Chapman, Allison, Graham, Wenger: a comparison

Wenger, Chapman, Graham – a comparison

By Tony Attwood

I was intending to stop this series on Wenger after covering the three basics: Philosophy, Practice and the Total Revolution.

But a reader wrote in asking me what would constitute failure in terms of the Wenger revolution, and I thought it such a good question I decided to bore everyone stupid with some more of this series.

I was immediately struck by the problem of defining success. I mean, winning the League would be success, and Barcelona won their League last season so that must be success.  And yet within weeks they were the laughing stock of football when they failed to pay their players.  So, was that season really a success?  If yes, how much of a financial crisis must they have to turn the league victory into a failure?  If the answer is, it doesn’t matter, winning the league is always a success, then, at that point I part company.   There must be a moment when the end does not justify the means – be it in financial cost, the playing style (would it be acceptable if Arsenal became like Leeds in the 80s?), success achieved through corruption (in the style of Italian football), illegal activity (would it be a success if a club based its transfer dealings on money laundering, and then won the league) and so on.

There is also the issue of what the rest of the football world is doing.  Comparing Wenger with Chapman as I do below is in many ways a silly thing to do, because Chapman did not have to face a sudden revolution in football.  Clubs like Everton, Sheffield Wednesday and Sunderland were big at the time of Chapman, but none were dominant, and none suddenly changed their funding method or made any other spectacular change as Chelsea and Man City have done in our era.

But there is also comparative success – success now compared with the position of the club in the past.  For example, Torquay United have got to Wembley a couple of times in the FA Trophy but no more – so reaching the FA Cup final would be a staggering achievement.  It depends on what position you start from.

These then strike me as the big issues:

  • the price you have to pay for success,
  • the competition you face and the level of change
  • and the comparative history of the club taking in its previous achievements.

I think that to ignore such factors is to ignore reality.  Likewise if you deal with one, you have to deal with all three

I want to deal with the comparative history in this piece, and then in another article I will come back to the price one has to pay for success, and the impact of the change in funding in recent years, and then try and draw it all together.  I’m sure that this won’t in any way overcome the simpletons – those who think that complex issues can be reduced to single sentences.  People who seriously believe that the ability of Wenger can be measured by weather he buys a goalkeeper, and weather he wins a trophy this year.   But I don’t see the world as a simple place.

So, to try and get an initial perspective into Wenger’s achievements I decided to take a little peek at our history – and in the course of what follows I want to give several examples.  But I must add a word of warning.  Gathering this data is not too hard, but typing it up of an evening can lead to slips as the reference books I use tend to have small print in part.  If I have got a fact wrong here, please do tell me.  (Oh, and for the guy who always writes in and says, “if you are going to comment at least get the facts right”, yeah, well, you know…)

The obvious starter is Herbert Chapman. Here’s his record…

  • 1925/6 Division One: 2nd, FA Cup 6th round
  • 1926/7 Division One: 11th, FA Cup final
  • 1927/8 Division One: 10th, FA Cup semi-final
  • 1928/9 Division One: 9th, FA Cup 6th round
  • 1929/30 Division One: 14th, FA Cup winners
  • 1930/1 Division One: 1st, FA Cup 4th round
  • 1931/2 Division One: 2nd, FA Cup final
  • 1932/3 Division One: 1st, FA Cup 3rd round
  • 1933/4 Division One: 1st, FA Cup 6th round

3 league championships, 1 FA Cup in nine seasons

Herbert Chapman, as we all know, died during the 33/34 season and the ex-player Joe Shaw took over.  There’s a link to Joe, giving details of his long career at the club on the Arsenal History site – follow the link.

So we have got nine seasons if we include the final season in which Chapman tragically passed away, and in terms of trophies we got one FA Cup and three leagues.

Financially it is harder to say.  We were owned by Norris, and it appears from such research as can be done that he had used up a lot of his fortune in supporting the club by the time he left in 1930.  Certainly by the early 1930s we were known as the “Bank of England” club.

I thought we might next have a look at the rest of the 30s – our Golden Era – and on to the first post war year.   The manager was George Allison who you will know (if you have read Making the Arsenal) became programme editor in 1910 – he carried on for the first year after the war.

