Continuing our exploration of Arsenal’s Greatest Managers, see the previous 2 day’s posts for parts one and 2 in the series
5. George Graham: 1986-1995
George was born in Bargeddie, Lanarkshire. He was brought up by his mother and was the youngest of seven children who all lived in poverty. While still a youngster George showed considerable promise as a footballer and professional clubs like Aston Villa, Newcastle and Chelsea showed interest in his ability.
On his 17th birthday, in 1961, he was signed by Aston Villa, and later went on to play for Chelsea before being brought to Arsenal by Bertie Mee in 1966. With Arsenal he won a medal in the 1969–70, Inter-Cities Fairs Cup and was a part of Arsenal’s Double-winning side of 1970–71. He was transferred to Manchester United midway through the 1971-72 season and finally finished his playing career in California.
After retiring from playing he coached at Crystal Palace and then later Queens Park Rangers before being appointed manager of Millwall, who were bottom of the old Third Division.
Arsenal, who had not won a trophy since the FA Cup in 1978–79, appointed him as their new manager in May 1986. Arsenal finished fourth in his first season in charge, and then went on to win the 1987 League Cup. His sides featured tight defensive discipline, embodied by Tony Adams, who along with Lee Dixon, Steve Bould and Nigel Winterburn, formed the basis of Arsenal’s famous defence for over a decade. However, his teams were not only about defence as he had more than capable midfielders such as David Rocastle, Michael Thomas and Paul Merson, plus striker Alan Smith, who regularly scored 20 plus goals per season. In (1988–89), Arsenal won their first League title since 1971.
In the final game of the season against Liverpool at Anfield; Arsenal needed to win by two goals to take the title; Alan Smith scored for Arsenal early in the second half to make it 1–0 and with only seconds to go Michael Thomas surging through the Liverpool defence and lifting the ball over Bruce Grobbelaar and into the net.
The 1994 Cup Winners’ Cup was his last trophy at the club; the following February he was sacked after nearly nine years in charge, after it was discovered he had accepted an illegal £425,000 payment from Norwegian agent Rune Hauge following Arsenal’s 1992 acquisition of John Jensen and Pål Lydersen, two of Hauge’s clients. George was eventually banned for a year by the Football Association for his involvement in the scandal, after he admitted he had received an “unsolicited gift” from Hauge.
George Graham’s league record –
Games 364, Won 167, Drawn 108, Lost 89,
Goals for 543, Goals against 327,
Goals for per game 1.49, Goals against per game .90
Points won = 55.6%.
Average League Position 5.11
Total # of trophies won – 2 League titles, 1 FA Cup, 2 League Cups, 1 Cup Winners Cup.
6. Arsene Wenger: 1996 – Present
Arsene was born in Strasbourg, France and raised in Duttlenheim. He was introduced to football by his father, the manager of the local village team, however his playing career mostly as an amateur, was very modest.
He obtained a manager’s diploma in 1981 and started his management career in 1984 with Nancy; after being dismissed in 1987 he joined AS Monaco who then won the league championship in 1988. In 1991, Monaco also won the Coupe de France, but failed to regain the league title in later seasons and he left the club by mutual consent in 1994. He then coached Japanese J. League side Nagoya Grampus Eight and they won the Emperor’s Cup and Japanese Super Cup during his time with the club.
In 1996, Arsene was appointed as the manager of Arsenal and two years later the club completed a league and FA Cup double. He led Arsenal to appearances in the 2000 UEFA Cup Final and 2001 FA Cup Final, and a second league and cup double in 2002. Arsenal retained the FA Cup in 2003 and a year later regained the league title, becoming the first club to go through an entire league season undefeated since Preston North End, 115 years previously. The team later eclipsed Nottingham Forest’s record of 42 league matches unbeaten and went seven more matches before losing in October 2004. Arsenal made their first appearance in a Champions League final in 2006, though they lost to Barcelona. During his tenure, Arsenal has moved to a new training centre and after 93 years at Highbury they relocated to the Emirates Stadium.
His approach to the game emphasises an attacking mentality, with the aim that football ought to be entertaining on the pitch. Although he has made big-money signings for Arsenal, his net spend record on transfers is far superior to other leading Premier League clubs. The Arsenal defence, which set a new record in 2006 by going 10 consecutive games without conceding a goal in the Champions League, cost the club approximately £6 million to assemble. He is a strong an advocate of financial fair play in football and has been critical of the approach of teams like Chelsea, Manchester City and Real Madrid for spending more than they take from revenue which he refers to as “financial doping”.
In a league match against Crystal Palace on 14 February 2005, Arsenal fielded a 16-man squad, that featured no British players for the first time in the club’s history, he brushed aside criticism by saying, “When you represent a club, it’s about values and qualities, not about passports”.
In February 1999, Arsene offered Sheffield United a replay of their FA Cup fifth round match immediately after the match had finished, due to the controversial circumstances in which it was won. The decisive goal was scored by Overmars after Kanu failed to return the ball to the opposition when it had been kicked into touch to allow Sheffield United’s Lee Morris to receive treatment for an injury, Arsenal went on to win the replay.
In 2002 he was awarded France’s highest decoration, the Légion d’Honneur and was in the Queen’s Birthday Honours List of 2003. He has also received an honorary OBE for his service to football and was then inducted into the English Football Hall of Fame in 2006. A commissioned bronze bust of Arsene was unveiled as a tribute to him at the club’s annual general meeting on 18 October 2007. An Arsenal fan and astronomer, Ian Griffin, named an asteroid, 33179 Arsènewenger. In January 2011, he was voted “World Coach of the Decade” by the International Federation of Football History & Statistics.
Arsene Wenger’s Premier league record –
Games 638, Won 368, Drawn 161, Lost 109,
Goals for 1206, Goals against 601,
Goals for per game 1.89, Goals against per game .94
Points won = 66.1%,
Average League Position 2.44,
Total # of trophies won – 3 League titles, 4 FA Cup, 4 Charity Shields.
Written by GunnerN5 and compiled by Gooner in Exile