Thu 20 May 2021 | 7:30

Arsenal Managers History

Let’s take a look at Arsenal managers history to see who are its best and worst managers of all time:

Formed as the Dial Square Football Club in October of 1886 by a dozen of Royal Arsenal factory workers, the Arsenal Football Club has become one of the most decorated clubs in England as well as being a massively popular club worldwide. Following its foundation, Arsenal struggled to win any trophies until the arrival of Herbert Chapman in 1925. Chapman helped Arsenal win its first trophy in 1929 and started them down a path of success that saw the club win trophies regularly over the following decades.

With 14 FA Cups, 13 league titles and 2 League Cup trophies, Arsenal are England’s 3rd most decorated club and they owe a lot of that to the stability that has been brought to the club by trusting managers that are familiar with English football over a long period of time. Although the clubs has been notoriously unsuccessful, having won only two European trophies, they are still one of the biggest clubs in football. So join us as we review

Arsenal managers history

to see which people had a hand in Arsenal’s glory or even decline:

Best Arsenal Managers of All Time

Almost all football fans know of the great Arsene Wenger. Some might even know of the legendary Herbert Chapman, but who are some of the other best Arsenal managers of all time? Let’s find out:

Herbert Chapman

In 1925, Herbert Chapman took control of an Arsenal that had just finished 20th in the league and within a decade, he made the club a powerhouse in English football. He is by far the most influential figure in the club’s history, even football in general, because of his innovations that changed football forever. so it’s only fitting that we start this Arsenal coaches history with him.

So much of football as we know it today can be attributed to Chapman’s innovations. These include the use of floodlights in stadiums, the introduction of WM formation, which is the basis of many modern formations, the use of numbered jerseys or even the possibility of a European competition. But his work and contributions at Arsenal had a much more immediate impact, following his appointment in 1925. Having established himself at


by winning 2 league titles, Chapman came to Arsenal with a new way of approaching football management.

He began using physiotherapists like Tom Whittaker and changed the players training routine and within 5 years transformed Arsenal completely. The club went on to win the FA Cup in the 1929-30 season and immediately won the league in the following season. with the help of players like David Jack, Jimmy Brain and a young Cliff Bastin, Arsenal were unstoppable as they won the league again in the 1932-33 season. The following season however, Herbert Chapman, who had pneumonia, passed away mid-season at the age of 55.

His assistant Joe Shaw was able to steer Arsenal to another league win and Chapman’s Arsenal would go on to dominate English football for a decade. Despite his untimely death, the things that Chapman did for Arsenal and football in general were so great that he is still remembered as one of the best in Arsenal coaches history. A sort of father figure to Arsenal, Chapman was the first person to have a statue made in his honor in Arsenal’s history, both at the Highbury stadium and Emirates stadium. There is truly no one as important as him in Arsenal managers history.

George Allison

George Allison is certainly an interesting figure in football, since he seemed to have a hand in everything, whether it was sports commentating, football journalism or being a managing director of a football club. In fact, prior to his management days at Arsenal, Allison had also been the club’s program editor, secretary, managing director and part of the board of directors at various stages of his career. He was also BBC’s first sports commentator.

His time as Arsenal’s manager however started with tragedy as Arsenal’s previous manager Herbert Chapman suddenly passed away in 1934 and Arsenal had to finish the season with their caretaker manager Joe Shaw, who led them to yet another league title. Allison took charge of the club at the end of May 1934 and went on to manage Arsenal for 14 years, becoming Arsenal’s second longest-serving manager.

Allison was never a professional footballer and as such he wasn’t vastly knowledgeable about the inner workings of the game, so he let his assistants Joe Shaw and Tom Whittaker take over the training duties. With a strong squad of players like the legendary Cliff Bastin, Alex James and Ted Drake and the help of his assistants Allison was able to lead Arsenal to a third consecutive league win in the 1934-35 season.

He then followed that league title with an FA Cup victory in the 1935-36 season and was able to manage Arsenal to another league title in the 1937-38 season, a few years before the Second World War suspended footballing activities. After the war many of the great Arsenal players of 1930s had already retired or were killed in the war. So after only a single post-war season in charge of Arsenal, Allison resigned as Arsenal’s manager, having won 46.24% of his 279 matches in charge of Arsenal and becoming one of the best Arsenal managers of all time in Arsenal managers history.

