By Tony Attwood
We live in a world in which we are encouraged to think that to all complex problems there is a simple solution. If the team is not performing well, get rid of the manager, the new man will surely do better.
And who knows, maybe if we go on getting managers and getting rid of them we might eventually find ourselves a manager who can take Arsenal back to the top. After all it has worked in the past.
For if you recall, after George Graham’s disgrace for taking money that he shouldn’t have taken, we appointed Bruce Rioch, and then got rid of him after one year to bring in Arsene Wenger who took us to third in his first season, and then on to being champions. Perhaps such ruthlessness is needed again.
And yet it is a risky strategy. Arsene Wenger was not just a supremely talented manager and spotter of talent before anyone else, he was brilliant at handling the media and came in with revolutionary ideas about how a club should be run. Such people are not ten a penny.
Let’s see how Emery compares to other managers.
|Herbert Chapman||11 June 1925||6 January 1934||411||204||49.64|
|George Allison||28 May 1934||31 May 1947||279||129||46.24|
|Tom Whittaker||2 June 1947||24 October 1956||430||203||47.21|
|Jack Crayston||24 October 1956||19 May 1958||81||34||41.98|
|George Swindin||21 June 1958||1 May 1962||186||76||40.86|
|Billy Wright||1 May 1962||13 June 1966||182||70||38.46|
|Bertie Mee||20 June 1966||4 May 1976||539||241||44.71|
|Terry Neill||9 July 1976||16 December 1983||416||187||44.95|
|Don Howe||16 December 1983||22 March 1986||117||54||46.15|
|George Graham||14 May 1986||21 February 1995||460||225||48.91|
|Bruce Rioch||15 June 1995||12 August 1996||47||22||46.81|
|Arsene Wenger||1 October 1996||13 May 2018||1,235||707||57.25|
|Unai Emery||23 May 2018||64||38||59.38|
So here is a simple fact: in terms of the percentage of games won, Unai Emery is at this moment the most successful manager we have ever had.
Of course he has only managed 64 games, and most of the other managers on the list managed many more games than that, but that figure does reveal a key point. If we get rid of Emery because he is not good enough at winning games, we need to be clear: we are looking for a manager who from the off is going to be the most successful manager ever in the history of the club.
And if we believe that Emery is leaving the club in a bad state when he leaves, we are going to need a miracle worker of the scale of Wenger who did indeed turn the club that Rioch left into champions within two seasons.
Looking at the other end of Wenger’s career however we must also remember that the getting rid of Wenger didn’t solve our problems which include having a fan base and media base which is very much anti-Arsenal and which I suspect (but of course can’t prove) has an effect on some players.
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Indeed calling for a new manager rarely if ever improves the current state of the team – I’ve not done the figures to calculate it, but my memory suggests that each time a “xxxx out” campaign is run (where xxx is the name of the current manager) results decline. When the manager finally goes results may improve for a moment, but then decline again – except in the case of Wenger, who kept our trophy count and win percentage at all time record levels.
Obviously there are many other questions to be asked such as
- Will the owner sanction another manager and another expenditure of money?
- Can we find a manager who can play with these players the club has and bring in a few cheap options as Wenger did?
- Will the fans and media give the next manager who might have an even higher win ratio a bit longer?
Of course we can bring in Freddie as a breath of fresh air. But in doing that we should remember that although Wenger was unknown to the utterly insular British media, before coming to Arsenal he had years of experience with Monaco where he had won the French league, and knew all the top players who were available such as Vieira and Henry. Thus he was able to exploit the European market in a way no other club was doing at the time.
So if we do get a new manager we need one who will bring in that type of surprise. A manager who knows about amazing players waiting to be discovered. Players like Martinelli perhaps. And he needs a crowd who are willing to allow new players to come in and develop over time, as happened with Bergkamp, Henry, Pires and the like. Players like Pepe perhaps.
Except we already have Martinelli and Pepe.
And that’s the problem. Changing the manager is simple, but what is demanded now more than that. It is the sort of instant success of the type Arsene Wenger gave Arsenal.
In fact what is being demanded is another Arsene Wenger. Which is a bit ironic really.