Arsenal Manager Have Come and Gone But How Do They Compare to Each Other?

The History of Arsenal Managers

The following is the complete history of Arsenal managers, my research includes information from my own data base, Arsenal.com, “Arsenal, The Complete Record” by Josh James, Mark Andrews and Andy Kelly and multiple other sources.

…………………………………………………………………………………………….

Management Committee 1893 – 1897

In the early years Arsenal were managed by a players committee.

GP,118W,53D,18L,47GF,253GA,225
Win %44.92%Pts %50.00%

Trophy’s won: – Zero

Thomas Brown Mitchell 1897 – 1898

Thomas Brown Mitchell was Arsenal’s first professional manager, joining the club in 1897. A Scotsman from the Dumfries area, Mitchell moved south of the border around 1867 and held the title of secretary at Blackburn Rovers for approximately 12 years. He spent less than a season at Arsenal but in that time, managed to guide the club through three FA Cup qualifying rounds before succumbing to Burnley in the first round proper. He also took the club from tenth to fifth place in the League before resigning in March 1898. Mitchell later rejoined Blackburn, where he passed away in August 1921, aged 78.

GP,30W,16D,5L,9GF,69GA,49
Win %53.33%Pts %58.89%

Trophy’s won: – Zero

George Elcoat 1898 – 1899

George Elcoat, like his predecessor Thomas Brown Mitchell, only remained at Arsenal for one season. Elcoat, who hailed from Stockton-on-Tees, showed a strong preference for players north of the border as illustrated by him having eight Scotsman in his first-team at one stage. Arsenal finished seventh under his leadership but as the League has been increased to 18 teams, it was on par with the previous season. Arsenal were heavily beaten by Derby in the first round proper of the FA Cup having been given a bye to that stage. He passed away in Stockton-on-Tees in 1929, aged 65.

GP,34W,18D,5L,11GF,72GA,41
Win %52.94%Pts %57.84%

Trophy’s won: – Zero

Harry Bradshaw 1899 – 1904

Harry Bradshaw took over the reigns from George Elcoat and in the space of five years, had transformed the fortunes of the club. Regarded as Arsenal’s first successful manager, Bradshaw built his reputation at Burnley from 1891 to 1899 and was a clever tactician, guiding Arsenal to a top-three finish in the League in 1902/03. Bradshaw moved on to Fulham and later became secretary of the Southern League before his death in 1924.

GP,170W,90D,31L,49GF,307GA,156
Win %52.94%Pts %59.02%

Trophy’s won: – Zero

Phil Kelso 1904 – 1908

Phil Kelso was a hard, rugged Scot who was a coach at Hibernian, before taking over as manager of newly-promoted Woolwich Arsenal from 1904 until 1908. Kelso guided the club to two consecutive last-four finishes in the FA Cup but did not make much progress in the League. After leaving Arsenal, he returned briefly to Scotland to run a hotel in Largs, before becoming manager of Fulham in 1909. He stayed with the West-London outfit for 15 years before his death in 1935, aged 64.

GP,148W,59D,32L,57GF,215GA,226
Win %39.86%Pts %47.07%

Trophy’s won: – Zero

George Morrell 1908 – 1915

George Morrell was manager of Woolwich Arsenal from 1908 to 1915, and oversaw the club’s move from Plumstead in south east London, to it’s former home at Highbury in North London. Morrell was forced to sell many of his best players but still guided the team to sixth in the League in his first season. Unfortunately, he holds the distinction of being the only Arsenal manager to have experienced relegation; Woolwich Arsenal dropped from the First Division to the Second after finishing bottom in 1913. But Morrell’s Arsenal finished 5th in the Second Division in 1915 – high enough to get them elected back into the First Division.

GP,266W,95D,65L,106GF,334GA,377
Win %35.71%Pts %43.86%

Trophy’s won: – Zero

Leslie Knighton 1919 – 1925

Leslie Knighton was appointed manager of Arsenal in 1919, following stints as an assistant manager at Huddersfield Town and Manchester City. He was manager for six years, but Arsenal never finished higher than 10th, coming 20th in 1924-25. Knighton was sacked at the end of that season, and was replaced by the now legendary, Herbert Chapman. After leaving the Gunners, Knighton went on to manage Bournemouth, Birmingham City and Chelsea.