Tom Whittaker

Tom Whittaker is perhaps one of the most underrated figures in


managers history and possibly the English football in general. A veteran of both World Wars, Whittaker had an impressive skillset of being an engineer, a physiotherapist, a pilot, a football trainer and manager as well as being a footballer in his 20s. Whittaker who had a fairly long career as an Arsenal player between 1919 and 1925, was a key figure in Arsenal’s first 7 league titles and 3 FA cup trophies, either as a trainer or as a manager.

Following his sudden retirement from football at Arsenal at the age of 27, Whittaker decided to study as a physiotherapist and joined Herbert Chapman’s coaching staff at Arsenal. He helped revolutionize Arsenal players’ regiment and training which led to Arsenal dominating English football for a decade by winning 5 league titles and 3 FA Cups between 1930 and 1938.

After himself serving as a pilot in the WW II and earning an MBE for his services in the D-Day, in 1947 Whittaker took charge of an Arsenal that was depleted of talent because of the World War and had to rebuild his squad. Whittaker was able to lead Arsenal to their 6th league trophy in his first season in charge (1947-48 season) and then helped Arsenal win another league and FA Cup trophy as well as 2 Charity Shields in the following 5 seasons.

Tom Whittaker is one of the most important figures in Arsenal managers history and certainly one of the

best Arsenal managers of all time

that any Arsenal fan should know about.

Bertie Mee

The man with the 2nd most number of wins in

Arsenal coaches history

is the incredible Bertie Mee. Initially appointed as a caretaker, Bertie Mee soon became Arsenal’s full-time manager in 1966. A physiotherapist by trade, Mee’s appointment was a surprise to everyone, even to himself, but it proved to be the right decision as Mee went on to become one of the best Arsenal managers of all time.

Appointed in 1966 after Billy Wright’s departure, Mee was so surprised that he included a clause in his contract that if he were to be sacked within a year, he could have his old job as the club’s physiotherapist back. With the emergence of incredible talents like Pat Rice, John Radford and Charlie George from Arsenal’s youth academy and the help of Don Howe and Dave Sexton as his assistants, Mee was able to build a title challenging side and help the club get out of the decline it was since 1953.

Bertie Mee

The man with the 2nd most number of wins in

Arsenal coaches history

is the incredible Bertie Mee. Initially appointed as a caretaker, Bertie Mee soon became Arsenal’s full-time manager in 1966. A physiotherapist by trade, Mee’s appointment was a surprise to everyone, even to himself, but it proved to be the right decision as Mee went on to become one of the best Arsenal managers of all time.

Appointed in 1966 after Billy Wright’s departure, Mee was so surprised that he included a clause in his contract that if he were to be sacked within a year, he could have his old job as the club’s physiotherapist back. With the emergence of incredible talents like Pat Rice, John Radford and Charlie George from Arsenal’s youth academy and the help of Don Howe and Dave Sexton as his assistants, Mee was able to build a title challenging side and help the club get out of the decline it was since 1953.

The two League Cup finals that Arsenal reached in 1968 and 1969 weren’t a success but Mee finally delivered a trophy as Arsenal beat


in 1970 in the Inter-Cities Fair Cup, the first trophy for Arsenal in 17 years and the club’s first European trophy. But the main act was to follow, as Arsenal became the 2nd Double winning side in English football’s history when they won both the league and the FA Cup in the 1970-71 season.

An FA Cup final and a 2nd place finish in the league was achieved in the following years but Mee’s squad started breaking up after that. However, his legacy of winning the club’s first European trophy, first Double, 2nd most wins (241 wins in 539 matches) as well as him utilizing the club’s academy players, lives on and that is why he is considered to be one of the best.

George Graham

For years after Bertie Mee’s departure, Arsenal were struggling to win any trophies, barring a single FA Cup trophy won by Terry Neill in 1979. But it was the arrival of one of Mee’s own players, George Graham, that turned Arsenal’s fortune, making them a side that once again were title-challengers and making George Graham into one of the best in

Arsenal managers history


Graham’s success at


had led to many First Division teams being after his signature. Arsenal initially wanted Sir Alex Ferguson as the manager with Graham as his assistant but due to Ferguson’s involvement with Scotland, they went with Graham who took charge of the club in May 1986. He immediately got rid of the deadweight at the club and introduced academy players like Tony Adams who would become a staple of the club under Graham.

