All Arsenal managers

Arsenal’s first manager is often cited as being Thomas Mitchell but there is a case to be made that Sam Hollis did the job before him.

Sam Hollis (1894-1897)

As Untold Arsenal note, there is some debate as the role Sam Hollis played at Arsenal and if he was the club’s first manager. say he is.

Thomas Mitchell (1897-1898)

William Elcoat (1898-1899)

Harry Bradshaw (1899 – 1904)

Phil Kelso (1904 – 08)

George Morrell (1908 – 15)

Leslie Knighton (1919 – 25)

Herbert Chapman (1925 – 34)

Herbert Chapman is an Arsenal legend, but shouldn’t he be a footballing one all fans know?

The legendary Arsenal manager, revered by Arsenal fans everywhere, is rarely mentioned when it comes to discussions about those who changed the wider game or had a massive impact, when that conversation involves people not connected with or to Arsenal.

Everyone knows the name Bill Shankly, for what he did at Liverpool or Matt Busby, with Manchester United, but Herbert Chapman? Mention him and many still scratch their heads.

He did more to help develop the game than either of those two.

Taking over at Arsenal in 1925, Chapman managed the club until his death from pneumonia in 1934, when he was still only 55.

His Arsenal salary of £2,000-a-year was said to be the highest ever paid in football, and it was one Chapman repaid many times over, the club turning a gross profit of £15,000 for the three seasons he was there as he guided Arsenal to back-to-back league titles.

Chapman did the same with Huddersfield Town while he also guided both sides to FA Cup success.

While Shankly and Busby might have lifted the fabled European cup, it was Chapman who actually proposed the concept of a European-wide competition in the first place, shortly before his sudden death.

A big fan of the European game at a time when it was not fashionable to be one, Chapman also saw past race, nationality and everything else that held sway in the game at the time, becoming one of the first to even consider signing black players or ones from abroad.

One of the first modern pioneers of the game, Chapman’s innovations changed the shape of football in the 20th century; from the introduction of his famous WM formation, installing floodlights at Highbury (even though they were not allowed to be used for games until the 50’s), putting numbers on the back of shirts, using physiotherapists and masseurs and overhauling training methods, playing with white balls, and changing Gillespie Road tube station to Arsenal.

Who knows what else Chapman might have dreamed up had he not died preparing Arsenal for their third league title in a row.

Chapman, Busby and Shankly all won two FA Cups. The United manger five titles, the Liverpool one three and slap bang in the middle was Chapman with four.

Chapman deserves, at the very least, to be mentioned in the same breath as those others who so many hold in high regard.

George Allison (1934-1947)

Tom Whittaker (1947-1956)

Jack Crayston (1956-1958)

George Swindin (1958-1962)

Billy Wright (1962-1966)

Bertie Mee (1966 – 1976)

Terry Neill (1976-1983)

Don Howe (1983-1986)

Although for those of an older generation, Don Howe was associated primarily with West Brom (voted one of their greatest ever players) and England, he served the Gunners with distinction, firstly as a player and then more notably as first team coach (twice) and manager.

After a glowing career (including an FA Cup win under influential boss Vic Buckingham) at West Bromwich Albion, the Wolverhampton born right-back was brought to North London in 1964  for £42,000 by the universally respected, but ultimately unsuccessful Billy Wright, one of his heroes as a teenager. The ex-England captain immediately made his ex-international colleague Howe his club captain, but despite 74 appearances for the club at what should have been his peak, his career was prematurely ended by a badly broken leg after just two years at Highbury.

However, his coaching potential had already been noted, and he soon found himself in charge of the reserve team, before stepping up to be chief coach under the new manager, Bertie Mee, after Dave Sexton left to manage Chelsea in October 1967.

Having won his first battle as a senior coach, he was made assistant manager in March 1969. Just over a year later the Gunners won their first-ever European trophy, the 1970 Fairs Cup and followed that with a magnificent league and cup ‘double’ the next season.

Plenty within the game have stated that Bertie Mee’s 1971 double-winning side, and to a lesser extent Terry Neil’s end of the decade cup specialists, owed more to the background work done by Howe that the capacity of the men in charge. Certainly Charlie George suggested as much on several occasions, and there seems an obvious correlation between his departure from the club in the summer of 1971 to manage West Brom (“my greatest mistake”) and the rapid decline and break-up of the early 70s side. The fact that the team’s fortunes improved so much after his return in 1977 hardly seems coincidental.

When he returned to Highbury as Terry Neill’s chief coach in the summer of 1977, combining his role with the same position for England, (“I suppose in many ways I was happiest at Arsenal” he said at the time) he coached the team to three successive FA Cup finals – winning in 1979 – and the European Cup Winners’ Cup final in 1980.

Neill was sacked on 16th December 1983, with Arsenal in 12th place, after five defeats in six games. Don was made caretaker manager and having guided the team to 6th in the table, was appointed permanent Arsenal manager in April 1984. However, that was about as good as it got in what was to be a mixed couple of years, in a period of what can be most generously termed ‘transition’.

Bruce Rioch (1995-1996)

Bruce Rioch gets a rough deal as Arsenal manager, simply because Arsene Wenger turned up after him and was so transformational.

