Just how good does Arteta have to be to satisfy Arsenal’s critics?

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By Tony Attwood

It looks like we are getting Arteta as the new manager – although at the moment I write this that is not confirmed.  But Arteta or someone else: just how well has our next manager got to do?

We know that our last two managers have been hammered by the media, and from what I recall (and this really is just from memory, as I don’t keep a scrap book) the press didn’t really care too much for Rioch, Graham, Neill, and Howe, or even Bertie Mee after his first few years.  (Actually nor did I, but that’s not really the point).

Anyway, I thought it might be interesting to put together a table of managers who got to 40 or more games in charge of Arsenal, in order of the percentage of wins, so that we can see what the new manager has to live up to.

We know that the crowd turned on the last couple of managers and eventually persuaded one to leave and the board to sack the other, so it is not that hard to how good the new man’s got to be.  He’s got to be better than Wenger and Emery.

Which is quite a demand, since the manager with the highest percentage of wins so far in the entire league history of Arsenal is…  Mr Wenger with 57.25%.    And indeed the manager with the second highest percentage of wins thus far is Unai Emery with 55.13%.  (And just to complete the point Mr Wenger’s record is all the more remarkable given that he also managed such a high number of games.)

So that’s nice and simple.   The new manager has got to be better than Wenger – and he was our best man ever at the job in terms of win percentages, and come to that trophies.

Looking at the tables and going back in time I was reminded just how Bertie Mee destroyed what could have been a solid legacy by ploughing on and on with his policy of reducing the club’s size, moving from being hailed as the great Double win, to the man who nearly got Arsenal relegated.  There’s one lesson to learn – know when it is time to go.

Now of course some would say Mr Wenger didn’t know that, but overall his record shows otherwise.  Here is the managerial chart in the order of percentage of wins, starting with the worst and ending with the best.  One other little interesting factor to note en route is that the manager who utterly re-wrote Arsenal’s history with a set of appalling false allegations about the club’s chairman of the day was also the worst of all these managers.

% win
Leslie Knighton 25 May 1919 16 May 1925 286 105 63 118 367 401 36.71
Billy Wright 1 May 1962 13 June 1966 182 70 43 69 336 330 38.46
George Swindin 21 June 1958 1 May 1962 186 76 43 67 336 330 40.86
Phil Kelso 1 May 1904 9 Feb 1908 152 63 31 58 225 229 41.45
Jack Crayston 24 Oct 1956 19 May 1958 81 34 17 30 148 151 41.98
Bertie Mee 20 June 1966 4 May 1976 539 241 148 150 739 542 44.71 1 League, 1 FAC, 1 Inter Cities Cup
Terry Neill 9 July 1976 16 Dec 1983 416 187 117 112 601 446 44.95 1 FAC
Don Howe 16 Dec 1983 22 March 1986 117 54 32 31 187 142 46.15
George Allison 28 May 1934 31 May 1947 279 129 74 76 534 327 46.24 2 League, 1 FAC
Bruce Rioch 15 June 1995 12 Aug 1996 47 22 15 10 67 37 46.81
Tom Whittaker 2 June 1947 24 Oct 1956 430 203 106 121 802 568 47.21 2 League 1 FAC
William Elcoat 11 April 1898 16 Feb 1899 44 21 6 17 86 67 47.73
George Graham 14 May 1986 21 Feb 1995 460 225 133 102 711 403 48.91 2 League, 1 FAC, 2 Lge Cup, 1 CWC
Herbert Chapman 11 June 1925 6 January 1934 411 204 97 110 879 616 49.64 2 League, 1 FAC
Harry Bradshaw 30 June 1899 30 April 1904 235 118 44 73 403 237 50.21 Promotion to Div 1
Thomas Mitchell 30 March 1897 10 March 1898 45 23 8 14 106 79 51.11
Unai Emery 23 May 2018 29 Nov 2019 78 43 16 19 152 100 55.13
Arsène Wenger 1 October 1996 13 May 2018 1,235 707 280 248 2,156 1,147 57.25 3 Lge, 7 FAC

So quite with the new manager, clearly we are looking for the highest win rate we have ever seen at the club: better than Wenger, Chapman, and Graham, our three greatest managers.  But we can also note that win percentage does not protect a manager from attack by journalists and bloggers.  Our two best managers in those terms were hounded from office by complaints from both.

But maybe that is unfair.  Maybe we don’t want our managers to be better in terms of win ratio, only in terms of trophies.   So let’s try that by looking at just the managers who won something and then see how many games their sides played in order to get a trophy.

Trophies Games per trophy
Bertie Mee 20 June 1966 4 May 1976 539 1 League, 1 FAC, 1 Inter Cities Cup 180
Terry Neill 9 July 1976 16 Dec 1983 416 1 FAC 416
George Allison 28 May 1934 31 May 1947 279 2 League, 1 FAC 93
Tom Whittaker 2 June 1947 24 Oct 1956 430 2 League 1 FAC 143
George Graham 14 May 1986 21 Feb 1995 460 2 League, 1 FAC, 2 Lge Cup, 1 CWC 77
Herbert Chapman 11 June 1925 6 January 1934 411 2 League, 1 FAC 137
Arsène Wenger 1 October 1996 13 May 2018 1,235 3 Lge, 7 FAC 123

So our most successful manager through this system of counting was George Graham with one trophy every 77 games.  Second best was George Allison.  Third Arsene Wenger.  Then Herbert Chapman, Tom Whittaker, Bertie Mee, Terry Neill.

But of course circumstances were not always straightforward.   Chapman for example had to take the club from never having won a trophy to winning its first FA Cup and League titles.   And Arsene Wenger had the job of managing the club through the austerity years when the new stadium was being paid for.

So yes, circumstances are always different.  But the target can be seen.  A win ratio of at least 55% and a trophy every 100 games or so.

5 Replies to “Just how good does Arteta have to be to satisfy Arsenal’s critics?”

  1. The fact is nothing short of a League title and or Champions League victory will suffice for many.

    The fact is Wenger, by being so brilliant for so long, was the architect of his own downfall.

    In the end, as circumstances changed he just couldn’t live up to his own standards. Similarly he was the architect of Emery’s downfall as he too could not live up to Wengers standards, not even his ‘failing standards’.

    I’m afraid, as much as so many turned on Wenger, ironically it is to Wengers ‘not good enough standards’ that all subsequent managers will be held, and as reality dawns it will become evident just how difficult those ‘failing’ standards are to reach, and that they are not quite the ‘gimme’ some seem to of thought they were.

    Whether they are right or wrong to have such expectations is a matter of personal opinion.

  2. I expect that for some he will have to win every game by at least five goals whist conceding none! Whilst I jest, I seriously think that a percentage of our fans will find something to moan about irrespective of how well we do. That’s just the way they are.

  3. The fact is, you have to separate “AW first 10 years” and “AW second 10 years”. The later AW was burdened by financial limitations and was no match for earlier AW. Even the win% between these periods must be vastly different (I assume).

  4. You do realize how much damage emery has done to the club do you. I can bet you that he will never ever manage a top club again.

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