GP,252W,87D,57L,108GF,309GA,360
Win %34.52%Pts %42.06%

Trophy’s won: – Zero

Herbert Chapman 1925 – 1934

See the source image

Sheffield-born Herbert Chapman not only established Arsenal as English football’s dominant force, but his football concepts and ideas served as a template for teams and managers the globe over. He managed Leeds City and Huddersfield Town before taking over at Highbury where he introduced the 3-3-4 or ‘WM’ formation, winning the FA Cup in 1930 and the First Division title, scoring a club record 127 goals, in 1930/31. He won a second League title two years later before his tragic, sudden death in 1934, aged 55. A bronze bust of Chapman stands inside Highbury as a tribute to his achievements at the club.

GP,378W,182D,93L,103GF,811GA,588
Win %48.15%Pts %56.35%

Trophy’s won: –

3 – League Championships

1 – FA Cup

4- Charity Shields

George Allison 1934 – 1947

George Allison was born in Darlington and was a journalist before moving to London in 1905. He became Woolwich Arsenal’s programme editor, and later commentated on the very first FA Cup final to be broadcast on the radio, between Arsenal and Cardiff City in 1927. He later became the club’s secretary and then managing director, before taking over as first-team manager in June 1934. Allison added to the Club’s two successive League titles, by winning a third in 1935. He also won the FA Cup in 1936 and the League again in 1938. Allison decided to step down and retire from the game in 1946-47.

GP,252W,112D,71L,69GF,477GA,298
Win %44.44%Pts %53.84% 

Trophy’s won: –

2 – League Championships

1 – FA Cup

1 – Charity Shields

Tom Whittaker 1947 – 1956

See the source image

Thomas James Whittaker was born in Aldershot, Hampshire and joined Arsenal in 1919 before becoming the club’s first-team trainer under Herbert Chapman in 1927. Whittaker had an important role under Chapman in reforming the training and physiotherapy regimes at the club before taking over the reigns from Chapman’s successor, George Allison, in 1947. He won the League in 1948 and 1953 and the FA Cup in 1950 before his tragic death from a heart attack in 1956, aged 58.

GP,378W,171D,101L,106GF,688GA,509
Win %45.24%Pts %54.14%

Trophy’s won: –

2 – League Championships

1 – FA Cup

2 – Charity Shields

Jack Crayston 1956 – 1958

Jack Crayston was born in Lancashire in 1910 and was appointed manager of Arsenal in November 1956. A former player with 187 appearances for the Club, Crayston elevated Arsenal from eleventh to third place in the Leauge, before eventually finishing fifth in his first season. He resigned after 24 years’ service at the club in May 1958 and went on to manage Doncaster Rovers. Crayston passed away in 1992.

GP,84W,37D,15L,32GF,158GA,154
Win %44.05%Pts %50.00%

Trophy’s won: – Zero

George Swindin 1958 – 1962

George Swindin, a former Arsenal goalkeeper with 297 first-team appearances to his name, was invited to take over the manager’s reigns at Highbury in 1958, following a successful stint as manager at Peterborough United. He oversaw a drastic overhaul in the playing staff at the club during his first season in charge and guided the team to a third-placed finish. After leaving the Gunners, Swindin went on to manage Norwich City, Cardiff City, Kettering and Corby before retiring to Spain. Sadly, Swindin paased away in October 2005, aged 90.

GP,168W,67D,39L,62GF,304GA,305
Win %39.88%Pts %47.62%

Trophy’s won: – Zero

Billy Wright 1962 – 1966

Billy Wright was born William Ambrose Wright in Shropshire in 1924 and was the first player to win more than 100 caps for England, captaining the national side no less than 90 times including their campaigns at the 1950, 1954 and 1958 World Cup finals. He became manager of Arsenal in 1962 but Arsenal never finished higher than seventh under Wright and he left the club after the 1965-66 season, where Arsenal finished 14th and were knocked out of the FA Cup by Blackburn Rovers. Wright left management and later became a television pundit for ATV. He was made an Inaugural Inductee of the English Football Hall of Fame in 2002 in recognition of influence on the English game.

GP,168W,64D,41L,63GF,307GA,309
Win %38.10%Pts %46.23%

Trophy’s won: – Zero

Bertie Mee 1966 – 1976

See the source image

Bertie Mee was born in Bullwell, Notinghamshire and managed Arsenal to their first League and FA Cup ‘Double’ win in 1971. He became manager in 1966, and recruited Dave Sexton and Don Howe as his assistants. Under his tutorship, Arsenal reached two successive League Cup finals in 1968 and 1969, but lost to Leeds United and Swindon Town respectively. However, the following season, the club won it’s first trophy of any kind for 17 years, beating Anderlecht 4-3 on aggregate, in the Inter-Cities Fairs Cup. Having lost the away leg 3-1, Arsenal beat the Belgian side 3-0 at Highbury. The first part of the Double – The League title – was won at White Hart Lane, home of local rivals Tottenham Hotspur, on the last day of the season. Five days later, Charlie George scored the winning goal as Arsenal beat Liverpool 2-1 at Wembley after extra-time to claim the FA Cup. Mee resigned as Arsenal manager in 1976, later joining Watford as assistant to Graham Taylor in 1978. Sadly, he passed away in 2001, at the age of 82.

