by Tony Attwood
There is a web site I rather like – The Sack Race – which provides details of managers and how often they are sacked. For example they show us that only 11 out of the 20 Premier League managers have been at their club for MORE THAN ONE YEAR. Only eight have been there for two years or more.
It’s worse in the championship – only nine of the managers has been in post for over a year.
Trouble is, it does go off the rails sometimes as with “Scotland’s George Ramsay holds the record for the most amount of FA Cup wins with six, claiming all of them while in charge of Aston Villa.” Well, actually no. A certain Mr Wenger holds the record, and what’s more some of Ramsey’s wins were achieved when it was possible to win the cup by just playing three or four games.
I thought that might be a slip – just like the FA (who run the FA Cup) have utterly refused to acknowledge that Arsenal are the present FA Cup holders (until this year’s final) on their official web site. But now I began to wonder, as I read this by Andy Dillon on the site:
“Wenger has produced teams which have won trophies from time to time and at occasionally had audiences on their feet. But he hasn’t been able to do both consistently.”
So, “from time to time”. Of course the writer of that probably used his own site’s table on how many FA Cups various people have won to get that statement, but I wondered which clubs had won the most over the past 22 seasons from 1996/7 until this season. If you look at the list you’ll see we’ve won fewer trophies than Chelsea and Manchester United, but more than Liverpool, Tottenham or Manchester City or indeed anyone else over this period. So we’ve been the third best.
Of course I would love us to have had the same record as Man U and Chelsea in these years, but the fact is that we need to take the sentence above and rephrase it to the effect that, “Wenger has produced teams which have won more trophies than any club other than Man U and Chelsea during his time at the helm. If his consistency is to be questioned then so is the consistency of all the other clubs in the Premier League, who have changed managers at the drop of a hat. And we might also like to consider that he was very restricted in his transfers during this time because of the club’s debt.”
Mr Wenger has also equalled the 1930s era with the number of trophies. In the 22 years from 1929/30 onwards Arsenal won the League seven times, and the FA Cup three times. Which is a remarkable mirror image of the 22 years under Wenger when Arsenal won the League three times and the FA Cup seven times.
So yes, because these days we value the League about the Cup (whereas in the 30s, 40s and 50s it was the other way around) the pre- and post-war sides were better. But the number of trophies turns out to be identical to Arsenal’s best ever period.
And also yes, George Graham won the league twice, the FA Cup once, the League Cup twice and the Cup Winners Cup once and he did that in nine seasons. Who knows what would have happened if he had not been a naughty boy and had gone on longer. His last three seasons saw us 10th, 4th and 12th in the league (we were 12th when he was dismissed and that is where we were at the end of the campaign.) It wasn’t looking good but he had won those trophies.
So if we take these eras – the pre- and post-war eras, the Graham era, and the Wenger era, Wenger’s record stands up very well indeed. The rest of the 80 years since the Chapman revolution, we haven’t actually done nearly so well.
Thus 80 years in which we have won 13 FA Cups, 13 League titles, 2 League Cups and 2 European trophies. That is 30 trophies. Slightly better than one every 3 years. In Wenger’s time of 22 years it has been 10 trophies. Better than the average for Arsenal, even when counting against the era before and after the war.
In short what some fans are demanding is not “Give me my Arsenal back” but “Give us an Arsenal we have never had before. A totally different club.” One that exceeds what happened in the Pre and post war era of Chapman, Shaw, Allison and Whittaker, and one that continues the Graham era but without the hand in the till and without the drop to 12th in the league, and one that exceeds the Wenger era.
Yes, the best Arsenal era ever. Is that too much to ask for? Well, maybe, and it would be good to know how the club is supposed to achieve it.
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- Arsenal and Tottenham: which has had the easier ride so far this season?
- Arsenal v Tottenham: not exactly a battle of equals.
- Death by 300,000 passes: how the Arsenal transformation started 2 seasons ago.