Arsenal have no tactics and Arteta must go (according to some supporters)

By Tony Attwood

The media have persistently denied that Arsenal were the second best club over the last two thirds of last season, and so on the back one defeat and a fictitious serious failure last season there are now calls for the manager’s head.   But just before he goes it really might be worth asking, is Mr Arteta really doing that badly?   Is he honestly doing worse than all our other managers?   And if he is, are we likely to get someone better in to replace him?

One way to find out is to look at the win percentage Mr Arteta is getting compared with other managers.  Another is to look at the number of games each manager oversaw in order to get a trophy. Such figures ought to tell us how bad this is compared with the past.

Below is the table for the most recent managers, and those earlier managers who won trophies.

Comparing managers, only three managers have a number of games per trophy rating of under 100: George Allison who managed after Chapman, George Graham, and Mikel Arteta.

The three managers with the highest win percentage are Mikel Arteta (52%), Unai Emery (55%) and Arsene Wenger (57%).  The last two were sacked, and there are now calls for Arteta to go too which is a little strange (unless you know the media and the weakness of the Arsenal board). 

Here’s the table

 Manager Games Wins Win% Trophies No of games per trophy
Bertie Mee 539 241 44.71% 1 FA Cup, 1 League title, 1 Fairs Cup 179
Terry Neill 416 187 44.95% 1 FA Cup 416
George Allison 279 129 46.24% 2 league titles, 1 FA Cup 93
Bruce Rioch 47 22 46.81%
Tom Whittaker 430 203 47.21% 2 league titles, 1 FA Cup 143
George Graham 460 225 48.91% 2 league titles, 1 FA Cup, 2 League Cups, 1 CWC 77
Herbert Chapman 411 204 49.64% 2 League titles, 1 FA Cup 137
Mikel Arteta 86 45 52.33% 1 FA Cup 86
Unai Emery 78 43 55.13%
Arsene Wenger 1,235 707 57.25% 3 league titles, 7 FA Cups 123

Thus Arsenal is the club that has sacked the two managers with their highest win percentages, and sacked the manager who won the club the most trophies.    And now there are calls for us to sack the manager with the third highest win percentage, and the second lowest number of games per trophy.

It is hardly surprising that potential replacement managers don’t want to know.

So it can be argued that sacking successful managers is now Arsenal’s modus operandi.  And I would include Mr Emery in this even though he didn’t win a trophy with Arsenal.  He took us to a final in his one complete season, and won trophies with his clubs before and after Arsenal. 

The longterm tradition of Arsenal is not to sack managers, because when we have done it, it hasn’t always worked. Since the first world war, the managers who have been sacked or persuaded to resign to avoid the ignominy of sacking are Leslie Knighton, George Swindin, Billy Wright, Bertie Mee, Terry Neil, Don Howe, George Graham, Bruce Rioch, Arsene Wenger, and Unai Emery.  That is ten managers.

The only ones who have been replaced by a manager who did better are

  • Leslie Knighton: replaced by Herbert Chapman (who took five years to win a trophy)
  • Billy Wright: replaced by Bertie Mee (who won three trophies in 10 seasons)
  • Don Howe: replaced by George Graham (who won six trophies in nine seasons)
  • Bruce Rioch: replaced by Arsene Wenger (who won ten trophies in 22 seasons)
  • Unai Emery: replaced by Mikel Arteta (who won one trophy in 1.5 seasons)

So that is 14 managerial replacements, of whom five have been replaced by managers who won a trophy.  A 35% chance of bringing in a trophy winning manager.

Personally I think Unai Emery was very unfortunate to be sacked when he was.  He was on a bad run, but then most managers have a bad run of form, and he had already got us to a cup final in his first season, and had had a good run of form in his first season that far exceeded the bad run that got him sacked.

The fact is that the last three permanent managers we have had all exceeded the win rate of everyone who went before them, two of whom have won one or more trophies, and the other of whom got us to a final.   Ceaselessly replacing these managers might, by pure chance, throw up another manager who could do better, but there are real dangers here.

First, Arsenal is starting to get the reputation of kicking out managers even when they are succeeding.

Second, the chance that the next manager we bring in will be better than the last looks like being less than 50% based on Arsenal’s record of appointing managers.

Third, the cost of replacing a manager is huge because not only does his salary have to be paid up, all his support staff will be removed as well, and they all have to be paid up.  All that money could have gone on transfers, but doesn’t – it just flitters away out of the club in compensation.

Worse, the new manager will demand his transfer fund to buy players while selling existing players at a loss, again wasting more money.

We have seen that fan and media pressure can persuade the board to change the manager – getting rid of Mr Wenger and Mr Emery, both of whom performed better than Mr Arteta.  But it is not just a waste of money, such tactics dissuades quality managers from coming to Arsenal. 

Yet it seems that the unholy alliance of the media and some supporters groups are intent on finding something that doesn’t work (ie sacking the manager) and then doing it again and again and again.  Wasn’t that supposed to be the sign of madness?