Graham’s team started performing immediately and by the end of his first season the club, he had already won a trophy. Although he is known for his defensive football, in the early days of his managerial time, arsenal was quite the attacking force, with players like Paul Merson, David Rocastle and Alan Smith. Graham’s Arsenal, led by these players in attack and Tony Adams in the back, went on to win the league in the 1988-89 season. the title was won in an infamous 2-0 victory at Anfield in the dying minutes of the game that allowed Arsenal to be champions on goal difference.

Graham’s tight defensive team with defenders like Bould, Dixon, Adams and Winterburn was able to win another league title in 1990-91 season. after that they became extremely successful in cup competitions by winning an FA Cup and League Cup Double in 1991-92 and the Cup Winners’ Cup in 1993-94. He left the club in early 95 after admitting to taking bribes from a football agent to sign certain players. Despite this, he remains the 2nd most successful manager in Arsenal managers history.

Arsene Wenger

Last but certainly not least is the Professor himself, Mr. Arsene Wenger, who is Arsenal’s longest serving and most successful manager. A relative unknown at the time of his appointment in 1996, Wenger would go on to change the whole culture of the club, starting from player diet up to upgrading training facilities and even moving stadiums. the 22 years he was in charge of the club could be broken down to two distinct eras, which we’ll briefly dive into here.

“Arsene who?!” was the question many people asked when Wenger joined Arsenal from the Japanese side Nagoya Grampus Eight but he managed to quickly turn everyone’s heads by getting results and changing the unprofessional habits and the diet of Arsenal players, methods that would later be used by many English teams. It took Wenger only two seasons to win a trophy when they managed an impressive run of wins at the end of the 1997-98 season and won the Premier League over their new rivals

Manchester United


In the same season, Wenger led Arsenal to an FA Cup trophy which completed his first double. He started slowly rebuilding his Arsenal side with the likes of Patrick Vieira, Thierry Henry and Marc Overmars and used the fee generated by the sale of Nicholas Anelka to build a new training center for the club. Arsenal would go on to win another Double in the 2001-02 season but Wenger’s masterpiece was to come in the 2003-04 season when Arsenal went unbeaten for an entire season and won the league, being dubbed as Invincibles.

An FA Cup as well as a Champions League final appearance followed but players that helped Wenger win his first 7 trophies at the club were moving on and Wenger had the task of rebuilding his team while dealing with a move to a new stadium that had left the club in debt. Wenger managed to build a team of young talent while still maintaining Arsenal’s place as a top team in England. However, Arsenal would not see a trophy until the 2013-14 season where they won the FA Cup once again.

Wenger managed to win two more FA Cups for Arsenal, taking his personal total to 7 and becoming the competition’s record winner, before he announced his departure from Arsenal after 22 years in 2018.

An innovator and a father-like figure to many players and fans, Arsene Wenger managed to win 17 trophies in the 1235 games he managed at Arsenal. Wenger was responsible for modernizing Arsenal and making them one of the biggest clubs in the world and is by far Arsenal’s best manager of all time and it won’t be long till we see his statue outside the Emirates Stadium!

Worst Arsenal Managers of All Time

Some of these managers may have been great tacticians but one thing is for sure and that’s the fact that none of these people were a right fit for Arsenal and the club ended up declining because of it. now let’s see who are the worst Arsenal managers of all time:

George Morrell

The only person in

Arsenal managers history

to have overseen the club’s only relegation from the top flight in its history, is George Morrell who comes first in our worst Arsenal managers of all time list. The Scottish George Morrell was appointed as the club’s manager when they were still called the Woolwich Arsenal in 1908 and remained as the club’s manager up until the closing of the Football League because of World War in 1915.

Morrell had some decent results during his time at Arsenal like when in his first season at the club, Arsenal finished 6th which was the club’s best ever result in the league but he showed his inconsistency when Arsenal finished 18th the following season. he followed that with two 10th place finishes between 1910 and 1912.Despite Morrell wanting to leave the club in 1912, he was persuaded to stay which proved to be to Arsenal’s detriment as they finished bottom of the league in the 1912-13 season and were relegated.

However, Morrell stayed on as Arsenal’s manager and helped them win back promotion during the following two seasons. By the time Arsenal made it back to the First Division in 1915, Morrell was sacked with Arsenal’s chairman Norris stating the closure of the league in lieu of the World War as the reason behind it. Nonetheless, Morrell left Arsenal, having the worst win-percentage (36.57%) in Arsenal managers history as well as being the only manager that saw the club relegated.

