Why do Tottenham keep sacking their managers? Seven answers.

By Tony Attwood

On Untold Arsenal, we’ve often talked about often Tottenham love changing managers, as an alternative to winning trophies.

But I wondered what lies beneath Tottenham’s desire to sack their managers quite so often.  So I went a-looking.

Certainly sacking managers doesn’t normally bring more success.  True, Tottenham have outdone us in terms of winning Division Two and the league cup, but in some other perhaps more prestigious areas of endeavour, we’ve outdone them.  

Competition Club Number of wins
Football League Division One Arsenal 10
Tottenham 2
Premier League  Arsenal 3
Tottenham 0
FA Cup Arsenal 14
Tottenham 8
Cup Winners Cup Arsenal 1
Tottenham 1
Uefa Cup Arsenal 1
Tottenham 2
League Cup Arsenal 2
Tottenham 4
Division Two Arsenal 0
Tottenam 2

So could the number of managers explain the difference between us?

Arsenal have had nine managers in the Premier League era; five were permanent and four were temporary.  Tottenham have had 24 of whom 15 were permanent and nine were temporary.  And indeed during the period in which I have been writing up this little article it seems there is another incoming, so make that 25 managers compared to our nine.

Now the general feeling is that changing managers at lot is not normally a good idea, and that could well be part of their problem.

And yet, over the years some Arsenal supporters emanating from the AAA, have pushed for managerial change, and indeed have spent demanding Arteta be replaced.

But results show changing managers generally doesn’t help.  The clubs with the most titles, with one exception, have the fewest managers.   

The figures below on managers, only include PL managers, but they do also include temporary managers – for indeed with Tottenham it is hard to decide who is or was temporary, and who isn’t. Or wasn’t.

Here is the Arsenal list during the Premier League era – four of these have been temporary (double-dagger) managers.  George Graham‘s numbers* include time in League Division One.

Name From Until Duration
(days) inc Div 1
Years in
Premier League
George Graham 14 May 1986 21 February 1995 3205* 1992–1995
Stewart Houston double-dagger 22 February 1995 8 June 1995 106 1995
Bruce Rioch 8 June 1995 12 August 1996 431 1995–1996
Stewart Houston double-dagger 12 August 1996 13 September 1996 32 1996
Pat Rice double-dagger 13 September 1996 30 September 1996 17 1996
Arsène Wenger 1 October 1996 13 May 2018 7894 1996–2018
Unai Emery 23 May 2018 29 November 2019 555 2018–2019
Freddie Ljungberg double-dagger 29 November 2019 21 December 2019 22 2019
Mikel Arteta 22 December 2019 681 2019–

But does having lots of managers bring lots of trophies? 

This chart is ordered by the number of managers, starting with the smallest.  And I think it tells you all you need to know about the benefits of sacking managers.  By and large there aren’t any.

Club Total number of managers Titles Titles per manager
Manchester United 6 13 2.17
Arsenal 9 3 0.33
Liverpool 10 1 0.10
Manchester City 13 5 0.34
Leicester City 15 1 0.06
West Ham United 16 0 0
Everton 17 0 0
Aston Villa 19 0 0
Southampton 20 0 0
Chelsea 23 5 0.22
Tottenham Hotspur 24 0 0
Newcastle United 24 0 0

But perhaps the problem is not with Tottenham H but with the managers that Premier League clubs choose.  After all the Larger Allardyce, an entity who was eradicated from the England managerial position after one game, has managed more teams in the Premier League than anyone else.  Such beings exist.

Certainly, one thing is clear.  Constantly changing managers has only ever worked for one club – and that is a club with inordinate amounts of cash: Chelsea.  For the rest, it is not a good idea.

And so to the question: if sacking managers has only ever worked for one club, and that club has inordinate amounts of money, why does Tottenham Hotspur keep doing it?

Is it

a) because the owners are morons and don’t realise that manager sacking only makes things worse?

b) because they think that if they do it enough, they must get it right in the end?

c) because they listen to the journalists?

d) because they listen to the fans?

e) because they can’t think of anything else to do?

f) because the owners love the sense of power that sacking people gives them?

g) because the owners believe that the only thing worse than being talked about is not being talked about?

Your answer would be welcome below.


