By Tony Attwood
So now we know two things. First, most removals of managers by league clubs in all four divisions result in failure to improve and instead result in another manager and another. That we’ve known for a long old time and this season just proves it. Indeed even where vast amounts of money are available changing the manager is no guarantee of success.
Second, two serious attempts to ask the question about why it is a good idea to criticise the manager or the players or both, have simply resulted in discussions about a totally different point: mostly whether the manager should leave, although to some degree questioning the sanity of the writer. Thus we know that is not a debate that can be had.
As a guide to what is happening in the rest of the League at the moment here is the list of managerial comings and goings thus far this season. I leave you to judge whether any of these changes have been successful.
|Team||Outgoing manager||Why he went||Incoming manager|
|Watford||Walter Mazzarri||Sacked||Marco Silva|
|Crystal Palace||Sam Allardyce||Resigned||Frank de Boer|
|Southampton||Claude Puel||Sacked||Mauricio Pellegrino|
|Crystal Palace||Frank de Boer||Roy Hodgson|
|Leicester City||Craig Shakespeare||Claude Puel|
|Everton||Ronald Koeman||Sam Allardyce|
|West Ham United||Slaven Bilić||David Moyes|
|West Brom||Tony Pulis||Alan Pardew|
|Swansea City||Paul Clement||Carlos Carvalhal|
|Stoke City||Mark Hughes||Paul Lambert|
|Watford||Marco Silva||Javi Gracia|
Arsenal however have been doing something different. Appointing the backroom staff first – people such as Raul Sanllehi from Barcelona as director of football, to be head of football relations.
Earlier there was Sven Mislintat as the head of recruitment. Plus we have also noted the fact that Huss Fahmy from Team Sky came in as contract negotiator. And of course although we had to wait while the Aussie season ended there was Darren Burgess from Australia as director of high performance.
Jens Lehmann and Sal Bibbo were then given jobs in the first-team coaching staff and there is the one move that everyone knows, Per Mertesacker becoming the academy manager next season.
Now what this looks like to me is a complete overhaul, which will ultimately end with the manager being replaced by someone who, I suspect, they already have lined up.
This is interesting because it is the exact opposite of what most clubs do. When people like Allerdyce turn up with a club they bring along a whole entourage – and those of us with a decentish memory will recall that this is exactly what Arsene Wenger didn’t do. He came along and worked with the players and the management team we had, only slowly making changes off the pitch, although he made changes on the pitch somewhat faster, bringing in Vieira for example, before he’d actually arrived himself.
Such a restructure looks to me completely like a plan – which of course is something that the media and the anti-Arsenal groups hate – what they want is something they can get their teeth into today, rather than a project that is spread across two years which is what is being delivered.
But replacing the manager, which it looks to me to be the final element in the programme is getting harder day by day, so if Arsenal do have the man they want in mind, and already signed into the job, then the club has done a good job in getting everything in place.
However the new man has a tough job emulating his predecessor, for in terms of win percentage Mr Wenger is by far the most successful of all the long term managers we have had. Long term here means over a season. Here’s the list.
|George Morrell||10 February 1908||13 April 1915||36.57|
|Leslie Knighton||25 May 1919||16 May 1925||36.71|
|Billy Wright||1 May 1962||13 June 1966||38.46|
|George Swindin||21 June 1958||1 May 1962||40.86|
|Phil Kelso||1 May 1904||9 February 1908||41.45|
|Jack Crayston||24 October 1956||19 May 1958||41.98|
|Bertie Mee||20 June 1966||4 May 1976||44.71|
|Terry Neill||9 July 1976||16 December 1983||44.95|
|Don Howe||16 December 1983||22 March 1986||46.15|
|George Allison||28 May 1934||31 May 1947||46.24|
|Bruce Rioch||15 June 1995||12 August 1996||46.81|
|Tom Whittaker||2 June 1947||24 October 1956||47.21|
|George Graham||14 May 1986||21 February 1995||48.91|
|Herbert Chapman||11 June 1925||6 January 1934||49.64|
|Punch McEwen *||19 April 1915||24 May 1919||50.00|
|Harry Bradshaw||30 June 1899||30 April 1904||50.21|
|Thomas Mitchell||30 March 1897||10 March 1898||51.11|
|Arsène Wenger||1 October 1996||57.37|
*James Punch McEwan did serve as manager for more than a year but it was during the first world war when the normal rules of League football did not apply. He moved back to his earlier job the moment professional football returned.
Thus what the club is looking for is someone who can better the best, and who will work with all the people recently recruited – rather than an Allerdyce type who brings his own crew.
If the person sought is one who has already agreed to work with the team, then he will know just what the job entails and the rampant negativity there is surrounding the club, both from the media, fed by the anti-Arsenal groupings. And he knows Mr Wenger’s 57.37% win rate is not good enough to placate either group – even though it is an all time record for the club. He will also know that debate on the topic of supporting the team through difficult periods is not one to be had, and he will know that winning the FA Cup three times in four seasons, and getting to Wembley finals four times in five seasons, is most certainly not defined as sufficient success to result in support.
This is why I suspect a successor to Mr Wenger has already been found and agreed, because the reasons for anyone not to take the job are already clearly laid out. Who after all wants to take on not just the Arsenal job, but the mass media, the bloggettas, and some of the fans, all of whom are now seriously anti-Wenger in their approach. Can you imagine what life is going to be like if the new manager arrives and loses three of his first six games?
It is not a case of doing better than Herbert Chapman. It is a case of doing far, far, far better than that.
- Turning the remorseless criticism of Arsenal to the club’s advantage
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