Billy Wright

One of the greatest English players of all time and a


legend who almost won a Ballon d’Or in 1957, Billy Wright was never made for management. Unfortunately for him and Arsenal, he got to manage Arsenal for 4 seasons. Wright’s start at Arsenal was strong, as he led the team that he inherited from George Swindin to a seventh-place finish which earned Arsenal its first qualification for a European competition but things only went downhill from there.

Wright introduced players like Frank McLintock, Joe Baker and Bob Wilson, who would later go on to become legends of the club, but he was notoriously sensitive to criticism and didn’t take it well. He was never the man for the job as he didn’t command the authority or even the tactical aptitude needed to take Arsenal to the next level and he ended up sending the club to a decline.

Billy Wright has the worst win percentage amongst Arsenal managers post World War 1, With 38.46% win rate in the 182 games that he managed Arsenal. There may have been people that have performed worse but for Wright to manage Arsenal for such a long period of time only to get worse season after season, definitely makes him one of the worst Arsenal managers of all time.

Leslie Knighton

Right before the glory days of Herbert Chapman, that saw the Arsenal football club win numerous trophies, there were the days of Leslie Knighton who took charge of the club in 1919, immediately after Arsenal’s promotion to the First Division but by the time his 6-year tenure at Arsenal was over, he nearly got them relegated again thus becoming one of the

worst Arsenal managers of all time


Having previously worked as an assistant manager at

Manchester City

, Knighton acted as Huddersfield Town’s manager between 1912 and 1917 and was appointed as Arsenal’s manager in 1919. Knighton’s time at Arsenal was famously controversial, mainly because of his uneasy relationship with Arsenal’s then-chairman Sir Henry Norris. Knighton went behind Norris’ back on several occasions regarding Norris’ mandated policies, mainly regarding transfer, which created huge tensions between the two.

The fact that Knighton’s team had some of the worst results in Arsenal history, with him having the second lowest win percentage in Arsenal managers history (36.71% wins in 286 matches), did not help his relationship with the chairman Sir Henry Norris either.

Although Knighton’s bizarre transfers like Jimmy Brain and Alf Baker paid off in the long run, as they went on to become a part of Chapman’s League and FA Cup winning side, Knighton himself couldn’t get them to perform well and by the time that his last season (1924-25) came around, Arsenal were in serious decline, having finished 20th in the league, just 7 points above the relegated Preston. Arsenal parted ways with him shortly after and hired Herbert Chapman as their new manager.

List of Arsenal managers

To conclude our article about the history of Arsenal FC’s managers, we have compiled a full

list of Arsenal managers

from the Scottish Thomas Mitchell who took charge of the club in 1887 as the club’s first manager to the current Arsenal manager and former captain, Mikel Arteta. It has to be noted that for caretaker managers, we’ve tried to include the ones that had managed Arsenal at least 20 times. with that in mind, here is the full list of Arsenal managers:

  • Thomas Mitchell (1897 -1898) – 45 matches, 0 titles

  • William Elcoat (1898 -1899) – 44 matches, 0 titles

  • Harry Bradshaw (1899 -1904) – 235 matches, 0 titles

  • Phil Kelso (1904 -1908) – 152 matches, 0 titles

  • George Morrell (1908 -1915) – 309 matches, 0 titles

  • James McEwen (1915 -1919) – 2 matches, managed during the First World War

  • Leslie Knighton (1919 -1925) – 286 matches, 0 titles

  • Herbert Chapman (1925 -1934) – 411 matches, 6 titles

  • Joe Shaw (1934) – 23 matches, 1 title

  • George Allison (1934 -1947) – 279 matches, 5 titles

  • Tom Whittaker (1947 -1956) – 430 matches, 5 titles

  • Jack Crayston (1956 -1958) – 81 matches, 0 titles

  • George Swindin (1958 -1962) – 186 matches, 0 titles

  • Billy Wright (1962 -1966) – 182 matches, 0 titles

  • Bertie Mee (1966 -1976) – 539 matches, 3 titles

  • Terry Neill (1976 -1983) – 416 matches, 1 title

  • Don Howe (1983 -1986) – 117 matches, 0 titles

  • George Graham (1986 -1995) – 460 matches, 7 titles

  • Bruce Rioch (1995 -1996) – 47 matches, 0 titles

  • Arsene Wenger (1996 -2018) – 1235 matches, 17 titles

  • Unai Emery (2018 -2019) – 78 matches, 0 titles

  • Mikel Arteta (2019 -present) – 77 matches, 2 titles


source: SportMob

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