By Tony Attwood
Mikel Arteta has been in charge of Arsenal for 822 days (at least according to my calculator). Which is not bad given that according to the CIES Football Observatory Weekly Post the average tenure of a Premier League coach is 772 days.
This is longer than the Bundesliga for which the average tenure is 628 days for a manager. In Spain’s top league it is 617 days. In France, it is 385 days. Serie A is one day fewer at 384 days.
Comparing managerial tenures is complicated by the fact that a few managers stay for a very long time (Wenger and Ferguson are obvious examples) and indeed as Football Observatory point out, “only 20% of coaches had been in their position for more than two years…. 39% were in place for less than six months.”
So given all this how is Mr Arteta doing? And come to that how is the Arsenal board doing in terms of holding its nerve?
Our manager joined Arsenal on 22 December 2019. Here and in the tables that follow I’m going to compare Arsenal’s position with our current target place (fourth) and 18th, the highest of the relegation places.
22 December 2020: 365 days
One year later and there were multiple calls for the manager to go.
Thus one year on, our position was worse, and our proximity to the relegation places was worse. Our points per game had gone down from 1.28 when Mr Arteta took over, to 1.00. This is when the board were being told ceaselessly by the Anti-Arsenal Arsenal mobs to sack the manager. They held their nerve and in the tables below we look at what happened in each quarter of a year that followed.
22 March 2021: 458 days (1.25 years)
Moving on another quarter of a year we find this…
That was a phenomenal improvement – in fact, a total transformation in the team – and if you are a regular reader here you will know what this was all about. Mr Arteta implemented a policy in defence in which he stopped Arsenal being the most yellow-carded club in the league and moved us to being one of the least carded clubs in the league.
Also interesting is the fact that after 14 games we had scored around half the number of goals the fourth placed team at scored. By March we were just four goals behind Chelsea.
Indeed it was around this time that I was in a zoom meeting with Josh Kroenke when he said that he couldn’t understand why the media were so anti-Arsenal. “Can’t they see what has happened since Christmas?” he demanded. There was some laughter in the meeting and the comment was made “You haven’t been reading Untold Arsenal have you Josh?” But no, I don’t think he had.
9 May 2021: 506 days (1.5 years)
Because of covid, the season was running late and by 9 May the gap between Arsenal and the fourth-placed club had slipped from nine to 11 points. We were well out of danger but not making that final push forward.
The next “quarter day” as it were, was 22 June 2021: which took the boss to 549 days. We had finished in 8th, thankfully missing the appalling Europa Conference by two points. Tottenham got the place, refused to play a game and were ignominiously kicked out.
22 September 2021: 641 days (1.75 years)
To my total astonishment, having made such an improvement in our league position after Christmas 2020, getting the defence to play in the new “no yellows” approach, Mr Arteta transformed the entire defence and the media were universal in claiming he would be the first manager to be sacked in the PL, even though he hadn’t reached the average marker of 772 days.
|4||Brighton and Hove Albion||5||4||0||1||7||4||3||12|
22 December 2021: 730 days (2 years)
And yet two years on, with the board having held its nerve, Arsenal were back in the top four. This was before we slipped behind in terms of the number of games played – it was Burnley and Tottenham (in 7th) who had the games in hand
22 March 2022: 822 days (Yesterday)
So here we are still in fourth.
So the great plan has continued, and is delivering. Of course this season could still go wrong, and lots of pundits are still suggesting that Arsenal are NOT the favourites for fourth because we have such a tough run-in. But made no mistake, there are a lot of clubs circling who would love to induce Arteta to leave and become their manager. Especially those who look at what Arsenal has achieved in the last 25 games.
|6||West Ham United||25||12||4||9||38||31||7||40|
How could the pundits have got it so wrong, and still be getting it so wrong?
- Arsenal v Tottenham update, team news and appalling, flagrant media bias
- Arsenal have benefitted by the world cup break: allegedly.
- Arsenal and Tottenham: which has had the easier ride so far this season?
- Arsenal v Tottenham: not exactly a battle of equals.
- Death by 300,000 passes: how the Arsenal transformation started 2 seasons ago.