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June 2021

Should Arsenal’s next manager be British? Probably best not.

by Tony Attwood

The 75 or 80 people who marched around the Ems Stadium with their banners before the game yesterday blocking the way of some supporters who actually wanted to get into the stadium, looked thoroughly angry, and I must admit, I wondered why.

An estimated 100,000 people marched in London last month during a Unite for Europe demonstration against Brexit, but it hardly got a mention on the BBC and other news channel, and yet those 80 or so walking around the Ems will have day after day coverage for their message.  They are getting their message across big time, and yet still they looked angry.

Indeed managerial replacements and supporter revolts (even when very tiny) always make the news, and there is a persistent belief (somewhat akin to the notion that leaving the European Union will make life better in the UK, or that religion x is better than religion y) that one particular change (changing the manager, leaving the EU or converting lots of people to a particular religion) will make a difference.

Thus they have the media with them, so what could be wrong?

The belief that changing the manager will make things better has been challenged a number of times in articles that examine exactly what happens after a manager goes, and ultimately resulted in a wonderful revolutionary approach being proposed by Goal magazine back in September 2014.

Goal noticed that “the existence of a short-term bounce a new coach can bring. In fact since the start of the 2008-09 season, 42 coaches placed in charge during the course of a Premier League season were responsible for a total of 57 more points in their first three matches than in the previous three games of the old coach.”   In other words each club gained 1.3 points more on average in the first three games of the new man, against the last three games of the old man.

Unfortunately those are about the most expensive 1.3 points you could have when the pay off of the sacked coach and staff is taken into account.  But still, clubs have money, so no worries.

Worse, as Goal went on to say, “It does not take long for the new man’s sheen to wear off though and often teams are back where they were after only a few games.”   So they came up with a revolutionary idea: “…if that bounce could be replicated over and over throughout a season, then there is no doubt teams would be better off. It would take a revolutionary step. Bring in a new manager every three weeks.

Now that would put quite a strain on the protesters who would have to put on their angry faces and make up new banners every three weeks.  AST would also have to run a new “survey” something like 13 times a year.   But it could make a good spectacle, and keep the old hacks down the pub happy running the same story over and over without having to do any work.

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However Professor Goddard also showed that the new manager bounce is merely just the club getting back to its normal position after a poor run of results – it doesn’t actually result in a real improvement and move up the table over time.  It can do of course – Arsene Wenger showed that, for after coming 10th, 4th, 12th and 5th over the four seasons before he arrived, he changed the scenario at Arsenal for good.  But that is an exception.

And the reason for what normally happens, according to those who studied the figures, was that “dismissals usually follow a poor run of results – but those defeats are often down to random bad luck, injuries and a tough run of fixtures, which tend to even out. And when they do, those frustrating defeats and draws suddenly become wins.”

Interestingly that quoted paragraph above comes from the Guardian’s report on the matter.  Funny how the news hasn’t spread among its reporters when watching Arsenal.

The average tenure of a sacked Premier League manager at the time of the Goal study was about 1.2 years.  Around the same time the League Managers Association noted that over half of the managers in the 92 league clubs had been in their jobs for under a year.

Part of the problem with appointing a new manager is the rabid anti-foreigner approach of such fanatics as Paul Merson and Phil Thompson who carry on the rampant “British is best” vision of Lawrie McMenemy – the notion that foreigners don’t know about English football.   Tony Adams had the same reaction when Arsene Wenger came to Arsenal, although I wonder if the football loving public of Azerbaijan questioned what Mr Adams knew about Azerbaijani football, what with him being English.

John Goddard, Professor of Financial Economics at Bangor University has recently suggested that non-British managers do better than British managers in the Premier League, having an average league points total per game of 1.66 against 1.29.  That is a 14 point improvement in a season.  It is a lower advantage in the Football League (wherein Irish managers are included with the British managers) where the really foreign foreigners get a six point improvement in the season.  But still they do better.

In Professor Goddard’s survey British and Irish managers also do worse than the foreigners who follow them.  But… foreign managers tend to last for less time in England.

Now I suggested above that although the failure of replacing a manager as a method of improving a club is quite clear, the desire of people like the aaa and their camp followers in the media, to push for change is stronger than ever.

But as the company “21st Club” whose motto is, “We exist to help football clubs achieve competitive edge and build sustainable success” says,   “Our minds are programmed to make us feel that familiarity with any task is important. Experience feels safe. Yet the data tells us that, at least in football, having previous knowledge of the league is often overvalued. In other words: football is guilty of what we call ‘experience-bias’.”

And overall that’s the problem.  All the things we tend to believe, largely because the media tells us, turn out to be untrue.  Changing managers, bringing in someone with knowledge of the league… there are no simple answers anywhere.

Frustrating, isn’t it?


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13 comments to Should Arsenal’s next manager be British? Probably best not.

  • Norman14

    We have got to the point where the club needs a new structure which will support a new manager – whenever he arrives.

    The confidence level is now at a level where, not only is it affecting the players, it’s got supporters at each others’ throats, and some showing little respect for the club they claim to support. (ie The Wexit Van and plane banners).

    It’s up to the Board to do something – something that doesn’t involve Wenger, but something that actually pleases all of the people all of the time.

    If the Board cannot do that; put in place a structure that maintains Both the Business Plan and the Football plan, then I think we are heading towards a very dark place for a very long time.

    Like Brexiters probably didn’t sign up to threats of war with Spain, let’s hope that Wexiters don’t condone years of mid/lower table mediocrity.

