Throughout our history Arsenal has seen 19 different managers. I’m going to give a brief outline of my personal top five.
First up is Herbert Chapman (1925-1934)
In the 1925 close season Sir Henry Norris placed the following advertisement in the Athletic News.
“Arsenal Football Club is open to receive applications for the position of Team Manager. He must possess the highest qualifications for the post, both as to ability and personal character. Gentlemen whose sole ability to build up a good side depends on the payment of heavy and exorbitant transfer fees need not apply.”
He became our manager shortly after and remained as such for a short 8.5 seasons before his untimely death from pneumonia on January 6th 1934
He championed major innovations in football including floodlighting, numbered shirts and European competitions. He along with Charles Buchan created the famous WM formation which helped to transform Arsenal into one of the greats of English football.
Under his guidance we won our first major trophy, the 1930 FA Cup.
A bronze bust of Herbert Chapman is on proud display outside of the Emirates Stadium.
Herbert Chapman’s league record –
Games 336, Won 157, Drawn 84, Lost 95,
Goals for 736, Goals against 541,
Goals for per game 2.19, Goals against per game 1.61
Points won 59.3%
Average League Position 6.25
Total # of trophies won – 2 League titles, 1 FA Cup, 3 Charity Shields.
Second we have George Allison (1934-1947)
During WW1 he worked for the War Office and the Admiralty, producing propaganda, and later joined the Royal Fling Corps (later renamed the Royal air Force). After the war he moved into broadcasting, joining the BBC and becoming the first person to commentate on the radio on events such as The Derby and the Grand National, as well as the annual England v.Scotland international, and the 1927 FA Cup Final. By this time, he had already formed a strong association with Arsenal and he became the club’s programme editor, becoming a member of the board of directors soon after the end of the WW1; he was first club secretary and then managing director.
After the sudden death of Herbert Chapman in January 1934, he was appointed Chapman’s full-time successor, in the summer of that year. Arsenal had already won the League Championship twice in a row (1932-33 and 1933-34), and he made it a hat-trick, winning a third successive title in 1934-35.
He famously appeared in a 1939 movie that was set at Highbury, “The Arsenal Stadium Mystery”, where he had a speaking part as himself. Amongst his lines included one uttered at half time: “It’s one-nil to the Arsenal. That’s the way we like It.”, a line which had resonance with the team’s penchant for 1-0 score lines many decades later.
He passed away in 1957 after several years of illness.
George Allison’s league record –
Games 294, Won 137, Drawn 80, Lost 77,
Goals for 552, Goals against 345,
Goals for per game 1.88, Goals against per game 1.17
Points won 60.2%.
Average League Position 4.29
Total # of trophies won – 3 League titles, 1 FA Cup, 2 Charity Shields.
Thirdly we have Tom Whittaker (1947-1956)
In 1919, after serving his country in World War I, he joined Arsenal, under manager Leslie Knighton. He first played as centre-forward then as wing-half, signing as a professional in January 1920 and making his debut in a 1–0 defeat away to West Bromwich Albion.
He toured Australia as part of the FA side in 1925, but during the tour, in a match in Wollongong he broke his knee cap and was forced to retire from playing. Following his injury he joined Arsenal’s coaching staff and also studied to become a physiotherapist. He became Arsenal’s first team trainer under Herbert Chapman in 1927, at the time, he was younger than many of the players. He assisted Chapman in transforming the training and physiotherapy regime at the club, and played a major part in the club’s successes during the 1930s.
After Herbert Chapman passed away in 1934, he continued to serve under his successor, George Allison while also becoming a trainer for the English National Team. With the advent of WW11 he began to work as an ARP warden, before becoming a pilot in the Royal Air Force where he achieved the rank of Squadron Leader. For his service in missions on D-Day, he was awarded an MBE.
When George Allison retired in 1947, he became the club’s new manager; after winning the League in 1947-48 and 1952-53 and the FA Cup in 1949-50, the club’s success waned. He tried, in vain, to attract major stars to the club, one being Stanley Matthews who said later – “I felt there was nothing to be gained by moving south, however I was very happy and politely turned down the offer”. “Such an approach was against the rules at the time and, consequently, I couldn’t tell anyone about it, and I never have until now.”
Sadly Tom passed away from a heart attack in 1956, aged 58.
Tom Whittaker’s league record –
Games 378, Won 171, Drawn 101, Lost 106,
Goals for 677, Goals against 509,
Goals for per game 1.79, Goals against per game 1.35
Points won 58.6%.
Average League Position 5.22
Total # of trophies won – 2 League titles, 1 FA Cup, 2 Charity Shields.
Our Fourth manager is George Graham (1986-1995)
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.
Finally we have our current manager 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.
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.
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.
Under Arsene Wenger Arsenal hold the current British record for the most consecutive appearances in the Champions League with 2015-16 being their 20th consecutive, Man U held the previous record with 21 consecutive which stopped in 2013-14
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.
A bronze statue of Arsene Wenger is proudly displayed outside of the Emirates Stadium.
Arsene Wenger’s Premier league record –
Games 718, Won 416, Drawn 178, Lost 124,
Goals for 1348, Goals against 681,
Goals for per game 1.88, Goals against per game .95
Points won = 66.2%,
Average League Position 3.01,
Total # of trophies won – 3 League titles, 6 FA Cup, 6 Charity Shields.
These are the records of my Top 5 Arsenal Mangers. If it were possible who would you choose to manage Arsenal today? (My choice will be a (well known) secret)