Andy Kelly has pointed out that the base information I used contains some small errors in dates and numbers of games, but nothing that will dramatically alter the figures I’ve calculated. Andy does a lot of research on Arsenal history, so I’m sure he’s right and I will update this (or let Andy do it!) once I’ve got anything more accurate.
Yesterday I mentioned Joe Shaw and the relative ease with which he probably won the League in 1934. While I still believe that, it’s probably also worth noting that the role of ‘manager’ was not necessarily so well defined 80 years ago, and clearly after the sudden death of such a monumental figure as Herbert Chapman there would be a vacuum that had to be filled by a combination of others. So George Allison and Joe Shaw between them took over the roles that Chapman had been performing, and for the remainder of the 1933-34 season Shaw seems to have been the man picking the team. In the summer role titles changed and Allison appears to have taken over that responsibility. However, we may never know how much influence Allison had on team affairs from January to May 1934, and how much Shaw had from August 1934 onwards. Perhaps there was ongoing collaboration, and in practice not much difference between ’34 and ’35. But credit has to be apportioned somehow, so I’ve stuck with the official version of events, that Shaw was team manager for half a season only, and Allison thereafter. Thanks again to Andy Kelly for much of this insight.
Second point from yesterday is that I presented all the stats to say ‘this is interesting, if you happen to like looking at Arsenal history’, but I also said that there is more to history than stats. That’s why no matter what the stats say, no one is going to convince me that Herbert Chapman is not the greatest football manager who has ever lived. Even if Arsène Wenger had won the treble every year since 1998, it wouldn’t necessarily make him a greater manager than Herbert Chapman. It would be a lot closer, I’ll grant you that, but Herbert Chapman was such a towering visionary that he makes every other manager look a pygmy by comparison. That includes Arsène Wenger.
I don’t dispute that Arsène Wenger is a great manager. I’ve written several blog posts to explain that. But he has not had the influence of Herbert Chapman, nor is he anywhere near as remarkable a man. It’s not denigrating Arsène to say Chapman is better – Chapman is better than EVERY other manager. If you are a recent fan of Arsenal, perhaps you need to go and read some history of the game before disputing this. If you are old enough to remember Arsenal from the eighties you might think you have enough knowledge to state with certainty that no one could be better than Arsène Wenger, given how he improved things. Well think again. Arsène’s achievements are many, but is he honestly the best manager of his generation, head and shoulders above anyone else? I think Alex Ferguson’s trophy count is a convincing argument against that.
Arsène has achieved a lot, clearly far more than most people would have achieved with the same resources. We’ve had dizzying highs with Arsène, mostly we’ve been spared terrifying lows, but now we’re stuck on a diet of creamy middles. Mmm, creamy middles . . . I’ll come back to that point another time.
What I’m saying is this: I recognise and fully acknowledge Arsène’s achievements. I believe he could have done things better recently and I criticise him for that, while still praising his successes. But he is emphatically not Arsenal’s greatest ever manager, and if you claim he is then the lack of understanding is yours, my friend, not mine.
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