  • 1934/5 Division One: 1st, FA Cup 6th round
  • 1935/6 Division One: 6th, FA Cup won
  • 1936/7 Division One: 3rd, FA Cup 6th round
  • 1937/8 Division One: 1st, FA Cup 5th round
  • 1938/9 Division One: 5th , FA Cup 3rd round
  • 1946/7 Division One: 13th, FA Cup 3rd round

2 league championships, 1 FA Cup in five seasons

Here’s a final era to compare with the present day: George Graham

  • 1986/7 Division One: 4th, FA Cup 6th round, League Cup Winners
  • 1987/8 Division One: 6th , FA Cup 6th round, League Cup final
  • 1988/9 Division One: 1st, FA Cup 3rd round, League Cup 3rd round
  • 1989/90 Division One: 4th , FA Cup 4th round, League Cup 4th round
  • 1990/1 Division One: 1st, FA Cup semi final, League Cup 4th round
  • 1991/2 Division One : 4th, FA Cup 3rd round,  League Cup 3rd round, Euro 2nd round
  • 1992/3 EPL: 10th, FA Cup won, League Cup won.
  • 1993/4 EPL: 4th, FA Cup 4th round, League Cup 4th round, CWC won
  • 1994/5 EPL: 12th, FA Cup 3rd round, League Cup, 5th round, CWC final

2 league championships, 1 FA Cup, 1 League Cup, 1 CWC in nine seasons

It is interesting how well Graham holds up against Chapman and Allison.  Graham and Chapman managed for the same number of years and although Chapman got more league titles (if we give him the final one in the year he died) Graham gave us three cups (although of course Chapman had just one cup to have a bash at).

These then are the highlights of Arsenal – the greatest moments before Wenger came along.  So here we go into Wengerland

  • 1996/7 EPL: 3rd, FA Cup 4th round, League Cup, 4th round, UEFA Cup 1st round
  • 1997/8 EPL: 1st, FA Cup winners, League Cup semi-final,  UEFA Cup 1st round
  • 1998/9 EPL: 2nd, FA Cup semi-final, League Cup 4th round,  Champs League: group round
  • 1999/2000 EPL: 2nd, FA Cup 4th round, League Cup 4th round,  Champs League: group round
  • 2000/1 EPL: 2nd, FA Cup final, League Cup 3rd round,  Champs League: QF
  • 2001/2 EPL: 1st, FA Cup winners, League Cup 5th round,  Champs League: 2nd group phase
  • 2002/3 EPL: 2nd, FA Cup winners, League Cup 3rd round,  Champs League: 2nd group phase
  • 2003/4 EPL: 1st, FA Cup semi-final, League Cup semi-final,  Champs League: QF
  • 2004/5 EPL: 2nd, FA Cup winners, League Cup 5th round,  Champs League: last 16
  • 2005/6 EPL: 3rd, FA Cup 4th round, League Cup semi-final,  Champs League: final
  • 2006/7 EPL: 4th, FA Cup 5th round, League Cup final,  Champs League: last 16
  • 2007/8 EPL: 3rd, FA Cup 5th round, League Cup semi-final,  Champs League: QF
  • 2008/9 EPL: 4th, FA Cup final, League Cup 5th round,  Champs League: semi-final
  • 2009/10 EPL: 3rd, FA Cup 4th round, League Cup 5th round, Champs League QF

3 league championships, 4 FA Cup, in 14 seasons

Comparing Chapman with Wenger we have 3 leagues and 1 cup in nine seasons for Chapman compared with 3 leagues and 4 cups in 14 for Wenger.

The other comparison could be with the final positions achieved in the league – a measure certainly of consistency.   Chapman had four seasons outside the top four, Graham had three.  Outside the top two Chapman had four, Graham had seven, Wenger six.

We can go on playing figures for ever, and of course the people who like simplicity will probably go for success at any price, and with no comparison with our past, no questions about what other clubs are doing financially, and no issues about playing style.  But I would argue that through many measures (number of trophies, years in the top four) this is our best era.  But of course you can decide.

More anon.