25 Replies to “Why do Tottenham keep sacking their managers? Seven answers.”

  1. Interesting facts, could you possibly restate them without either the french god or the scottish wonder at Man U, Arsene and Ferguson have distorted the numbers by some margin. IF you take Arsene out of the equation we have had 8 managers in 11 years.

    my take on Spurs and why they get it so wrong is their owners are not very good judges of football ability you only have to look at some of the signings for both managers and players Juan de who??? Gedson rather than Bruno Fernandez and a littany of players who would stuggle to make Arsenal’s under 16 team even if there was no age cap.

  2. Just been listening to bits and pieces on the TV regarding the latest episode in Spurs eternal bid for glory.

    I found this from BBC News ironic as it highlighted beautifully the different way they judge Spurs compared to Arsenal. Whilst deriding the tenures of both Mourinho and Nuno they moved on to lamenting the departure of Pochettino stating that whilst he was there “Spurs were regarded as one of the best teams in the Country”. Well possibly they were but why I don’t know given this is his record at Spurs:

    POCHETTINO’s 5 years at Spurs:

    14/15 5th

    15/16 3rd

    16/17 2nd

    17/18 3rd

    18/19 4th

    Average League Finishes = 3.4

    Trophies = Nil

    And especially when you compare it to Wengers last 5 years at Arsenal. A period that saw him derided as an abject failure and ultimately saw him hounded out the door

    WENGER’s last 5 years at Arsenal

    13/14 4th FAC

    14/15 3rd FAC CS

    15/16 2nd CS

    16/17 5th FAC

    17/18 6th CS

    Average League Finishes = 4

    Trophies = 3 x FAC’s 3 x CS’s

    Okay, Spurs average league finish is a fraction better than Arsenals but as we all know finishing in the top 4 is overrated anyway.

    But when it comes to those all important trophies, well, hardly a contest is it ?

    But as the BBC says, “Spurs were regarded as one of the best teams in the Country”, where as Wenger was an abject failure.

    I mean, it’s obvious really.

  3. and that s the truth: the mass media hypnosis is a scary thing to behold.
    Arsene s numbers were fine. No journo could admit it and spoiled so called fans jumped on the bandwagon. but it s good to see here some truth telling.

  4. Re William Knicks and David M: One of the things that I’ve learned over the 12 or so years of running the blog is that one can learn a huge amount about a person from their comments. And this one of course is not exception. Most informative, not about Arsenal or Tottenham, but about the writer.

  5. And indeed re those two correspondents again, As with a number of comments (which I’ve not bothered to publish) I think one can learn a lot about the emotional state of the correspondent, and I guess given the history that has been outlined here, one can understand that. But of course there is always room for serious discourse. I’ve been an Arsenal supporter for many a long year and know what failure is like, but hopefully my responses to commentaries on it were a trifle more mature.

  6. Spurs are not viewed as a ‘big’ club. (And, their lack of top trophies would seem to back this up) However, their supporters and owners believe that they are one. I think this dissonance makes it hard to find a manager that ‘fits’. A manager lives in the real world of players, money and results. Supporters do not. And owners always want more than their money will provide. It makes it difficult for a manager.

    Overseas, Arsenal is still seen as a big club despite its recent lack of success and we can sign the occasional top player despite our limited means (vis-a-vis the Gazillionaire clubs). This is not the case with Tottenham. Even when Tottenham have had windfall cash from a big money sale they have been unable to parlay that into succesful transfers. Pocchetino had a good side and needed some signings to put him over the top but a combination of lack of money and lack of interest from players sunk a good side.
    Of course, concentrating the decision making in the hands of a man (Levy) with a reputation more of being tight with cash than finding talent is an issue, too.

  7. Spurs are an epitome of how recycled shit repeatedly appears to come out more shiny and
    more desirable than ever .

    Whoever is doing it is a marketing genius! Spurs are a big club-so don’t slouch ,strut !
    Keep repeating the same mantra , to the newer generation , and the dream goes on and on.
    Every year they are held up as the promising team that will surprise us all.

    Not the Arsenal fans . We laugh at them as they have have the habit of shooting themselves in the foot . We enjoy their misadventures and missteps tremendously . They are so full of it , as to make Arsenal fans so joyous !
    It has been 60 years since the won the first division trophy.
    JFK was the US president.
    Bay of Pigs was still to happen.
    Vietnam was just some minor bother in Asia.
    I could go on and on ….

  8. 63 and pregnant

    A woman went to the emergency room, where she was seen by a young new doctor. After about 3 minutes in the examination room, the doctor told her she was pregnant.
    She burst out of the room and ran down the corridor screaming.