GP,420W,181D,115L,124GF,554GA,444
Win %38.10%Pts %46.23%

Trophy’s won: –

1 – League Championships

1 – FA Cup

1 – Inter Cities Fairs Cup

Terry Neill 1976 – 1983

William John Terence “Terry” Neill was born in May 1942 in Belfast and moved to Arsenal in 1959 as a player. He retired from playing in 1973, and succeeded Bill Nicholson as manager of Arsenal’s local rivals, Tottenham Hotspur. He managed Spurs for two seasons, nearly getting the club relegated in the process, before being recruited by the Arsenal board as manager in 1976 – becoming the youngest manager in the club’s history. The club enjoyed a minor revival under his management, reaching three FA Cup finals between 1978 and 1980, though only winning in 1979. He also reached the final of the Cup Winners’ Cup in 1980, losing on penalties to Valencia. He was dismissed as manager in December 1983 and retired from football.

GP,294W,127D,87L,80GF,404GA,318
Win %43.20%Pts %53.06%

Trophy’s won: –

1 – FA Cup

Don Howe 1984 – 1986

Donald ‘Don’ Howe was born in October 12, 1935 and was a player with West Bromwich Albion before Billy Wright signed him for Arsenal in 1964 and made him club captain. Howe retired from playing and became Arsenal’s reserve team coach under Bertie Mee, before stepping up to the role of first team coach after the departure of Dave Sexton in 1968. He later returned to his old club, West Bromwich Albion, as manager before stints as coach of Galatasaray, Turkey and Leeds United, before rejoining Arsenal in 1977 as head coach. Howe succeeded Terry Neill as Arsenal manager in 1983 and brought through the likes of Tony Adams, David Rocastle and Niall Quinn before resigning in March 1986.Howe was later assistant to Bobby Gould at Wimbledon and then had spells managing Queen Park Rangers and Coventry City before moving into journalism and broadcasting.

GP,126W,57D,27L,42GF,184GA,156
Win %45.24%Pts %52.38%

Trophy’s won: – Zero

George Graham 1986 – 1995

See the source image

A former Arsenal player, George Graham rejoined the Club as manager in 1986 after three years in charge of Millwall. He won two League Championships, two League Cups, an FA Cup and the European Cup Winners Cup in eight years, making Arsenal one of the dominant teams of the late 1980s and early 1990s. He was renowned for building his team on the meanest of rearguards, perfecting the offside trap along the way. He also bought Ian Wright, until recently Arsenal’s all-time leading goalscorer, from Crystal Palace. After leaving the Club in 1995, Graham went on to manage Leeds United and Tottenham Hotspur. He is currently a football pundit.

GP,364W,167D,108L,89GF,543GA,327
Win %45.88%Pts %55.77%

Trophy’s won: –

2 – League Championships

1 – FA Cup

1 – Charity Shields

2 – League Cups

1 – Cup Winners Cup

Bruce Rioch 1995 – 1996

Bruce Rioch left his post as manager of Bolton Wanderers to succeed George Graham as Arsenal manager in 1995 and stayed for just a year. He guided Arsenal to a UEFA Cup place in 1995-96, securing qualification on the last day of the season at the expense of Everton, Blackburn Rovers and Tottenham Hotspur. He also reached the League Cup semi-finals but lost on away goals to Aston Villa. After leaving the Club he became assistant to Stewart Houston at Queens Park Rangers. He later managed Norwich City and Wigan Athletic and is currently in charge of Danish club Odense.

GP,46W,22D,13L,11GF,66GA,38
Win %47.83%Pts %57.25%

Trophy’s won: – Zero

Arsène Wenger 1996 – 2018

Arsène Wenger joined Arsenal in September 1996 following spells as manager with Nancy and Monaco in his native France and Grampus Eight in Japan. He guided the Club to their second League and FA Cup double, in his first full season at Highbury in 1998 and won further League titles in 2002 and 2004. He won seven FA Cups, which is the most won by any manager to date. He also guided Arsenal to the UEFA Cup final in 2000, losing to Galatasaray on penalties and through an entire unbeaten league campaign on the way to the title in 2004. In 2006 he took Arsenal to the UEFA Champions League Final, where the team were narrowly defeated by Barcelona.