People forget that he took Arsenal from the dying days of George Graham, mid-table and playing turgid football, to a back three.

He bought Dennis Bergkamp and David Platt and made us fun again, despite the fact we had rubbish in central midfield.

Arsene Wenger (1996-2018)

Short-term tenures for Stewart Houston and Bruce Rioch followed George Graham’s departure but Arsenal were still in need of a long-term answer.

This would be emphatically delivered in the form of a relatively unknown Frenchman who would change the Club forever.

Arsène Wenger arrived at Highbury in October 1996 after notable success at Monaco and a stint in charge of Japanese side Grampus Eight. He was the Club’s first boss from outside the UK.

Arsenal finished third that season but the new manager would officially announce his arrival in his first full campaign at the helm. At one stage in 1997/98 the Gunners trailed leaders Manchester United by 11 points. However, imperious form throughout the second half of the campaign saw Arsenal crowned Premier League champions with two games to spare. Within two weeks, the Gunners had added the FA Cup, securing the Double in Wenger’s first full season in charge.

As well as transforming Arsenal on the pitch, the new manager set about revolutionising his players’ lives away from the pitch, implementing cutting-edge training regimes and dietary systems. The Frenchman was meticulous in his squad construction, adding the likes of Patrick Vieira, Emmanuel Petit and Marc Overmars to a team already boasting Arsenal institutions like David Seaman, Tony Adams and Dennis Bergkamp.

Another Highbury stalwart who continued to flourish under Wenger was Ian Wright. Already closing in on Cliff Bastin’s all-time goalscoring record when the Frenchman arrived, Wright finally scored his magical 179th goal against Bolton Wanderers on September 13, 1997. In the end, perhaps Wenger’s finest signing to date – Thierry Henry – would eclipse Wright’s tally a little over eight years later.

“As well as transforming Arsenal on the pitch, the new manager set about revolutionising his players’ lives away from the pitch, implementing cutting-edge training regimes and dietary systems.”

Henry signed in August 1999, after Arsène Wenger’s side had been denied back-to-back titles by one point by Manchester United in the previous May. At first, the Frenchman’s ability to adapt to the rough-and-tumble of the Premier League was questioned, but after failing to score in his first eight games, the former Juventus star plundered an impressive 26 goals that term. Final defeats in the 2000 Uefa Cup and 2001 FA Cup meant that Henry was still without any Highbury silverware. But not for long.

In 2001/02, Arsène Wenger’s side would surge to a spectacular Double, finishing seven points clear of Liverpool in the Premier League. They sealed the title with a win over Manchester United at Old Trafford, just days after dispatching Chelsea 2-0 in the FA Cup Final.

Despite lifting the FA Cup once more in 2002/03, back-to-back titles would again elude the Gunners. But they made up for that disappointment in the season that followed, completing an unbeaten title campaign and going on to eclipse Nottingham Forest’s long-standing run of League games without defeat. Played 49, Won 36, Drawn 13, Lost None – that Arsenal side was truly ‘Invincible’.

Wenger had conquered England but Europe still evaded him. A Quarter-Final defeat against Chelsea in 2004 matched the closest Wenger’s Arsenal had come to the biggest prize in European football but that would all change in May 2006 when they went all the way to the Champions League Final in Paris. In between they claimed another FA Cup triumph, beating Manchester United in Cardiff in 2005.

Arsenal were quickly becoming one of the most revered sides in Europe. And they underlined their ambition when, in February 2004, construction began on the Gunners’ new state-of-the-art home at Ashburton Grove, a stone’s throw from Highbury. The new Emirates Stadium officially opened its doors in the summer of 2006 – a bold step into the future for a Club with a glittering past.


Unai Emery (2018 – 2019)

Mikel Arteta (2019-present)

LONDON, ENGLAND - AUGUST 01: Mikel Arteta, Manager of Arsenal lifts the FA Cup Trophy after his teams victory in the Heads Up FA Cup Final match between Arsenal and Chelsea at Wembley Stadium on August 01, 2020 in London, England. (Photo by Catherine Ivill/Getty Images)
(Photo by Catherine Ivill/Getty Images)

Mikel Arteta was appointed after the club sacked Unai Emery. A former player and captain of Arsenal between 2011 and 2016, Arteta left the club to join Pep Guardiola at Manchester City when he retired from playing.

Schooled under the former Barcelona and Bayern Munich boss, he was initially set to follow Arsene Wenger at Arsenal but Raul Sanllehi convinced the board at the last minute to go with Emery, a client of a close friend of his.

Arteta was finally appointed to the job on 20 December 2019.

In March 2020, Arteta was the first in the Premier League to test positive for Covid-19 after Arsenal played Olympiacos, prompting a country-wide shut down of football that lasted just over three months.

When his side returned, he guided Arsenal to an FA Cup and Community Shield victory n what was, effectively, his first five months of senior management.

Arteta has been married to the Argentine-Spanish actress, television host, and model Lorena Bernal since 2010.

The couple have three children: Gabriel (born 2009), Daniel (born 2012) and Oliver (born 2015).

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