Does changing managers actually work, when it comes to Arsenal?

By Tony Attwood

There are quite a few calls around for Mr Arteta to go, with as always, some fans being swayed by press commentary.  The notion of the bumbling buffoon who didn’t know what he was up to was promoted in the Guardian’s headline Arsenal fans need Mikel Arteta to work out what he is trying to do.   

That’s now the standard line, for journalists do like to copy each other in order to make it look as if they know what they are talking about – and can promote the concept that a Premier League manager doesn’t actually know what he is trying to do, while a journalist does.  It is an idea so ludicrous as not to be worth examining – managers earn far more than journos, so why don’t these journalists swap jobs if they know it all?

But we can perhaps get a better idea of what is going on this chart showing points per game.  

Pos Team P W D L F A GD Pts PPG
6 Wenger leaves 38 19 6 13 74 51 23 63 1.65
5 Emery first season 38 21 7 10 73 51 22 70 1.84
8 Emery leaves 13 4 6 3 18 19 -1 18 1.38
8 End of last season 38 18 7 13 55 39 16 61 1.60
19 Arsenal today 2 0 0 2 0 4 -4 0

The closeness of the points per game at the end of last season to the points per game that we had when Mr Wenger left shows that we have in terms of the points per season, been going around in circles.

The fact that the failure to qualify for Europe hasn’t happened for 25 years shows us just how strong a manager Mr Wenger was and how talented he was in keeping us in the top four, for longer in fact than any other club not just in the Premier League but in every other major league in Europe except for Real Madrid in Spain.

But of course celebrating our past successes is not what the media want to do.   What they wanted was each manager to be sacked, and a new manager brought in, so they had a story given to them.

And yet as the data above shows, bringing in new managers is what we have been doing and it clearly is not working.  So why keep on doing the same thing that we have been doing, over and over again?

The answer from the journalists’ point of view is associated with pure laziness.  If Arsenal’s manager is sacked they can run their “Arsenal in chaos” headlines and then spend time guessing who the next manager will be, while drawing up lists of players that we need to get rid of.

But that brings us back to another twist.  It was the media who endlessly said that we had to buy more and more players.   In Mr Wenger’s days of course they never got anywhere with that – even the regular chants of the Anti-Arsenal-Arsenal mob, now closely linked to AFTV, of “Spend some fucking money” didn’t get anywhere because he knew that the journalists were lacking in all understanding of football management (which is why they were journalists and not managers).

Few of the journalists who are currently employed have tried to be managers – Paul Merson for example managed Walsall, but without notable success.   Indeed if we look at our list of managers since the first world war we find we have had 20.  Take out the temps and we have had 15 of whom seven have won something – so new managers bringing in trophies is not a given.

Manager Started Ended Trophies / status
Mikel Arteta 23 Dec, 2019 Present 1 FA Cup
Fredrik Ljungberg 29 Nov, 2019 23 Dec, 2019 (Temp)
Unai Emery 23 May, 2018 29 Nov, 2019
Arsene Wenger 30 Sep, 1996 14 May, 2018 3 League titles 7 FA Cups
Pat Rice 16 Sep, 1996 30 Sep, 1996 (Temp)
Stewart Houston 12 Aug, 1996 16 Sep, 1996 (Temp)
Bruce Rioch 08 Jun, 1995 12 Aug, 1996
Stewart Houston 21 Feb, 1995 8 Jun, 1996 (Temp)
George Graham 14 May, 1986 21 Feb, 1995 2 League titles, 1 FA Cup, 1 CWC, 2 League Cups
Steve Burtenshaw 25 Mar, 1986 14 May, 1986 (Temp)
Don Howe 16 Dec, 1983 22 Mar, 1986
Terry Neill 8 Jul, 1976 16 Dec, 1983
Bertie Mee 1 Jun, 1966 4 May, 1976 1 Uefa Cup, 1 FA Cup 1 League title
Billy Wright 1 May, 1962 1 Jun, 1966
George Swindin 1 Jul, 1958 1 May, 1962
Jack Crayston 1 Nov, 1956 1 May, 1958
Tom Whittaker 1 Jun, 1947 24 Oct, 1956 2 League titles, 1 FA Cup
George Allison 1 Jun, 1934 8 June 1947 2 League titles, 1 FA Cup
Herbert Chapman 11 Jun, 1925 6 Jan, 1934 2 League titles, 1 FA Cup
Leslie Knighton 1 May, 1919 1 Jun, 1925