This week’s match preview is here

The footballing philosophy of Arsene Wenger – earlier articles

Part 1:  The Wengerian philosophy

Part 2: Theory and Practice

Part 3: The Total Revolution

42 Replies to “Chapman, Allison, Graham, Wenger: a comparison”

  1. Great article Tony.
    I would just like to mention a man who made an enormous contribution to our great club. He was an Arsenal player whose career ended early through injury following which he became trainer and physiotherapist. His physio work was ahead of its time and the equipment he had installed was the most sophisticated for the treatment of injuries. On Herbert Chapman’s death, with Joe Shaw he took over running the club and was then highly influential during the reign of George Allison who by his own admission was not a true football man.
    Wartime took a greater toll on Arsenal than virtually every other club. Many had perished and of those returning many had lost their best years to the war. When he took over from George Allison he brought in players including an ageing Ronnie Rooke – a truly inspirational signing. Under his stewardship Arsenal miraculously won Championship in 1948.An F.A.Cup win followed in 1950 and then losing finalists in 1952 having played with 10 men due to Wally Barnes’ early exit with a twisted knee. A further league title followed in 1953 before his untimely death.
    Tom Whittaker was a true Gunners great. An Arsenal man through and through.

  2. Dats – indeed Tom Whittaker should be mentioned, and if I had not run out of time, and if I had not had enough I was going to do an analysis of his years too. Totally agree with you. And I will do that analysis sooner or later.

  3. We cant actually compare Wenger to rest of them because, we still have 4 more seasons with Wenger. Which could bring in more titles, undoubtedly making him the best Manager of Arsenal of all time. 🙂

  4. Very difficult to compare, Tony.

    What we can see is that we have never achieved continuous success but nobody (except d and g’ers) can deny that we are currently being led well and getting closer to the ultimum – maybe this year?

    A great article – but written during a bad spell of whether? 🙂

  5. Tony,

    An interesting comparison. This is one of your greatest pieces and the sort of thing I love to gloss over because so hard to dispute fact. Of course we know for instance when Chavs brought in $$$Roman was it 2004, in 2003 Guns start to see a mass exodus Edu, Viera, Lehman, Ljunberg, Henry, Cambell, Lauren, Cole, Reyes, Flamini, Berkamp, etc., 2004 EMS project begins, 2005 Dein leaves not only severing his relationship with Wenger but leaving vacant his position in which Wenger is forced to cope with that, 2006 board controversy begins and is still hanging in the balance, 2008 Eduardo breaks his leg…. Feel free to embelish on these and other significant events that an organization must endure and wonder to amazement if Arsenal or any other club would have endured the storm like this current organization did under the leadership of Wenger. Notice, I haven’t given complete sole credit to Wenger. But, as in politics if you are in power you deserve credit for good & bad regardless.

    PS “weather”? It’s cloudy here…. “whether”?

  6. -Notice we lose our back 4 and this doesn’t include Adams/Seaman.
    -Notice We our MF not including Gilberto
    -Notice we not only lose TH14 but BK10
    -Notice the New Era of a new Economy begins with $$$$Roman Simultaneously we are on the reverse end of the spectrum with the ground breaking of EMS and the loss of D.Dein.
    -Notice I did not even mention the other normal adversities that an organization faces.. i.e. Bankruptcy due to outrageous buys starts; Man IOU, Lpool

  7. And by chance Liverpool is a key issue. RBS has just reclassified Liverpool FC as a toxic debt – and that is not good news for the club.

  8. Which by coincedence brings a couple of thoughts….

    Rafa brought in after Souness and what has happened?

    Carragher states he wishes LP could go back in time where they shared the prominence of today’s Arsenal.

  9. Tony, That was a well written article consisting of straight forward facts. However, with that said it is very difficult to make actual comparisons as each era is totally different. Money of course being the main factor of difference. I think though that we can safely say that each manager was “great” in his own way. For me personally, the stand out factor with Wenger over the past 14 years is consistany. I think it is a remarkable achievement that he has never ever finished outside of the top four and for the most part not out of the top two. This is the consistancy that sets him apart from previous managers. Also in this modern day financial world of football, the TV revenue is essential and of course the continued participation in the CL provides financial security to the club. Add all of this to the way that Wenger developes young stars for the future of the club, I cleary believe he stands out as the most successful manager of all time at Arsenal FC and I have been a fan and watched them play since I was 10 years old back in 1965.

