By Dr Billy “the dog” McGraw
Tottenham and Arsenal have been using very different methods of developing their clubs of late, and as we ponder the notion of getting St Totteringham’s Day back this year (that’s the day when Tottenham can no longer overtake Arsenal in the league) it seemed a good idea to look at Tottenham’s chosen method of club improvement, to see how effective it has been.
Of course, we do this knowing it will take an awfully long time to get back to Mr Wegner’s triumph of 21 successive years of beating Tottenham in the final league table of each season – something that looks unimaginable now the club is having to start building itself all over again, but we can hope that this is the year of the start.
Last season Tottenham beat Arsenal by one point. In 2020 it was by three points. In 2019 it was by one point. In 2018 again it was one point. One has to go back to 2017 to find a season where there has been a significant margin of difference: 11 points in fact – a reverse of what Arsenal arranged two years before.
But the reality is that prior to 2016 it had been Arsenal all the way – sometimes by just one or two points, or sometimes, as in 2009, by 21 points. And even that was a bit disappointing because in 2008 the gap was 37 points, although to be fair some of that was down to Tottenham’s gross ineptitude on the pitch, rather than totally to Arsenal’s overwhelming brilliance.
As a result of this history, these last six seasons have been a little hard to take. For not only have Arsenal slipped from the high standards of the previous 20 or so seasons, Tottenham have regularly risen above Arsenal. Indeed even the days of 2014/15 when after 33 games Arsenal were ten points clear of Tottenham, seemed to have slipped away.
But let us not be totally negative, because since then things have improved, for in 2020 we saw the first chink of light, where after 33 games we were actually one point ahead. Sadly last season we slipped again, but now today, we are two points ahead. Maybe we might make it above them this time at the end of the season.
Thus the question arises, which of the two clubs is constantly improving and which is slipping back?
It sounds quite shocking to admit, but being fourth after 33 games is our best position since 2015 when we were third at this stage of the season. Indeed it is also only the second time in the last seven years that we have been above Tottenham after 33 games – which is not just shocking but also rather frightening.
The worst position after 33 games came in 2017 when we were 17 points behind Tottenham after 33 games. But what makes the whole thing about St Tots Day rather bizarre is that in 2017 we had 60 points – just as now.
However what is particularly odd about Tottenham is that they were doing rather well under Pochettino who stayed at the club for five years, an unheard of length of stay in recent times for a Tottenham manager. Which brings me back to the point made so often on these pages. Changing the manager does not usually result in positive change – rather it more often means the reverse.
The chart below shows Tottenham’s successes in relation to the comings and goings of their managers. *Conte of course has not left – his figure of fifth is the team’s position as of today.
|Manager||Arrival||Departure||Pos on arriving||Pos on leaving|
|Antonio Conte||02 Nov, 2021||Present||9||5*|
|Nuno Espirito Santo||30 Jun, 2021||01 Nov, 2021||7||9|
|Ryan Mason||19 Apr, 2021||29 Jun, 2021||7||7|
|Jose Mourinho||20 Nov, 2019||19 Apr, 2021||14||7|
|Mauricio Pochettino||27 May, 2014||19 Nov, 2019||6||14|
|Tim Sherwood||16 Dec 2013||13 May 2014||7||6|
|Andrew Villas Boas||3 July 2012||16 Dec 2013||4||7|
|Harry Redknapp||25 Oct 2008||15 June 2012||20||4|
|Juande Ramos||29 Oct 2007||25 Oct 2008||18||20|
|Martin Jol||5 Nov 2004||26 Oct 2007||11||18|
So here we have ten managers over 18 years (itself quite a lot really) and just half of them have managed to take the club up a position in the league between joining and leaving.
Now considering that most of these worthy men were sacked, there would be compensation to pay for that, along with the fact that virtually all managers like to spend money bringing in the players they want to develop the team in their way.
Thus we have a process that is expensive and that has a 50/50 chance of success in taking Tottenham up the league.
But, you may be saying, it is not just about league position, what about trophies? Well they won the league cup in 2008 along with the Vodacom Challenge (South Africa) in 2007, the Feyenoord Jubileum Tournament (Holland) in 2008 and the Barclays Asia Trophy (China) in 2009.
And so it does go to show… all this shuffling of managers really doesn’t guarantee success. Not unless you have the money of Manchester City or Chelsea, and even then, as Chelsea have found out, a foreign owner can allow the away support to sing, “There’s nobody here, just the like old days, there’s nobody here”. For Arsenal we just have to hope that Boris doesn’t fall out with the USA.
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