But here is one thing I would point out, and which is often missed.  Sir Henry Norris as chairman brought in Herbert Chapman in 1925, and his name is still, quite properly recognised in the club.  And in my own small way I did a bit to help that, persuading the club to put up the Chapman statue looking up at the ground.

Yet Chapman was not an immediate trophy winner.  He had four seasons without winning anything and in his first trophy season (the FA Cup in his fifth campaign) in terms of league position was…

  • 1925/26 – 2nd
  • 1926/27 – 11th
  • 1927/28 – 10th
  • 1928/29 – 9th
  • 1929/30 – 14th (won FA Cup)

In short, Arteta is doing better than Chapman, in that in his complete season he’s won the Cup and come in 8th.

But I rather suspect, under the guidance of the media, we are going to keep on changing manager after manager, and getting rid of them faster and faster.  So the chances of finding another Chapman are vanishingly small.

Looking forward: 2021/22



10 Replies to “Does changing managers actually work, when it comes to Arsenal?”

  1. Yes it works, it’s just arsenal dat keep picking the wrong option, the place is littered with people making wrong decisions all the time,, why didn’t they go for nuno, Rogers, simoni, ancelloti, no , it must be a rookie manager 😳!?and so many other name dat u can guarantee results, Chelsea, Liverpool, manu, even Leicester , these are teams dat demand good results all the time and they wil change a manager very quickly if they aren’t getting the results expected, arsenal lacks serious ambition

  2. Hi Tony

    I think if you check your Managers list with trophies won list, you’ll realise that Terry Neill won the FA Cup in 1978. I should know as I was there and saw them beat Man Utd 3-2.


  3. Jd,

    yeah you are so right. Klopp got fired after his first Pool! season because he did not win a title, right ? What did Nuno win ? As for Rogers, he did get fired after a few MONTHS of not getting Manure anywhere, his successor, what has he won ? Ancelloti ? What did he win with Everton ? Bielsa, the second coming of Christ if you believed the number of hagiographic documentaries shown on TV worldwide, what did he win with Leeds ?

    But then again, the issue is Arsenal are a great club, most popular around the world and thus the press use if to earn money doing nothing except reporting because what happens at Arsenal interests people like what happens At Windsor Palace. And I’m sure that ater investing close to 100 million this season in Mr Arteta’s project, the owners will just call him and say : listen kid, I guess this show is over. And throw part of their fortune out the door. which will interest all the world famous managers who have no job to come out of their employment agency contracts and apply for the next job. Or maybe a return of Mr Wenger ?

  4. “So the chances of finding another Chapman are vanishingly small.
    The phrase:
    ” vanishingly small.”

    Puzzles my grey cells.


  5. Replacing a manager with another random manager will not work out. Upgrading the manager to someone who knows the job is a whole different thing.

    Arteta is learning on the job and can’t be expected to provide more, especially when the club is in a very tough situation.

  6. Mr Arteta is learning on the job in full public view. His potential was spotted by Mr Wenger and Pep Guardiola.

    The EPL exposes the quality of managers, Clubs go up and then go down. There’s 91 clubs besides Arsenal in the English professional divisions and all 91 go up and down at different speeds except Arsenal who have always been there in the top tier.

    Applying the standards of the yo yo to the only club that’s been in the top tier is bizarre, out of kilter. The only criteria to measure Arsenal managers is quality of football played, trophies won, percentages of games won and lost, time intervals between trophies won.

    Untold Arsenal measures all this. What doesn’t get measured is relegation and promotion, because it hasn’t happened. So what is the stress of the short-termism which compels some Arsenal fans to apply their most fear-filled criteria to their assessment of Mr Arteta?

Comments are closed.