  10. Wenger having twice as many trophies to go for as Chapman is somewhat of a double edged sword as it stretches the resources available especially when the games are happening at the rate of two a week and being played at a much faster pace than 70+ years ago. The much greater number of international matches that players are involved in these days is another topical problem.
    However we mustn’t lose sight of the fact that luck plays a greater part in cup matches generally – even if its just down to being drawn home or away.
    Wengers consistency in the league, acheived without the eye-watering levels of expenditure of our main rivals, puts him in a class of his own as a manager and coach.

  11. DFG – I agree with you – the figures are impossible to match. But in answering the question “what would you count as failure?” which was put by a correspondent on this site, I felt the need to get a better grip on how each manager performed.

    In a sense I mean this piece to be a background to the next Wenger article – in which I try to get to grips with the rest of the problem:

    Is winning the league while going bust, success or failure
    Is winning the league but playing in the Leeds style, success or failure
    And what difference does the change in the economic environment make?

  12. “But I would argue that through many measures (number of trophies, years in the top four) this is our best era”.

    Are you having a laugh mate! Our best era was 1998 – 2005 (all the Wenger trophies yuo mentioned were won during that period). Since then we have won nothing under Wenger. He is a very intelligent man so I do not believe he sets his current team to win trophies. His first objective is the financial aspects. He could have done better in the transfer market to help our chances of winning a trophy, but only ever intends to do just enough to get us in the champions league. It is a pity that his exemplary achievements have been tainted by the last 5 years.

  13. Gunner 71 – see, that is where you diverge in opinion from so many of us here. Most people on this blog view AW’s past 5 years, a time during which he was under severe financial restrictions, as his truly glorious period, in many ways greater than his first, trophy winning, years at Arsenal.

    Yes, there were a few seasons during that time that AW did not expect to win the League. For the period from 2005-09 his number 1 priority was to qualify for the CL, because he knew he did not have the finances to challenge Chelsea and Utd. We all knew that. The club admitted it. AW admitted it. He said “judge me in 5 years time when the youngsters we are now bringing in have time to mature”. Nobody lied or tried to pull the wool over anyones eyes. The accounts of the club were completely transparent and everyone could see we just did not have the money to compete for the League.

    If you honestly expected Arsenal to challenge for the League during the building of the Emirates then that is a problem with your expectations.

    With each year that passes our finances are getting better and better and our cash reserves are growing again. The effect of the new stadium is taking hold. Funnily enough, that coincides with us challenging again or the League last season. Hmmmm, coincidence or not?

    AW wants to win every game. Anyone who watches him during games knows that. To even think that AW does not have ambition to win the League anymore is so ridiculous as to be slightly insane. You may not think he is the right man for the job anymore, that is fine, but dont for a second doubt his will to win.

  14. Gunner71. I do not share the same opinion as you. While 98-05 was a great era, success is not measured on trophies alone. Success is surviving financially, securing and grooming players for the future without causing the club to go broke and ensuring that you continuously compete for competitions and play the sort of football that fills the stadium on game days. Are you saying that if you don’t win a trophy then you are not a success? If so then I wonder how many other clubs wish that they could be as unsuccessful as us!

  15. DFG – I have made the same argument as you many times and the standard response to saying “Are you saying that if you don’t win a trophy then you are not a success? If so then I wonder how many other clubs wish that they could be as unsuccessful as us!” as you did is:

    Oh, but we arent just any “other” club, we are The Arsenal!!!

    As if that means anything!?!?!?!? Yes, we are The Arsenal. Soooooooooo?????? That doesnt mean we can’t fail, like Spurs, Newcastle, Leeds, Liverpool and so mant other supposedly “big” clubs. In the mid-80’s Spurs were considered bigger than us, even in the mid-90’s they were considered just as “big” as Arsenal. Now they trail deep in our shadow. And that would remain so even if they were to finish ahead of us for a season.

    All clubs can fail. Or at least all clubs without a multi-billionnaire owner can fail. Our name doesnt prevent us from failing, especially when you spending 350million on a new stadium. Our board and manager have ensured that we havent failed.

    AW has ensured that we havent failed.

  16. I should have added:

    And if the Glazers go broke and the banks come calling, the fact that “They are Manchester United!” will not help them one bit.