GP,828W,476D,200L,152GF,1561GA,809
Win %57.49%Pts %65.54%

Trophy’s won: –

3 – League Championships

7 – FA Cups

7 – Charity Shields

Unai Emery 2018 – 2019

After a modest playing career spent mostly in Spain’s Segunda División, Emery transitioned into coaching after retiring in 2004. He began at Lorca Deportiva, where he achieved promotion to the Segunda División in his first season. He then joined Almería, who he led to promotion to La Liga for the first time in the club’s history. He subseuently moved to Valencia, leading the team to top-three finishes. After leaving Valencia, he coached Spartak Moscow for six months, before moving to Sevilla in 2013.

At Sevilla, Emery won an unprecedented three consecutive Europa Leagues, and moved to French club Paris Saint-Germain in 2016. There, he won a Ligue 1 title, two Coupe de France titles, two Coupe de la Ligues, and two Trophée des Champions, which included a domestic quadruple in his second season. After the expiry of his contract, Emery was appointed as head coach of English club Arsenal in 2018, succeeding Arsène Wenger. He finished Europa League runner-up in his first season, before being dismissed in November 2019 after a series of poor results. He was hired by Villarreal in July 2020.

GP51, W25, D13, L13, Gf89, GA68, Win % 49.0, Pts% 57.5

Trophy’s won: – Zero

Mikel Arteta – 2019 – Present

Born in San Sebastián, Arteta began his senior career at Barcelona in 1999, but limited playing time led to a loan move to Paris Saint-Germain in 2001. He then signed for Rangers, winning the domestic double of the Premier League and League Cup in his debut season. After a brief return to Real Sociedad, Arteta joined Everton on loan in 2005; he then signed permanently. He moved to Arsenal in 2011, where he won two FA Cups and served as captain from 2014, until his retirement in 2016.

Arteta represented Spain through several youth levels, but never played for the senior national team. After retiring, Arteta was appointed as an assistant coach at Manchester City in 2016. In 2019, he returned to Arsenal as head coach and went on to win both the FA Cup and the Community Shield within his first year.

GP21, W10, D6, L5, GF40, GA 25m Win % 47.6, Pts % 57.1

Trophy’s won:-

1- FA Cup

1:- Charity Shield

GunnerN5

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22 Responses to Arsenal Manager Have Come and Gone But How Do They Compare to Each Other?

  1. TotalArsenal says:

    GN5, what a great post and just what we need during the dull interlull! It clearly is early days for Arteta and comparisons with other Arsenal managers would just not be fair.

    I need to study the stats a bit more but the first thing I noticed was the relatively low games won % of Graham and yet the big number of silverware won…

  2. allezkev says:

    Very interesting post GN5, Tom Whittaker used to be called the man with the magic hands such was his physiotherapy skills, he was certainly a man ahead of his times with many of his methods.

    How different things might have been if Phil Kelso had managed to lift the FACup?

  3. Madhushekar MC says:

    Great post. Arteta will surely become one of Arsenal’s great manager. What is striking about Wengers reign is the win percentage and sustaining it for as long as he did.

  4. Malaysian gunner says:

    Football now is so much more competitive compared to even 10 years ago.
    The pressure on all managers but especially the top teams is greatest.
    Even Guardiola or even Klopp aint safe from the chop.
    Its a results oriented business and failure is not an option.
    The problem is you cant win all the time because the epl is so competitive..
    Take it from me and most fans the MU boss could be destined for the
    scrap heap if he were to lose the next few matches

  5. pbarany says:

    Thanks for the compilation, GN5.

    I wanted to comment just what Malaysian gunner wrote.
    While in the early and mid-20th century it was quite common that someone managed a club for 6-9 (13) years, now it is extremely unlikely that even a good coach stays at the same club for 5+ seasons. If Simeone and Dyche are the rare exceptions (and even Klopp no doubt needed to bring spectacular results ) then Wenger – and Ferguson – are indeed true legends of this game.

  6. TotalArsenal says:

    Admir, if you are reading: what did you make of the B-H v Netherlands game? Happy with the point?

  7. GunnerN5 says:

    Thank you Total, reading through the interview with Arsene reminded me of what a great manager and person he is/was. We were really fortunate that he was at Arsenal for so many years we witnessed some incredible football and saw some wonderful players – I miss it all soooo much.

    I’m still chagrined over the way that he was released – just not appropriate for a man who gave everything to the club – shame on those who made that dastardly decision.

