when he (and the management) found out that the foundations could no longer support the new ambitions of the club, they set out to build a new house from grounds up. And even a small house takes two years to build. Here we are talking about the building process of a super club. So cut some slack and look at things as it is. Expectations within the means of reality is what you need to have.

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