  17. Paul C: Of course you are spot on and I totally agree with you. I too have attempted to argue this point on other blogs but just end up getting abused or classed as an AKB. I can’t stand the so called fan who makes the argument, “because we are Arsenal” this does not give us an automatic right to win a trophy. Of course I wish we could win a trophy every single year but I am intelligent enough to realize that this cannot happen merely because we are the Arsenal.

  18. Paul C: To add on to my previous post. If the clubs owned by the multi millionaires such as Man City at the moment, do not win a trophy after investing millions in over priced players, then they are in fact a failure as their intent is to “buy a trophy” I.e the EPL.

  19. DFG – Yeah, but unfortunately I am of the opinion that if the Sheiks keep throwing their money around they will eventually win a trophy or two or three, like Blackburn and Chelsea before them. I think the question then becomes “how many trophies constitute success for the money spent?” which is a point that it looks like Tony is going go into in this series.

    Is 3 Championships in 6 seasons (and no CL) for Chelsea a success given the money they have been able to spend? Different people will have different answers to that.

    But you are absolutely right in the general question, which is to say that, yes, absolutely, they will be a failure no matter what if all those hundreds of millions DON’T win anything at all. Of that there is no doubt.

    Keep it coming, Tony.

  20. Now Now lads lets not get ahead of ourselves. Tony was comparing different manager’s abilities to win trophies so I was merely following his arguments without going off point. Every season Wenger has said “we will win it”, so to say Arsenal was a work in progress is quite silly. Wenger has also said we can win it this season. So if we don’t are you going to now turn around and say actually we are still a work in progress? Also, wasn’t one of Wenger’s quotes, “judge me by the end of the season?” I am not blaming Wenger for making these quotes because ambition drives a player’s performance.

    Now lets look at the trickier issue of our finances. Arsene made £40m selling Adebayor and Toure, monies come in for qualifying for the champions league and ticket sales where we fans pay the highest in the world. Arsenal are also the third richest club in the world, so money is not exactly very hard to come by. Hill-Wood said we have more money to spend than what we have had in a very long time (if his words are to be believed)but is not fussed on Wenger not spending it as it increases the dividends for shareholders.I am not saying we should buy a player for £30m but surely there is money to get lets say a good goalie for £12m which will really enable us to compete. The club should not be placing itself in a position where our world class players become disenchanted because they want the winner’s medal they deserve, then leave and place Arsenal back to square one again. So PaulC and DFG, Wenger’s last 5 years has been an experiment with the youth model (which was not initially his fault due to the lack of money when we built the stadium) to the present situation where lack of finances should no longer be an excuse as we can do a little better in the tranfer market.

  21. gunner71. Well surely you would not expect Wenger to come out and say we can’t win it? No matter what the circumstances are, the managers intent at the start of the season is to win it and we would not expect for him to say anything less. I don’t think I mentioned anywhere anything about a work in progress. I merely stated that success is not measured on trophies alone. As for the money accumulated from the sale of players, a lot of that has been re invested into clearing the debt from the new stadium. Who has said anything about our players being disenchanted? I have not heard any of our players make such a comment. Maybe you have been reading too many tabloids. I don’t think that Wenger has ever made a statement to use lack of funds as any form of excuse. Those comments have arisen from other biased blogs and the British press that will write anything in a futile attempt to sell papers. We do have a budget available and I think Wenger has used it wisely in the two defenders he bought. The only real argument to be made there is that most likely he should have invested in another goalkeeper. I believe that was also his intent but for one reason or another it did not happen.

  22. I agree with DFG.
    You can never expect Wenger to come out and say: Hey guys, I think we will win nothing this season. This would destroy the moral of the whole team in just the time he needs to say those words.
    It is the job of the manager to make his players believe in being able to win. Even if he himself down deep inside doesn’t believe in this.
    And if you look back at last season untill we lost 9 of our (most important) players at the start of april in one or two weeks it was possible that we would have won all our games and could become champions.

  23. And I also believe it would be a very bad move to stop with the players who we have nurtured all these years. The keeping of Cesc was vital in this to keep this team on the tracks.

  24. “Arsene made £40m selling Adebayor and Toure”

    True, but in that same summer we extended the contracts of no less than 17 players, at an estimated cost of £21m to the wage bill for the season.

    And if you look back at the season before, Arsenal bought Nasri, Ramsey and Arshavin for a total of £32m. And though we also sold Hleb at the time for £12m, we are yet to see a penny of that money from those nice Barceloanus chaps!