  8. GunnerN5 says:

    Another great report with opinions fro Wenger, Allardyce and others on the future of football.

    https://www.skysports.com/football/news/11095/12102839/project-big-picture-arsene-wenger-warns-smaller-clubs-will-die-if-nothing-happens

  9. Admir says:

    Hello, people!

    I couldn’t reply earlier – my wife had a regular control today and it seems that Baby No.2 is, thanks God!, alright. 🙂 Apparently, Baby No. 2 even presented a few good kicks but they still can’t say if it’s Bergkamp-style or Miedema-style. 🙂

    TA, personally, I would ban international games until the end of pandemic. Some people might argue that if clubs can play, so can national teams but it’s not the same for many reasons. We will probably play without Tierney against City because of his team-mate’s infection.

    As for the game against Netherlands, I’d say that I’m surprised by this point. From what I’ve read and seen, we should be happy with the point even if it has no importance for the big picture. I have to admit I haven’t been watching too much of our national team of late as this recent defeat against Northern Ireland came as unwanted anti-climax. Our generation that included big players such as Džeko and Pjanić is in their last international years and it’s likely it will be remembered as a very unsuccessful period with just one qualification for the big tournament. Our league football is pathetic, especially football infrastructure and nepotism is all that matters for people who run our FA. Sadly, I don’t see it getting any better in the future.

    Netherlands have to be disappointed for dropping points at the ground Poland won all three but some of their players and de Boer were arrogant before and after the game. Van Dijk was all about how Netherlands had to win because they are Netherlands and didn’t even want to give his shirt away to Milan Đurić after the game. For years, Netherlands had been struggling due to lack of a world-class defender. Now that Van Dijk has emerged into the best CB in the world, there is a lack of a top talent on the other end.

  10. Admir says:

    Oh yes – I have enjoyed reading this one, GunnerN5.

    What I noticed is a similar bridge between Graham and Wenger to the one between Wenger and Arteta. Graham was eventually replaced by Bruce Rioch and Wenger’s place was taken by out-of-depth Unai Emery. Neither Rioch nor Emery had what it takes to manage a club of Arsenal’s stature but something from their reign was good. We got Bergkamp from Rioch-era and we got quite a few talents emerging from the Emery-era (Saka and Martinelli as my top favourites) with Pepe still uncertain whether he wants to become a Pires or a Gervinho.

    On the second thought, Emery’s reign might be the bridge similar to the one between Neill and Graham as Neill had been responsible for emergence of Adams, Rocastle and Quinn.

  11. GunnerN5 says:

    Admir, Nice response thank you.

    I found it very interesting comparing the different managers over the course of our history but I purposely just gave the facts about each manager and did not offer any personal opinions.

    But there can be no doubt that my two favourite managers were Chapman and Wenger.

    Like all of us I can only judge Chapman by his record and my Arsenal crazy families discussions – however I’m pretty sure that I saw all of Wengers games either live or on TV.

  12. GunnerN5 says:

    For those who have not yet made their predictions – here are this weeks competition selections
    H = Home win
    D = Draw
    A = Away win

    Everton v Liverpool
    Chelsea v Southampton
    Man City v Arsenal
    Newcastle v Man United
    Leicester v Aston Villa
    Granada v Sevilla

  13. GunnerN5 says:

    Admir,
    It’s good to hear that all is well with Baby number two – it’s always a concern until they “pop” out.

  14. LE GALL says:

    invaluable post … you made it again, GN
    the terry neil years were the ones i could go to highbury on a “regular” basis – during school breaks, mainly
    they were not the most successful, but they include some of the “brady” years at the club, and if for that only, i’ll always be thankful

    my predictions … one of them is a wish upon a star, will you find it?
    Everton v Liverpool A
    Chelsea v Southampton H
    Man City v Arsenal A
    Newcastle v Man United D
    Leicester v Aston Villa D
    Granada v Sevilla A

  15. Admir says:

    LeGall, I agree. Expecting Man United to get a draw is way over the top.

  16. GunnerN5 says:

    JWL, you need to make your predictions.

  17. TotalArsenal says:

    Cheers GN5, I think Wenger and Co are right to ring the alarm bells. The league is gradually levelling out due to the extra money for all PL teams. As JNYC recently pointed out almost all teams can beat any team on the day. We don’t want to lose that.

  18. TotalArsenal says:

    Cheers Admir, second baby on the way… Also a few good things tend to happen during the C19 crisis 😁😉

  19. TotalArsenal says:

    Agreed Admir, in these difficult times there should be no international football, including club football. We should just be happy with domestic club football.

    The Netherlands do indeed lack attackers, and we missed Depay a lot. Defence and midfield are strong though. I was impressed with BH’s central defenders and general team set up and discipline.

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