The media’s take 

19 Replies to “Arsenal have no tactics and Arteta must go (according to some supporters)”

  1. What a’s the media’s fault again.

    Face it. Arteta could not make a jelly wobble. He is clueless. That performance was just more of the same dross I have watched for over a year with Arteta. He is well out of his depth and is making the wrong decisions with players. We kept Xhaka. Unbelievable. He is dreadful. And we are giving him a pay rise. Laughable. And now seems that we are getting Odermark. Would he make the team of any club in the top half. I doubt it. He did nothing in his few months.

    I can’t remember the last time we played well. It’s clear the players don’t want to,play for him. At least The two strikers were honest enough to pull a sickie. What a terrible club we have become. I just wish I had it in me to find a sensible,club to support.

  2. And perhaps Mr Banks you would explain how Arsenal were the second best team in the Premier League for the last two thirds of last season with a manager who was clueless. Was it chance? Was it black magic perhaps?
    Or could it be that your lack of memory of the last time Arsenal played well is down to your having a poor memory?

  3. Tony we can all agree no fan wants to see their club perform poorly.

    Am watching United pummel Leeds and wondering what a feeling it must be for United fans. We all want that.

    If results like yesterday become commonplace, qustions on Arteta’s competency have to be asked.

    We all wish last season’s good run continues and hopefully it wasn’t ‘black magic’. But that’s last season. This is a new season

  4. Truly I want my arsenal to succeed but the way things are going with how Arteta is handling things am not optimistic, we can’t get top four. But as an arsenal fan am bound to support all the way. We were class less yesterday

  5. Let’s face it Arteta has not improved the team. He got a new managers bump & won a trophy just like De Matteo did at Chelsea. Fortunately Chelsea saw this much earlier than Arsenal have & sacked him into obscurity. That is why Chelsea have overtaken Arsenal.

    Other clubs are ambitiously moving forward while Untold thinks a manager should be kept based on a history that any ambitious club should be working to better.

    Although Emery could blame the board for not backing him, the same can’t be said of Arteta. He has brought in more than half a dozen of his own players.

    Untold can’t keep blaming the media for mistakes made by the Kroenke’s & Edu, as well as the poor manager they brought in.

  6. But I am not blaming the media for yesterday. I am saying that any team that loses all three of its main strikers for the first game of the season is likely to have difficulty.

  7. There’s no nuance to your analysis. Arsenal won the last five PL games when the season was dead for everyone except a handful of clubs, thus distorting the reality behind the numbers.

    Your win percentage statistics also distort reality. Nine of Arsenals’ wins last season were in the Europa League against seeded junk like Rapid Wein, Dundalk, Molde, Benfica, Olympiakos and Sparta Prague. Take that off and his win percentage is 47%m which makes him bang average. Especially for a club with one of the biggest wage bills and transfer expenditures in world football.

  8. I disagree James. The central plank of the argument that has been running here through the last two thirds of last season is that Arteta changed the tactics of the team in the first third of last season, and then in the remaining two thirds we were the second best club in the League. Also we are repeatedly given the referees that give yellow cards against Arsenal. If a ref doesn’t do that we rarely see him again. Those figures are presented under “Key Data Tables” and throughout many articles. Key Data Tables is at

  9. Yesterday afternoon, 24 hours ago, sitting in a pub garden looking out over the Yorkshire valleys and moors towards Huddersfield where Herbert Chapman learnt his skills as a manager in the 1920s, my daughter asked me how Arsenal would go on against Brentford. I answered they were skewered.

    Brentford were newly promoted. They had not been in the top division for over seventy years. They were young. They would show the world they were worthy of the top tier. They would give their fans something they would remember for the rest of their lives. Arsenal would get hammered.

    And so it went. Basic football facts. What every football fan knows from watching football, going to football, playing football, kicking a ball around. What was new to me – the expertise of the Danish Brentford manager who recognised a continuous Brentford crowd roar would keep Arsenal jittery, doubting their own ability, keep them playing well below their par.

    Anything can happen. One team plays another team. Present it as something else and believe that presentation as a description of football reality you get screwed.

  10. What was surprising yesterday was the fact that when the ‘long throw goal’ was in progress, Leno was being blocked and held by an opponent on the goal line and neither the officials on the pitch nor the officials on VAR saw it. It was a clear foul and should have resulted in a free kick to Arsenal.
    The foul on Balogun was mentioned in commentary but then quickly apologised for
    mentioning something that shouldn’t be seen.

    It is the kind of PGMOL victory that proves the corrupt officiating and media reporting.

    I’m not taking away the fact that Brentford played well, fouled without injury and got away with selective vision to win a celebrated game against Arsenal.