    I think you’ll find that more than covers the £30m surplus we had from the sales of Toure and Ade.

  25. Gunner71 – The Arsenal board do not take dividends. Research before you write.

    Yes, there is now money available and we have seen it spent in the past couple of seasons, as finances have loosened. Or didnt you notice 13m for Nasri, 15m for Arshavin, 12m for TV, 10m for Kos, 7.5m for Ramsey, 5m for Squillaci? Money is being spent. That is 6 players bought for over 50million. 50million!!!!!!! Spending that much in 2 seasons would have been unthinkable before the Emirates, absolutely unthinkable. That is serious money.

    Or what is your idea of spending? If it is 25-30million players then you need to find another club because Arsenal never have spent silly money on players, and probably never will. It says so on the package and if you started becoming an Arsenal supporter expecting them to go crazy in the transfer market then you’ll be dissapointed. It would take an truly outstanding, obviously world-class, can’t miss player for Arsenal to spend that kind of money. They would certainly never spend that kind money on the likes of Balotelli, Barry, Toure (Yaya), Kolarov (17m for a full-back!!!!), Adebayor etc etc.

    You make it sound like 12m for a ‘keeper is nothing. That is a massive amount of money to be spent on a ‘keeper. With wages as well you’d probably be looking at spending 30m on that player over 4 years. That is an enormous amount of money. And you’d better be darn sure that ‘keeper is top-class in that case because there’ll be no more money to spend after that. That is the type of money you pay for a top class central defender or midfielder.

    And you close by saying “we can do a little better in the transfer market.” Okay, who?????????? Who would have been better value for money than Arshavin, Ramsey, Nasri, TV, Koscielny and Squillaci???? Name me six other players as good as that we could have afforded. Or are you simply saying we could have spent more in the transfer market? If so, that is a totally different thing.

    I am really interested to hear who you think would present better value than Arshavin, Ramsey, Nasri, TV, Koscielny and Squillaci.

  26. Sorry boys keep your points in the context of the article; and that is judge this team and Wenger in the context of the earlier manager’s. What relevance is money and transfers if it is a one sided affair and purposefully used to blast Wenger and the team. Wouldn’t it be more productive to either find some adversities in the particular times and how the manager’s overcame them? Or compare the goalies of the different era’s and compare and contrast the managers’ impacts on signing or not signing them… And, the impact on the record…

    The point is apples to apples… Anyone can make an argument by distorting the context (No offence Lawyers) But historians keep them in line and produce a great document…

  27. Probably where Tony’s expertise is most helpful as I seemed to exploit Wenger’s adversities w/o comparing the other’s… So I am at fault as well. Sorry for my hypocrisy in my earlier posts. I just thought it would be helpful to remember some of the few recent changes that helped shape these extraordinary times we have faced.

  28. Arsene Apprentice. You have made a valid point. However that was the context of my original post. Tony did an excellent job of portraying the past managers and highlighting their achievements. My point was the fact that you “cannot” compare them as so many different factors came into play in each different era. How do you expect to compare a goalkeeper from the 1930’s to the modern day keeper? The ball was entirely different, clothing and equipment was different, they did not even wear gloves back then. The amount of games and type of games were different. You could go on and on with similar examples from era to era. My main point in my post in reference to Wenger was about his consistancy and the fact that Arsenal had never finished outside of the top four under his guidance and that for me was the stand out factor.

  29. I think I was also trying to give a context for Arsenal and to ask, “how successful were we, when we were really at the top of our game” and I measured eras by managers.

    On a manager by manager basis Wenger is at the very top, directly comparable with the best we have ever had.

    But I started this little comment with “I think I was also trying…” and I mean that. The more I try and analyse things, the more I try to find the key issues, the more complex it becomes.

    I would like to put forward a few more elements in the issue of “what makes success” in the coming days, but I am aware that the more I try and analyse, the more complex it gets.