  • colario

    Norman if you don’t already write Donald Trump’s speeches you should apply to him for a job as his speech writer.

    Offer him this piece of yours as an example of your craft.

    The only change that is needed for he success of English football is a complete change of the PMGOL operation.

  • colario

    the success*

  • Samuel Akinsola Adebosin

    The continuation of Arsene Wenger, alias Le Prof as Arsenal manager beyond this season has come under sever criticism and scrutiny by some Arsenal supporters and the football media more especially this season than ever before due to Arsenal failure to claim a PL title win for the 13th consecutive season’s campaigns and the failure of the club to claim a Ucl win despite qualifying for the competition for 20 consecutive seasons.

    Under Le Prof’s managerial guidance of Arsenal for 20 years, he has led the club to a 3 PL wins, 6 FA Cup wins, ? Charity Shield wins and 1 CL final outing. But in the last 12 seasons, he has not been able to lead Arsenal beyond a 20th consecutives 4th place spot table finish, ? Charity Shield wins and 2 consecutive FA Cup wins.

    These numerous titles he has won for Arsenal are laudable but taking the ratio of the 20 years he has had at Arsenal as manager to the total formal trophies he has won at Arsenal, I think it will not wrong to say his formal trophy haul for Arsenal is on the average level I.e. 45%. Could his trophy haul have been better if Arsenal had remained at Highbury Stadium from where Le Prof had won moist of the titles he won for Arsenal? Was the move to build the Emirates Stadium, the new Arsenal FC home done ahead of schedule? If it had been delayed for 5 years or more and money be saved to minimize the financial burden of taking the bank loans they took to build it, would it have not led to Arsenal selling some of their top quality players to help finance the building of Stadium?

    Okay, the deed has been done and the Arsenal board can only learn from their past financial commitment mistakes and guide against a reoccurrence of such error of financial sense of judgement in future. Since Arsenal now have the Emirates Stadium but at the expense of winning the big titles which cost the use of very large sum of money to recruit some world class and top quality players from the transfer market before it maybe won save the exception of Leicester City who threw the big money spending in transfer market to the bush when they won the PL title last season with exhilarating attacking football that took all the big clubs in the PL by a shocking surprise.

    Will Arsenal start winning the PL title again and break the ice to win the CL if they appoint an English or a British manager? That question is difficult to answer. Only a seer may be able to answer such a difficult question.

    Nonetheless, from all indications, Le Prof still want to continue beyond this season as Arsenal manager to see if he can turn around the lack of Arsenal winning the PL title again under his guidance and also for the first time in Arsenal history claim a CL title. I think the continuation as manager beyond this season by Le Prof is hinged on him leading Arsenal to another 4th place table finish and another FA Cup win, his 7th for Arsenal.

  • Leon

    “The only change that is needed for he success of English football is a complete change of the PMGOL operation.”

    As if……..?

  • nicky

    My biggest concern is the continued ownership of Arsenal FC by the Kroenke family.
    When the majority shareholder (by some way) and his son became Board members, its power was reduced to nil.
    Arsenal is a rich investment, becoming richer. The value of its shares is increasing. And when the majority shareholder is solely interested in the financial side, the success of the Club on the field of play becomes of secondary importance to him.
    As for the future, it would appear that for some time to come, the ownership and governance of Arsenal FC will be subject to a single majority shareholder.
    Not a happy outlook. 😉

  • para

    Whatt i do not understand is: If Kroenke is getting richer surely some more of the money can trickle through to Arsenal to elevate them a little more.

    It is clear to all that the few top players Arsenal can get are not top world class ones, but just plain world class or on the way to becoming.

    Hence we cannot compete all the time with the money clubs. We were top of the other clubs for a time, but they have all improved and Arsenal is no longer sure of beating all of them, so unless Arsenal improves then they may well fall into the 6th-10th place over the coming seasons.

    Another thing i really suspect is that many players do not want to come to Arsenal as long as AW is there, no one will say it, but it sure looks that way and those that do want, well…

  • nicky

    Kroenke is getting richer by means of his massive share holding increasing in value. Unless or until he sells, he can’t cash in. There is no dividend available meantime.
    Of course he can still obtain an occasional £3m from Arsenal for services rendered (whatever that means). 😉

  • porter

    Kroenke doesn’t put money into his franchises , he doesn’t take much out either he just lets them accumulate .His record in America is not full of cups and trophies but his acquisitions of real estate are impressive . The Arsenal give him a slice of London ,the Rams a bit of Los Angeles , he is a money magnet that’s what he does.
    As for Brexit consider the name Kalergi.Interesting.

  • ClockEndRider

    Enough with the Brexit analogies. Jeez it’s done. Move on and stop pissing and moaning.

  • Brickfields Gunners

    The last Englishman to win the 1st division title was Howard Wilkinson with Leeds United – pre EPL. . I’m not sure who the next ‘most’ successful Englishman was . Have to check the records of Steve Bruce , Fat Sam , and to see how they fared over the last 25 years .

    The Scottish managers have fared much better with SAF and Kenny Dalglish , and in an earlier time, George Garaham.

    The most successful N. Irishman would probably be Brenda finishing second with Liverpool.

    There is always that former Valencia manager who seems to know quite a bit , and many clubs would jump at the chance to benefit from his wisdom.

  • Menace

    Brickfields – true about that failed Valencia manager. He is well in with PGMOL so could be a great asset for Wenger. He could be the magic of truth & sight for the RileyBoyz.