Changing managers, buying players: what works? An Arsenal/Chelsea comparison

By Tony Attwood

Unai Emery at Baku before 2019 UEFA Europe League Final.jpgWhen Mr Wenger left Arsenal in May 2018, we were sixth, with a points per game for that season of 1.66.   When Mr Emery left Arsenal he points per game had sunk to 1.38 and we were 8th.

Today the points per game for this season is 1.34 and we are 10th, with three clubs below us with a game in hand and a chance to overtake us if they win that game.

This decline seems to suggest that calling for a new manager and getting one’s wishes does not always bring an improvement.    We can also note a decline in goalscoring…

In Mr Wenger’s last season we scored 1.34 goals per game.   When Mr Emery left we were actually scoring slightly more having 1.38 goals per game.  Today it is 1.17 – a very significant decline.

However in a debate the Arsenal Independent Supporters Association was having after the game today, the point was made that Chelsea changes its managers regularly and they generally win things, so changing managers might not always be a negative.

But could this be because of transfer funding which exceeds that of Arsenal.  I thought I would do a comparison.  The figures below are net expenditure in each window.

Window Arsenal net £ spent Manager Trophies Chelsea net £ spent Manager Trophies
January 2021 £450k Arteta £0 Lampard
Summer 2020 £67.8m Arteta FA Cup £152m Lampard
January 2020 £0 Arteta – £4m Lampard
Summer 2019 £90m Emery -£83.5m Lampard
January 2019 £0 Emery £49.1m Sarri Europa League
Summer 2018 £63.8m Emery £83.5m Sarri FA Cup
Total £312.05 £197.10

So as the table shows, the old certainties seem to vanish.  Arsenal has spent more than Chelsea over the six transfer windows we have looked at.   Both have changed managers – indeed Chelsea regularly changed managers before the years considered here, but at the moment neither side is doing as well as they would wish in the league.

Team P W D L F A GD Pts
1 Manchester City 21 14 5 2 39 13 26 47
2 Manchester United 22 13 5 4 46 27 19 44
3 Leicester City 22 13 3 6 39 25 14 42
4 Liverpool 22 11 7 4 43 25 18 40
5 West Ham United 22 11 5 6 34 28 6 38
6 Chelsea 22 10 6 6 36 23 13 36
7 Everton 20 11 3 6 31 25 6 36
8 Aston Villa 21 11 2 8 36 24 12 35
9 Tottenham Hotspur 21 9 6 6 34 22 12 33
10 Arsenal 23 9 4 10 27 23 4 31

So Chelsea look more likely to get into Europe next season than we do, despite spending less on transfers and engaging in regular managerial changes as we have done for the last three managers.

One can of course say that having a managerial change and buying players is not enough, we need to buy the right players and hire the right manager.  And that self-evidently is not as easy as it looks.

So what else is it that is working against us?

I’ll have a look at some ideas in forthcoming articles.  But of course, if you know what is wrong, and why the board has been unable to put it right, please do put forward your ideas.

Arsenal’s malaise

8 Replies to “Changing managers, buying players: what works? An Arsenal/Chelsea comparison”

  1. I really don’t think it is all that relevant to discuss money spent tbh Tony. We have done better recently because of the emergence of Saka and EMR, neither of whom cost us very much: and while Nico Pepe is doing quite well at the moment no one could argue he’s been worth the 72,000,000 he cost us. Chelsea and City have very deep pockets but City’s stand out player at the moment is home grown, as is Villa’s for that matter. Liverpool have lost a high priced defender (to their obvious detriment) but some of their best play comes from their (relatively) cheap wing backs. Leicester’s squad is (and importantly was when the won the league) pretty cut price but they are doing pretty well with it.

    So money matters but not always as much as fans believe (when they shout ‘spend some f*****g money’).

    Good managers are hard to come buy and one’s ‘guaranteed’ to bring success cost a lot of money and are very rare (or are rare and so cost a lot of money – basic economics). Would Pep bring us success, or Tuchel, or Klopp, or Mourinho (just kidding)? Maybe. Would Lampard have developed a title winning Chelsea side given time and resources? We’ll never know now.

    I do think experience counts so long as it is backed by a good squad, some sprinkling of star quality, a good youth system, all backed by solid support within and without the club (i.e from the board and supporters). So Arteta – who is learning his craft while managing a team in transition – not easy! – needs backing for 2-3 years. He needs to clear out the remnants of both Wenger’s final years and Emery’s short custodianship. He needs to give youth a chance (he is) and he needs to be allowed to make errors and not fear that he’ll get his P45.

    If, in season 2022/23 or 23/24 we are not challenging for the league and finishing in the top 4 then that would be the time to think about change. That presupposes that Arteta is given what he needs. If he isn’t then we are setting him u to fail anyway. And that would be on Kroenke, Edu and Vinai.

    Finally (honestly!) Wenger is part of Arsenal’s history now. In my opinion the greatest manager we’ve ever had, eclipsing even Chapman. But he’s gone and its time to move on and stop bringing his hounding out up every time it looks like we’ve gone backwards.


  2. We chose to sign an inexperienced manager…Arteta has had no managerial experience before Arsenal appointed him.His first transfer window told us that he is all about defending..his leaving out Ozil meant that he didn’t give a damn about creative players..His signing Willian meant that he does not know what would make his team better..I still believe our problem is the Manager we have chosen to sign.Give him £200m to sign players and he would still not be able to get into Europe..

  3. Weren’t we were supposed to win the league once Arsene Wenger leaves the club?

  4. As the abundant evidence from other threads has shown for several seasons, the major influences on Arsenal results have been the decisions of match referees, with the recent addition of their VAR accomplices.

    Therefore it is hard to judge or compare the records of different managers and managers of different clubs.

  5. @ Blacksheep

    Some extraordinarily good points there.. your argumen5 re spending some f***ing money may have some benefits but to be quite honest there’s so much more to it than that.

    If the PGMOL decide they don’t want us to win the league, we have to be so much better than all other teams just to make the Europa League.

    Until English football/the PGMOL are in court and prison sentences are the outcome I can’t be bothered. I will always check the football results and want Arsenal to win but seriously, the playing field is approaching vertical. I had my first season ticket in 1968 and never have I been so disillusioned with the state of the game.

  6. @Blacksheep, Everytime you comment on untold, it’s a blessing. Unfortunately you don’t comment much anymore

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