  30. Our problem when we discuss success and failure is, of course, that we are too emotional about the subject when it applies to our own club.
    Let’s try it with a different club; Chelsea for example.
    When Abramovich took over, or rather when Peter Kenyon was appointed as Chief Exec. he made a pronouncement that in the next 5 years Chelsea would regularly win the Premiership, would win the Champions League ‘at least a couple of times’ and would move to a new stadium in order to make the whole thing (eventually) self financing. At the same time he said that it was a specific aim to become ‘everyone’s second favourite team’ – this, it would now appear, to be done by buying up a significant number of young English players (as privately advised by the then England manager).
    By their own, publicly stated, standards Chelsea have failed! If they hadn’t it is very likely that Kenyon would still be there to crow about it.
    And yet it is Chelsea’s ‘failure’ (relative to their own stated aims) that has been disproportionately reponsible for Arsenal falling short of what we might have hoped for, trophy-wise, over the last 5 years. Even now, the fact that Man City are adopting the Chelsea model (even down to buying up England squad players when they becoame ‘available’)could delay things that much longer. But the new squad composition rules coupled with the UEFA financial regulations will, over time, start to make a difference – mainly in Arsenal’s favour. If you know those rules are coming it would be stupid to ignore their ramifications.
    One last point – it’s been said on this site many times before, over the last 60 years Arsenal having always been a ‘grow your own’ club. All successful (trophy winning) teams have been largely made up of players brought through the youth system mixed in with relatively cheap buys. A sprinkling of ‘expensive’ stars have been occasionally added where it’s been thought appropriate. But, as was said earlier, before you commit to Arsenal read what it says on the packet – it’s remained pretty much unchanged in those 60 years; a period during which we have been the only club never to have played outside the top division. That represents the ultimate in consistency.

  31. Tony…Kudos great piece and I love the research and future articles.

    I think it is possible to compare the achievements of a manager in the different time era’s as well as the lack there of. But, in order to do so the debate must be consistent. For instance, My point with the goalkeepers was not a direct comparison of the goalkeepers but was to evaluate (not my topic by the way was G71 who tried to throw stones at Wenger w/GK) the manager’s impact in the different time era’s of his decision for who played that role. Was the outcome impactful enough as G71 seems to think, where by Arsene should be judged so harshly. Well I don’t know but it does require research and less rhetoric about the transfer period and how Wenger should have bought Iker Cassillas. So What I think you will find and Tony will present this further is a more broad sense of the managers adversities and opportunities and how each manager dealt with them. For me that would suffice in terms of a true comparison.

  32. PS DFG.. I did not mean to minimize your thoughts on Arsenal being consistent as they are valid but I disagree that a comparison of mgrs cannot be made.

  33. Good article, as a few have said it’s hard to compare like for like through different eras. One think I would like to see compared is a 1st team injury count compared through Wengers years with the “Top Four”. I don’t recall too many Injures during his earlier successful years (Pires against Newcastle, Adams Back Troubles) compared to now. Or maybe I’m looking for a scapegoat??

  34. Sorry Martin as you have stated “Good article, as a few have said it’s hard to compare like for like through different eras.” Based on that T’would have no value.. for you

  35. Richard B. – fantastic post.

    In many ways, AW is merely continuing the great Arsenal traditions of youth development coupled with shrewd buys. We, except for a brief spell when Herbert Champman behaved like the Chelsea of 2003-06 in order to make Arsenal competitive in the late 20’s, have always produced competitive teams based on that policy.

    One could easily expand this study further to include ALL of Arsenal’s championship teams (so adding Tom Whittacker and Bertie Mee) and one could easily see that Arsenal have very rarely been a club that has bought success through expensive transfers.

  36. @ Arsene Apprentice.

    In fairness it would have some value for me (And I’m not saying this article didn’t as it did!!) as it would only be analyzing Wengers years (whether you class that as different eras due to the length he has been at the club is another debate 🙂 )
    It’s probably not the right post to mention it but what I’ve seen on various blogs are people mentioning the lack of silverware is due to Injuries and not enough cover etc etc and it got me thinking on whether or not it has much baring on the outcome of the title as all teams go through injuries so do we get more than say Man Utd or Chelsea who missed both Rio & Essien for large chunks of the season and are classed as 1st team players. So for example when we last won the double did we have as many injuries and players out as we did say the last season??

    It was just a thought 🙂

  37. Martin,

    Actually there is someone who does report specifically on the matter of injuries on the site. I would check and see who is the weekly author and they may want to do a paper on it. Or rather you may not want to wait… It does sound compelling, and an area that is not been developed.

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