    An older doctor stopped her and asked what the problem was; after listening to her story, he calmed her down and sat her in another room.

    Then the doctor marched down the hallway to the first doctor’s room.
    “What wrong with you?” he demanded. This woman is 63 years old, she has two grown children and several grandchildren, and you told her she was pregnant?!!”

    The new doctor continued to write on his clipboard and without looking up said:
    “Does she still have the hiccups?” 😂😂

  9. To me the fundamental difference has been that Arsenal are run by people considering the club as a business
    Sp*rs seem to be run by people who consider it as a toy

    Thus decision making is based on a different set of facts or feelings.

    As for Mr Wenger leaving the club, my take is that the owners were to some extent happy to see him leave and finally have free reign to implement what they wanted.
    And probably hoping that PIGMOB hatred would subside once he was gone.
    They were right on the former and utterly wrong on the latter.
    Add to that the usual issue of manager-player relationships who, as they are based on humans and not machines cannot be sorted out on a spreadsheet.

    However, I believe they have come to realise that time when combined with a minimum of talent or know-how (and Mr Arteta and Mr Edu seem to have both) are the right ingredients to success.
    And they did invest heavily as well.

    Basically they did all the things Sp*rs did not. Pity their fans.

  10. Arsenal and ManU had less number of managers because they stumbled upon and persisted with Wenger and Fergusson, who were once in a lifetime gems.
    Other clubs keep sacking managers hoping to stumble on a gem like them, but chances are very low.

  11. Sammy The Snake

    “Other clubs keep sacking managers hoping to stumble on a gem like them, but chances are very low”.

    By and large that’s my take on it.

    Diamonds like those two are rare indeed. To me owners are like problem gamblers. Once they’ve made that first investment, and it isn’t that elusive diamond they hoped it would be, they start ‘chasing’ their loses, but instead of having another bet, they take another punt on a another manager. And just like the problem the gambler they think the next one is always going to be THE one. It usually isn’t.

    They eventually discover that ‘chasing’ loses is the quickest way to the bankruptcy court.

    But whats the answer? Honestly I don’t know.

    I thought we should of stuck with Emery. Gave him more time. But would it of worked? I don’t know. Now I think I was wrong. The combination we have now of Arteta and Edu seems to be bearing fruit. It now seems the owners made the right call.

    But here’s the rub. What will success be for Arteta?

    We know the scale of the challenge.

    Man City: Unlimited funds.

    Chelsea: Unlimited funds.

    Man Utd: The richest self made club in the World.

    Liverpool: One of the biggest, wealthiest clubs in the World.

    Newcastle: Now THE wealthiest club on the planet.

    We are still operating under a self sustaining model and whether anyone likes that or not that is not going to change any time soon.

    I think we all now concede that money is THE overriding factor in determining your chances of winning the Premier League and Champions League, the only 2 things owners are truly interested in.

    So given that what should we expect from Arteta? Well I know what we all hope. We all hope he and his team are good enough to overcome the financial disadvantage he will have to work under and if he does surly he will rival Wenger in the ‘Genius’ stakes ?

    But if he doesn’t ? If we finish 4th, or 5th, and stabilize there for the foreseeable does that make him a failure ? A bad manager ? Given the enormous wealth of the opposition I would say not.

    But it wont be down to me. I would suggest that even if we were to establish ourselves as a top 4 club again, with the odd FA Cup thrown in, soon enough that wouldn’t be enough for many of our fickle fans.

    As such how long would it be before planes and banners were flying again ? How long before ‘spend some f*****g money’ rang out round the ground again ? How long before the call for Artetas head ? The call for new owners ? I suggest not long.

    And it is that demand for clubs, for teams, for managers, to achieve what on many occasions is the unachievable, that drives this managerial merry-go-round.

    Believe it or not, and despite the obvious joy I take in giving them a bit of stick, I think Spurs have been punching above their weight. They haven’t been ‘one of the most successful clubs in the Premiership’ as the BBC claimed, but success IS relative, and given they too operate under a self sustaining modal, and of course have the current financial burden of their shiny new stadium hanging over them, they have done pretty well.

    Pochettino was sacked for being a failure, and it’s true he didn’t actually win anything, but was he a failure? I don’t think so. Given the Net spend under which he operated I would argue he over achieved. A 2nd PL finish. A CL final. That’s pretty impressive on the budget he worked with.