  11. Of course we are very disappointed with the result from the Brentford game. For me, the second half performance especially suggested that Arsenal can improve considerably. It was their first game of the season for a very young side. Let us not forget; Gabriel injured; Partey injured (from a poor Chelsea challenge, I might add); Nketiah injured (during Chelsea match!) Lacazette and Aubameyang both missing through apparent illness. Martinelli (aged 20) no pre-season, back from Olympics recently; Balogun (aged 20), limited pre-season experience. Sambi (aged 21) recently joined the club. Tavares (aged 21), recently joined the club. White (aged 23) recently joined the club. and returned from Euro championships; Saka (aged 19) little pre-season experience , back from Euro championship……….Given these facts and the apparent new rule that VAR/PGMOL no longer recognises that holding a goalkeeper, preventing going for a lofted cross is a foul, why is there such a lambasting of the club and the players and manager? How sad and rude to call professional sportsmen ‘deadwood’. Once again Xhaka and company are highlighted…..Why? They are members of Arsenal and we as fans should be trying too offer further support and motivation!
    The statistics are there to view. Last season Arsenal only picked up 15 points until Christmas, nearly in the relegation zone, then as the team changed certain tactics it allowed for a further 46 points by the end of season. 5 straight wins at the end! Unfortunately 8th place only. Third best defence in the premier league but no European competition!
    Yes, Brentford are a newly promoted team and worked hard to maintain their first goal until PGMOL helped them a little further by ignoring what used to be regarded as a foul. Congratulations to them. Their crowd offered support and motivation throughout. as did the Arsenal away support, which was brilliant BUT today there is so much vitriol and castigation being offered online and through the media by so-called Arsenal fans. I am nearly into my 72nd year now. Some of us can really remember when the club was managed poorly but I can rarely remember such vitriol after just the first match of a new season. The reality of the 21st century need for immediate gratification perhaps……….

  12. No Arteta has tactics.
    I just think they are the wrong ones for England, or he has failed to pick the right players to implement them!!

    I just don’t understand the tactics of slow predictable build ups (with lots of ineffectual sideways passing), that allow the opposing teams to recover and get all 10 men behind the ball, and crowd the 18 yard box. Thats why its so hard for whoever is our striker to get shots on target. We had none -zero against Brentford by the end of the first half! imagine that against a team that will probably still be relegated!!

    Its just not good enough, and it can only be Artetas fault.

  13. Jack,

    Arsenal lose their 3 strikers just before the 1st game. They lose the first game.

    And your conclusion is, I quote :

    If results like yesterday become commonplace, qustions on Arteta’s competency have to be asked.

    I do believe I disagree with your definition of commonplace.

  14. The last 2/3rds of last season we were the 2nd best team in the premier league. That’s a fair chunk of a season. That’s a lot of games.

    That’s what the points, goals against, goals for, goal difference all say. They are facts. Not opinion.

    Then we loss one game and we get Jack and his whinging, whining mates.

    No wonder my mates laugh at our fans.

  15. Chris

    I said become commonplace which means we are not yet there.

    In the event they become the norm even you would agree that questions have to be asked

  16. Most teams train very hard to be successful, we train to be unsuccessful because it’s not natural for a team to play so badly without practise.
    Get Wenger back to steady the ship in the short term or we will sink without trace.

  17. Menace,

    the idiots on french TV did see the foul and kept saying it should have been called, wondering why VAR had not reacted. The they added : this is the PL, Leno ought to have used his knees to make some room….

    Yeah….the PL does not respect football rules, but we all know that.

    This being said, I don’t think the game was lost on the refereeing side. Just the intensity was different and you could see that the wings were often ours, but the box was not. Wonder why…..

    And we just seem to be regularly incapable of avoiding what look like stupid defensive mistakes who cost us goals. And it has been going on for maybe 10 years. Maybe there is statistic out there that shows how the ‘optics’ of Arsenal conceded goals are split and that talent/genius from the scoring side is not as often mentionned as ‘own mistake at the origin’ or ‘helpless look’.

    Arsenal have cut the number of goals coming in, but the optics of the goals conceded do look bad.

  18. I would agree that Wenger would not have allowed us to get into this state, but given the way he was treated by the media and some fans I don’t think he’d come within a million miles.

  19. Regarding Leeds’ thrashing at OT, they went down 6-2 in the same fixture last season and lost bigly away to Liverpool in their opening match, so I wasn’t surprised. Our defeat also wasn’t unexpected, since I believe the weight of emotional investment welcoming back their fans for the first top flight match in 74 years may have propelled Brentford past most teams in the PL this day. Arsenal were regrettably provided the shortest straw.

    Calls for Arteta to go are, of course, nonsensical. I’m most dismayed by the oversight in discounting three and a half years as understudy to the greatest manager of our generation. What price that experience? Comparisons between the career arc of both men at this early stage are uncanny and, although Mikel has not been gifted a Messi by the football Gods, I’d still keep faith with his vision and allow it time to evolve into the culmination of everything learned alongside Guardiola. (Note: A season or three without European football is a long-overdue blessing which should bring one main priority back into immediate focus: consistency of performance within the domestic setting.)

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