    But he was sacked following a sharp downturn in form. I think that was a mistake, but like Arsenals board when it came to Wenger, I feel Spurs board reacted to fan pressure. That’s what they do.

    But the problem is football fans are by and large not realistic. They are not forgiving. They are not patient. They pass this on to the board. The board reacts. The search for the next Fergy, the next Wenger, goes on.

    The managerial merry-go-round continues.

  12. Try listing the trophy winners by ownership ie: Chelski averga ebefore Abramovic, same with City, Liverpool, and Mnure.

  13. If you look at the PL with a ‘historical’ perspective, one thing can be said.

    You’ve got 3 clubs who have built themselves, over decades, each with their own strategy, means, tragedies or identities and successes, what you could call a legend. Somthing that is bigger then them, that goes back to grit, cunning, talent, that is homegrown and that has been continuous over decades, even if occaional downs have happened. MUN, LIV, ARS. No other club has been that present over 40 or plus years. That kind of stability is truly amazing and love’em or hate’em, it is a fact and

    I call that the top 3.

    Then came money-clubs, purchased for whatever reasons for by indivuduals, states, organisations with basically no financial limits and who thus purchased their way into the hierarchy and trophies. CHE, MCI, LEI (not sure that they can be counted on to be regular contenders – remains to be seen).

    And money did get them results.

    And then there are what I consider ‘part of the landscape’ clubs. Here and there they appear, they never sustained a success into a series of successes, or they nevewer able to compete, be it in the past – they were not god enough as an ensemble – or in the present – no way they can really compete just because of the financial limits they will always have. Their legend building is limited to their own history, but cannot integrate the PL history.

    Some are very realistic about it and try their best without boasting about how they are going to join the legends or the money clubs. Others, like TOT, try to make believe they are part of the first group yet have basically nothing to show for it.

    At least this is how I see it.

  14. Chris

    Not a bad summary at all.

    I actually have a certain admiration for Spurs for at least trying to do it the ‘right’ way, or at least the ‘traditional’ way if you prefer.

    But as we can be testament to, it ain’t easy.

    As for whether “Spurs try to make believe they are part of the first group” or not I’m not so sure. The media certainly try to elevate them to that status, but the average fan ? For years we’ve had them lorded as better than us, bigger than us. None of our players would get in the Spurs team, blah blah blah. But from my experience this isn’t what the average Spurs fan thinks.

    The guys I talk to still acknowledge they’ve won nothing. Constantly deride our fans as pathetic.

    Basically I’ve always found them pretty realistic and pretty honest, unlike the media, who in their desperation to deride Arsenal constantly talk up Spurs way beyond anything they’ve actually achieved.

    Even when we’re crap we win 4 FA Cups. When Spurs are brilliant they still win nothing.

    Most Spurs fans aren’t idiots and acknowledge this. Most of the football media are idiots and refuse to acknowledge this.

  15. @Nitram,

    agreed, I did not nuance my Spurs ‘evaluation’ as being one mostly from the press, which I should have. Ought to have re-read my comment one more time. And I don’t have anything against Spurs fans. And part of the fact of being a fan is that you deride other teams’ fans. As long as it is good humour.

    But as you mention, some of our fans are pathetic. Not even able to see reality and lapping the onslaught of fake news and negativism the (so-called) press is spitting out on an hourly basis.

    That said, our position is far more enviable then that of our neighbours. We’ve got reasons to be optimistic and are seing good football on a regular basis. And have not that many pissed-off players/ex-princes trotting their spleen/blues 90 plus minutes on the field. The enthusiasm our players are showing is just great to watch.

  16. Chris

    We do seem to be sat on the cusp.

    I am optimistic, but having said that I am under no illusion as to how big the task is, as I say, given the bottomless pit of money available to some, not to mention the machinations of the Pigmob.

  17. Arsenal have never won the UEFA Cup/ Europa League. Arsenal have won the Fairs Cup – not recognised by UEFA. So it is 3-1 in Spurs’ favour in major UEFA trophies.

  18. Here’s something you probably didn’t know about former Spur manager Mauricio. Pochettin in Spanish means ‘Trophy’. Prior to PGS he called himself Pochettin0, he now goes by the name Pochettin1 since winning his first trophy.

  19. Brickfields Gunners

    Thanks for that link. Very interesting.

    And interesting to hear how he, and presumably the other players, were pissed at the way we were cheated at old toilet.

    We didn’t imagine it after all then !!

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